In 1986, composer John Barry and Duran Duran were nominated for the Golden GlobeAward for Best Original Song for "A View to a Kill". The song was the last track recorded by the most famous five member lineup of Duran Duran until their 2001 reunion. It was performed by the band at Live Aid in Philadelphia, their final performance together before their first split. Following Barry's death, the band paid tribute as their encore at the 2011 Coachella Festival, Simon Le Bon reappearing in a tuxedo for a pared-down version backed by an orchestra, before launching into the full, upbeat track. Bassist John Taylor told the crowd: "We lost a dear friend of ours this year – English composer John Barry. This is for him."
The song was written by Duran Duran and John Barry, and recorded at Maison Rouge Studio and CTS Studio in London with a 60-piece orchestra.
Duran Duran were chosen to do the song after bassist John Taylor (a lifelong Bond fan) approached producer Cubby Broccoli at a party, and somewhat drunkenly asked "When are you going to get someone decent to do one of your theme songs?" This inauspicious beginning led to some serious talks, and the band was introduced to Bond composer John Barry, and also Jonathan Elias (whom Duran Duran members would later work with many times). An early writing meeting at Taylor's flat in Knightsbridge led to everyone getting drunk instead of composing.
Singer Simon Le Bon said of Barry: "He didn't really come up with any of the basic musical ideas. He heard what we came up with and he put them into an order. And that's why it happened so quickly because he was able to separate the good ideas from the bad ones, and he arranged them. He has a great way of working brilliant chord arrangements. He was working with us as virtually a sixth member of the group, but not really getting on our backs at all."
Due to a clear separation of areas of responsibility, the cooperation between band and composer turned out to be harmonic to a large extent. The band was in charge of the actual songwriting and Barry created the final arrangement including the orchestra part. The song was finally completed in April 1985, and released in May 1985. In the UK it entered the singles chart at No. 7 before peaking at No. 2 the following week, and remained at that position for three weeks. In the US, it entered the charts at No. 45, and on 13 July it reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It remains the only Bond theme with this chart performance.
In November 2014, the James Bond site MI6 revealed a previously unreleased 7:30 extended remixed 12" version of the song and it has since been mentioned on Duran Duran's website which suggests that it might be the real deal. MI6 claim that Steve Thompson created the 12" mix in Paris with the band, although John Taylor says "I don't remember hearing it at the time". The remix was added to MI6-HQ's SoundCloud. In a Super Deluxe Edition article dated November 22, 2014, Steve Thompson confirmed to an interviewer that he, Mike Barbiero and the band, with the exception of John Taylor, were in a Paris studio where they had made the 12" version of the song.
Finnish Melodic Death Metal band Diablo has covered the song, so has Finnish symphonic metal cover supergroup Northern Kings. In 2008, the song was covered with a bossa feeling by former Morcheeba singer Skye on the cover album Hollywood, Mon Amour.