I saw Bruce twice at Wembley Arena in 1985 and still have my invitation to the after show party which took the form of a Bruce 'Passport'. I was going to scan it so as to reproduce it here with a report of those shows but can't get the scanner to work so it'll have to wait. I was on a Bruce wave last night after the last few posts, and was surfing the internet looking for footage of him when I came across the Hyde Park show where he was joined on stage by Paul McCartney for ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘Twist And Shout’. This was the show where some brain dead asshole turned the power off so they couldn’t play a third song together which, to my mind, is about as culturally stupid as taking a Stanley knife to the Mona Lisa.
As I wrote in an earlier post I first met Paul on Monday November 8, 1971, at a party to celebrate the launch of his group Wings and their album Wild Life at the Empire Ballroom in London’s Leicester Square. He was wearing a loud check jacket and, like John would do, seemed much smaller in real life than I’d always imagined him to be. He was surrounded by people all night but at some stage in the evening I asked John Entwistle, another guest, to introduce me. I figured that since John was in the same trade he’d know Paul and sure enough he did. We managed to push past everyone and I had a brief chat, the first time I’d ever spoken to a real live Beatle.
Me: “Why the Empire Ballroom on a Monday night?”
Paul: “Why not?”
Linda: “We thought it would be a nice idea to invite a whole lot of our friends to a big party where they could bring their wives.”
Paul: “EMI are paying for it.”
Me: “When will we hear Wings live?”
Paul: “Well, it should be soon now. We want to start in a very small way, maybe do some unadvertised concerts or something.”
As I would do two years later with John, I simply requested from Paul a more in-depth interview in the near future, and a session was granted for Wednesday, November 10 at Abbey Road Studios.
The interview took place in the control room of Studio Two, the studio where The Beatles had recorded almost all of their songs. I tried not to show it but I was in awe not just of Paul but also my surroundings. Here it was, I remember thinking, that all four of them sat and listened to playbacks of everything from ‘She Loves You’ through Sgt Pepper to Abbey Road. If these walls could speak…
Although ostensibly to promote his new band and album, the interview strayed into Beatles-related topics and I certainly came away with the impression that there was no love lost between Paul and the other three Beatles, especially John. This probably explains why my subsequent story in MM was headed “Why Lennon Is Uncool.”
“I just want the four of us to get together somewhere and sign a piece of paper saying it’s all over, and we want to divide the money four ways,” Paul told me. “No one would be there, not even Linda or Yoko, or Allen Klein. We’d just sign the paper and hand it to the business people and let them sort it out. That’s all I want now. But John won’t do it. Everybody thinks I am the aggressor but I’m not you know, I just want out.
“John and Yoko are not cool in what they’re doing. I saw them on television the other night and thought that what they were saying about what they wanted to do together was basically the same as what Linda and I want to do. John’s whole image now is very honest and open. He’s all right is John, I like his Imagine album but I didn’t like the others... there was too much political stuff on the other albums. You know I only listen to them to see if there is something I can pinch...”
Paul then touched on the song ‘How Do You Sleep’ from John’s Imagine album. “I think it’s silly. So what if I live with straights? I like straights. I have straight babies... he says the only thing I did was ‘Yesterday’ and he knows that’s wrong...”
When I asked about The Beatles’ live shows – or rather lack of them – Paul remarked: “I just wanted to get into a van and do an unadvertised Saturday night hop at Slough Town Hall or somewhere like that. We’d call ourselves Ricki and The Red Streaks or something and just get up and play.”
This was the only substantial interview I ever did with Paul, although I would encounter him many times again over the years. On Sunday July 9, 1972, I was at the outdoor Theatre Antique in Chateau Vallon, France, where Wings made their official debut. After the show I asked Paul “why no British dates?” Paul optimistically replied: “We will play there sometime or other, but not right now. The audiences are very critical in Britain and we’re a new band just starting out – no matter what we’ve been through before. We have to get worked in before doing any big shows in Britain or America.” Paul’s upbeat mood changed when he was asked: “Have you seen your former Beatle mates recently?” Paul bluntly replies: “No, I’ve got no particular reason to, and I don’t really want to. They’re into their things and I’m into mine.”
Linda asked me if I liked reggae to which I replied that I used to dance to ‘007 (Shanty Town)’ by Desmond Dekker at a disco in Ilkley, long before I joined MM. Then we talked about Paul Simon’s ‘Mother And Child Reunion’ and how this would help introduce reggae to the rock world.
I would see Paul and Wings on stage four more times, in Oxford, New York, Detroit and twice in London. Many years would then pass before I saw him in concert again, this time at the Wembley Arena in 1990 billed simply as Paul McCartney. Slowly but surely Paul had come to realise that his audience wanted Beatle songs and bowed to the inevitable. In France and in Oxford he sang no Beatles songs whatsoever. By the time Wings reached America there were half a dozen or so Beatles songs in the set – American fans wouldn’t stand for an all Wings show – and by the time of the 1990 concerts, most of the show comprised Beatle songs.
I was pleased by the accurate musical arrangements of the Beatles’ songs in Paul’s repertoire at the 1990 show. Paul and his band, Hamish Stuart in particular, had evidently taken special pains to reproduce as closely as possible the vocal harmonies and backing tracks of the original Beatles’ recordings. This was particularly noticeable in ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘Sgt Pepper’ and the wonderful closing sequence of Abbey Road songs, for which Paul played lead guitar on a Gibson Les Paul and Hamish played bass. For much of the concert Paul played an original left-handed Hofner Violin bass, just as he did with The Beatles, and the reappearance after so many years of this distinctive instrument was further evidence that The Beatles’ legacy meant more to Paul than he often admitted.
It was around this time that Paul’s daughter, Mary, came to work for me as the photo researcher at Omnibus Press, but that’s another story. The last time I saw Paul was at Earls Court in 2002 with the band he still uses and to all intents and purposes it was a Beatles show, with film footage of the Fabs shown on screens before Paul hit the stage and sang ‘Hello Goodbye’. We took Sam along to this but he fell asleep and remained out to the world, even when Paul sang 'Live And Let Die' complete with fireworks and explosions. The other thing I remember is that during ‘Here There And Everywhere’ a middle-aged couple in the row in front of us started smooching, no doubt reliving their younger days when someone stuck Revolver on at a party, and got rather carried away, snogging big time and giving each other a bit of a feel, completely oblivious to where they were. I had to draw Sam’s attention away from them. After all, he was only seven.