Paul McCartney holds secret auditions for a guitar player

October 9 to 11, 1970

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Paul McCartney, his wife Linda and their two daughters (Heather and Mary) arrived in New York on October 7, 1970, with the ambition of recording a new album. On October 8, Paul organized some auditions for a drummer, hiring Denny Seiwell.

From October 9 to 11, he continued those secret auditions to find a guitar player.

Then a similar kind of process with guitar players [than with drummers]: I had another place for the day and they brought their own guitars this time. We just had an amp they plugged into – nothing special – and I think I might have had an amp, I might have played along, and then we’d just go through the thing. And so out of that we got Dave Spinozza.

Paul McCartney, in RAM archive collection, 2012

All I remember is getting a phone call from Linda McCartney, who addressed herself as, ‘Mrs McCartney’, and I said, ‘Who?’ She said, ‘My husband would like to meet you.’ And I said, ‘Did I ever work for your husband before?’ She said, ‘This is Linda McCartney and my husband is Paul McCartney’, like I was supposed to know Paul McCartney was calling my house. She didn’t make it clear what they wanted me for. I thought it was for a meeting or a recording session, but it turned out to be an audition. I took down the address and I went to this place on 45th Street, which was a dirty loft. They must have been there for three days auditioning people. It seemed weird for him to come to town and audition the heaviest musicians in the business. Cats who had been in music for fifteen years and played with just everyone and who, as musicians, The Beatles just couldn’t stand next to as instrumentalists. You don’t have to audition these cats; they can play everything under the sun. I had heard that some of the studio guys had given them a hard time, which I really didn’t want to do because I wanted to work with them. When I get there, there are three guitar players, but you had to be called. You couldn’t walk in off the streets with your guitar. Paul, with a three-day-old beard, introduced himself to me and we are alone in this gigantic room. There is nothing but amplifiers, piano and drums and, of course, Linda. He wanted me to play something. He played a blues, and a solo and some folk and said he wanted me to do that. I played it and then he just said, ‘Sorry I couldn’t spend more time with you but I have a lot of people to see,’ and so I said, ‘Fine.’ As soon as I got home, the phone rang and Linda said Paul wanted me to do the sessions the following week.

The date started out going really smoothly, but then what was happening was that although originally they had told me they wanted me for four whole weeks, days were getting cancelled out and they weren’t booking definitive dates. So I had to keep asking, not to be a drag, but to keep my book straight and to know what other work I could take. I kept asking but I wasn’t getting a straight answer. Finally, after I had heard from them, Linda rang me up on a Sunday night, and told me that they wanted me to do all the following week, just like that. But I couldn’t, because I had asked if we would be working and they had said probably not, so I had taken other dates. I had told them that I couldn’t keep every week open because when Paul goes back to England, there are other people that call me all year and they are going to keep me eating, not him, although I would love to do his sessions. So she calls me and I said I could make two of the days, not all five and she got very indignant. That’s the vibration I got. I got vibrations like, ‘It’s Paul McCartney’s session, you’re supposed to keep life open indefinitely.’ Finally, I just did those two days and the next week I still couldn’t get a straight answer and it seemed like I was dealing with Linda and not Paul…

David Spinozza – Interview with Vicky Wickham, 1971 – From “The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Dream Is Over Vol 2” by Keith Badman

The British sense of humour, which can be a bit sarcastic, almost got me into trouble. The player was a little bit serious and as he was leaving he said, ‘ok man, see ya. Peace and love’. And I said, ‘Yeah, war and hate’. His face dropped – it was like I was the devil. I had to run after him saying, ‘It’s a joke!’ He forgave me, I think.

Paul McCartney, in Wingspan, 2002

The first recording sessions for the album to become “Ram” would start the day after, on October 12, 1970.

Last updated on March 8, 2022

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