Paul’s solo career began in 1970 with his US number one album McCartney. This decade saw Paul redefining himself in the wake of the Beatles’ split, writing every song and playing every instrument on McCartney, collaborating with Linda McCartney on RAM, and going on to form the critically acclaimed and commercially successful rock band Wings. The 1970s represented a creative rebirth for Paul, bursting with new ideas, experiments, playfulness and freedom, as he enjoyed both the contentment of family life and the excitement of getting back out on the road.
Released in 1970, a month before The Beatles' swansong Let It Be, McCartney was Paul's first solo album. Notable for the fact that he performed all instruments and vocals himself, aside from some backing vocals performed by Linda McCartney, it's an album rich in experimentation, and the original home of ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’.
The 'McCartney' album was good fun because I got a machine from EMI, only a four-track, and I just had it in my living room where I lived in London at the time. I’d just go in for the day like Monsieur Magritte. Go in and do a little bit of stuff and make something up, and knock off in the evenings. It was very interesting to do and it had a certain kind of rawness, because I was breaking loose after The Beatles, we all got a feeling of that, I think.Paul
The only album credited to both Paul and Linda McCartney, RAM reached Number 1 in the UK and stayed in the US Top 10 for five months. Recorded after Paul had left The Beatles and before the formation of Wings, today RAM is held in high regard by many music critics and is often ranked as one of Paul's best solo albums. It has also been recognised as an early indie pop album.
When we went to Scotland, we had a very free, sort of hippie lifestyle. It meant I could sit around in the kitchen in the little farmhouse we lived in, with the kids running around and me just with my guitar, making up anything I fancied.Paul
Following the release of RAM, Paul set about persuading Linda and some of the musicians who worked on the record to form a new group. Denny Laine and Denny Seiwell joined Paul and Linda at Rude Studios in Scotland, and began work on their debut album as Wings.
Like many debut albums, Wings' Wild Life wasn't a real reflection of what was to come, its guiding ethos being Paul’s intention to record the entire piece quickly. Taking just two weeks, Wild Life was about spontaneity: the opening track ‘Mumbo’ was recorded in one take.
Bob Dylan had just done an album in a few days, kind of thing. So I thought, ‘Yeah,’ you know. ‘That’d be good. Give it a freshness.’ That was the approach for putting 'Wild Life' together.Paul
In 1972 Paul went on tour for the first time since The Beatles' gruelling US leg in 1966. For Paul, it was a way of starting afresh, connecting with a new set of fans and going back-to-basics. The well-established college circuit seemed the best bet for impromptu gigs, and so it was that Nottingham University entered the history books as the venue for Wings’ first performance on 9th February 1972.
We literally took off in a van up the M1, got to Ashby-de-la-Zouch, liked that name, 'Great! Turn off here'. But there wasn’t a gig, there was just a little village and nothing else there. It was a signpost. Anyway we kept going until we got to Nottingham University, and then it suddenly hit, 'Ah, that’s it – let’s do universities.'Paul
In the summer of 1972, Wings set out on their first concert tour of Europe. The Wings over Europe Tour was undertaken in a brightly-coloured double-decker bus, which included the McCartney children and the full road crew.
[The McCartney children] joke about it now, saying they were hippy commune kids! But it was great for us, and I think it was great for them. It meant that we didn’t have to worry about them, because they were right there with us. And we figured if you want to know geography, actually going to all these places was helpful - it was part of their education.Paul
James Paul McCartney was Paul's first TV special since The Beatles' 1967 film Magical Mystery Tour. Much of the show was filmed at ATV Elstree Studios in front of a live audience, with segments of film from Paul's studio and a Liverpool pub.
With the addition of Irish guitarist Henry McCullough, Wings plugged away on their second album Red Rose Speedway through most of 1972, a year in which they issued no album (a first for Paul since The Beatles’ debut). By December they'd accumulated a vast amount of songs, though the idea of releasing a double-album was eventually rejected. The album did, however, include the global hit, ‘My Love’, a song that's since been covered by the likes of Cher, Corinne Bailey Rae and Brenda Lee.
I’m very proud of ‘My Love’. This was early days for me and Linda, so it’s a love song to her really. One of the things I was proud of, funnily enough, was that it charted. It sort of did very well.Paul
In support of the recently released Red Rose Speedway album and the James Bond soundtrack anthem, ‘Live And Let Die’, Wings embarked on a 19-date UK tour, including three sold out shows at London's Hammersmith Odeon.
Band on the Run was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, shortly after Denny Seiwell and Henry McCullough left the band. With Wings helmed by Paul, Linda and Denny Laine, Band on the Run – complete with its famous celebrity-packed cover art – proved a triumph. The album topped the US chart three separate times; in the UK, it was the biggest selling studio album of 1974 and spent a miraculous 124 weeks on the chart.
The word 'band' in the title of this song refers mostly to the idea of a group of people who've escaped prison. A band of desperados. Certain aspects of it remind me of 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'.Paul
Venus And Mars was the first of two albums to feature what many regard as the perfect Wings line-up, with the McCartneys and Denny Laine now joined by guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Joe English. Recording was done in New Orleans and Los Angeles.
A lot of people who were into concerts were into alternate thinking. They'd want to know what your sign was, and they'd place some relevance on that. I was never like that. As far as I was concerned, Venus and Mars were just two random planets. But when we released the record, I realised they were also characters.Paul
Shortly after dawn on Tuesday 9th September 1975, Wings embarked on one of the biggest roadshows in rock music history: the Wings tour of 1975-76, which was to take in ten countries and play to two million people. The US leg of the tour was the most extensive, with Wings playing 21 cities, performing 34 shows and entertaining an estimated audience of nearly 600,000 people.
With Wings, I always knew we would have to take a few years of trials and tribulations. That was the same with The Beatles. [...] We'd done a lot of work getting our skills together, so now I had to do this all again with Wings. But by Wings Over America, and by the world tours, we'd pretty much done that. We now knew what Wings were.Paul
Reinforced by months on the road, the cohesion of a settled line-up was much in evidence on Wings' At The Speed Of Sound, the band's fifth album. So much so, that each band member had at least one lead vocal performance, including Linda's ‘Cook Of The House’ and Denny Laine’s ‘Time To Hide’. Made at Abbey Road Studios, it was Paul’s first album to be recorded in Britain since Red Rose Speedway.
Selected from 90 hours of recordings, Wings Over America is a faithful account of the 1975-76 world tour that captures the band at its peak. It was taped at several of the US shows, but mixed as if it were a single performance.
The mysterious Thrillington was an instrumental cover version of Wings’ 1971 album RAM, recorded that same year at Abbey Road Studios, under the pseudonym of Percy "Thrills" Thrillington. Paul produced the album while Richard Hewson (who had previously worked on The Beatles’ Let It Be) arranged and conducted. Thrillington was shelved following the formation of Wings and finally appeared, after a teaser ad campaign in the press, in 1977.
London Town – Wings' seventh album – saw the departure of both Jimmy McCulloch and Joe English from the line-up, Linda’s pregnancy (with James), a song written for Michael Jackson (‘Girlfriend’) and the recording of one of the biggest-selling singles of all time, ‘Mull of Kintyre’. Despite its title, the album was recorded in the Virgin Islands.
Wings Greatest was the first official retrospective of Paul’s post-Beatles career and included many of his single-only releases since 1970 including ‘Live And Let Die’, ‘Hi Hi Hi’ and ‘Mull Of Kintyre’.
Back To The Egg was the ninth and final studio album by Wings, the band having acquired two new members in guitarist Laurence Juber and drummer Steve Holly. The album saw Paul work alongside producer Chris Thomas, who had trained as a producer during recording of The Beatles' 1968 eponymous classic (The White Album).
The rather fancy-sounding Spirit of Ranachan Studio was basically a barn with a control room window at one end of it. Wackiness was the order of the day during this period - graish outfits and the punk and disco era - and they don't come much wackier than 'Old Siam, Sir'Paul
Paul holds a number of Guiness World Records - including 20+ records with The Beatles - and in 1979 he was awarded 'Most Successful Songwriter' on account of 129 of the songs he had written or co-written charting in the UK.
Now a staple of every holiday playlist, Paul's 'Wonderful Christmastime' was his first solo single since 'Another Day', recorded during the McCartney II sessions but not appearing on the album until its Archive Collection reissue in 2011
Wings began a 19-date concert tour of the United Kingdom to promote their album Back To The Egg. The shows were massively successful and even produced a Number 1 hit in the US with a live recording of ‘Coming Up’ from a Glasgow date. By this stage in their career, Wings didn’t have to prove anything – on this tour, it was time to go out and play simply for the pleasure of the thing.
Organised by Paul along with politician Kurt Waldheim, The Concert For The People Of Kampuchea was actually a series of shows held in December 1979 to raise money for the victims of war-torn Cambodia. It was also a personal landmark for Paul as the show on the 29th December marked the last-ever concert performed by Wings.