Saturday, June 7, 2014

18 Days of McCartney Day 7- Wings History

"Simple things count most and that's what Wings is all about"- Denny Seiwell, 28 April, 1973, Record Mirror
 After divorcing The Beatles on 10 April, 1970 and releasing his first solo album, McCartney seven days later, Paul and his wife, Linda, had resigned at their country estate in Scotland where they started Paul's second solo album, in this case a duo with his wife; Ram which was released in May of 1970.

The Beatles break-up lead to many doors in the other Beatles lives as well as McCartney's. Lennon had started his Plastic-Ono Band and had already released his anthem to the world, "Imagine" and was still pushing, along with his wife Yoko Ono, for world peace. George was working on his first album that would be released as a triple album, All Things Must Pass. After The Beatles Ringo admitted that he was lost but soon had started his own solo career with his album Sentimental Journey. With Paul now having released some of his most recognizable works as a solo artist like, "Maybe I'm Amazed" and "Another Day"  by 1971 he had decided to start his own band, but instead of how The Beatles ended their career as just a studio band, Paul wanted to go on tour; and that just what he did.

While recording Ram, the McCartney's had interviewed numerous drummers, it was Denny Seiwell who caught their attention when he came in for the audition and was asked to play a simple rock 'n' roll song where Seiwell filled the room with the tones of tom-toms; he was asked to join Paul's potential band and accepted immediately. Along with Seiwell Paul had wanted his wife to play in the band;
"Paul persuaded me to join the band. I would never have had the courage otherwise. It was fun at the beginning. We were playing just for fun, with Paul's group."- Linda McCartney
 That same year Paul had phoned up former Denny and the Diplomats, Moody Blues, Electric String Band, Balls, and Ginger Baker's Airforce member, Denny Laine (born Brian Hans) , whose (prior) best known works would be Moody Blues cover "Go Now" and with the Electric String Band "Say You Don't Mind"- which became big after Colin Blunstone released his version.
"I'd known him in the past and I just rang him and asked him, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'Nothing', so I said, 'Right. Come on then!'"- Paul McCartney , The Beatles Diary After the Break-Up: 1970–2001
 Denny had reluctantly joined the group where the two, along with Linda, formed a great friendship speaking warmly about one another.
Denny Laine
"I think I've got some idea of the way he feels about things and I know the kind of pressure he's under because I've been through a lot of the same stuff myself. The longer you go on the tougher it is in lots of ways. People expect more and more of you. For Paul, having been part of the best rock 'n' roll band in history, it must be very heavy. I admire him so much."- Denny Laine, Paul McCartney and Wings by Tony Jasper
 Denny himself being a fantastic, talented musician [and all around great guy, I met him at Beatles Fest in New York on 7 February, 2014], playing guitar, bass, piano, and select percussion, along with his almost raw but soothing vocals. He became a key feature to Wings and never claimed to be known as "Paul's right hand man" in his eyes seeing that Wings was simply not Paul's band but a band;
"You know, Paul with his reputation could of come back and played all the old Beatle numbers associated with him. It would of been easy."- Denny Laine
They were officially announced as a band on 3 August, 1971 with Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Denny Seiwell and Denny Laine. The group didn't have a name for themselves until 13 September, 1971 while Linda was in the hospital giving birth to her and Paul's second child (Linda's third), Stella. Paul had began to pray for the safety of his wife and daughter to be, who's birth had some complications. While praying an image of wings came to his mind and thus the name of his new band. The first album released under the name Wings was Wild Life, released on 7 December. The album didn't receive promising ratings as they had hoped, with Rolling Stone saying "deliberately second-rate." and Roy Carr and Tony Tyler saying "rushed, defensive, badly times, and over-publicized" then added the songwriting as "at an absolute nadir just when he needed a little respect."
"We had our teething troubles as a group and, sure, there were many critics coming along and writing searing stuff in the pop press. I don't mind what they do. I thrive on criticism and it gives me the urge to prove them wrong."- Denny Laine
Guitarist and former member of The Grease Band, Henry McCullough, was given a break on 24 January, 1972 after trying out for the band he was offered to join Wings. From here on the band was on tour, traveling in a van together playing at Universities, not playing one Beatles song to prove that Wings were it's own band.

After McCullough joined the band, Wings released "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" towards the massacre of Bloody Sunday, where fourteen protestors where killed by the British Army. The song was banned on BBC calling it an anti-Unionist political stance, but that didn't stop the single from succeeding, as it hit #16 in UK charts and #1 in Republic of Ireland and Spain. During this time, Wings had also wanted to get the younger generation into music with their release of "Mary Had A Little Lamb"- which reached the Top 10 in the UK.  Following his attempt to record a song for children, another Wings song was banned from the BBC for drug references, this would be "Hi, Hi, Hi". Instead of "Hi, Hi, Hi" being played, the radio allowed it's B-side, "C Moon" to be played- which made it into the Top 5 in the UK. It was in October of 1972 that Wings had released maybe one of their most recognizable songs, "Live and Let Die", written as the theme for James Bond's film with the same title.

Things began looking up for Wings as they changed their name to Paul McCartney and Wings during 1973 while recording Red Rose Speedway, where they received their first US #1 with "My Love".  The group went on a tour across Europe with high success. After this tour however both Seiwell and McCullough left the band leaving it to just the McCartney's and Laine to write one of the most successful albums of all time; Band on the Run. The album went to #1 in both US and UK with three hit singles; "Jet", "Band on the Run", and "Helen Wheels".

With Seiwall and McCullough gone Wings had gone searching for two more band members, that when Jimmy McCulloch and Geoff Britton stepped into the picture during Wings Nashville recording sessions. Jimmy, a musician since age 13 and former member of The Thunderclap Newman Band, who in 1969 had a #1 single with "Something in the Air". He then joined John Mayall, then to Stone the Crows. Geoff Britton, a karate expert, joined the band around the same time as Jimmy. The second Wings Line-up, now with McCullloch and Britton, had started their next album in New Orleans, Venus and Mars.   Britton  had a short postion in Wings and was out of the group during these recordings, that's when Joe English, a New Yorker like Linda, was recommended by trombonist, Tony Dorsey. Prior to  working with Wings, English was well known for his drumming with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Greatful Dead, and Bonnie Bramlett.

Wings began their Wings Over the World Tour, hitting Europe, America, and Australia. During the tours they had recorded Wings at The Speed of Sound, which would be released in 1976, where all members of the band took a lead vocal. From their tour the band released Wings Over America, taking tracks from the bands live performances from New York, Seattle, and even Boston.

Jimmy McCulloch
1977 was a hard time for the band, while on break and during their next album sessions for Virgin Island, Jimmy and Joe had both left the band. Joe joined Chuck Leavel's band and went on to creat his own Christian based Joe English Band. While Jimmy went on to work with the Small Faces and White Line but  the rock 'n' roll lifestyle took the worse when he was found dead on 27 September, 1979 of a heroin overdoes at the age 26.
"Wings settled for years, it would be a shame if anything happens. I can't see anything cracking Wings in the foreseeable future"- Jimmy McCulloch, 1976

Just Denny, Paul, and Linda the trio continued to produce music, including their ballad about a coastal region in Scotland where the McCartney's lived, "Mull of Kintyre". The song became a huge success in Europe, in fact the song became and still is the best selling UK single of all time, beating out the previous holder, The Beatles "She Loves You". The three didn't stop there as they continued to release music and in 1978 they released London Town; it was the first Wings album since Wild Life to not hit #1 in the US, but it did reach #2.

Linda, Paul, and Denny during London Town
After London Town was released the three decided it was time to regain more band members, that when Laurence Juber and Steve Holley joined the band in 1978.  Together the new group of five would release singles such as "Goodnight Tonight" and "Daytime Nighttime Suffering", and many more. Paul, the performer, had now started touring again accompanied by his other four band mates and brass section; Tony Dorsey, Howie Casey, Thaddeus Richard, and Steve Howard. The tour was cut short as Paul was arrested for 7.7 ounces of Marijuana at the New Tokyo Airport where McCartney would spend ten days in jail before being deported. Things weren't the same after that, Paul went on to record McCartney II and Denny released his own album, Japanese Tears. The group did come together to release Cold Cuts in 1981 but coming that April Denny Laine announced that he was leaving Wings.

"I'll be 97 when I play my last number, but then I don't think I'll ever die."- Denny Laine
Denny Laine, Wings symbol, 2000

"The band (Wings) has gone on to become most commercially successful of all Beatles 'solo' projects."- New Musical Express Book of Rock, 1975

Tomorrow of 18 Days of McCartney will be more on Wings with tours and albums.
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