WINGS FACT FILE (from EMI)|
Wings were launched at a fancy dress party hosted by Paul and Linda at London's Empire Ballroom on November 8, 1971.
Wings' debut album, Wildlife, was released on December 7, 1971.
Wings' first live show was unannounced - and uninvited - and was for students at Nottingham University on February 9, 1972. Paul and Linda, their children, the band and pet dogs all drove north from London in a van, heading for towns picked at random and asking passers-by if their town had a university.
"Our first stop, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, said no," said Paul, "Nottingham said yes."
The price of entry at Wings' first show - at lunchtime in the Nottingham students union hall - was 50p (33 cents) on the door. Wings - Paul, Linda, drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarists Denny Laine and Henry McCullough, received a bag of 50p pieces, which were distributed amongst the band later in the back of the van.
Two of Wings' early singles - the 1972 releases Give Ireland Back To The Irish and Hi Hi Hi - were banned from broadcast by the BBC. The BBC, concerned that the 'Hi' referred to was a drugs-high, were further alarmed when they received an incorrectly typed transcript of the song's lyrics. Instead of "lie on the bed and get ready for my polygon," the incorrect lyric read "lie on the bed and get ready for my body gun." Drugs, sex and rock & roll in one song was too much for the BBC.
Although Wings began by performing to a few hundred students, by 1976 the band had so grown in popularity that during the Wings Over America tour of that year they set a new world record for a stadium concert - playing to 67,000 people at the Seattle Kingdome. The 1976 Wings tour marked Paul's first concert in the USA since he performed there 10 years before with The Beatles, who had set the previous world record of 55,600 at Shea Stadium in 1965.
Between 1972 and 1980 Wings performed 142 concerts in the UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Yugoslavia (now Croatia), Italy and Australia.
Wingspan, the new album, features 40 Wings songs - a total of two and a half-hours of music.
The band name Wings came to Paul after Linda had given birth to Stella - "Whenever you have a baby you're always very thankful and in tune with the mysteries of life, realizing that nature is pretty hot stuff," said Paul. "I was just musing on that in the hospital, thinking of angels and things like that, and I thought of wings. It seemed to be a good name for a band."
For their first UK tour in 1972, Wings set out with no promoter, no advance or on-the-road publicity, no venues booked and no hotels booked. Hotels were called at the last minute. Consequently, when one small hotel in the North of England was fully booked, two Wings roadies had to share both a room and the only bed in it. The hotel reported the roadies to the police, thinking the roadies to be gay, which was apparently offensive at the time.
The two-hour Wingspan TV film was produced and directed by Alistair Donald, the husband of Paul and Linda's daughter Mary. Mary conducted all the on-screen interviews with her father for the film.
Dear Friend, a track on the Wings Wildlife album, was written by Paul about John Lennon - "It was a make-up song about me wanting to just have a glass of wine with John and make it up between us," said Paul.
Not only was Wings' first 1972 UK tour handicapped by the lack of booked venues and hotels, it also took place during Britain's 'Three Day Week' - a period of nationwide blackouts caused by a power strike necessitating Draconian electricity cuts. "Finding a gig during that time was like trying to find a gig in a coal mine," said Paul.
Helen Wheels from Wings' Band On The Run album is not a song about a Ms. Wheels. The title comes from Paul's name for his old Land Rover ('Hell-On-Wheels', geddit?)
Wings' massive UK hit single Mull Of Kintyre was written by Paul in 1977 at the height of the British punk rock period. Paul, who had simply written the song on a whim to see whether he could write a modern Scottish song for bagpipes, set a UK record when Mull Of Kintyre ended up selling more than two and a half million copies.
On the eve of Wings flying to record an album in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1973 two of the band quit; leaving just Paul, Linda and Denny Laine to make the album. Despite that, the trio flew on - only to discover that the Lagos studios were not properly equipped for recording. Matters got worse when Paul and Linda, walking back to their accommodation, were mugged at knifepoint. The muggers made off not only with the couple's cash, cameras and jewelry, but also with the demo tapes of the songs that Paul had written for the album. Paul had to rewrite all the songs on the spot. The resulting album, however, was Band On The Run, Wings' biggest hit.
Whilst recording with Wings in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, Paul and Linda both disguised themselves as circus clowns, with whitened faces, in order to be able to mingle with the crowds. The disguises fooled nobody; as they joined the street festival, passers by all remarked "Hi Paul."
Paul wrote the theme tune for the James Bond Movie Live And Let Die by reading the Ian Fleming book on a Saturday and composing the song the next day. Picasso's Last Words, a song on Wings' Band On The Run album, was composed even more quickly - made up on the spot after actor Dustin Hoffman challenged him after a meal with a magazine article about the artist, to see if he could write a song about anything.
Wings had a variety of line-ups during the decade of the band; seven in fact.
Wings I (Wildlife album, released 1971): Paul (bass, keyboards), Linda (keyboards), Denny Laine (guitar), Denny Seiwell (drums).
Wings II (Red Rose Speedway album, released 1973): Paul (bass, guitar, keyboards), Linda (keyboards), Denny Laine (guitar), Denny Seiwell (drums), Henry McCullough (guitar).
Wings III (Band On The Run album, released 1973): Paul (bass, guitar, keyboards), Linda (keyboards), Denny Laine (guitar).
Wings IV (Junior's Farm, released 1974): Paul (bass, guitar, keyboards), Linda (keyboards), Denny Laine (guitar), Jimmy McCulloch (guitar), Geoff Britton (drums).
Wings V (Venus And Mars album, released 1975; Wings At The Speed Of Sound album, released 1976; Wings Over America album, released 1976; London Town album, released 1978): Paul (bass, guitar, keyboards), Linda (keyboards), Denny Laine (guitar), Jimmy McCulloch (guitar), Joe English (drums).
Wings VI (Mull Of Kintyre, released 1977): Paul (bass, guitar, keyboards), Linda (keyboards), Denny Laine (guitar).
Wings VII (Back To The Egg album, released 1979): Paul (bass, guitar, keyboards), Linda (keyboards), Denny Laine (guitar), Laurence Juber (guitar), Steve Holly (drums).
During the Wings period, Paul McCartney was awarded 27 gold records certified by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Wings' Grammy-winning Rockestra Theme was written for the London benefit concert in aid of UNICEF and Kampuchean refugees, that climaxed the 1979 UK tour. The concert, at the Hammersmith Odeon, featured a rock orchestra that included (besides Wings) The Who's Pete Townshend, Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour, Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones, Hank Marvin of The Shadows, Gary Brooker of Procol Harum, Ronnie Lane and Kenny Jones of The Small Faces and Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe of Rockpile - all playing at the same time.
Said Paul: "You get ideas and some of them are madder than others. I was in bed one night and I thought wouldn't it be a great idea if, in a town like Cleveland or wherever, just like an ordinary town where they've got a school orchestra or a town orchestra, wouldn't it be great if another tradition grew up where all the people who played guitars and all the people who played drums and all the people who played bass, they all formed themselves into a big band and played rock and roll - like an orchestra with rock instruments, and that would be a Rockestra. This idea started to appeal to me more and more and so I thought I'd put together a line-up to demonstrate what I'm thinking of.
So I called a lot of friends who were excellent players and we did it, we did The Rockestra Theme - which is mad; it's a song that just suddenly stops and everyone shouts the only lyrics, which are 'Why haven't I had any dinner?' Fairly off the wall, but to me it was a bit like being one of those big bands. It was a little bit of a nod to that."