Paul McCartney appears on Desert Island Discs radio show

Wednesday, January 20, 1982
Timeline More from year 1982
BBC Studios, 201 Egton House, London

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On this day, Paul McCartney was in the BBC Studios for his first important media appearance since John Lennon’s death on November 8, 1980. He was there to record an episode of the “Desert Island Discs” radio show, conducted by host Roy Plomley. This episode marked the 40th anniversary of the BBC Radio 4 show. From Wikipedia:

Desert Island Discs is a radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4. It was first broadcast on the BBC Forces Programme on 29 January 1942.

Each week a guest, called a ‘castaway’ during the programme, is asked to choose eight recordings (usually, but not always, music), a book and a luxury item that they would take if they were to be cast away on a desert island, whilst discussing their lives and the reasons for their choices. It was devised and originally presented by Roy Plomley. Since 2018, the programme has been presented by Lauren Laverne.

More than 3,000 episodes have been recorded, with some guests having appeared more than once and some episodes featuring more than one guest. An example of a guest who falls into both categories is Bob Monkhouse, who appeared with his co-writer Denis Goodwin on 12 December 1955 and in his own right on 20 December 1998.

In February 2019, a panel of broadcasting industry experts named Desert Island Discs the “greatest radio programme of all time”.

Paul selected the following eight songs:

  • Heartbreak Hotel, by Elvis Presley.It takes me back to when I was first buying records. I remember being at school when this record came out.
  • Sweet Little Sixteen, by Chuck Berry.With Chuck Berry, I choose ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ because it sums him up for me. To us, he was a magician making music that was exotic, yet normal, at the same time
  • Courtly Dances (from Gloriana), by Benjamin Britten and performed by Julian Bream Consort orchestra.My preference will always be for rock’n’roll. But I do like a lot of classical music. I don’t know much about it but I like the great tunes in classical music… There’s just something special about it, I’ve loved it for years.
  • Be-Bop-A-Lula, by Gene Vincent.The first song I ever bought was Gene Vincent‘s ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’. Those are the kind of things that justs sent tingles up your spine. To me [rock ‘n’ roll] seemed like a whole new direction of music… All these people in crazy clothes with guitars and slicked-back hair!
  • Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), by John Lennon.I haven’t chosen any Beatle records. I haven’t chosen any of my records. So to sum up the whole thing I’ve chosen one from John Lennon‘s Double Fantasy, which I think is a beautiful song. It’s very moving to me.
  • Searchin’, by The Coasters.Now this is one we used to do at the Cavern.There were two girls called Cris and Val and they used to say, ‘Sing Searchin’ Paul’. That used to be the big request from Cris and Val so we always used to do this one. It was a big favourite with the group.
  • Tutti Frutti, by Little Richard.Again I’ve just chosen one to sum him up … He’s a friend of mine from the Hamburg days.
  • Walking In The Park With Eloise, by The Country Hams.This one was one written by my dad … He really used to love this one

Paul chose Linda’s Pictures as his favorite book, “Beautiful Boy” as his favorite song, and his Martin guitar as his luxury item.

The program lasted 39 minutes and was broadcast on Saturday, January 30, 1982. It was also filmed by the BBC2 for a documentary called “Arena” (broadcast on February 23, 1982).

Worth noting:

  • As it was mentioned in this program, the song Walking In The Park With Eloise was re-released as a single in March 1982.
  • Before entering the BBC studios, McCartney hit a young photographer from the tabloid Daily Star, who was having his first experience as a journalist with this event. The photographer was trying to take some photographs of McCartney when he was pushed to the ground by the ex-Beatle. Realising his mistake, McCartney apologized telling the photograph: ”I’m sorry, I was wrong, friend. I knew that the only way to stop you taking photos was pushing you“. The incident was on the front page of the Daily Star the next day, January 21st, with the headline: ”The last HIT of Paul…the man of The Star“.

Paul McCartney reappeared on the US version of Desert Island Discs, in November 1990 – with a different and more rock-oriented selection of songs.

Last updated on May 10, 2020

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