McCartney holds secret auditions for a drummer

Thursday, October 8, 1970
Timeline More from year 1970
43rd Street between 9th and 10th avenues, Manhattan, New York, USA

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When we got to New York we started to audition musicians. I put the word out via a couple of people and some drummers came by to play. Denny Seiwell, who had been working as a session man, was the best. He’s a nice guy and we got on well, so we started the Ram sessions with him.

Paul McCartney, in Wingspan, 2002

I thought, “How do you do this? What are you going to do? Am I just going to look around the world, go to every gig and see who is great and approach a drummer and try to poach him from another band?” It didn’t seem like a good idea to me, so we hit upon the idea of doing auditions. So Linda would phone New York, and we went over, and I just held auditions and I got someone who knew the scene there, knew who the good players were, and we just got some lousy warehouse basement or something – it wasn’t even a posh rehearsal room, it was just some space. We set up a kit there – hired a kit, set it up – and then just asked people to come in, and I would kinda say, “Can you play a funky beat?” “Can you play a straight rock and roll thing?” “Can you do a reggae beat?”

Paul McCartney, in RAM archive collection, 2012

I auditioned drummers and guitarists when I came to New York to do “Ram” [1971]. I knew I wanted to work in New York, because Linda was from New York and fancied spending some time here, and I liked the idea of working with American musicians, so I just put the word out through my office that I was in town and wanted to look at drummers. People like Bernard Purdie came along, but I was looking for a new band rather than the Blind Faith thing, so I didn’t really want heavyweights.

Denny Seiwell came along, and he was just great, the best. He had a great attitude, and we got on great; he was a real good all-arounder and he was funky, and we had a laugh.

Paul McCartney, interview for Billboard, 2001

Last updated on June 10, 2020

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