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Jamming! 13 saw the first part of our epic three-hour interview with Paul McCartney, covering the formation of The Beatles, the Hamburg days, the rise of the group and Beatlemania. Despite the fact that the interview was done over a year ago, it doesn’t seem to have dated whatsoever, and this second part delves a bit deeper, into the actual person behind one of the most famous faces in the world.
DID YOU SUCCEED AT EDUCATION?
No, not really. I think none of us put enough time in really. We weren’t that thick, but we always got reports saying ‘Could do well if only he’d apply himself’. The year of my GCE’s we were touring in Scotland with Johnny Gentle, which was one of the first big things we were offered. I had to miss my Geography exam, but I just thought ‘Sorry! We thought it was such a big opportunity as it turned out, it wasn’t – doing lots of dates with this guy, and if Johnny Gentle suddenly got famous, so did we. I got some ‘0’ levels; I think I got one the first year, then maybe a couple more the next… I stayed on into the Sixth form because I didn’t want to leave school, I didn’t want to have to get a job. I wasn’t having too bad a time at school – it was a bit of a hassle having to go there, but I didn’t hate it too much. Also, I knew this fella who was 24 and at the art college, and as I was about 17, the way I looked at it was that there was still seven years where I could lig around in the sixth form and go to art college! I thought I could put off the decision of having to choose what to do with my life!
A LOT OF THE PEOPLE WHO’VE MADE IT BIG THOUGHT LIKE THAT… ‘ANYTHING BUT A JOB!’
And the joke is… you get a job, like the job I’ve got now and it’s a J-O-B! It’s a real job, and I’m always trying to get out of it. But you know, I put in quite a lot of hours, it is a job.
WHAT’S THE STORY ABOUT BEING CHUCKED OUT OF GERMANY?
Well, like I was saying before, we lived at the back of this cinema, by the bog; it was like a broom cupboard, with a Push-Bar exit to get out. I think so anyway – this was twenty years ago, and I’m trying to remember what the door looked like! You know I never realised it was twenty years ago, I’m still talking about it as if it was yesterday!
Anyway, we were moving from this club (The Kaiserkeller) to a better engagement (The Top Ten)and Pete Best and myself were getting all our gear together, and one of us had a contraceptive – whatever you want to call it! so just for a laugh we pinned it up on the wall as a goodbye gesture. It was just a cement wall without paint or wallpaper, and I think I set fire to it, and it left a little black mark. But the fella screamed ‘Police!’ He didn’t want us to go to this new club, which would take his business away, so he thought ‘This is a good excuse.’ It was really just- a harmless thing, but he managed to get us in nick. We were just going along the road, and the police pulled over…. ‘Hey! come viz us!’
WAS THAT THE FIRST TIME YOU WERE NICKED OVER THERE?
Actually, it was the only time until Japan a few years ago, when I had a longer stay in there. And more fun! But anyway, the police dragged us to an official building, where we hung round for hours, and eventually a fella came up and said ‘Come with us, we’re taking you back to the club.’ And no sooner said than done we were on the plane back to England.
HOW MUCH WAS BRIAN EPSTEIN RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR SUCCESS? WAS HE SPECIAL, OR COULD ANOTHER MANAGER HAVE DONE IT?
Because he turned out to be special, I’d say he was special; you can’t tell if another man would have done it. He wasn’t a very good businessman – he used to undersell us but we never wanted to be overpriced either. But I thought he was great. He was very keen, very showbiz, he was like we were saying earlier – just that generation before us. He may only have been a few years older, but there’s a big difference. He’d studied at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), but he hadn’t done too well there, so he had this great longing to be an actor. He was living through us a bit, but he would see to it that we had a strong stage act or that the lighting was good, so I think he was a big influence. We used to slag him off a lot, as you do with managers, but I liked him; I thought he was great.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING ONE OF THE FOUR MOST WANTED MEN IN THE WORLD BY VIRTUALLY THE ENTIRE TEENAGE FEMALE POPULATION IN EXISTENCE?
Terrific! You can’t deny it – we were four normal fellas!
DID YOU ALL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT?
Oh Yeah, definitely – we had a great time! That’s half of being in a group – or it was then. I remember my dad saying ‘I wish I’d had as much experience as you, son.’ We used to talk about it – he’d say that in his day, VD was the big scare, ‘cos by the time I was older they had a jab for it. It was definitely the biggest perk of touring – I can’t deny that. It was only later I started thinking ‘Shit – I probably broke somebody’s heart there.’ You don’t think about that at first, but a little later you realise… they are real people. But yeah, there was a lot of ladies about.
WHAT ABOUT DRUGS, ‘COS EVEN FROM THE FIRST STAGE YOU MUST HAVE BEEN OFFERED EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN?
Well, it was cigarettes to start with, then scotch and coke, then when we went to Hamburg it was pills – speed – and then later we went to America and it was marijuana, and that was about the size of it, except for a little bit of coke. For me anyway – John I think, later got a little bit heavier. But it came off it being available everywhere; all the gangsters in Hamburg used to have pills to stay up all night, so they used to give them to us. Preladin they were called:- ‘Zu vant zome Prellies boys? Ya ya ya, schnatz und prellies?’ They were just getting off on us silly Englishmen.
LATER ON THOUGH, AFTER BEATLEMANIA, WHEN YOU WERE A STUDIO GROUP, DID YOU NOT GO THROUGH HEAVIER STUFF?
No. Nobody got on to heroin.
BUT SERGEANT PEPPER’S WAS MEANT TO BE CONNECTED WITH LSD. IS THAT TRUE?
Yeah, there was a lot of LSD around at the time. It definitely got into the music – it was the fashion. It became what everyone was doing – you’d go down clubs and people would come to you and say ‘You want some acid? You want to back to our flat?’ which you’d end up doing.
IN THOSE CASES YOU MUST HAVE HAD HEROIN FORCED ON YOU A LOT?
No. Heroin was the one thing you drew the line at.
I’D HAVE THOUGHT WITH YOU LOT HAVING EXPERIENCED EVERYTHING IMAGINABLE, YOU’D HAVE SAID ‘WHAT IS THERE LEFT WE HAVEN’T TRIED?
The thing is, we were like anyone who plays around with drugs – you play around with them. Actually, I’m not saying like ‘anyone’, ‘cos there’s a lot of people who are very different. But our approach was – as long as it’s not really dangerous, we’ll do it. I think a lot of people overdid acid; some of the people who took more trips still get flashes – they suddenly buzz without meaning to. I think we were very lucky with it really; it didn’t get to us.
DID YOU SEE MUCH OF WHAT WENT ON AROUND YOU, ‘COS I’D IMAGINE YOU HAD TO BE PRETTY WELL SHIELDED. YOU COULDN’T JUST WALK THE STREETS ON YOUR OWN.
Well you could- that’s a myth actually. I used to go round a lot, and I still do. If I want to from here to over there, I won’t do anything special, I won’t panic – I’ll just go out the front door. You’d be surprised – people may notice you, but what are they gonna do? They’re not going to jump on you – it never happened even then. When we got to a gig, there would always be a gang of girls outside waiting for us, you’d expect that. But I’ve always felt that just normal living, I’ve always seen pretty much how people are. Like now, I wouldn’t know what goes on down the 100 Club or anything – I see all the kids outside, as I go past, but I don’t know what goes on. But half the people who walk down Oxford Street don’t know either. So I don’t know all the cult things, but just what goes on generally, I’ve always been up with. I’m a little bit out of touch with certain things, like I sent a fella out to buy some scotch, and didn’t give him enough money! But generally, I think I’m more in touch than some people. For instance, I was always against the Common Market right from the off – people were saying ‘Oh you’re so out of touch’ but they were wrong – I was pretty in touch. Nobody that I know really digs the Common Market, not your ordinary people like the milkman or someone.
WHY DID IT TAKE FOUR SOLID YEARS BEFORE YOU MOVED AWAY FROM SIMPLE LOVE SONGS, TOWARDS OTHER STUFF LIKE SERGEANT PEPPER’S? WAS THAT JUST THE WAY LYRICS WENT AT THE TIME?
I don’t know really, I’ve never thought about it. I think the love stuff – ‘You and me, boy and girl’- was just the early part of the development. To us, it was just the commercial songs, and we got hooked on little things, like we always had a ‘me’ or ‘you’ or an ‘I’, something personal, in the title:- Please Please ME, Love ME Do, Can’t Buy ME Love, She Loves YOU, From ME TO YOU…
BUT DID YOU ALWAYS MEAN THE LYRICS?
No, we didn’t. I still don’t always mean the lyrics – it’s just not the kind of writing I do. They’re not always personal, and sometimes they’re just made up.
SO WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO DO WAS JUST WRITE A GOOD SONG, AND SAY THE WORDS OF THIS SONG – LIKE SHE LOVES YOU – ARE GOING TO MEAN SOMETHING TO SOMEONE?
Yeah. Not all the songs were that, but that was the idea of it, writing something the people would want.
BECAUSE I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT WITH THAT YOU WERE SAYING EARLIER ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF GIRLS AVAILABLE, YOU COULDN’T HAVE BEEN IN LOVE MUCH.
No, you’re right. But you don’t have to be in love to write a love song.
WHAT RECORDS BY THE BEATLES ARE YOU MOST PLEASED WITH?
Being sensible, as a record I probably like ‘Yesterday’. That, ‘Here There And Everywhere’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ‘Hey Jude’, and some of the other big ones. But if you said you can only take one, I wouldn’t take ‘Hey Jude’ because I’ve heard it so many times; there’s a crazy b-side I like, ‘You Know My Name (Look up The Number)’, the b-side of ‘Let It Be’. I love that one – it’s just an insane track, and what I remember from the session and all the laughs – we were just in pleats making that record, so that to me is one of my favourites. Another is ‘She Said, She Said’ – I just like those more off-the-beaten-track tracks. That’s how we used to choose material; we’d never do the big hit by The Shirelles, we’d do ‘Soldier Boy’. Even though they were girls singing to a soldier boy, we’d change the words a little bit.
WHAT ABOUT LP’S – DOES ANY ONE IN PARTICULAR STAND OUT?
I like Rubber Soul, Sergeant Pepper’s and Abbey Road. I listened to Abbey Road recently and thought ‘Wow! That’s good! I like the White Album as well.
I KNOW THE OFFICIAL REASON FOR WHY YOU STOPPED PLAYING…
What is the official reason? I don’t even know that.
I’M TALKING ABOUT WHY YOU STOPPED PLAYING LIVE…
Oh, that just happened. We did this one concert in America, when it was raining, with water coming in the amps, and we hated it – we did the show, but hated every minute of it. And then at the end of it, we were put inside this metal-lined van, and were sort of clattered about in there. And I think as we were sitting in there, John and George just said Sod this! But they had been saying ‘All this touring…’ We were just shattering ourselves, And I think that was when I said ‘Sod it. – I agree with you’. That made three of us, so we went into recording. We decided to just keep recording, and if anybody said ‘When are you going to tour next?’, we’d say ‘We’re not sure. We weren’t going to announce that we’d stopped touring; we just decided to quietly pull out of it, and get into recording more.
Nobody noticed it for a couple of months ‘cos we’d finished our live commitments, were doing some recording, and it looked fine. After a few months, people said ‘Hey- wait a minute, when are you going on tour again? Then after a year, people said ‘It looks like you’ve given up touring.’ And we said ‘Well sort of, maybe’.
THE STORY GOES THAT IT WAS A PRETTY BIG THING WHEN YOU STOPPED TOURING. YOUR NEXT SINGLE – ‘PENNY LANE’/’STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER’ – FAILED TO GO TO No.I FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE YOU’D STARTED, AND THAT WAS MEANT TO BE A DIRECT REACTION TO YOU NOT TOURING.
I can’t really remember. It may have been that we were doing this quiet thing I was telling you about, and one of the newspapers said ‘Are you giving up touring?’ and we said ‘YEAH!’ and that hit the papers, making it look like we’d done it officially.
APPLE WAS WIDELY REGARDED AS YOUR DOWNFALL – CAME ABOUT PARTLY BECAUSE OF BRIAN EPSTEIN’S DEATH, DIDN’T IT? DO YOU RECKON IF BRIAN HAD BEEN ABOUT HE’D HAVE MADE THINGS GO MORE THE WAY YOU WANTED THEM TO?
I don’t know – someone else asked me that recently. The thing is, his influence had stopped a couple of years before he died anyway. His influence, like George Martin’s, had mainly been in the earlier days. As we grew up, into men rather than little boys, we started to want to make our own decisions a lot, so… It might have been okay if Brian had been alive still, but you can’t really tell. It might even have been more disastrous, ‘cos he was changing as well. I don’t think it could have been done any different from the way it was done; it was just like a tree growing – if it’s going to grow right through this wall, it will. We did it all naturally, you know; you can only guess at what might have happened if we’d done it all another way.
APPLE DID GO DRASTICALLY WRONG THOUGH, DIDN’T IT?
The thing is, that with a company that’s gone drastically wrong, it’s still got over a million in the bank, so it couldn’t have gone that wrong! Yeah, it went wrong, but not as much as you’d expect – you’d expect it to be bankrupt. It’s still got a lot of money in the bank, being The Beatle’s company, having The Beatle’s records, and having a lot of hits. It’s hard to explain, but there’s all sorts of company laws, you can’t dissolve a company. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. Ten years and we still haven’t sorted it out! You wouldn’t believe the stories on Apple. That’s the new Beatle’s story sometime, if anyone can get it together. But it didn’t actually go that wrong: it didn’t go as right as we wanted it to, like we wanted it to go smooth, never break up, make a lot of money and be terrific. Be good for people, be good for us and everything. But it was during the time we were breaking up anyway. So it wasn’t actually the company’s fault; it was us breaking up within the company. There’s still endless negotiations, still meetings in New York to try and decide the fate.
DO YOU KNOW WHY YOU DID SPLIT IN THE END?
No, not really. The only thing I always reckon is… You get teams of people, like a football team or something, and they go and do the big thing, but there’s an inevitability they’re not going to stay together. There’s an inevitable break up of a team, by the very nature that you’re holding on. I think we kind of did everything, achieved all our ambitions, cracked America, cracked the world, did everything we wanted to and then somehow we just wanted to start to split it up. Someone would want to do a solo thing, and then in the end, John started to get very strong with Yoko, and we started to get our own family things. We just kind of drifted apart. Then it got to be bitchy – we were drifting apart, and therefore the business had to be sorted out. ‘That’s mine – what do you mean?’ That got very difficult, ‘cos Allan Klein came in, and screwed us silly.
YOU’RE THE ONE WHO SAID FROM THE START THAT ALLAN KLEIN WAS DODGY?
(In quite a sad acknowledgement) Ummm.
YOU WERE PROVED RIGHT BY THAT?
Yeah. At first, the word was that we were going to go along with him, because maybe he was bad, maybe he was good, but we should give him a try. So we started to negotiate his deal, and I said ‘Well the Beatles are a big act – there’s not chickenfeed involved. We can get a really good deal with this fella; he’s lucky if he can get 15%.’ But everyone was so keen for him that they said ‘No, give him 20%.’ So I agreed, the idea being that we’d give him a trial. But during the trial run, he’d say one thing to me, then I’d see another thing in the papers. So I started to suspect him, and at that point I tried to get out of it all, but everyone said ‘No, we’re going to sign with him.’ It was the first time in my life I felt I’d been done the dirt with the other guys. I said to them This is very weird, this is the first time… we’ve been mates ’till now.’ But it was three to one, they agreed to go with him, and I said no. No way. So I started boycotting the whole thing, not goin in, being on strike and having go-slows! You know, anything I could to hold him off. And at the end it was proved.
The worst thing was I had to sue The Beatles. I said ‘No, I want to sue Allen Klein, I don’t want to sue The Beatles, I haven’t got anything against them. They said ‘But all these companies are in the Beatles name – you can’t sue Allen Klein without suing The Beatles. It was just the way it was legally set up; I had to. So that was a very tough decision; I spent a few months making my mind up whether to do it or not. But the result was that I either stayed with Allen Klein or did the suing – it was the only way out of it. So I sued them in the High Court, and they looked at all the evidence, and there in it we proved that he’d been screwing us. Our side won, and the judge said something like ‘This man (Klein) has the patter of a second-class salesman.’ So that blew him out a bit, all the other Beatles realised what he’d been doing, and they tried to get out of it. Then later, they came back and said ‘Thanks, we’re glad you really held it all up’. But at the time of course, when they didn’t think he was wrong, I took some stick.
HAS HE NOW GOT AWAY WITH HAVING RIPPED YOU OFF?
Well, this shows you how small-minded he was… he actually got $5,000,000 for managing us for a year. There’s me trying to get him 15% and all that! Somehow he actually got paid $5,000,000 for one year’s work. To which I said ‘Come On, look at that. You’re kidding! You mean this guy is straight? Why wasn’t it $4,700,000? How comes it’s such a round figure? And then he wasn’t content to just take the five million and do something honest with it. What he eventually did was… he’s just been in nick in America, and what they did him for was selling sample records. He had loads of people peel the little white things off and sold them. He must have made a little profit on that, but that was the only thing they nicked him on in the end.
DO YOU BELIEVE ANY OF THOSE STORIES THAT BRIAN WAS MURDERED?
No, I don’t think he even committed suicide, it was just accidental. I mean, I don’t know, nobody knows, not even the man who says he was murdered, Norma Phillips – it’s Phillip Norman really. I think it was just accidental, ‘cos he used to booze a lot, and he used to take pills a lot. I think the two caught up with him one night – he probably forgot he had so many drinks started taking some pills, and if they were tranquilisers, he ‘d probably forgot how many he’d had. ‘I can’t sleep, I’ll have another. ‘I don’t think he particularly wanted to die. But we were a little bit removed from it anyway – none of us saw him, none of us found him, we just had to believe whatever we were told from the people in his house. I don’t think he committed suicide and I don’t think he was murdered – that just fits in more neatly with recent sensationalism about The Beatles.
THE THING TO SELL THE BOOK (‘SHOUT!’) BASICALLY?
Yeah, this Albert Goldman, who wrote that book about Elvis, is supposed to be warming up to do a book on John. But seeing where he’s at, you know what to expect. He’s going to dredge up all sorts of things that he’s going to tell us about John, some of which I don’t even know. Generally, I think it will be pretty much bullshit.
John got a little heavier towards the end of his life…. no actually, he cooled out totally towards the end of his life. Five years before he died he wasn’t on any drugs or anything, he was just totally together. But when he and Yoko first met, they were pretty crazy. So there may be little secrets from those days. But you always get those things… ‘Beatles Pissed On Nuns’ is one story which wasn’t true at all. All it was was we were staying in this place where you had to go down about five flights of stairs to go to a toilet, so sometimes we’d piss out the window – good old English medieval habit! And of course, what happened was, one day, right down the road from where we were pissing there happened to be some nuns. They didn’t see us, but somebody did; the papers picked it up, and it went from being a joke to being a fact. All that hellraising stuff wasn’t half as bad as it was made out to be. John saying we were bigger than Jesus – it was just a small little quote out of a whole big interview.
WASN’T IT JUST A SMALL QUOTE IN THE EVENING STANDARD, BUT THE NEW YORK TIMES OR SOMETHING PICKED UP ON IT AND MADE IT INTO A MASSIVE ISSUE?
Yeah, they made it sound like John was really boasting about it, which he wasn’t; he just happened to say it, it’s just a manner of speech. But of course, the Bible Belt in America weren’t going to have that as a manner of speech, thank you very much. They were going to have that as a major controversy. I remember some young ten-year old kid banging on the window of our coach – ‘YOU BLASPHEMOUS FIENDS!’ He was really possessed, like a little Omen kid – we really thought he’d get us.
SO WHAT DON’T YOU LIKE ABOUT ‘SHOUT!’?
‘Shite!’ as I call it. I couldn’t believe some of the facts in the serialisation in the Sunday Times, so I read the book. The trouble is, there’s some bits of it that I’m not in that suddenly seem very believable, like a really good story. Then I’ll see a fact that I know not to be true, and I’ll think ‘Wait a minute! What am I doing believing these other bits about Brian Epstein’s youth, and John’s family background?’ I think there are certain facts in it that are quite fascinating, and certain things that it gets over, that aren’t too bad. But the crime is for him to call it ‘The True Story Of The Beatles’, and yet he never interviewed any of the Beatles.
I DIDN’T THINK IT WAS TOO BAD.
My problem is to me, I come over as this very together guy, always got his finger on top of everything: the man with no problems. School – a doddle, got all the exams. This is the sort of image of me. Actually, I had murder getting through exams, like I was saying about being on tour during my GCEs. I was like the kid who was getting the cane. Just like John was, but he makes me the very shrewd, always-going-to-succeed guy, and John is the kind of cute, working-class hero. In actual fact though, John was just as shrewd and ambitious as I was. What does me in is he adds to this image I’ve got; I resent that, because I know I’m not that, and I know I’ve never been that.
Like in the book, I almost kill Stu Sutcliffe. The way it comes over is that I used to really put Stu down, whereas in actual fact, I had a little bit of a thing against Stu, but that was for one reason – he couldn’t play bass. I had a purely musical thing about it ‘What are we going to do about a bass player who can’t play bass?’ And the other great legend is Pete Best – ‘Why did they get rid of this poor lad?’ Because George Martin told us – ‘Your drummer can’t drum. Get rid.’ What are we gonna do, try and pretend he’s wonderful drummer? We knew he wasn’t as good as what we wanted in the group, so we got another drummer that we wanted. He was called Ringo. It had got to the stage that Pete was holding us back.
You can’t help it, if there’s somebody in the group who doesn’t click. Like Stu. Stu was a great guy, a lovely guy, and I didn’t understand him, it’s true. There’s a lot of people in my life I haven’t understood; I’m not the world’s most psychic person. I make a lot of mistakes, and I misread people, I’ve read a lot of stuff about Stu since that I didn’t know about; I was taking him all wrongly. But it certainly wasn’t just me who was getting at him, everyone had their little goes. But I suddenly come out as the ‘go-getter’ and the ambitious one in the group. And John’s portrayed as the kind of nice guy who always falls into situations. And he has George standing there with his plectrum always waiting for a solo. Now that does George an injustice there’s a lot more to George – than just this idiot waiting for a solo.
PAUL IS DEAD.
That’s right. I’m really an imposter – but the money’s good! This mafia-style operation has been paying me to be Paul McCartney; as you can see, I’ve learnt the history quite well, and I’ve got the accent just about off!
No, what happened was a guy from our office called Peter Brown rang me up, and said ‘Paul, there’s a rumour in America that you’re dead. What do you want me to do about it?’ I said ‘Is there Peter? Oh, really. Well, what can I do about it; tell them it’s not true. And that’s how I dealt with it. It all happened over in America, so I didn’t see it, I didn’t hear about it at all. People were telling me ‘All the DJs in America are building this rumour that’s sweeping the country. They say you didn’t have any shoes on the cover of Abbey Road, therefore…’ But if you look at the photo session from Abbey Road, you see me sitting on the steps with sandals on. It was a hot summers day, so I took my sandals off to walk across the road. Now that’s the truth, but the rumour was that bare feet was the sign of a dead man.
DID YOU MIND IT THOUGH?
Oh no, it was hilarious! There was nothing I could do, I just couldn’t take it seriously.
ONE THING THAT HAS BEEN PROVED WRONG BY MY MEETING YOU IS I’D ALWAYS BELIEVE THAT THE IMAGE OF PAUL MCCARTNEY THESE DAYS TO BE TRUE… THE MULTIMILLIONAIRE BUSINESSMAN SURROUNDED BY BODYGUARDS AND AIDES.
Well, how do you think I feel about it? It’s incredible, but there’s nothing I can do about it. They write in every single article they do that I make £20 million a year – that’s the figure they have got hold of. I don’t know where they got it from, but what am I gonna do- write up to everything and say it’s not true? When I walk out of here, I walk in the street – and on my own, not with millions of people. I’ve got an office, yeah, but so have you. Ok, mine’s pretty ritzy, but I wanna do it like that. It leads to an image that comes out, but I honestly don’t know where half my image comes from. If I tell you some of the true facts about how I live… I mean some of them are just too true, too far out, the true story.
YOU MEAN DOWN TO EARTH?
Yeah. Like Harvey Goldsmith came down once, in his chauffer-driven car. He saw my house and said ‘No no, keep driving – he couldn’t live there. That must be just the little lodge house.’ Because he believes that image too. Well the thing with me is that you’d expect me to live in a mansion, but what I like about how I do it, and how I am one of my sources of satisfaction – is that it isn’t like that at all. Would you believe that I’ve got four kids and we live in a two-bedroomed house? That freaks me out, whether it freaks you out or not. Ok, we’re building a new house, and the kids are getting a bedroom each, which is what you’d expect. I mean, it’s not going to be a mansion, because I’m not like that.
You see, I’ve tried all that big lifestyle. I’ve had chauffers, and I hate being driven – I’m the driver, and I like to drive myself. I’ve had live-in couples which I’ve hated, ‘cos they take over- it’s like living with your bloody auntie or something. When I had that, I thought ‘Bloody Hell! This is worse than living with your parents! So I’m off all of that stuff, I don’t do anything like that. The big thing I’ll use my money for is really for jibs and perks. In other words, instead of taking a lousy flight somewhere on Plummet Airlines, I might hire a jet. I’ll do that kind of thing, just to make it more comfortable, and a bit flash. Actually, it’s not being flash, it’s doing the practical thing – getting a really safe plane that ‘ll get me down in half the time. That’s the kind of thing I go for.
But you know, I’m not really into flash stuff. I’m not a jewellery man, I’m not a big house man, the kids don’t go to private schools. Another reason that I’m quite proud of myself is that the kids so far aren’t basket kids, they’re real good kids. They’re kids you can sit down and chat with, like you can go out with the older one, and find out her interests; they’re just very normal kids. There’s nothing snobbish about them.
It’s quite funny, I remember once thinking ‘If I have a kid in their teens, there’s nothing that would freak me out. Long hair I wouldn’t mind, ‘cos I’ve been through that; crazy fashions I wouldn’t mind, ‘cos I’ve been through that; And yet when my kid started going punk, I suddenly realised what my parents had thought about me. Which is like ‘Is this gonna mean she’ll get onto glue or something that I’ll sit up worrying about? If I give her total freedom, and say ‘Yeah! Go with all the fashions!’ is that gonna mean I’m pushing her onto heroin?’ And then I suddenly realised: ‘Oh God! I thought I’d never do this! I always swore that I was going to let them do whatever they wanted to, but in the end I found myself realising ‘So this is how my parents felt?’ Because one thing parents are, all the time, is worried. You can’t help it. But it does mean you care.
THE KIDS MUST GET A LOT OF CF STICK AT SCHOOL THOUGH.
They get it all, yeah. But the thing is, they’ve got to learn to live with it, because there’s nothing I can do about it. What can I do – unmake myself? Turn the video backwards? They are Paul McCartney’s kids. All we do is just treat it real normal. I don’t open fetes or anything at the school; if I ever go down there, it’s just as a real ordinary parent. I buy my coffee for I0p at the school play, natter about school stuff. I don’t feel famous. I know I am, and sometimes I’m proud I am and all that, but in my ordinary day-to-day life, I like to be the way people are- just what I am. That’s one of the wierd things that does happen – your fame destroys you. We started off with you saying ‘What would you advise people?’ and you’ve got to watch that. You might get a bunch of money and think ‘Now I’ve never allowed myself a bloody great car, but I would love a black Cadillac, so I’m gonna do it.’ A lot of people just do it for fun like that, but then you’ve got a black caddie, and you’re a black caddie man. You don’t realise it’s changing your lifestyle, but it is.
ARE YOU PLEASED WITH ALL THE MUSIC YOU’VE MADE SINCE THE BEATLES SPLIT?
Not all of it. I mean, the obvious thing after you’ve been in a big group like that is how do you follow it? I just went back to square one, got a little group together again, and went back to playing small halls. So some of the music was done under a lot of pressure, me trying to figure out what I was going to do etc. So some of it was a bit duff. But on the whole, looking back over it, I’m amazed at how I’ve hung in there – every so often there’s been a good little record come out.
DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU DID ‘MULL OF KINTYRE THAT IT WOULD BE…
That huge? No. No way. I didn’t even think it would be a hit. We did it in Scotland in our barn, and pipers who played on it, all had their cans of McEwans, getting tanked up, and they all said ‘Oh this is a hit. From 16-year-olds up to 50-year-olds, they all agreed it was a hit. But we put it out at a time when there was a lot of new wave, punk stuff starting, and I thought that it was just going to get left out. It’s funny – there’s me in the height of punk putting out a Scottish waltz. But it was one of those records that just appealed to people – you can’t tell what it was, but it just did.
THE THING THAT I WOULD SAY IS THE BEATLES… WHILE I WASN’T THERE WITH THE MUSIC I CAN STILL LISTEN TO IT AND LOVE IT, THINKING ‘THIS IS TIMELESS’. BUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE SINCE THE BEATLES I’VE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO GET INTO. DO YOU THINK MAYBE AS YOU’VE GOT OLDER YOU’VE WRITTEN STUFF…
Not as good, do you mean?
OR MAYBE IT’S A PRODUCT OF SOMEBODY WHO IS OLDER?
Yeah, well that would be true. The last thing I want to do is think ‘Yeah, well I did all my best stuff with The Beatles, and there’s no way I can do anything good anymore.’ I’d have to take up gardening full-time! But I think the public look at it like that, like ‘I’ve heard everything by The Beatles; now if I’m going to check out everything by Wings, it’ll be duff in comparison.’ I think The Beatles stuff is better, because as you say, it’s younger, it’s a group,… all that stuff we’ve been talking about. But I think there is stuff I’ve done since that is as good… I mean, I’ve heard ‘Mull Of Kintyre’ myself, and you may not like it but I thought ‘Yeah, that’s a good record.’ Band On The Run, as well.
MAYBE IT’S THE DIFFERENCE THAT ‘SHE LOVES YOU’ SOLD TO PRACTICALLY EVERY TEENAGER IN BRITAIN, AND MULL OF KINTYRE TO PRACTICALLY EVERY HOUSEWIFE…
Yeah, that’s what you’d think, but when you look at it, there were millions of young kids who bought that record. I mean, 8-9 year olds. That’s the thing about it… it’s a British record. It’s got weird appeal, but even not going on sales I think that one does something.
The way I look at it is that I’m hanging in there. I couldn’t possibly do The Beatles again, I couldn’t keep up that standard. That was The Beatles, that was me writing with John Lennon. I think if you look at it now, you’d think ‘Did the Beatles, end of story, nothing from then on’, which I don’t agree with. I think if you look, and search a bit more, you’ll find there is some good stuff in there, that you might not get into until later in your life.
So really, you know, I’ve always thought of myself as hanging in there. My motto is ‘E for Effort’.
And so the interview ended, Paul going off to finish some recording, me left marvelling at how frank he’d been.
Whatever you think of Paul McCartney, hopefully, this interview will have opened your eyes a bit. My main reaction from meeting the man was one of astonishment at just how HUMAN he’s remained despite living such a remarkable life. He still does what he wants, has built a normal family, and can joke about his life as though it were never him involved. Whether or not Paul is still a relevant force in music is not really the issue: over twenty years, he’s been largely responsible for the most popular songs and best-known group ever, and has come out sane; that is an acheivement in itself.
Last updated on August 22, 2023