More from year 1975
Songs mentioned in this interview
Other interviews of Linda McCartney
October 1992 • From Vanity Fair
Nov 29, 1989 • From San Diego Union
1989 • From Diamond Hard Music Entertainment
Feb 22, 1987 • From The Telegraph
Sep 21, 1982 • From The Guardian
Jan 12, 1980 • From New Musical Express
Mar 25, 1978 • From Record Mirror
May 15, 1976 • From Record Mirror
Apr 03, 1976 • From Sounds
Interviews from the same media
Dec 01, 1973 • From Melody Maker
Jan 12, 1974 • From Melody Maker
Nov 30, 1974 • From Melody Maker
May 31, 1975 • From Melody Maker
Jun 07, 1975 • From Melody Maker
Sep 20, 1975 • From Melody Maker
Oct 04, 1975 • From Melody Maker
Mar 27, 1976 • From Melody Maker
Nov 19, 1977 • From Melody Maker
Apr 01, 1978 • From Melody Maker
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- Linda McCartney has, she feels, been represented as an ogre since she committed the unforgiveable sin of marrying Paul McCartney. Sometimes a victim of gossip, or held up to ridicule, she nevertheless accepts such uninformed criticism, with remarkable equanimity. Far from being the bitter, angry young lady of showbiz rumour, she has a charm, wit and warmth.
- Linda was up against those who were not a little jealous of the American photographer who carried off the most eligible bachelor in rock and roll. All old stuff now of course, but it’s hard to realise that it is now nearly seven years since she and Paul were married.
- As far as Wings fans are concerned, Linda is the keyboard player who adds all those Mellotron and Moog swoops, whoops and warbles to songs like “Jet,” and “Band On The Run,” and comes up front to take a bow now and then.
ON MY second day with Wings, as our coach trundled through heavy traffic on the motorway from Bristol to Manchester, the band drank, ate and rapped, partaking of the comforts of a bus equipped with bar, and cold buffet, and a lurching loo over the back wheels, that was more perilous to use than a jet liner’s gents in turbulence over the mountains. As I regained my seat after one such expedition to the rear, and re-equipped with cans of beer, Linda came and joined me for a talk that revealed both how adjusted she was to her conflicting roles as musician, parent and American city girl, now resident in the Scottish highlands.
“I’m only here for the beer,” said Linda, with a startling command of the South London dialect. She sounded oddly like a football fan about to tow a crate of light ales to the away match. Did she like football?
“I love it. Manchester United and Everton. Everton were good last year. I love watching Match Of The Day. I’ve always loved sports, and football is the game to watch on a Saturday night, on telly, y’know?”
Surely Linda, as an expatriate New Yorker should like baseball?
“When I was a kid I used to love baseball, and at high school, I’d watch the Brooklyn Dodgers, But I didn’t play much. Liked horseback riding a lot, but that’s about it. School sports I liked, swimming, hockey and lacross.
“I didn’t do photography until way after I graduated from school, where I didn’t do very well. I was a rebel. The school was about 20 miles outside of New York City, and I was into Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers and Chuck Berry, so all I did was sit in the car and listen to the radio and worry my parents.”
Did Linda have ambitions to be a singer then?
“No, I was just a fanatic and loved pop. All pop. All my teen years were spent with an ear to the radio. Being a girl well if I’d been a male I might have thought “Yeah I’ll be a singer.” But I was a girl and liked Buddy Holly and wasn’t really into, like Brenda Lee. She had a great voice and so did Connie Francis, but I loved the Everlys and Buddy and Chuck.
“In high school with a few other girls we used to cut classes every now and then. They had this music tower up in the high school and we used to go up there and sing ‘Blue Moon,’ and vocal harmonies. Some of them tried an amateur talent show, but I never thought to get into it. I was never disciplined enough. No music lessons no. My parents tried to get me to play the piano and I guess the teacher put me off. Every time my parents were out, that was the time I said I’d practised, only I never did.
“I was really into rock and roll and they were teaching me sort of… well the one thing I learned was ‘Ocean Blue’ by Gilbert and Sullivan. I loved that one.”
So Linda never saw herself becoming a musician?
“Not even when I married Paul I didn’t. It never entered my mind. If he hadn’t said anything I wouldn’t have done it. It was his idea, it wasn’t like me saying: ‘Listen, I can do this…’ I never tried to sing or play or anything.”
And yet she seemed very relaxed and competent on this tour:
“Mmmm. I never was on any of the other tours. But I think that’s ‘cos I like it now, now, and know a few chords. Last night a few things kept going out of tune, like the Moog bit on ‘Band On The Run’, and the Mellotron went out a bit that sort of thing.
“It happened on ‘Live And Let Die.’ During rehearsals I used to get really, really nervous when a solo bit came up because it all depended on me, but it’s funny in front of an audience, I feel more relaxed. It’s easier, you can give more without feeling embarrassed. But I don’t want to come on like I’m coming on. I just want to keep in the background.”
Yet the audiences have been giving Linda plenty of cheers and support.
“Yeah, I couldn’t believe that. Well, I think all that knocking I got is over now. I suppose it was right in a way. What WAS I doing there? If you’re gonna be in a band, you’ve gotta play haven’t you? But now I can play so what can I say? Now I’m relaxed enough to notice the audience, then (on previous concerts), I felt a bit silly. Not silly exactly, the audience was always fine, it was just the critics.
“And a lot of them had never heard me or seen me before. The audience was always very friendly, and there was no kind of “Urgh get off! But the critics really got in there. “One guy said my keyboard playing wasn’t bad, but my singing on one of the numbers was off, which was funny because one of the guys in the band came back and said: “Great, the vocal harmonies were really in tune.” So how does the guy know which of us is out anyway, because there are five of us singing.”
“I think they’ve gotta say something a little bit bad about me.”
Linda seems to take it very well. It didn’t prey on her.
“It doesn’t. It’s funny you know. Before I married Paul I got on really great with people. Then I married Paul and all of a sudden I was this ogre.”
WAS THERE a lot of jealousy involved?
“Oh, I think I became perfect, what is it foil? I was just a perfect person to knock in every way. I suppose I would have knocked me If I were a journalist. They think I’m getting on the bandwagon and stuff. but I’m not and never intended to, I just like to sit down at the piano and have a play, whereas I couldn’t do that a few years ago.”
The Wings line-up now seemed pretty stable and secure.
“Yeah, well there was always somebody in Wings who couldn’t keep it together, and I always felt very strongly about it myself, because I’m very aware of what’s going on around me. When I started photography it made me very aware of everything.
“Paul didn’t feel confidence in the band before, whereas this band, he really knows he can get up there and sing. ‘Cos he knows that everybody else knows what they’re doing, whereas before we’d never stop and say: ‘Right, what are you doing in this number?”
“With this, we’ve listened to it and criticised it. And they’re keen. Like Denny has been with us always, and he’d always fit in. And Henry (McCulloch) didn’t really fit in. Jimmy is great and I think he’ll improve a lot, he’ll get better and better and really get his own style.
“And Joe English is a really good drummer, who has never really done anything big before. He’s great on rhythms, and he doesn’t come on like ‘I’m a great drummer’. He just gets behind it. And the horn players are all great. You can’t ever say what’s going to be in the future, but I’d like to see this band carry on.
“This band is it really, I can’t imagine any better. I’m playing Mellotron, Moog. ARP organ and piano. At first I was really worried about them. On ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ I play organ, and then Mellotron, and then organ again. It doesn’t worry me now because I know what I’m doing, but I’ve got a lot of moving around to do.
“I first got a Moog really early on, and I can’t remember why I got it, but I remember a lot of musicians coming into the studio and them saying “Ah, everybody’s got one now,” and I sorta learned early on how to use it, so now know what each little knob does, I feel really confident. It’s like a camera, I don’t really know the mechanics of photography, but I know when to snap, so I don’t know how a synthesiser works, but know how to use it.”
Did Paul give you many lessons on keyboards?
“No really no. He has no patience. I had to learn it myself. The few things he’d show me, if I didn’t get it off right, he’d get really angry. So I said, like forget it!
“For the Mellotron arrangements, I got a fellow named Fi-that’s F-I and Fi came round in the mornings for a few weeks, and showed me what the string arrangements would be on the keyboard. So I just practised.
“No Paul hasn’t taught me anything actually. I mean, he’d show me things if there was like a solo. We did a track the other night, just kidding around with John Bonham on drums and I’d play ARP on my left hand and Moog on my right hand but Paul showed me what he wanted. In that case, he helps, but I know what I’m doing, he’ll show me something three times and I’m okay, but when he had to show me something twenty times he’d just get up to here with it.
“Timing and syncopation I found very difficult. I just couldn’t get it right. But now… well it’s coming on.”
Does Linda get many cues from the band when they’re performing?
“No, I don’t get told when to come in – no cues at all in this band. Everybody just has to know! In fact the first night I said to Jimmy: ‘Why don’t you introduce yourself Jimmy,’ and he said he was just worrying about remembering everything he had to do.
“Denny counts in ‘Spirits Of Ancient Egypt’ and his numbers, while Paul counts In the rest. Everybody in the band does a bit of everything. You’ll notice everybody plays bass, everybody plays guitar. It’s really good that way, and everybody can play drums.
“I mean Paul is a great drummer, really. He played all the drums on Band On The Run. In fact, Keith Moon said to us: ‘I wondered who played drums on that one’. Denny’s quite good and Jimmy’s a good drummer too.”
IT HADN’T always been apparent in the past that Paul was such a good guitarist.
“You should hear him on the electric guitar. It turns out apparently that on a lot of the early Beatles albums, he played the guitar solos. I mean like ‘Taxman’, a song George wrote, Paul played the lead bit on that one. He’s a really good guitar player. There’s that lead bit on ‘Bluebird’? Well, that’s him! Amazing. He’s a bit shy.
“In fact when we played Europe, he did a number we’re not doing now that’s not been recorded, when he played a really good lead guitar.
“On the ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ on the ‘McCartney album’, you can get a little idea. But I know what you mean, until you meet Paul you don’t realise he’s such a good musician. You think he’s a great face maybe, and there’s not much behind it. He’s a great keyboard player, he’s as good as any of the New Orleans players. Great stuff!
“That’s why he’s lucky. I think he’ll always make music. Like Picasso when he was 90 and still painting, I think Paul will be playing when he’s 90.”
Does Paul get any help at all when he’s writing, or does he lock himself away? Did Linda help him at all?
“I help a little bit – he doesn’t lock himself away necessarily. We can be sitting watching television and he might just get up and play and all of a sudden there’s another new song there.
“He writes a lot of stuff on acoustic, mainly when we’re on holiday if there’s no piano. I’m amazed at how it comes to him. Just the other night he was getting together an arrangement for The Long And Winding Road, and all of sudden there came another great song.
“What can I say? I’ve written a few songs of my own so I can help him a little, on a word, something and as I get better, I’ll be able to help more”
“I’m very shy about it you know? It’s funny, if let’s say I’m with someone who’s not that good a writer we can sit down and write. But with Paul, I’m a bit scared to write. I think Oh God, y’know, but I feel that I could be great. It’s getting over that scared feeling, that’s what it is.”
How much recording had Linda done on her own?
“Ah – did a track called Seaside Woman which was the first white reggae track and I did it five years ago. But I was always afraid to release it and I wish I had.”
Was that before she married Paul?
“No, we’ve been married six or seven years! I know. I can’t even believe it. It’s seven years this March. After the Beatles break up he was very unsure of what to do, and I did help with stuff and I still do help. They were really difficult times, and I didn’t realise how difficult, because I didn’t appreciate what a career was.
“When you’re a woman don’t worry about that, but we were being sued for a million pounds or something because the music publishers said I was incapable of writing a song, I’d had no training. But Paul’s had no training either. So he said, right get out there to our tiny studio at home, and write a song!
“I was mad keen on reggae, because we’d just been to Jamaica, and this was before it became big here. I was just mad on it and wrote this song called ‘Seaside Woman’ which was based on how they speak in Jamaica.
“So we recorded that and we were going to put it out Suzie and the Red Stripes. And then I wrote another thing when we were doing Band On The Run in Africa, and we thought that would be a B side for Suzie and the Red Stripes.
“Then we thought I might do an album, and went to Paris this was the first time Jimmy had worked with us on the day Princess Anne got married and we did four tracks. One was a song I’d written on guitar, because I know about three chords A D and E, so I wrote this sorta country song. It went Into a great jam afterwards, real jazzy.
“Then we got Thaddeus Richard to put a sax thing on it, we’ve got quite a few tracks we might put on this album we’re doing called “Hot Hits And Cold Cuts” which will have quite a few tracks that haven’t been released. Denny’s got a song and a couple of nice songs from Paul so we may do a double album, one with all the single hits, ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, ‘Live And Let Die’ and ‘My Love,’ and the other one will be all unreleased tracks. So I ought to put it on that, or I’ll do the Suzie And The Red Stripes album.”
“I have this idea where I’d like Suzie to be a cartoon character, and the Red Stripes would be like Rubber Man in the comics So we’d like to get the guy who does Magneto to draw this great superwoman. And if that turns me on then I’ll do it. The only trouble is “Seaside Woman” should have been released before all this reggae boom.
“We used to do it ‘live’ actually. They used to play it in New York and I remember Harry Nilsson came in one night, and he said that was his favourite track.”
LINDA obviously enjoyed being on the bad. Did she like being one of the boys, and being part of the band?
“Yes I do, because I like them. They’re really nice people. If I didn’t think I fitted in, then I wouldn’t do it, but at the moment I fit in! When I was a photographer I used to go. on the road. I went on the road with Blue Cheer, all the way through the MidWest, places I’ve never been before, and just sat on the coach”
Was there anything in the pipeline to follow “Venus & Mars” yet?
“Yeah – just a few good songs. It will take a lot of thought, the next album. It’ll be nice to expand the horizons a bit you know.”
Maybe Linda would get a song of her own on the album?
“When I’m worthy. That’s the way I look at it. I’m in no hurry, although I’ve written a song I really like about when we were in New Orleans, and it’s quite good, so we may get that together. But you know… see what ‘appens.”
There was the small matter of a world tour for Wings. Was she going to be able to cope?
“I’ve never been to Australia and Japan, and I’m really looking forward to it. One thing I would like is to get a lot of people to see us, because the venues in England aren’t that big really, unless you play Wembley or something, but this being our first tour, the stuff we are doing is ideal.
“I had this idea that we should do a big concert in the Highlands of Scotland. I wanted to do it this summer and we would have had perfect weather. But maybe next summer, we’ll have a gig, right at the foot of the mountains with great scenery. And maybe then get like Zeppelin and other bands to come as well. I love Scotland great place.”
Didn’t Linda feel at all homesick for New York?
“Not at all. Not at all. If I lived in America, I’d live probably in the desert Arizona, I wouldn’t go back to New York City. I like the earth too much. I think so much of life can be seen if you sit in a field.
“So many random things happen like a bird will fly in front of you or a flower opens up, and it’s all happening without you having to do anything. I don’t mind the city, but when I lived in New York, I didn’t have a garden, and when it’s a sunny day you can’t get the sun on your head.
“So I don’t like that kind of city, but I don’t mind a place where there’s a little park where you live.”
Does Linda have a garden now?
“Oh yes, and I love it. In London, I’ve got chickens and stuff. And up in Scotland, I’ve got chickens too, because I like fresh eggs.
“Before we started rehearsals I used to go and sit in the garden and just watch the animals, y’know just bathing. So I’m a country girl as well. Which is a good balance for Paul really because musicians tend to be just musicians. Whereas I try to keep a bit of healthy living going.“
Does Paul have any interests outside of music?
“Oh yeah, he’s very sort of good at a lot of things. He does a lot of drawing, and painting. And he likes farming, and he clips the sheep and goes out on the tractor. He likes carpentry. Pretty much everything he likes.”
With such busy lives, didn’t they ever feel caught up, and pressurised?
“At certain periods I do, but I don’t have any pressures at the moment. Although here goes the summer and I haven’t seen much of it! When it’s a hot sunny day I want to be out in it.
“Sometimes there are pressures but I think it will just get better and better. The most pressure was not having a good band. Now we’ve got a good band and everybody’s happy, it’ll stay that way. No, I find the biggest pressure for me, is well, I like rapport, and find that I aggravated, like John Lennon, about what the papers say about you.
“How can they criticise Paul when he’s written some of the greatest songs that have made so many people happy?
“That frustrates me and makes me want to say: ‘No look, let’s make this a better world.’ It’s not just Paul, it’s all the knocking some great artists get and I feel we should build them up. Magritte great painters have been knocked forever. I’d like to change all that.
“I can’t stand the way kids go to a concert and have a great time, and tell all their friends about it. Critics go and they’ve gotta go write a piece about it and they never enjoy themselves. They get their pile of records and say: ‘Oh I’ve gotta listen to all these this: week. But we do sell well and if people buy records, they must like them!”
Did Linda feel that she had her life well organised, between family, work and relaxation?
“Pretty much so, although I don’t have a schedule. I have the most fun living life at random.”
Was it possible to run a family and be a musician at the same time?
“So far it is. I mean Heather is over there doing her maths on the bus. We’ve brought along a young lad to teach her while she’s out of school, I hope she won’t fall too far behind.
“But so far it’s going well. I could live with very little, I don’t need a lot. Too much hinders you and in a way, we have too much, but what can you do? I wouldn’t mind just living a very normal life. I don’t enjoy the trappings of stardom, not at all, I’m just not like that.
“I mean, I did when I was a teenager, and was a bit materialistic, I must own up. Now I realise that isn’t what makes you happy. I think love is the only thing, giving it and taking it. It’s really the only important thing for me. And the whole spiritual thing. And that means being settled in life. I do believe in God and I’m in tune with life. So I can feel confident. Life keeps going on and it’s been going on a long time.”
Had Linda found her happiness in marriage?
“Yeah, I think so, although I was also happy before I got married. I was happy when I found photography and found something I wanted to do, and I’ve been happy ever since then. Before that, I was not confused exactly, but rock and roll was the only thing I liked before that. Now I can do things that I love as well.”
Last updated on August 28, 2023