Paul McCartney starts thinking about a new band

May - June 1971
Timeline More from year 1971
High Park Farm, Kintyre, Scotland

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Around May / June 1971, Paul and Linda McCartney were at their farm in Scotland. Paul started forming the idea of creating a new band.

I didn’t really want to keep going as a solo artist, just me and a guitar, so it became obvious that I had to get a band together. Johnny Cash had just come back, and he had a band and was touring. Linda and I talked it through and it was like, ‘Yeah, but let’s not put together a supergroup, let’s go back to square one.’

Paul McCartney – From “Wingspan: Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run“, 2002

Johnny Cash had a music variety show, “The Johnny Cash Show“, which ran and was broadcast on US ABC from June 1969 to March 1971. He was joined on stage by his wife, June Carter Cash, and members of his touring troupe.

Until then, I’d only seen Johnny Cash as a solo artist. [He was playing with] quite a cool little band. I thought, ‘That’s great. There’s the clue. Maybe that’s what I should do.’ I was sitting in bed with Linda, turned to her and said, ‘Do you fancy being in a band?’ She looked a little nonplussed and said, ‘Yeah, okay’.

Paul McCartney – From “Wild Life – Archive Collection“, 2018

She paused for awhile. She wasn’t impetuous. She gave it some thought. […] I said, ‘Look, we’re on a stage. The curtains open, and we’re there. We’re a band. Do you like the idea or not?’

Paul McCartney – From “Wild Life – Archive Collection“, 2018

I didn’t want to ring up famous mates – Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, that kind of thing – and suggest forming a band. That didn’t seem right. I don’t know why.

I’d only ever really been in one group – the Quarry Men which became the Silver Beatles and then the Beatles – and that was John’s group which I’d joined. Now I was putting together a group for myself. It was quite a challenge; and good fun. Going back to basics made it difficult but it seemed the only way to do it.

My much-publicised rivalry with John Lennon during the Ram period came about from the business problems we were experiencing after the breakup of the Beatles and the temporary end of our company, Apple. I had tried hard to save everything in the battles that ensued and I think there were one or two people on John’s side who stirred things up and encouraged the rivalry. I’ve certainly heard some interesting stories since, but John and I had a love for each other that managed to survive through it all, and we ended up close friends.

With RAM, we’d enjoyed the experience of working with other people. But to be in a band with complete strangers is a bit of a shock.

Paul McCartney – From “Wingspan: Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run“, 2002

I had the idea for forming a band after John left the Beatles and formed the Plastic Ono Band. Even if it was a country-n-western band, I just wanted a band so I could get out there and sing.

Paul McCartney – Interview with Disc And Music Echo, November 1971

With the Beatles, John, George and I had played together for quite a while before we became successful. But the thought of working with complete strangers used to terrify me – the idea that you’re sitting there, look to one side and think ‘Who the hell’s that?’ So having my best mate, my wife, in the new band, was to be very comforting.

P: Do you think you can handle being in a band?

L: I don’t know. I’ve never done It before.

P: But when the Beatles started we’d never done it before, either. Can you imagine: we’re standing behind a curtain, the curtain opens, there’s people there… you feel about that? Would it completely freak you or could you get into it?

L: I think I could get into it.

That was how it started. I said, ‘Right, let’s try it, we’ll put a band together’.

Paul McCartney – From “Wingspan: Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run“, 2002

I had a talk with Linda [about joining the group]. She said, ‘If it’s gonna be kinda casual and we’re not gonna sweat it, we could maybe do something together.’ So we started it on that basis… That was the kind of spirit we approached it all in and it was the only way we could have done it, we wouldn’t have even dared stay in the business.”

Paul McCartney – From “Band on the Run: A History of Paul McCartney and Wings” by Garry McGee, 2003

I’d just as soon have stayed on the farm with the horses and kids, but Paul wanted me there, so…

Linda McCartney – From “Linda McCartney: A Portrait” by Danny Field, 2000

Well, of course I did [want to join Paul’s band]: I was a sixties rock ‘n’ roller, and I pictured the Shangri-Las or the Dells… But tell me I’ve really got to learn how to play the piano; that I’ve got to sing in tune… what? We did have fun at first, but then I had every single critic on my back, and I realized what Paul had been through all those years.

Linda McCartney – From “Band on the Run: A History of Paul McCartney and Wings” by Garry McGee, 2003

Paul then started teaching Linda how to play the piano.

We had a few rows as he tried to teach me. He really put me through it. When everything went wrong I used to say, ‘I thought you knew how to make a group.’ I never realized how hard it all was.

Linda McCartney – From “Band on the Run: A History of Paul McCartney and Wings” by Garry McGee, 2003

Sometime in June 1971, Paul also called Denny Seiwell and Hugh McCracken, the players who participated in the recording of the album “RAM“, and invited them and their wives for some holidays in Scotland.

Paul McCartney and daughter Heather in Scotland in 1971 (Image: Linda McCartney) – From Wings Wild Life | Paul McCartney & Wings
From You Gave Me The Answer – Life on the Farm in Scotland |
From ‘The Lyrics’ Explores Paul McCartney’s Life and Music – WSJ
From Linda McCartney on Instagram: “Paul with Drake’s Drum. Scotland, 1971⁣ #LindaMcCartney #PaulMcCartney #Scotland #1971 #35mm #DrakesDrum #horsesofinstagram”
From Linda McCartney (@lindamccartney) • Instagram photos and videos – Paul. Scotland, 1971
From Wings Wild Life | Paul McCartney & Wings

Last updated on October 25, 2023

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