Feb 12, 1972
Feb 08, 1972
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It was our version of the Magical Mystery TourPaul McCartney – From Louder (loudersound.com)
Wings University Tour was a UK concert tour by Paul McCartney & Wings in 1972, shortly after the band’s formation and initial album release, Wild Life. Wings’ lineup for the tour was Paul and Linda McCartney, Denny Laine, Henry McCullough, and Denny Seiwell.
McCartney had formed Wings for the purpose of having a band to go on the road with, and he wasted no time in doing just that. During the waning years of The Beatles, notably during the Get Back sessions, he had suggested they return to live performances by showing up unannounced at pubs and playing for the patrons. The idea was never seriously considered by the other Beatles. From 2 to 7 February 1972, Wings held rehearsals for the tour at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). The rehearsals were filmed by Tyncho Films, and titled by McCartney as The ICA Rehearsal, and features footage of: “The Mess“, “Wild Life“, “Bip Bop“, “Blue Moon of Kentucky“, “Maybelline”, “Seaside Woman“, “My Love“, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” and “Lucille“. A short except of the footage was included in the TV documentary Wings Over the World.
McCartney took the band on an impromptu tour of the United Kingdom’s universities, showing up unannounced and performing for whoever happened to be on campus. The band’s intended first stop on the tour, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, had no suitable venue, so the band moved on to the more receptive Nottingham. Admission to the first show which was held at 12 noon in the Portland Building Ballroom was GBP 0.40, proceeds being split up equally among the band members. At Hull, the word circulated fast, and a full hall of about 800 welcomed Wings at 50p per head.
By launching into this adventure, Paul McCartney was realizing an idea he had in mind since September 1969 – get back on the road, doing small concerts:
I’d said: ‘I think we should go back to little gigs – I really think we’re a great little band. We should find our basic roots, and then who knows what will happen? We may want to fold after that, or we may really think we’ve still got it.’ John looked at me in the eye and said: ‘Well, I think you’re daft. I wasn’t going to tell you till we signed the Capitol deal’ – Klein was trying to get us to sign a new deal with the record company – ‘but I’m leaving the group!’ We paled visibly and our jaws slackened a bit.Paul McCartney – From The Beatles Anthology, 2000
From an interview with Melody Maker, November 13, 1971:
Before John was leaving the Beatles, I was lying in bed at home one night and I thought we could get a band together, like his Plastic Ono Band. I felt the urge because we had never played live for four years. We all wanted to appear on a stage but not with the Beatles. We couldn’t do it as the Beatles because it would be so big. We’d have to find a million-seater hall or something.
I wanted to get in a van and do an unadvertised concert at a Saturday night hop at Slough Town Hall or somewhere like that. We’d call ourselves Rikki and the Red Streaks or something and just get up and play. There’d be no press and we’d tell nobody about it. John thought it was a daft idea.
My best playing days were at the Cavern lunchtime sessions. We’d go onstage with a cheese roll and a cigarette and we felt we had really something going on. The amps used to fuse and we’d stop and sing a Sunblest Bread commercial while they were repaired. I’d walk off down the street playing my guitar and annoying the neighbors. I couldn’t do that now, but it’s what I want to do with this new group.
We just don’t know how we are going to do. I don’t want to start with a Wings concert at the Albert Hall with the world watching and analyzing. I just want to play a small dance, and rock a bit.
We will start just by turning up at a place we fancy visiting, and just play a straightforward gig. We might use another name to keep it quiet. We have rehearsed and we can play live together. In fact it sounds quite good. It doesn’t really matter that much.
I don’t want Wings to become a media group, with our signatures on knickers which are sold for promotion. I don’t like that now. I was happy with that situation in the Beatles, but it died in the end. We are starting off as a new band, but if we ever get to be huge like the Beatles it will be very different.Paul McCartney – From Melody Maker, November 20, 1971
Will Wings be going on the road?
Yes we’ll go on the road, it may be next year, it may be two years time, but it could be next week… But we’d just do it if and when we feel like it. There would be no tour. No announcement that Wings would be starting a tour at Slough Civic Hall on such and such a date. I’d just like to turn up and play unannounced. I’d even like to bill ourselves as something else like ‘Ricky and the Redstreaks.’ We don’t want to be a media group, we don’t want our faces turning up on posters, papers or knickers.
Like if we were billed as Wings, we’d have to play to million-seater halls… Paul McCartney is quite a popular name!
l don’t want to hire something like the Albert Hall and all the ‘business’ means sitting like rows of penguins judging me. I don’t want to be like John who swallowed his nerves and was sick before appearing at the Toronto festival.Paul McCartney – Interview with Disc And Music Echo, November 1971
Paul McCartney in "Conversations With McCartney", by Paul Du Noyer:
We got a band and hatched the plan of the university tour. Didn’t want to have a big supergroup, just wanted to try and learn the whole thing again, hopefully learn some new things rather than repeat the Beatles. Which has been about as successful as anyone in the world was ever gonna get with anything. The theory was that by going out and looking at the whole deal again, you might get a few new clues. So we literally took off in a van up the M1 , got to Ashby-de-la-Zouch [in Leicestershire], liked the name. Great! Turn Off here. But there wasn’t a gig, just a little village. It was a signpost. We kept going until we got to Nottingham University, and then it suddenly hit. “Ah, let’s do universities”. Otherwise there weren’t any gigs. That’s a captive audience. There’s people.
I remember thinking one good thing that might come out of this, in future years we’ll meet people who’ll say, “l was a student when you came”. They might go on to be something, and we’ll be infiltrating with them now. “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” was the message on that tour, so they’ll know we were being a bit political. If they become a big whizz at the BBC or something, they’ll be able to say, “l was there, way back when”.
For us it was just to get road experience. We showed up at these places and it was crazy. If we’ve got five hours some time I’ll tell you about it. It’s a whole saga. I remember telling it to John Schlesinger [the film director] and he said, “Oh, I wish I’d been there, I would have loved to have filmed that”.
This was with Wings on the Students’ Tour doing those crazy, crappy little gigs was hairy. Nottingham, Lancaster, any of those gigs. Those were mad. We only had like 11 numbers and we had to repeat ‘Lucille’ to pad out the show by saying ‘We’ve had a request from Willie from the languages course, he wants to hear Lucille again’. We just made it up; 50p on the door, no hotels booked, no gigs booked, no nothing booked. Even the lowliest group throughout history has had a hotel booked for them, but we were just mad.Paul McCartney, in the 2003 Back To The World tour book – talking about his favourite gigs
Paul McCartney in "Wingspan: Paul McCartney's Band on the Run":
We had decided that we would go back to square one. We wouldn’t book a big tour, we wouldn’t even book hotels, we’d just go in a van – the band, the kids, the dogs – take up the motorway and find somewhere to play. We wanted to play at universities, where there was a captive audience, and our idea was to go in and say, ‘Do you want us to play for you?’ It was as simple and as mad as that.
Our roadie would go in, find someone from the Students’ Union and say, I’ve got Paul McCartney in the van, with his band Wings. Do you want ’em to play for you?’ ‘Yeah, sure, pull the other one.’ ‘No, really. Come and see’. The student would come out to the van and I’d say ‘Hello, yes, it’s me. We’ll play for you if you want’.
We didn’t have many songs. To be precise, we had eleven, which – at about three minutes a song – is a 33 minute act. They wanted longer so we repeated things. ‘We’ve had a request to do Lucille. We did it earlier but now we’re gonna do it again for Jenny Babford on the science course’. Whatever. We just repeated things, especially our new single Give Ireland Back to the Irish. The gigs went quite well but it’s funny to look back and realise that we had such little material.
[…] The university tour was really a public practice. The Beatles made all their mistakes in private, at the little clubs before we were watched by any critics. With Wings, I knew that when we went public all the critics would be sitting there with their sharpened pencils –‘Oh, he’s not as good as he was.’ It was like I had returned to amateur status, trying to relearn the whole game.
The Beatles were old and comfortable gloves – you just slipped them on and hey, it all happened. Wings was new gloves – you had to break them in. Before certain gigs Linda would suddenly think, ‘God, what have I got myself into here?’ From being a photographer she was suddenly in a band with me. Crazy.
It was the only thing I could think of to do, and it was the craziest thing to do, to bring in your wife who’s had no previous musical experience. I said to Lin’, ‘So how do you fancy it? C’mon, hit a synthesiser for us… we’ll go and have a laugh. I need ya onstage for my confidence.Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Dream Is Over Vol 2” by Keith Badman
People couldn’t accept that we wanted to go back to square one and be a little skiffle group again… Linda was absolute rubbish but you don’t always form groups with absolute technical musicians. In fact, I was thinking if I formed a super group, like Blind Faith, with Eric Clapton, Ginger (Baker), Stevie Winwood, a lot of kind of stars, that that would have its own kind of failings. It would be so intense that that would have to break up. So, we thought, ‘What the hell.’ We’d take this van up the motorway and we’ll do what I always used to do. At least I’d get to sing and we’d be with people…Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Dream Is Over Vol 2” by Keith Badman
I just thought I was doing what I knew, and the only way I knew how to do it was to get back on the boards again, with anything and anyone. I wanted to perform again because, I think, the longer I waited with another day of no work and another day with nothing to go to, the more I was becoming stagnant. It’s like after an operation, where you want to rest, but you’ve got to push it. Your body is going downhill. But I just had to push something, and I thought, ‘Well, the man who sings everyday is going to have a better voice because he’s practising every day. It’s got to be good for you.’ So, I hit upon the idea of having a bunch of people around me who would play and we’d go out and it didn’t matter if it was big time or small time or anything. I’d still be playing. So, we went out with a couple of line-ups and Linda was there on keyboards, terrified out of her mind, poor kid. She was getting picked on something silly.Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Dream Is Over Vol 2” by Keith Badman
Paul went on and on about it, saying he was dying to get back to performing, but wanted me to join in. ‘Can you imagine,’ he said, ‘standing on the stage, the curtain going up, the audience all waiting.’ He made it sound so glamorous that I agreed to have a go.Linda McCartney – From an interview with The Sunday Times – Quoted in “Paul McCartney and Wings” by Jeremy Pascall, 1977
It was Paul’s idea. We were up in Scotland and Paul wanted to play but he couldn’t think of who to play with. He said, ‘Why don’t you learn? We could do it together.’ I told him, ‘I can’t play a note.’ So he took me to the piano and said, ‘There’s a middle C, now you can learn.’ We had a few rows as he tried to teach me. He really put me through it. When anything went wrong, I used to say, ‘I thought you knew how to make a group?’ So I had to teach myself. I had never realised how hard it all was. I was just telling Paul again and again that I don’t quite know if I had the nerve to join him. I mean, how do you go out with Beethoven and say, ‘Sure, I’ll sing harmony with you’ when you’ve never sung a note? Or ‘Sure I’ll play piano with you’ when you’ve never played? It was mad.Linda McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Dream Is Over Vol 2” by Keith Badman
Paul persuaded me. And he made it sound so glamorous that I thought I’ll give it a try. People muttered that I wasn’t a proper musician but then I’d be told I wasn’t a proper photographer either.Linda McCartney – From Louder (loudersound.com)
That university tour was pretty amazing. Paul drove the van. We had two roadies following with all the equipment in a little truck. The road manager Trevor Jones would go ahead and find a university we could play in. They’d set up the gear, we’d find a hotel or some little bed and breakfast, join them, come back in the evening and play the show.
I had an incredible time. It was very funny for one thing, seeing the kids’ reactions when McCartney stuck his head out the window. At the end of the night we’d divvy up the money and that was great fun. It was so organic. Everyone got on fine. Paul was like one of the gang. We called him Jimmy Mac, I was Big Denny, Laine was Little Denny and Linda was known as Mrs Mac. Henry was just Henry and his arrival was exactly what we needed because he played truly great solos. Oh, and we ate a lot of fish and chips.Denny Seiwell – From Louder (loudersound.com)
I felt really sorry for the kid. There was more than one occasion when she broke down in tears and said, ‘Denny, I don’t think I can do this. Everyone hates me.’ But she had balls, let me tell you that, because she did do it. And OK, she wasn’t the world’s greatest keyboard player but I had a lot more respect for her than plenty other players I’ve worked with. She was an awesome woman.Denny Seiwell, talking about Linda McCartney – From Louder (loudersound.com)
Guys would set up the gear and we’d go look for some kind of a dumpy hotel to stay in that night, and it was great fun. Sometimes the room wasn’t big enough; we stayed in these really funny little British hotels that we were all sitting on the bed in a room playing guitars and hanging out after the show. I’ll never forget we were up north one night. And this night manager, this little bald fellow, came up to us and he had a little kids pail. And he said, ‘Does one of you people own that black and white dog?’ Paul goes, ‘Yeah. That’s my dog, Lucky.’ He says ‘Why?’ ‘Well, he’s running around the hallways and he shat in the hall. You’re gonna have to clean this up.’ So Paul went and cleaned it up. You know, it was magical.”Denny Seiwell – From Billboard, December 26, 2018
The whole point of that was to go out on the road and see what it was going to be like as a band and that’s why we did the university stuff because we weren’t pressured again. We’d turn up on the day we play and it was a good practice. You know, that’s really what it was. And eventually of course we got to be good as a band and that comes from working live, really. Not the studio work. It’s all about live, you know.Denny Laine – From Billboard, December 26, 2018
Last updated on May 14, 2022
11 concerts • 1 country
Feb 23, 1972
Feb 22, 1972
Feb 18, 1972
Feb 17, 1972
Feb 16, 1972
Feb 14, 1972
Feb 11, 1972 • There is 1 album covering this show
Feb 10, 1972
Feb 09, 1972 • There is 1 album covering this show
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.
"Maccazine is a hard copy magazine (a bound paperback) about Paul McCartney. It is published twice a year. Due to the fact that the Internet has taken over the world and the fact that the latest Paul McCartney news is to be found on hundreds of websites, we have decided to focus on creating an informative paper magazine about Paul McCartney."
"In this issue we take you back to the early days of Paul McCartney’s solo career when he decided to form a new group. With Wings he proved there was life after The Beatles. This Maccazine features a detailed timeline of ‘the birth’ of the band with interesting entries including many new facts and unpublished photos. Follow-up timelines will be published in the upcoming years."