Monday, May 20, 2013

Wings' 1980 Japan Tour

The Wings Japanese Tour That Wasn't

Paul McCartney Wings Japan 1980 tour
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 McCartney Wings Japan 1980 tour
Paul very carefully gives everybody the proper finger salute on his way home from jail. Notice the police carefully observing his hand.
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 McCartney Wings Japan 1980 tour
Paul and his band on the run 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. 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!

Paul McCartney drug bust in Japan

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.

Paul McCartney drug bust in Japan
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.

Paul McCartney drug bust in Japan
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.
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.

Paul McCartney drug bust in Japan
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 band's tour dates the day after Paul's arrest.

Paul McCartney drug bust in Japan
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.

Paul McCartney drug bust in Japan
The drug bust turned a typical tour into a media sensation.
Customs officials at Narita International Airport found 219 grams 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 McCartney drug bust in Japan
Paul gave Michael Jackson some memorabilia from the canceled 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 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.

Paul McCartney drug bust in Japan
The concert tour program for the 1980 Wings tour of Japan. It is in Japanese.
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.

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."

Paul McCartney drug bust in Japan

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.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing such a great post. It’ll help people, looking for the best places to visit in Japan.