Paul in a humorous appearance on a very British morning show on 16 November 1985. He is promoting his song "Spies Like Us," which as all fans know was his last top-ten singles hit on the U.S. pop chart. For those not familiar with the video, it features Paul interacting with the stars of the film of the same name, Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd. The show actually shows the entire music video! Some of the jokes fall a bit flat, but Paul's a trouper and energetically promotes his video.
This is not the Glasgow performance that became the radio hit. This is more like the album version, sort of midway between the album and the raucous Glasgow version. All are nice versions. I believe that this is from the Concert for Kampuchea. This is a nice version, with the full Wings lineup along with a full horn section. It is a very clean take, Paul knows how to make the sound come out just right. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how extremely difficult it is to get a live performance to sound this similar to the album version. It is so close that when Paul varies his phrasing just slightly, you really notice it (if you are familiar with the original, of course).
Incidentally, if that indeed is Linda doing the high-pitched chorus refrain (I suppose I always just assumed it was her, but still), this song is probably her biggest contribution to the band. Very unique sound, never duplicated or copied. Very tight band, I must say.
Versions of the "Band on the Run" Album from Around the World
Back in the day, vinyl was distributed in various formats around the world, depending upon what local label was doing the distribution. Of mere historical curiosity, the labels actually are pretty fair artwork in and of themselves.
Yes, it's a Wings Christmas-time! This is from 1979, the last incarnation of Wings. It is around the time of "Wonderful Christmastime," which isn't really a Wings song, though they did the video for it. Just a corny old picture that will bring back memories, perhaps.
Linda McCartney hard at work
Here is the video, which is quite good, especially for pre-MTV:
Is "Wonderful Christmastime" a "Wings" song? Only sort of. Paul wrote it and performed it alone while doing the same with "McCartney II." He just used the other Wings members for this video, almost like a hired crew of extras. They filmed it at an inn somewhere in West Sussex, England.
Keeping the rights completely to himself was a shrewd business move, as "Wonderful Christmastime" became a seasonal that still gets airplay to this day during the holiday season. It has earned him a ton of money. It did not appear on any Wings albums until the 1993 reissue of "Back to the Egg." That is a weird choice, since by rights it should go on "McCartney II."
However, because of the Wings band members in the video and the fact that this was released well before "McCartney II," people naturally associate "Wonderful Christmastime" with Wings material. In that sense, it is in the same boat as early hits like "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," which had absolutely nothing to do with Wings, but which many people always consider a Wings tune.
Either you enjoy "Wonderful Christmastime" or you don't. Many prominent artists have covered it, including Amy Grant, Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland and Chicago, so it can't be that bad. It is just a fun song, nothing profound. The general public enjoys it, so it continues to be played every year, starting at Thanksgiving and ending on Christmas.
It's rather a nice design for the cover, don't you think?
For no real reason, I just thought I would post the cover for Paul McCartney and Wings' aborted 1980 tour of Japan. It's pretty cover art. In this time of Paul re-issuing 'Wings Over America" and other events, I don't think we'll be seeing any publicity about this particular episode from him.
Paul very carefully gives everybody the proper finger salute on his way home from jail
The dates of the tour were to have been Budokan Hall, Tokyo (21-24 January), Aichi-Ken, Taiiku-Kan, Nagoya (25-26 January), Festival Hall, Osaka (28 January), Osaka Furitsu-Kan, Osaka (29 January), Budokan Hall, Tokyo (31 January to 2 February). Eleven performances in all. Hurry up and get your tickets!
Paul on his way out of Japan
According to his cleaning lady Rosaura Lorenzo, John Lennon was stunned at his former songwriting partner’s idiocy. Lorenzo quoted Lennon as shouting at the TV “You're a Beatle, boy. Your face is in every damn corner of the planet. Why have you been so stupid?'"
Paul should indeed have known better. McCartney was arrested on three previous occasions for possession of the drug; in Sweden in 1972, on his farm in Scotland in 1973, and in Los Angeles in 1975.
The McCartneys had flown directly from New York, where they had purchased the drugs (New York had pretty stiff drug laws at the time as well); unwilling to throw the remainder away before leaving for Japan, the songwriter decided to take a chance, a decision he later said made him “shudder” at its stupidity.
“We were about to fly to Japan and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get anything to smoke over there,” McCartney said in 2004. “This stuff was too good to flush down the toilet, so I thought I’d take it with me.”
Paul was not taken by surprise, and has not claimed such:
“We’d been told [that] whatever we did, don’t take it to Japan. Very severe penalties.”
The only answer, then, is hubris. Well, or plain stupidity. Eh, probably hubris.
“When the fellow pulled it out of the suitcase, he looked more embarrassed than me,” he said. “I think he just wanted to put it back in and forget the whole thing, you know, but there it was.”
Called ‘Prisoner 22’, McCartney was given no special treatment in the jail. He had to work out for himself that he was not allowed to wash and brush his teeth each morning until he had swept his cell and folded his bedding.
Paul very wisely decided to become a model prisoner. As he said in the ‘Wingspan’ documentary:
“I started to realize, “Right, I’m going to get up when the light goes on, I’m going to be the first up, I’m going to be the first with his room cleaned, I’m going to roll up my bed, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that.’”
He also remained in the clothes he had landed in for three days, being unaware that he could ask for a change of clothing. So much for the life of a rock star!
After nine days, the Japanese deported Paul and did not even file any charges against him. That they treated him with kid gloves no doubt contributed to his willingness to return to Japan years later.
Just to remember those times, below are some pictures from that episode, which included wacky statements such as this from Linda:
“It’s really very silly. People certainly are different over here. They take it so very seriously. Paul is now in some kind of detention place and I have not been allowed to see him. As soon as they get someone nice like Paul, they seem to make a field day out of it. I’ll never come back to Japan again. This is my first trip and last!”
Actually, I'm not sure, but I think it was her only trip to Japan. And almost all of it spent in the airport!
Well, Linda obviously didn't speak to a public relations expert before saying that, which is kind of charming in a candid sort of way. Paul, meanwhile, admitted that it had been "dynamite weed" and thus, presumably, a real loss - aside from the millions of quid he gave up, of course..
He summed up his experience this way:
“I have been a fool. What I did was incredibly dumb. My God, how stupid I have been! I was really scared, thinking that I might be imprisoned for so long and now I have made up my mind never to touch the stuff again. From now on, all I’m going to smoke is straightforward [cigarets]s and no more pot!”
Now, now, Paul. He did give up the weed - twenty years later, though. But not before another drug bust, in Barbados in 1984. that time, he only was fined, the Barbadian not quite the sticklers for draconian punishments.
Paul claimed that he sang to murderers while in jail and that he got on well with them. It was four more years before he got busted again, this time in Barbados. Obviously, international trips were not a good idea for Paul at that stage of his life. He since has claimed to have given up smoking weed completely.
Does that guy look happy finding all that weed, or what?
Of course, there was extensive collateral damage. Paul and family arrived in Japan on January 16, 1980. He was arrested immediately upon arrival. The other members of Wings left Japan on 21 January and embarked upon other projects. Paul, still in jail, apparently (it is rumored) thought their departures indicated disloyalty. Unexpectedly, he was released without charge on January 25, 1980 and deported. He might have felt better about things if his bandmates had stayed until his release, and they probably would have stayed if they had known what would happen, but nobody knew that his release would be that soon.
Stella hasn't quite gotten her fashion sense in order yet
Over 100,000 tickets had been sold for the tour dates. The promoters had no option but to cancel all of the tour dates the day after Paul's arrest.
Even in 1980, people knew better than this, believe me on that. Ugh.
Paul's family stayed in the Okura Hotel, along with Denny Laine, Laurence Juber and Steve Holley of Wings.
The drug bust turned a typical tour into a media sensation.
Customs officials at Narita International Airport found 219 grammes of weed, with a street value of 600,000 yen, hidden in Paul's luggage and inside the hood of one of his children. The bust was particularly embarrassing because Paul hadn't been able to get a Visa to enter Japan in 1976 (the time of "Wings Over America") because of his previous drug busts. The Japanese felt they were extending him a courtesy to allow him entry at all.
Paul gave Michael Jackson some memorabilia from the cancelled tour.
The drug bust eventually led to the end of Wings. The other band members quickly lined up new projects, no doubt thinking that McCartney was going to be pounding rocks for a few years. Nobody could have guessed that he would be out and on his way home within ten days. Everybody got in a snit about it, and while it took another year for the official announcement, rigor mortis was already setting in by then.
The incident cost McCartney millions of pounds, which likely was his biggest regret about the whole affair. Some sources cite the compensation bill as £1 million for the musician, but there also were lost revenues, no doubt live recordings that were never made, increased sales of his back catalog that disappeared, and many, many other invisible costs.
Paul no doubt was going to end Wings soon anyway, it having served its purposes and their popularity and creative impulse showing signs of fading.
Knowing McCartney, if the Japanese offered to pay him that much to get busted, he'd probably do it again, as it was always about the cash for Paul in those days (much of his money was still tied up in Beatles-related litigation). As it was, he held no grudges, and returned to Japan for six dates in March 1990 (The Paul McCartney World Tour) and for three dates in November 1993 (the New World Tour), all in Tokyo. To my knowledge, he has not been back to Japan since despite the fact that Japan reportedly is the second-largest pop music market in the world (he did go to Japan in 2014 for a tour, but incurred a mysterious illness and once again missed his tour dates - Japan obviously having imposed some kind of curse upon him).
It's all very ironic, incidentally. Japan is the second-largest music market in the world, and they love Paul in Japan. Often-times, particularly recently, he receives his highest chartings there. Thus, his problems when visiting the Land of the Rising Sun must be particularly galling to him.
Here is Johnny Carson's take on this. Carson never seemed to be a big fan of McCartney's even in the best of time, and this commentary isn't mean at all, but notice how he manages to mispronounce the name of one of the most famous men in the world. I doubt that was sheer carelessness:
Here is Paul McCartney on the Carson show a few years later, to show there were no hard feelings.
As a special bonus, below are instructions for the Wings fan club, er, I mean "Fun Club":
Here is the band rehearsing for the never was in the never happened.
This is a collection of photos that sort of sum up Paul McCartney's career, at least to me. What's interesting about these photos is that they all seem to show some inner intelligence by Paul at key moments in his life, as if he knew what he was about, and is trying to make a statement to posterity. It's kind of uncanny, the looks on his face, the settings he chooses, the freaking shirts he wears, who he allows himself to be photographed with. Just astonishing when put into historical perspective.
Paul with Stu Sutcliffe, who had the best photographer feel of any of them
At Paul's Cavendish home early 1969
In which photo, above or below, do you think Paul looks happier? In which is the woman present smiling? The two questions are related.
Again at Cavendish, now with Wings, 1972
Paul at the Apple launch 1968
It's interesting that Paul is showing such an interest in photography right after meeting Linda. He rarely did ever again.
At the Concert for George, with Dhani Harrison, 2002
The Concert for George is just amazing, perhaps the best all-star concert ever performed and filmed. Paul can't resist playing lead guitar even at George's funeral.
Recording RAM in 1971 with Linda
Linda's main value as a songwriter was that she was not a party to the Beatles litigation and thus could collect her full songwriting payments without any garnishment or holds. This kept the couple afloat financially.
In India early 1968. "Isn't this something to remember," he seems to be saying to us.
With the Quarrymen circa 1959
How much you want to bet that he still has that shirt, and he knows precisely where it is, and it is in immaculate condition? Also, in the photo below, do you agree that Paul looks astonishingly like Matthew Broderick from "Ferris Bueller"?
Same fellows, same Paul shirt, unbelievably cool nod to history and posterity.
In Nashville 1974 circa "Junior's Farm," having fun with the locals
Paul with Linda at Sgt. Pepper launch, while still officially with Jane Asher
Film of Wing's epic 1976 Wings Over America tour. This was filmed at the Seattle Kingdom by Harvey Weinstein and his brother, in Weinstein's first ever production.
I don't believe I am overstating the case when I say that this was the greatest tour of the 1970s, which arguably had the greatest tours of all time, and this filmed concert may have been the best show on the tour. Lots to dispute there, but I think the argument can be made. Note a couple of things: 1) Wings had its best line-up, as McCartney himself notes, and this was a unique moment in the group's history; McCartney himself was at his vocal peak, Denny was playing well, Joe English was pounding those drums with gusto, Jimmy McCulloch was coming out with deadly riffs, even Linda looked excited with her backup vocals and keyboard playing.. 2) they had all the bells and whistles for this show, with a horn section and everything else. The sound quality is amazing, you could have recorded any of these songs and released them as singles and they would have done quite well.
Any group can go out and put on a good show. This was an event. Big difference.
Paul McCartney And Wings - 'Maybe I'm Amazed' (from 'Rockshow'). Personally, I believe that this is a wonderful performance from the master showman, Paul McCartney, and a great Wings lineup. Those were the days, days of Wings, days of wonder and grace. Anyone who says that Paul never matched his Beatles achievements with Wings just doesn't properly appreciate this song, which is an all-time classic.
I'm sure I don't have to remind anyone out there how utterly, insanely difficult it is to get that "single" sound from a live performance. Everything is pitch perfect, from the vocals to the guitar work to the piano playing. Just awesome.