The Wings Japanese Tour That Wasn't
|It's rather a nice design for the cover, don't you think?|
|Paul very carefully gives everybody the proper finger salute on his way home from jail. Notice the police carefully observing his hand.|
|Paul and his band on the run out of Japan.|
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. As Paul said in 2004:
We were about to fly to Japan and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get anything to smoke over there. This stuff was too good to flush down the toilet, so I thought I’d take it with me.Ah, youth. Might as well note here that McCartney's story on this has changed recently. In the "deleted scenes" from the Carpool video, below, McCartney claims that "I didn't know I was" taking drugs into Japan and "I still am hazy as to how that happened." So, as with many things revolving around the Paul McCartney universe, choose the version of the story that best suits your personal image of him. Believe me, I am no Paul McCartney hater, but his remembrances of things like how songs came about seem to get "nuanced" over time until they are the opposite of what he said originally.
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?|
|Paul had a big fan base in Japan, including these young ladies making "wings" with their hands. To this day, Paul is considered one of the titans of popular music in Japan.|
|Stella hasn't quite gotten her fashion sense in order yet.|
|Even in 1980, people knew better than this, believe me on that. Ugh.|
|The drug bust turned a typical tour into a media sensation.|
|Paul gave Michael Jackson some memorabilia from the canceled tour.|
The incident cost McCartney millions of pounds, which likely was his biggest regret of 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, considering that it had served its purposes and their popularity and creative impulse showing signs of fading with the turn of the decade.
|The concert tour program for the 1980 Wings tour of Japan. It is in Japanese.|
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.
Carson never seemed to be a big fan of McCartney's even in the best of time. His commentary at the time of the arrest wasn't mean at all, but he managed to mispronounce the name of one of the most famous men in the world. I'm sure that Carson knew how to pronounce "McCartney." I doubt that was sheer carelessness.
Below is Paul McCartney on the Carson show a few years later, to show there were no hard feelings... or were there. Paul seems a bit wooden. Johnny seems bored and asks intelligently, "do you still compose?" Paul later complained that Johnny gave him a hard time during this interview, but everyone survived and lived happily ever after.
As a special bonus, below is the cover for the Wings fan club, er, I mean "Fun Club."
Below is the band rehearsing for the tour that never was.
Paul should have known better. He had gotten into some trouble before 1980. In any event, the event made the news around the world and everybody had a chance to feel superior to the former Beatle for a little bit.
Below are some fairly rare videos from the time of the arrest.