For Whom The Bell Tells... Issue 18
Where to begin with this blog? There's so much exciting stuff to talk about. The last month or so has been a total whirlwind and even by Paul's standards, I'm pretty sure it's busier now than ever before. The dull dark days of January were certainly brightened at the start of the year when Paul was named by the Ultimate Classic Rock website as their first ever 'Artist of the Year'. It was a great accolade and one Paul was proud to add to the ever growing list. Since then, things only got better and the tone for 2012 was well and truly set.
We've had a lot of fun working on the 'Kisses On The Bottom' campaign and have been overwhelmed by the amazing reaction - congratulations Paul! When Paul first started mentioning the album title to us last December there were a few nervous people on the team who had a mixed response to Paul's idea. But we should have known he knew what he was doing. There's no question now that the title was a stroke of genius and I'm sure lots of different people are now claiming credit! Speaking as a publicist who has worked on hundreds of album releases, I don't ever recall seeing so much written about an album title before. It certainly got people talking; in fact it even trended on Twitter. Here in the newsroom we loved the MSN headline which declared it to be 'the cheekiest album title ever'. Surely that's one for a poster at some point.
Ahead of the release in late January Paul did an international press day in London to talk 'Kisses...' In a nutshell, this is when all the world's media fly in and we somehow come up with a way of them all getting a bit of access to the big man. So throughout the day Paul did a series of interviews and mini press conferences. Paul was on great form and kept up the good humour throughout the day which made my job a hell of a lot easier even if we had to spend a lot of it avoiding excited journalists hidden in various locations hoping to get an autograph. Paul even found time to give us some tips on what TV to watch he'd spent the previous evening glued to Nigerian X Factor no less! During the day Paul then had the idea to stream some of the press day live so everyone could see what was going on. Finally right at the end of the day Paul chatted with Jamie Cullum for his Radio 2 show and the result was fantastic. If you've not checked it out yet, you really should; it's a fantastic and insightful interview about the album. You can hear clips right here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01blgkl
In the last month, Paul has appeared on the cover of many of the most prestigious magazines and newspapers across the world including the UK's Sunday Times Culture, Rolling Stone, Le Figaro, De Volkskrant, Australian Sunday Times, Yukan Fuji and many more. There were some brilliant reviews too. The Times in the UK dedicated the whole of page four to their 4-star review. The fact this appeared as a news story shows just how significant 'Kisses On The Bottom' is. PasteMagazine.com in the US reported, 'Kisses On The Bottom' is a winner from beginning to end while UK music magazine Uncut said, "An album of standards from Paul is long overdue. This album is made with care, love and expertise and it shows on every song'. New York Times enthused, 'As he sang all those years ago in a slightly defensive tone: "Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs/And what's wrong with that?" By sticking to his guns and insisting on being himself, he has answered his own question: nothing at all." The Daily Mail review concluded, "Paul McCartney takes on the great American songbook. The result? Vintage Macca. Covers albums can be the last resort of the creatively bankrupt. This is nothing of the sort it is the work of a man at the top of his game."
On the day of the UK album release (Feb 6th), Paul then jetted out to LA for what went on to be an extremely well documented week. On the way to the airport though, he still found time to call into the Chris Evans Breakfast Show on Radio 2 (which can be heard on this website). Chris emailed us afterwards to say that his team had wisely decided not to tell him in advance that Paul would be on show, knowing he would have been totally tongue tied had he known.
Once he touched down in LA, it was quite astonishing what Paul packed in to just one week And the coverage? Well, in the space of a week Paul enjoyed the sort of media attention a normal artist could only dream about getting during their entire career. During the trip, Paul was presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, performed a special concert which was streamed globally on iTunes, was honoured as the MusiCares Person of the Year (with the likes of Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, James Taylor and Katy Perry paying tribute to Paul), won a Grammy and performed twice on the show. The first performance was of 'My Valentine' along with Diana Krall, with Joe Walsh on guitar. Then Paul closed the prestigious ceremony with 'Golden Slumbers', which ended with an onstage jam with Rusty, Brian, Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen! A true one off moment which takes my breath away just remembering it.
Following the Grammys Joe Walsh said, 'It was an honour and a privilege. He asked if I'd help it out and I said 'YEAH'. It's great that he was honoured as man of the year but he's actually been man of the year since about 1967!'
And incredibly, in the middle of all this, Buckingham Palace (yes the one where the Queen lives) announced that Paul would be headlining the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations later this year. But more on this in the coming months.
One of the biggest headaches of my job is technology. I can't tell you how many Blackberrys I go through a year, and the reason? Well, every time Paul does something, the number of global requests coming in goes up by over 50% - and trust me, it's high enough on even an average day to virtually need a full time office just dealing with enquiries! Over the week Paul was in LA however, there were literally tens of thousands of stories running across the world each day. So I can confirm that I had to replace yet another Blackberry at the end of that week as the strain of Google News Alerts got the better of the machine!
Then of course there were the chart results for 'Kisses...' still to come. Working on the release of a new album really feels just like sitting an exam; you put all the hard work in then have no choice but to wait for the results! It was worth the wait though. Paul smashed the US Billboard Jazz Chart hitting the Number One spot as well as reaching Number Five in the US Billboard 200. In the UK, Paul hit his highest album chart position in 15 years landing in the Top Three as well as securing Top Five positions all over the world, all the more remarkable given the fact that Paul didn't embark on an international promo tour around the release as other artists usually do. It's safe to say, in fact, that 'Kisses...' was a bona-fide smash.
But when you're Paul McCartney, firing on all cylinders, making headlines, picking up awards and smashing it in the charts, do you take a break next? Of course not. This month also saw Paul announce some new tour dates too. The 'On The Run' tour will travel to Switzerland, Holland and Belgium later this month and finish with a very special show in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust at London's Royal Albert Hall. We'll be front row bringing you all the news next time!
And in other recent news:
This month Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine confessed that his one mentor of choice would be none other than Paul and admitted that he is so in awe of him, he has been unable to approach him when he has seen him at events.
And finally, I'm sure you've read the news but it's just been announced by the UK heritage minister John Penrose that Paul's childhood home has become a listed building. The terrace house on Forthlin Road, Allerton, is where Paul lived for nearly ten years as a child. Many of The Beatles' most famous songs were written and rehearsed there.
Mr Penrose said: "You still get bands in all kinds of music citing them as a formative influence, even after all these years." He went on to say that the property "will be preserved for future generations to come and enjoy just the same as people can today."
The property is already owned and cared for by the National Trust. It was accorded Grade II listed status on the advice of English Heritage.
The next issue will bring you news from on the road as 'On The Run' gets back out to Europe.