Tuesday 24 January 2023


Paul McCartney said Johnny Cash inspired him to form his second band, Wings, shortly after The Beatles split. The singer-songwriter didn’t know what to do with himself after having been a Beatle for so long. 

During a 2016 interview with Mastertapes for Radio 4, Paul revealed he drank heavily and often contemplated quitting music after The Beatles split in 1970.
“I was depressed,” Paul said. “You would be. You were breaking from your lifelong friends. So I took to the bevvies. I took to a wee dram. It was great at first, then suddenly I wasn’t having a good time … It was difficult to know what to do after the Beatles. How do you follow that?”
He continued, “I wanted to get back to square one.” That meant starting another band. 

In The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul wrote that Wings was an experiment to see whether there was “life after The Beatles” and that “success could be followed.”

“It was the result of asking myself, ‘Am I going to stop now?’ The Beatles were so wonderful and all-encompassing, so successful. Now, should I stop and look for something else to do? But I thought, ‘No. I like music too much, so whatever the something else is, it will be music.'”

Seeing Johnny Cash on TV one night in 1971 inspired Paul to form Wings. He thought what Cash and his band were doing looked fun. Despite being with his wife for only three years and having a one-year-old daughter, Mary, Paul asked Linda if she wanted to start a band. “It felt like it would be a fun new adventure for us. And she said, ‘Yeah,'” Paul wrote.

Paul came up with the name Wings during the birth of the couple’s daughter, Stella. “It had been a difficult delivery, and she’d had to go into intensive care in an incubator,” he explained. “I stayed on at the hospital, sleeping on a camp bed in the room next to Linda’s while they were recovering.

After situations like that, your mind goes into overdrive. I was thinking angelic thoughts because we’d just been through this family emergency, and the vision of an angel with big wings came to me. Wings really stuck with me. But it wouldn’t be The Wings, like The Beatles. Just Wings.”

Wings consisted of Paul, Linda on keyboards, session drummer Denny Seiwell, and former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine. Later, guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton joined. Britton quit shortly after joining and was replaced by Joe English.
The first problem for Wings was Paul’s post-Beatles insecurities. However, Paul eventually thought, “We can’t be as good as The Beatles, but we can be something else.”

“I knew that if I were to go ahead with this project I’d have to tough it out, but I had reserves of courage from being part of The Beatles when pennies were thrown at us at the village hall in Stroud, when we were still starting out,” Paul wrote. “I had to put up with the equivalent once again…”

He and Wings played gigs for pennies in their early days.

 It was like starting over in his career. “I’ve mentioned it time and time again, but it’s worth remembering that, when The Beatles started, we had very few musicians’ skills,” Paul explained. “We knew only a few chords. But we developed – to the point that when we broke up, we had become quite a sophisticated machine.

“With Wings, we would show up at student unions and say, ‘Can we do a gig?’ because we knew they had a hall and they had people. We’d charge 50p at the door. We had only eleven songs, so we had to repeat some of them. Some of the gigs must have been quite bad because we didn’t really know what we were doing.”

“Following The Beatles was one of the most difficult things for me, just trying to live up to those expectations,” he wrote. However, once Paul began writing songs for Wings, he found a voice that didn’t sound like The Beatles.

“I started to write songs for Wings from 1971 onwards, when we got started, and I tried to keep them away from The Beatles’ style,” he wrote. “There were avenues I could go down that I wouldn’t have gone down with The Beatles… I fancied doing something crazy, and Wings allowed me a little bit more freedom.”

Paul and Wings recorded many hits, including “Band on the Run,” “Jet,” “Silly Love Songs,” and “Live and Let Die.”


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