FLASHBACK: Paul McCartney & Wings Release 'Band On The Run'
It was 39 years ago today (December 5th, 1973) that Paul McCartney & Wings released Band On The Run. The album, which was McCartney's biggest post-Beatles critical and commercial success, was mired in trouble before it began production.
While Wings was rehearsing the new material in Scotland during the summer of 1973, guitarist Henry McCullough quit the band after an argument with McCartney over how a solo should be played. Then -- just prior to the band leaving for Lagos, Africa to record the album -- drummer Denny Seiwell phoned McCartney saying that he too was quitting.
Seiwell, who began playing with McCartney in late 1970 during the Ram sessions, was actually the first member McCartney lined up for Wings. Seiwell says that the bottom line was that money was so scarce, he couldn't afford to stay with band: "I was waiting for some stuff to come along so we'd have some more binding legal agreements before entering into... I knew this record was gonna be a big one, and when none of that stuff was being taken care of, I just thought it was time to move on."
Wings co-founder Denny Laine says that he had no idea that the pair had quit until he didn't see them on the plane to Africa: "I didn't find out until they didn't turn up, because nobody told me what was going on. I just got the vibe. I knew that Denny was missing America, for example. I knew that he didn't like to travel. You know, he was basically a session man who got talked into going on the road."
Pared down to the trio of Paul and Linda McCartney and Denny Laine, the group recorded in the middle of the rainy monsoon season, while the Lagos EMI Studio was being built. One night Paul and Linda were robbed at knife point, and the thieves who made off with the McCartney's cameras and cash also stole the demos for the album, which have never been recovered.
McCartney took over drum duties on the album, and shared the majority of instrumentation with Laine. Laine recalled that the two-man band approach came naturally to him and McCartney: "We did that with Band On The Run a lot, where he would pick up an instrument, I would pick up another instrument and we'd put the backing track down. And then figure it out after that."
We asked Beatlefan magazine publisher Bill King, if he thinks McCartney would ever follow other group's lead in performing full albums in concert: "Even though he's already doing a fair amount of the album, I'd be surprised if he'd ever do what some people would want, which is to do the entire Band On The Run album in concert. It wouldn't be that big a stretch, 'cause like I said, he's doing a fair number of them now. But I don't see that really happening. I think it would be interesting. I don't know if he would want to do that on a tour or maybe do it on a one-shot concert."
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