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Now we were truly professional [in 1960], we could do something we had been toying with for a long time, which was to change our names to real showbiz names. I became Paul Ramon, which I thought was suitably exotic. I remember the Scottish girls saying, ‘Is that his real name? That’s great.’ It’s French, Ramon. Ra-mon, that’s how you pronounce it. Stuart became Stuart de Staël after the painter. George became Carl Harrison after Carl Perkins (our big idol, who had written ‘Blue Suede Shoes’). John was Long John. People have since said, ‘Ah, John didn’t change his name, that was very suave.’ Let me tell you: he was Long John. There was none of that ‘he didn’t change his name’: we all changed our names.Paul McCartney, Anthology
You’ve twice used the pseudonym PAUL RAMON.
Yes, Paul Ramon was the original pseudonym, when I was in the Silver Beetles, and we went up to Scotland to tour with Johnny Gentle. We thought we were showbiz people and, as it was a Larry Panics tour and all of his people changed their names – Wilde, Eager, Fury, Pride, all of that – we changed ours. Not that it ever occurred to us that his real name wasn’t Johnny Gentle, and that the woman he said was his wife may not have been. We treated her with the utmost of reverence, calling her “Mrs Gentle”! Ramon was French – my idea of what a French name might be, like Monsieur Ramon!
Did you ever think of it years later, when you were writing ‘Ram On’?
Yes, it did occur to me. Ramon seemed to me like a sexy French name, and I remember little Scottish girls asking “Is your name really Ramon?” George became Carl Harrison, after Carl Perkins, our drummer Tommy Moore became Thomas Moore – he used to sign autographs “Thomas Moore, drums” – and Stuart became Stuart de Stael, after his favourite painter Nicholas de Stael, and John was Long John Silver for a very short while! It made us seem like great London showbiz guys, so that when we were in Fraserburgh instead of saying “I’m just a kid from Liverpool” it suggested that there was something more to us. It’s an old trick.
We fairly soon got rid of that, though, and I remember much later being in the back of Brian Epstein’s Zodiac, his big, posh Ford car, talking about whether Paul McCartney was the right name. He and I both felt it was a bit of a mouthful and we wondered how people would ever remember it. People at school never could. So I was going to become Paul James, from James Paul. But then we thought “No, let them remember our names”. Which is good, because there are no two Lennons out there, no two McCartneys, Harrisons or Starkeys.
Ringo was the only one who stayed with a stage name, Ringo Starr, because he’d been to Butlin’s holiday camp. This was the big difference between Ringo and us – it actually made a difference in a man’s life, in those days, whether or not you’d been to Butlin’s. And this was actually a true claim to fame: having done a complete season at Butlin’s he was the consummate pro. We were scruffs compared to him – he had a beard, suits, shirts, ties and matching handkerchiefs. He had the lot, a total dude, and he even had a Ford Zodiac – though it was probably a paint-job knock-off. I bought a Ford Classic on the never-never and was always very worried about making the payments. So he could handle being Ringo Starr, with his rings. But the rest of us ditched our names.
Then, nine years later, in 1969, you did a session with Steve Miller and again called yourself Paul Ramon.
That’s right, that was during the tense Apple time. We had a Friday-night session at Olympic studio in Barnes and Allen Klein showed up with all the guys. It was a big showdown. And my lawyer was Jewish so he didn’t work on Friday nights. But there was Klein, he was Jewish and he was working, so he had a big advantage. Maybe he knew my lawyer was Jewish. Anyway, they all showed up at Olympic and there was a big row – they all accused me of stalling; in my mind I was actually trying to save our future, and I was vindicated later, but at the time I was definitely “the dark horse, the problem”. And that was actually the night we broke the Beatles, that was the big crack in the liberty bell, it never came back together after that one.
So we were stuck, the session was over and the studio was free. I hung around a little bit and met Steve Miller, who was in one of the other studios. We got chatting and he was an “up”. After the big downer I needed an up, so he was my security blanket. I stayed chatting for a while and then he suggested cutting something. I asked what and he said “We’ll make something up!”. I asked if I could play drums and just thrashed around. He called it ‘My Dark Hour’ and we recorded it, just the two of us. I overdubbed a bit of bass and some guitar and we sang it all. We stayed there all night. We just had to do something.
And why did you use Paul Ramon?
I was probably worrying about contractual matters. I’ve never insisted on having credits. I said “Just put me down as Paul Ramon”, remembering the previous time.Paul McCartney – Interview with Club Sandwich N°62, Spring 1992
Last updated on March 28, 2022