“Wild Life” launch party

Monday, November 8, 1971
Timeline More from year 1971
Location:
Empire Ballroom, Leicester Square, London, UK

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About

On this day, Paul McCartney organized a launch party for “Wild Life“, the debut album of his new band, Wings.

Among the 800 guests were Elton John, Keith Moon and John Entwistle (from The Who), Ronnie Lane, Ronnie Wood, Ian McLagan and Kenny Jones (from The Faces), Jimmy Page (from Led Zeppelin), Deep Purple, Mary Hopkin… Denny Seiwell and Denny Laine, forming Wings with Paul & Linda McCartney, obviously attended, as well as Paul’s father, Jim.

A press launch is always a good excuse to have a night out, so we invited friends and journalists, played the album, danced and had a few funny people come on to entertain. I wore an outrageous big check suit that I thought would be good. When I went to collect it from the tailor that morning he told me that it wasn’t finished. I said, ‘Maybe not, but it’s a look!’ So I went to the party with the cotton and the stitching showing, and everyone said, ‘Your suit’s not finished.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I know. Great, huh?’

Paul McCartney, in Wingspan, 2002

All of the invitees had received an invite written by Paul, which read as:

Mr and Mrs McCartney invite ………………. and guest
to THE BALL
to be held at the EMPIRE BALLROOM, Leicester Square W.1.
on MONDAY 8th NOVEMBER 1971 (8pm – 12)
For your delectation, there will be…
Music from WINGS new L.P.
Dancing to Ray McVay and his band
A Bumper Prize Raffle
Food and Drink
Come and enjoy yourselves, dress glam, and REMEMBER! Your raffle number is …..

A 4-minute long film showing guests arriving at the party was released in the “Wild Life – Archive Collection


The one and only time I’ve met and spoken to Paul is something I’ll never forget!  I’d seen him several times at various places but never spoken to him, but in 1971 when he had the party for Wings, I decided to go along to the Empire Ballroom armed with camera and a large shopping bag which I always carried around with me at the time.  Anyway I arrived at 8 pm and found I had just missed him by about 2 minutes.   I decided to wait.  I just had a feeling that I’d get to speak to him.  Well, after waiting five hours, the doorman whispered to me that Paul was on his way out; then he appeared with Linda on his arm.  I thought how handsome he was close-to, a bit smaller and slimmer than I realized.  Linda was much prettier than her photos.  Anyway, I took a photo (of his jaw-line as it happens because he turned his rotten head away!) and as that was the last exposure in my camera, I couldn’t take anymore.  He went skipping (yes it is true) down the road with Linda and just as he turned the corner to a side street, I took courage and called him back.  He stopped and said “yeah” so I ran to catch him up and breathlessly asked him for his autograph.  The funny part is my pen as at the bottom of this large bag of mine!  He stood patiently watching me with arm folded as I rummaged elbow deep.  I asked him if he had a pen as I just couldn’t find mine; he said no (which isn’t surprising as he had this crazy suit on that had no pockets).  By then loads of people had appeared but Paul still waited patiently until I emerged which I thought was really nice of him.  Linda was very smirky when a fellow said to Paul “No more Beatles then Paul?” and before eh could answer Linda leaned across me and smirked “No, no more Beatles.”  Paul then waved to all and said “OK love” when I thanked him for stopping.  He disappeared into the night and I stumbled, shaking into a taxi!

Kathy Turner – from “The Write Thing” fanzine, August / September 1975 issue – From Meet the Beatles for Real: Wings Party

Trend note: Those thoroughly modern people Paul McCartney and his good lady are inviting people to a ball next week at the Empire Ballroom in Leicester Square, with dancing to the quickstep sounds of Ray McVay and his band.

From Daily Mirror – Wednesday 03 November 1971
From Daily Mirror – Wednesday 03 November 1971

Paul and Linda, having a ball

FORMER Beatle Paul McCartney dances the night away with his wife Linda. Paul, in check suit, and Linda, in baggy dress, were at a ball which launched the first LP by their new group. The dance, held last night at the Empire Ballroom, Leicester Square also marked an official end to Paul’s association with the Beatles.

The McCartneys, whose second daughter Stella was born seven weeks ago, were among a host or celebrities at the ball. There was jiving and formation dancing. It all turned out to be quite a party. Between the dances, they played tracks from the new group’s album.

Hundreds of pop personalities packed the ballroom. But three famous faces were missing. John, George and Ringo – the other Beatles – weren’t invited.

From Daily Mirror – Tuesday 09 November 1971
From Daily Mirror – Tuesday 09 November 1971

A Strange Day’s Night

IN THEORY, it threatened to be the non-event of all time. But only an ex-Beatle could stage a glorified Saturday-night-hop-style dance in the West End of London on a Monday night in cold November — and come up smiling like a winner.

The bizarre event was Paul and Linda McCartney’s party this week to launch their new group Wings, pictured on today’s MM front page. They hired the Empire Ballroom in Leicester Square for 800 pop biz guests – and the Ray McVay dance band played for quicksteps. waltzes, congas and formation displays. It was a weird idea from the mind of one recognised as being hip. But then, McCartney has always been rather conventional — a sentimental traditionalist at heart. And when they’d been there for an hour or so and realised it wasn’t a stunt but as straightforward as it appeared, even the heaviest of rock guitarists joined in and had a ball. Why the Empire Ballroom on a Monday night?

Why not?” Paul answered.

We thought,” said Linda. “it would be a nice idea to invite a whole lot of our friends to a big party – where they could bring their wives.

EMI are paying for it,” said Paul.

The couple had left the seclusion of their Scottish farm the night before, boarded the sleeper train (second class) and brought their children to their London home before playing host and hostess at the ball.

SHEEP

I sheared the sheep yesterday before coming.” McCartney said, “We love it up there. Have you heard the Wings album? We’re pretty pleased with it… really this is a very glorified press conference – to make sure everybody came“.

And the McCartneys achieved an impressive turn-out of personalities including Jimmy Page, Sandy Denny, Elton John, Mary Hopkin, Deep Purple, Who men John Entwistle and Keith Moon, Faces Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane, Ian McLagen and Kenny Jones. many disc jockeys and other group musicians.

It had all the trappings of an important film premiere. Crowds thronged the pavement outside, policemen cleared a path through for the bewildered guests. Flashbulbs popped as limousine doors were opened. Tickets were at a premium – touts could probably have raised up to £20 for the precious invitations written in Paul’s own hand.

Security was tight – invitations were strictly vetted and punched as the doors opened.

Inside the ballroom, it was just like any other dancing night. Waitresses served wine and bread and cheese courtesy of the hosts, but the tills were ringing at the bars. Ray McVay played as he always does, or nearly – for all through the night he did not play a Beatle melody.

Midway through the evening, a team of formation dancers took the floor to hilarious applause. It must have been idea Paul’s idea of a joke, like the way he stepped forward at the end to draw the winning raffle ticket. The prize – a magnum of champagne – was won by DJ Jeff Dexter.

ROCK

Wings never actually played, though they were all there. Between breaks in the dance music, their new album was played. The dancing carried on and guests clapped each track was played. Although listening conditions were poor, the Wings LP seemed much better more and more instantly melodic than “RAM”.

The first side is taken up with rock numbers – including a version of the Everlys’ “Love Is Strange” – and the second side is the slow melodic McCartney of “Yesterday” and “Michelle” days.

When will we hear Wings live? “Well, it should be soon now,” said Paul, engrossed in a conversation with Graham Bond. “We want to start in a very small way, maybe do some unadvertised concerts or something“.

We don’t want all the bigtime at all. Paul’s been through all that,” said Linda, all the time clinging to his left arm.

Paul, in an outrageously loud check suit, chatted amicably with everyone in sight. His short hair, quiffed up with grease, black plimsolls and drape jacket gave him the appearance of a fifties teddy boy. He was the Beatles, remember, who wanted the group to make small-time appearances in a tiny hall as the Raiders at the peak of their career. Now he plans to return to his roots – with Wings.

ALONE

The word Beatle was never mentioned in his presence. None of the other Beatles was present. Nor were any of the Apple crowd at the ball.

It was after midnight when the affair came to a halt. The album was still playing but the guests had dwindled. Paul and Linda sat on the edge of the stage at the front of the dance floor, alone for the first time in the evening. Wings had been strangely but successfully launched.

From Melody Maker, November 13, 1971
From Melody Maker, November 13, 1971 – From Jesse Tedesci on Twitter

Paul’s new group, starring the wife

THIS is the Picture the pop world has waited to see. At last the wraps are off THE new group. Here, pop-pickers, are Wings… starring Mr and Mrs. Paul McCartney and two accomplished friends. On the left is an American drummer named Denny Seiwell. On the right is guitarist Denny Laine, formerly of the Moody Blues. Paul’s 27-year-old wife Linda will handle the vocal harmonies. And her hubby will be there to help out, of course.

Wings take off next week with their first record – an LP. They plan to put the accent on rock ‘n’ roll, and to go “on the road” for concerts as well as appear on television.

For the past two months, 28-year-old Paul and the others have been rehearsing secretly in Scotland. This week they have been in London for the official launching and round of celebrations, including a coming-out party.

From Daily Mirror – Saturday 13 November 1971
From Daily Mirror – Saturday 13 November 1971

THE BEATLE TANGO

Leicester Square, Monday

I KEEP wondering if Paul McCartney is putting us all on. Tonight it’s a beano in that un-Beatle looking hostelry, the Empire Ballroom, home of the soft-shoe hop. There are 1,000 guests – but the affair is more significant for forgotten friends like John, George and Ringo and old servants Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall.

Apparently they have not been invited. But then the occasion is for Paul’s launching of the first album by his new group Wings. Maybe that’s why Paul, in an unfinished looking tartan suit, has gone conventional.

The dancing is to the strict tempo strains of Ray McVay and His Band of the Day. There’s quite a crowd in the foyer – but no fear of gatecrashers. Invitations are checked and rechecked by security men. Some legitimate guests are brusquely asked if they have cameras in their grips and beauty cases. The professional photographers protest – so for their sake Paul and his wife Linda, take the floor. Pity there’s no spot prize. It’s a tango.

Even more conventionally Paul is sending the £5,000 tab for the beano to his record company EMI to pay.

From Daily Mirror – Saturday 13 November 1971
From Daily Mirror – Saturday 13 November 1971

A novel departure from the general pattern of conventional industry junkets was the ball, organized by EMI Records and hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Paul McCartney held at London’s Empire Ballroom on November 8th. The occasion was arranged as a flag-waver for the forthcoming debut album of McCartney’s new group Wings. Some 800 invited guests, representing a wide cross section of the London music scene, danced till midnight to both the resident Ray McVay Band and selected tracks from the album “Wings Wild Life”.

From Cashbox Magazine, November 27, 1971
From Cashbox Magazine, November 27, 1971

From Paul McCartney Throwback Photos for His Birthday (yahoo.com)
From Words & Music Magazine June 1972 Paul McCartney EX 120315DBE | eBay
From Meet the Beatles for Real: Wings Takes Flight

Last updated on April 30, 2022

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