Paul McCartney invites Denny Laine to join his new band

Mid July 1971

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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, asking Linda if she would be part of it.

Sometime in June 1971, Paul McCartney 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. Denny accepted Paul’s offer to join his new band, but Hugh refused.

In mid-July, Paul contacted Denny Laine and asked him to come and talk about joining his band as well.

McCartney considered other musicians after McCracken passed – “mainly people I admired,” he says. One, McCartney reveals, was the Sheffield belter Joe Cocker, who memorably covered The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” on his 1969 debut album. “There were a couple of people that flitted across my mind. But nothing stuck until Denny“.

From “Wild Life – Archive Collection“, 2018

To put it truthfully, I needed a John. [Someone] who was kind of equal to me, who could sing harmonies, who I could sing harmonies with. And we’d been on tour together, so I knew he was a fun guy.

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

I wanted another male to sing along with and remembered Denny Laine, whom I’d known from his days with the Moody Blues. They once toured with the Beatles and we’d had some good laughs. I had always admired the way he sang Go Now. I knew he was a good singer, and a nice guy, so we asked him if he wanted to be in a band with us and he said yes. With me on bass, Linda on keyboard, Denny Seiwell on drums and Denny Laine on guitar, that became the first Iine – up of the band.

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

I was making my own solo album. I had just finished doing the rough mixing when Paul called me up. It was like fate. I somehow always believed that one day I’d be working with someone I knew and really respected. That’s the way the circle goes.

Denny Laine – From “The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Dream Is Over Vol 2” by Keith Badman

A single mattress lies on the floor of Denny Laine’s one-roomed flat. That was where he was sleeping when the phone rang. He answered it.  A voice said, “Hello, Denny?  This is Paul.  I’m thinking of forming a band to go out on the road.  Are you interested?

The voice was Paul McCartney’s. And to people outside music, it might be surprising that he and Denny had not spoken to each other for over five years.  And yet it was Denny Laine whom Paul asked to join him. Straight off. No question of an audition or anything like that. “I don’t find it surprising,” says Denny. “You see, we’re friends. We know each other: we know how the other feels and what the other does.

From interview in 1971

Paul told me I’d get a call in a few days’ time, and then I’d meet him up in Scotland at his farm. I got the call and went up to Scotland via Birmingham, where I called in to spend a day or so with my family.

Denny Laine – From interview in 1971

How did you come to join forces with McCartney originally?

I knew him from the Beatles days. After the Moodies and String Band I was trying to make it again, but not really going out of my way as I was not getting the kind of results that I wanted. I started to make this “Aah Laine” album, but again it wasn’t being believed. Let’s put it this way, I am the sort of person that, if I’m not believed, I’ll be stubborn to the point of being a maniac. It was just a mock-up to prove myself. Anyway, Paul just happened to call me up and it was the weekend that I had just finished some of the mixes from that album. So when he called me up I just said, ‘Thank Christ for that. Now I have somebody to work with whom I don’t have to explain everything to.’ So that was the decider really … just one of those things of fate. I think I’ve some idea of the way Paul feels about things. I know the kind of pressure he’s under because I’ve been through a lot of the same stuff myself. The longer you go on, the tougher it is in a lot of ways. People expect more and more of you. For Paul, having been part of the best rock-‘n’-roll band in history… it must be very heavy. I admire him so much for the way he handles it and doesn’t let it interfere with his music.

Denny Laine – Interview for the promotion of “Holly Days”, 1976

I loved Denny Laine’s voice on ‘Go Now’ and I admire his guitar playing, so I asked him if he’d care to join us. He said ‘yes’.

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

In June 1967, Paul McCartney attended a concert by Denny Laine and the Electric String Band. According to Denny Laine, this concert led Paul McCartney to ask him to join his new band.

I knew Paul like I say, we used to go and see Dylan in his hotel room or we’d go hang out with Donovan or we’d go see Jimi Hendrix. We’d see people. As I say, I knew all The Beatles at the time, but he was the one in London. He was the one who lived in London. Although I was based out of London, I spent a lot of time in London. I hung around a lot in London just to be part of the scene. Paul and I would actually go out to places together. I used to do it with John, but not as much. Anyway, the fact that we knew each other obviously is when we got Wings together. I think the reason he called me is because he saw me doing my own thing with Jimi Hendrix and one night playing at one of his gigs, at the Saville Theatre actually. It was owned by Brian (Epstein) at the time. I had this thing called The Electric String Band and it went down really well that night. A few months after that, Paul called me because obviously, he wanted something different. He couldn’t copy The Beatles. I couldn’t go out and do The Moody Blues. So we had to do something different. He needed somebody as a friend who would be into doing something experimental and that’s what Wings turned out to be. It was really because he knew me and we got on well. So it was an easier job than if he picked a stranger who might’ve been in awe of him and been a bit scared around him. He picked me because of that reason, I think.

Denny Laine – From Gary James’ Interview With Denny Laine Of The Moody Blues And Wings (classicbands.com)

How did your involvement in Wings come about?

Well, we knew The Beatles because The Moodies were one of the opening acts on their second tour. I knew George very well, he was a close neighbor, and I became friends with Paul who had seen me performing as an opening act for Jimi Hendrix at the Saville Theatre. And because he was impressed with seeing me trying to do something different onstage with my Electric String Band, and because we became friends, that inspired him to call me because he wanted to do something new and different…..and Wings was formed. We then went up to Scotland away from the public and press and played together and worked on material for the first Wings album called ‘Wild Life’ and eventually we became a touring band.

Denny Laine – Interview with masslive.com, January 2019

It seems like Paul was looking for you to be more than a hired gun when he asked you to start Wings with him.

Yeah, definitely. I wasn’t doing Moody Blues stuff, I was going out there and doing my own stuff; I would play “Go Now” and a couple of things. I had a little band called the Electric String Band, that was violins and cellos and a (rock) band, so that was kind of like ELO in a way. So (Paul) saw me do that with Jimi Hendrix at a theater — John and Peter Asher saw that show too. (Paul) saw me doing something like that and said that’s what he wanted to do, something more experimental. That’s why we kind of went in a completely different direction to what he had been doing. We got lucky with it.

Denny Laine – Interview with Highway 81 Revisited, June 2019

How important was the concert of your Electric String Band with the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Saville Theatre on 4 June 1967?

It was very good for me because I tried to get recognition for about a year before I get that concert. When I did that concert, Paul, John and Peter Asher were in the audience. Everybody liked the show, we had done very well and even Jimi Hendrix complimented me on that show, on the fact that I was doing something different, because Jimi was a creative artist and he wanted to move forward with his music. I think he admired that fact on my music. Again, one of the reasons Paul called me to join Wings was that he was on that show.

Denny Laine – Interview with Hit Channel (hit-channel.com), July 2017

On July 20, Denny Laine travelled to Scotland, for the first rehearsals of the new band.

Last updated on May 2, 2022

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