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Sunday, July 9, 1972 › Thursday, August 24, 1972

Wings Over Europe Tour

By Wings

Last updated on July 24, 2023


  • First date: Jul 09, 1972
  • Last date: Thursday, August 24, 1972
  • Number of concerts: 26
  • Number of countries: 9

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From Wikipedia:

In the summer of 1972, Paul McCartney’s newly formed band, Wings, set out on a concert tour of Europe, in a double decker bus, WNO 481.


Coming on the heels of a tour of English universities, the Wings Over Europe Tour was intended to promote recent singles “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb“, as well as provide live recordings to be included on a future album. The second objective did not come to fruition for a long time, the album Red Rose Speedway was released in Spring of the next year without any of the concert material. Only the 21 August performance of “The Mess” at The Hague was officially released, as a B-side to the single “My Love“.

The live version of new song “Best Friend” was intended to be released as part of Cold Cuts compilation album, but the album was abandoned permanently.

In 2012 a live track consisting of “Eat at Home” and “Smile Away” recorded in Groningen was released as an iTunes exclusive to the reissue of Paul and Linda McCartney’s Ram.

Only in 2018, a newly compiled live album Wings Over Europe was released in the limited edition boxset Wings 1971-73 in the Paul McCartney Archive Collection., while “Best Friend” and “1882” were also released as part of Red Rose Speedway reissue.


The band, with the McCartney children and their road crew, loaded up in a brightly coloured double decker bus for the tour of the continent. The tour proceeded largely without incident, but on 10 August in Gothenburg, Sweden, Paul and Linda McCartney were fined US$1,200 for possession of marijuana. Paul joked that the incident would “make good publicity” for the tour, in comments reported around the world at the time (e.g. Miami Herald, 12 August 1972). The Daily Telegraph (12 August 1972) quoted “a member of the group” as saying that this was an “excellent advertisement… Our name flies now all over the world”.

Wings’ line up for the tour was Paul and Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Henry McCullough, and Denny Seiwell. […]

I like to look upon ourselves as wandering troubadours. moving around like gipsies and playing music. We don’t have to worry about money. We are playing to enjoy ourselves.

Paul McCartney – From Daily Mirror – Friday 14 July 1972

We knew we were going to tour in Europe, and that the weather would be nice, and theidea of being stuck in a bus all the time, going from city to city, hotel to hotel, wasn’t too appealing. Not much quality of life there. So we decided to travel around in an open-top bus. We put mattresses on the top deck and got some sunshine as we travelled from one place to another. And we painted the outside psychedelic, like a magic bus.

If you look at it very straight, very conventionally, it was a quite mad thing to do, to put a playpen on the top deck of the bus and put all the children in there while driving around Europe. It was not what you’d expect from a normal band. But we weren’t a normal band.

Paul McCartney – From “Wingspan: Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run“, 2002
From paulmccartney.com
From paulmccartney.com
From paulmccartney.com
Photo by Robert Ellis


From DON COOLICAN in Paris – FORMER Beatle Paul McCartney has hit the road again – in a psychedelic bus. He and his group, Wings, have hired the double-decker bus for a two-month tour of Europe. They have been booked to give twenty-six concerts in nine countries. And going from place to place in the bus, says Paul, helps them all to enjoy the simple life to which touring groups are not usually accustomed.

Yesterday, soon after starting the tour in the south of France, Paul said: “I like to look upon ourselves as wandering troubadours. moving around like gipsies and playing music. We don’t have to worry about money. We are playing to enjoy ourselves.”

Helping to keep Paul – and singing with the group – is his 34-year-old wife, Linda. They have also taken along their children. three-year-old Mary and ten-month-old Stella, and Linda’s daughter by a previous marriage, Heather, aged eight. Their bus — once owned by the council at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk – is fitted with a kitchen, bunks, expensive stereo equipment… and mattresses on the open roof for sunbathing.

From Daily Mirror – Friday 14 July 1972
From Daily Mirror – Friday 14 July 1972
From a moral to this song — Paul and Linda backstage before a concert during… (tumblr.com) – Paul and Linda backstage before a concert during Wings’ European tour, photographed by Joe Stevens. (July/August, 1972)

After searching through my collection of Buses magazines under the ‘Eastern National’ heading, I noticed that WNO 82 the Wings bus but one, had been sold by Eastern Counties which put me on the trail of WNO 481!

WNO 81 was built in 1955 for the Eastern National Omnibus Company by Bristol Commercial Vehicles of Bristol and Eastern Coachworks Ltd of Lowestoft. In the list of ENOC (Eastern Omnibus Company) vehicles it specifies the vehicle to be Bristol KSW5G with ECW open top double deck bodywork (33 top deck/28 lower deck). It was number 2385 until it left that company in 1968 and went alongside WNO 82 to ENOC. Eastern Counties numbered the pair LKO238/239 (WNO 482/481) and placed them in service on seafront routes. In mid 1971, WNO 481 was withdrawn from service awaiting sale but it appeared alongside WNO 82, (which had been withdrawn from service shortly before WNO 81) at Epsom on Derby Day.

Just under a year later WNO 481 was sold to Hall Coaches and was painted in the Red and Grey livery associated with this company. A couple of months later WNO 81 was adapted with such changes as coach seats, fridges, stereo, a play pen etc ready for a contract that could take it away from London and its home counties of East Anglia. The bus now a psychedelic ‘seaside promenade open deck bus’ was to take “Wings Over Europe”.

Henry: the Bus was really amazing it had a top speed of 38 mph… there was a couple of gas fridges built into it stuffed full of cheese and beer, if there was a bit of steak there’d be a row, so we stuffed ourselves with what was there. After touring most of Europe the bus returned to its Hounslow owners, and appeared at Brunel Universities Community festival, Brunelzebub. Valliant Silverline had entered it in full ‘Wings’ livery and showing Zurich as its destination. It provided a very good photographers platform at the rally. […]

Martin Lewis – Wings Fun Club member – From Wings Fun Club newsletter #4
From Record Mirror – July 15, 1972

It was all fairly chaotic. These were sort of the early days for Wings and it was a bit more difficult than the tours became later on. We weren’t that experienced, touring with this unit, and I remember we played places that, following The Beatles, were relatively small venues. But that was fine: the whole idea was to form this band and put us through experiences where we’d improve musically and become a tighter unit.

I didn’t want to play Beatles songs on those early tours. Some people came to see us for nostalgia’s sake and shouted for us to play ‘Yesterday’. But we wanted to build our audience and find a new, young following. It took a while and a lot of hard work, but we eventually did.

Paul McCartney – From “Wings Over Europe” book – Words written in February 2018

Around that time everyone was painting their cars. You know, I have a Hispano-Suiza; John had painted his Rolls Royce; George painted his Mini. And these were all in Magical Mystery tour. So the tour bus was keeping in with all of that. And we wanted to get away from being bustled into cars, like in The Beatles; something where we could actually travel with a bit more freedom. I think we went out with the painted bus, instead of going with a plain red doubledecker – or green as would have been the case in Liverpool. We thought, ‘It’d be great to just decorate it up!’

Paul McCartney – From “Wings Over Europe” book – Words written in February 2018

It was a pretty mad thing to do, to make a playpen upstairs on an open-topped bus and travel around Europe. Not what you’d expect from a normal band, but then we weren’t a normal band. And we knew we were going to be touring around Europe, and that the weather would be nice. The idea of being stuck in a closed bus or train all the time, going from city-to-city, hotel-to-hotel; it just wasn’t that appealing. But the bus was also a kind of rolling advert for the tour. You know, as you went through town, ‘Woah! What’s that?!’ And, ‘Oh! And there’s kids on the top deck lying out and playing, having fun in the sun!’ But you had to beware of the low branches!

Paul McCartney – From “Wings Over Europe” book – Words written in February 2018

When I think about the screens from that tour, we were really just trying to find a new way of presenting live music. But it was informed by traditions that had gone before. You know, I think plenty of people had done similar things in music and in concerts, but this was our version and it was good to just actually curate the show and choose what footage would come where. We could have a diver diving off a cliff. It was just kind of spectacular footage really. Pink Floyd had done abstract versions down the clubs. People used to project Laurel and Hardy movies and things, just birds flying or whatever, you know. So we sort of followed through on that idea and would have white horses instead. It was all about enhancing the show

Paul McCartney – From “Wings Over Europe” book – Words written in February 2018

In the early days of Wings I wouldn’t play Beatles songs. People would shout ‘Sing Yesterday!’ but I wouldn’t do it. I didn’t want to rely on all the old props because we were trying to build a new audience, not satisfy people who liked the Beatles and might have been coming to see us just for nostalgia’s sake.We were trying for a new, young following, which eventually we got. But it took a while, and we had to fight a lot of prejudices to do it.

Paul McCartney – From “Wingspan: Paul McCartney’s Band on the Run“, 2002
From New Musical Express, July 8, 1972
From New Musical Express, October 28, 1972
From Disc And Music Echo – August 26, 1972

26 concerts • 9 countries

First leg

Second leg

Going further

Wings Live - On tour in the 70s

This is the first detailed study of Paul McCartney's Wings on tour in the 1970s. It covers every single concert from the University Tour of 1972, ending with the abandoned tour of Japan in January 1980. A wide variety of primary sources have been consulted, including all available audio and video recordings; press reviews; fan recollections; newspaper reports and tour programmes.

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