The 1990s brought a string of major career highlights for Paul. After starting the decade in Brazil breaking the record for the biggest concert in history, he went on to receive a knighthood for his services to music; to become a founder of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA); to receive recognition as an accomplished classical composer; and to secretly form a new electronic duo, The Fireman. This was a time of musical experimentation but also of reflection, as Paul looked to his past successes for inspiration and arrived at a new century hungry for more.
'Put It There' is a 1990 single from Flowers in the Dirt. The lyrics were inspired by an expression Paul's father used to say “Put it there, if it weighs a ton.“
Paul received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 32nd Annual Grammy Awards, presented to him by Meryl Streep. This would be the first of two such awards for Paul: he would go on to win again in 2014, honoured as a member of The Beatles.
During the huge Paul McCartney World Tour, Paul broke the record for the largest paying stadium audience in history, playing to 184,000 fans at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
This live rendition of The Beatles track 'Birthday' was recorded at "The Knebworth Festival - Silver Clef Award Winners Charity Concert" in Stevenage, United Kingdom on June 30, 1990.
Featuring 37 tracks (across two CDs) and spanning 30 years of rock and roll, Tripping The Live Fantastic was Paul's first official live album as a solo star.
What we tried to do with this album was to give people a chance to take home with them a souvenir of the show; a better quality bootleg of what we hoped was just a good, fun, party night out.
Highlights! is an abridged single-disc version of Tripping The Live Fantastic, omitting sound check recordings to concentrate on actual concert performances and adding the exclusive track ‘All My Trials’.
This live version of 'All My Trails' was recorded during The Paul McCartney World Tour, in Milan, Italy on October 27th, 1989. The single spent six weeks on the UK's Official Singles Chart.
Paul's MTV Unplugged session at Limehouse Studios in London aired in January 1991. The performance was released later in the year under the title Unplugged (The Official Bootleg) and featured the official recording debut of the first song Paul wrote, 'I Lost My Little Girl'. 'Be-Bop-A-Lula', the first record Paul bought, also featured.
Inspired by the success of Linda McCartney's vegetarian cookbooks, in April 1991 the McCartney family launched 'Linda McCartney's' meat free food brand at The Savoy Hotel in London. Each dish was inspired by Linda's home cooking, and kick-started a vegetarian food revolution in supermarkets, cafes and restaurants.
We said, ‘Shall we try going vegetarian?’ And actually, it was a very exciting point in our lives, trying to think of what we would have to fill the hole in the middle of the plate. Now, of course, it’s really not difficult at all. You just go down the shops and most places will have great veggie options. It was a joint decision and we never looked back. It was a great thing to do, and it turned out we became part of a vegetarian revolution.
From You Gave Me The Answer - ‘Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen’
In 1991, Paul played a series of surprise shows, including a show in Barcelona and a set at the Mean Fiddler in Harlesden, London. The latter was the smallest venue Paul had played at since taking a final bow at The Cavern Club in 1963. The shows were a way for Paul to connect with his audience in a more direct way than he would in a giant stadium.
Taping a show in North London as part of MTV's Unplugged series, Paul had a sudden thought about making an 'official' bootleg album.
I figured that as Unplugged would be screened around the world there was every chance that some bright spark would tape the show and turn it into a bootleg, so we decided to bootleg the show ourselves. We heard the tapes in the car driving back. By the time we got home, we’d decided we’d got an album – albeit one of the fastest I’ve ever made.
'The World You’re Coming Into' is the second track of the seventh movement – entitled 'Crises' – of Paul’s first major foray into classical music; Liverpool Oratorio.
Paul’s first full-scale departure into classical music was unveiled with the live recording of Liverpool Oratorio. The project developed into an eight movements, a triumph that befits its two esteemed creators, Paul and his symphonic collaborator Carl Davis. Each of the movements has a theme – War, School, Crypt, Father, Wedding, Work, Crises and Peace, each of them loosely based on Paul's life, and entrancing in its own way.
I remember coming here to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral when I was 11 to audition for the choir. I failed the audition. I always hoped that one day I would be able to get my own back. Three years ago I was given the opportunity when Carl Davis approached me on behalf of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society to write a piece for their 150th Anniversary Celebrations. Carl and I started working then on what was to become the Oratorio for Liverpool. Finally, after hundreds of hours of scoring and re-scoring we finished it.
Paul's Liverpool Oratorio was premiered at Liverpool Cathedral. The work was conducted by collaborator Carl Davis and featured performers Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as Mary Dee; Sally Burgess as Miss Inkley, Chief Mourner and Nurse; Jerry Hadley as Shanty; Sir Willard White as Headmaster, Preacher and Mr Dingle and Jeremy Budd as the Boy Soloist. Following two nights in Liverpool, the Oratorio was then performed at the Royal Festival Hall on London's Southbank Centre.
This 90-minute concert film directed by Richard Lester, who had previously worked with Paul on The Beatles’ movies A Hard Day's Night and Help!, documented the hugely successful Paul McCartney World Tour of 1989/1990. The film featured a plethora of classics from both the Beatles and Wings back catalogues.
Originally released in October 1991 on VHS, and then remixed in glorious 5.1 surround sound for its DVD release in 2004, Paul’s Liverpool Oratorio was commissioned by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society to commemorate its 150th anniversary.
An abridged version of Paul’s 1991 double-CD release, Selections was released as a single disc just under a year after the original album.
'Hope of Deliverance' is taken from Paul's album Off the Ground, released as a single in anticipation of the album in December 1992. The song became a top-five hit in Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland.
Paul’s first studio album of the 1990s came four years after the critically and commercially successful Flowers In The Dirt. As with that album, Off The Ground featured some collaborations with Elvis Costello, in ‘Mistress And Maid’ and ‘The Lovers That Never Were’.
When I came to do this album one of the things I thought was that it might be good to be a little less casual and make sure I’d done my homework, make sure I liked all of the words in the songs. So I got a friend of mine, a poet called Adrian Mitchell, to look through the lyrics as if he was an English teacher. I went through it all with him and I can now say that they’re poet-proof.
Inspired by the success of his ‘comeback’ tour, which played to 2,843,297 people in 1989-90, Paul McCartney took to the road again. The band - Paul and Linda, Robbie McIntosh, Hamish Stuart, Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens and newcomer Blair Cunningham – set off for the year-long trek after they’d completed the album Off The Ground. The tour was commemorated with the live album, Paul Is Live, released the same year.
With CD becoming the most popular music format, Paul oversaw the release of The Paul McCartney Collection, a two-part reissue series making sixteen titles from his catalogue available on the format for the first time. Each album was digitally remastered at Abbey Road, some with additional packaging and bonus audio.
Movin' On was released to coincide with the build-up to Paul's New World tour, which accompanied the release of the album Off The Ground. The hour-long film includes footage of Paul recording in the legendary Studio 2 at Abbey Road, used during the recording of The Beatles’ first album, as well as extras from the Off The Ground video shoot, behind the scenes snippets and Paul performing with celebrated composer Angelo Badalamenti and a 52-piece orchestra.
As soon as Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest was released, cryptically credited to The Fireman, rumours started circulating about Paul's involvement. An ambient electronic album, the project emerged from Paul’s request to producer Youth for remixes of songs from his previous album Off The Ground, using elements found within the songs themselves.
Paul Is Live, recorded during the tour in support of Off The Ground, was Paul's fifth live album and is famous for its title's double meaning and the rumour-scotching cover art. Ever since the 1969 release of Abbey Road, there had been hoax-fuelled stories of Paul’s untimely death. The new title was a way of saying that this was most definitely not the case. The artwork is a play on the famous Abbey Road cover, with Paul crossing that same street but wearing shoes and using his left hand this time.
Off The Ground was originally released in February 1993, and in December of that year it was re-released with a second CD of extra tracks, including ‘Long Leather Coat’, ‘Keep Coming Back To Love’, ‘Sweet Sweet Memories’, ‘Things We Said Today’, ‘Midnight Special’, ‘Style Style’, ‘I Can't Imagine’, ‘Cosmically Conscious’, ‘Kicked Around No More’, ‘Big Boys Bickering’, ‘Down To The River’ and ‘Soggy Noodle’.
In 1994 Paul was invited to induct John Lennon into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Rather than reading a traditional speech, Paul read aloud from a letter he had written to John.
Paul Is Live was a reminder of Paul's 1993 New World Tour. Featuring 21 classic songs and lasting nearly an hour and a half, the film was billed as a show-stopping blockbuster performance showcasing the enduring appeal of Paul as an entertainer.
Organised by Paul himself, this intimate benefit night in aid of The Royal College of Music was held at St James Palace on 23rd March 1995 and was notable for the premiere performance of Paul's classical piece for piano, ‘A Leaf’. At the end of the concert, Prince Charles surprised Paul by appointing him Fellow Of The Royal College of Music, Britain's highest musical honour.
Paul's Oobu Joobu, a 15 episode 'wide-screen' radio show began transmission. The title was inspired by French playwright Alfred Jarry's Ubu Cocu and the shows were a mixture of conversations, live and studio performances, outtakes and some of Paul's favourite songs by artists like Little Richard and Buddy Holly.
In 1995 Paul and Linda got a Simpsons makeover in the episode 'Lisa the Vegetarian'. The pair were shown hanging out in Apu's garden in the shade and talking to Lisa who had decided to become - and to this day remains - a vegetarian. We also learned in the episode that if you play 'Maybe I'm Amazed' backwards, it reveals 'a recipe for a really rippin' lentil soup'.
On 16th October 1995 Paul joined legendary poet Allen Ginsberg on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, the two of them collaborating on a version of Ginsberg's poem Ballad Of The Skeletons. A year later, Paul recorded a version of the poem in the studio with Ginsberg, the CD version of which is now a collector's item.
The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts - or LIPA, for short - had been inaugurated earlier in the year, but the building was officially opened in summer by Queen Elizabeth II. Situated in what used to be the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys, Paul's old secondary school, the performing arts has many notable alumni including Hannah Peel and Dawn O'Porter, as well as two of the three Hot City Horns, Paul's live brass section.
This is a very proud day for me. It’s exciting that we have saved this fine old building of my school, and that Her Majesty has taken such an interest in our new school. l’m also proud that so many people have helped in so many ways to make this dream come true, and I’m sure that the students will one day make us proud by the eventual success that I hope many of them will find. LIPA has been built to help those with talent realise their dreams. I hope that LIPA will become the finest school of its type in the world and, if it does, it’ll be with thanks to all the many people – especially the people of Liverpool – who have helped us work this out.
Arise, Sir Paul McCartney! After the honour was announced on New Year's Eve in 1996, Paul was knighted in March 1997 by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. Paul commented after the ceremony, 'It's a long way from a little terrace in Liverpool'.
This is one of the best days of my life. Today is fantastic, there is a blue sky and it’s springtime. My mum and dad would have been extremely proud – and perhaps they are. l would never have dreamed of this day. If we’d had that thought when we started off in Liverpool it would have been laughed at as a complete joke. Proud to be British. A wonderful day. It’s a long way from a little terrace in Liverpool.
Ahead of the release of Flaming Pie, Paul launched his first website. What we now know and love as PaulMcCartney.com could originally be found at the MPL Communications website. The first iteration of the site featured a Flaming Pie microsite as well as sections on 'Club Sandwich' and his 'very own radio show', 'Oobu Joobu'.
'Young Boy' was released as the first single from Flaming Pie in the UK, charting in the top 20 in the UK Official Singles Charts.
Having been heavily involved in The Beatles’ Anthology project, Paul had time to reflect on the standards he and his bandmates had set during their career, and applied these to what would become his first album in four years. Featuring producers George Martin and Jeff Lynne, as well as musicians including Steve Miller, Ringo Starr and his own son, James McCartney, *Flaming Pie *would go on to become one of Paul's most acclaimed albums.
I remember just having a laugh with Jeff Lynne, and the various people I worked with on the album. We had quite a lot of fun making it - Steve Miller, Jeff Lynne and I, and Ringo was there too.
To celebrate the release of Flaming Pie, Paul took part in VH-1's McCartney Town Hall Meeting, broadcast live on TV and online from Bishopsgate, London. The interview was followed by an online Q&A where approximately three million questions were submitted. This online chat party found its way into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people in an internet chat room at once.
In the United States 'The World Tonight' was released as the first and only single from Flaming Pie. In the UK, this was the second single released and was accompanied with two music videos.
Organised by producer Sir George Martin, this star-studded benefit concert on 15th September 1997 helped raise money following the devastating hurricanes and volcanic eruptions that had gravely affected Montserrat. Paul performed alongside Phil Collins, Ray Cooper, Carl Perkins, Jimmy Buffett, Mark Knopfler, Sting, Elton John and Eric Clapton.
Standing Stone – based on an extended poem written by Paul himself – was Paul’s second full-length release of original classical music and was given its world premiere performance at The Royal Albert Hall in October 1997. As Paul explained, “I don’t divide my tastes into liking rock music or classical music. I just like good music.” Standing Stone may yet prove the least predictable landmark in a life-long musical journey packed with surprising moves.
Above all, I wanted Standing Stone to end with a celebratory passage. Besides the original sketches that I made for the work, I also had a tune that I wrote years ago but I never found a use for. My children had grown up with it, my father in-law liked it, and I always felt it was part of the family. I want everyone to leave happy after a performance of Standing Stone since I write for people.
Taking its title from a line in 'When I'm Sixty-Four', Paul collaborated with writer Barry Miles to publish the biographical book Many Years From Now. In Miles' words, the book is a 'a portrait of a period'.
In The World Tonight documented the recording process for Paul's 1997 album Flaming Pie. The film followed Paul around his home studio and Abbey Road as he created what would go on to be his first studio album in four years.
Paul attended the eighth annual Q Magazine Awards winning the Songwriter Award for Flaming Pie . The award was presented by Bob Geldof.
Standing Stone featured the full premiere performance from the Royal Albert Hall, as well as a documentary film based on the composition's creation.
'Beautiful Night' was released as the third and final single from Flaming Pie. The song features Ringo Starr on drums after Paul and Ringo collaborated on the Beatles Anthology project.
Delving deeper into the ambient textures and elongated melodies of their debut, Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, Paul and producer Youth – again calling themselves The Fireman – pushed guitars to the periphery and created an album built around more textural and laidback grooves. With three of the tracks coming in at over ten minutes and with no title or band information on the album packaging, not to mention almost a complete absence of Paul's vocals, this album shows Paul’s readiness to work outside of his comfort zone.
On 15th March 1999, Paul was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by his friend Neil Young, whose five-minute speech revealed the first song he learned to play was by The Beatles. Describing the event as “beautiful, but tinged with sadness” following Linda's death, Paul invited his daughter Stella on to the stage wearing a vest emblazoned with the motif, “About F**king Time!”, which summed it up rather well.
Organised by Chrissie Hynde, Here, There and Everywhere: A Concert for Linda was held at the Royal Albert Hall on 10th April 1999 as a tribute to Paul's late wife. Throughout the evening Hynde and The Pretenders acted as the backing band for all the performers including Elvis Costello, Tom Jones and George Michael. At the time the concert was announced it wasn't clear whether Paul himself would perform on such an emotional night, but in the end Paul performed a rapturously received ‘Lonesome Town’, ‘All My Loving’ and ‘Let It Be’ to close the show.
Run Devil Run was recorded a year after Linda’s sad death in 1998. Featuring covers of obscure and familiar songs from the 1950s alongside three new songs written in the same style, Run Devil Run saw Paul return to work with some familiar faces, most notably Back To The Egg producer Chris Thomas and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour.
People have said to me one of the things to get over a tragedy is to stay really busy, really busy, but I thought, no, I am not going to do that. I see that one but it's just too easy. It's a bit like denial. So, I thought, well, for at least a year I am not going to do that. So I didn't. I just did whatever came along, or whatever I felt good about. But I thought, well maybe after the end of a year I will start to think of what I want to do, and the immediate project that I had been talking to Linda about was the rock and roll album.
Working Classical was another example of Paul re-contextualising his back catalogue, this time in an orchestral setting. Familiar songs include ‘My Love’ and ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. But the album also saw Paul introduce some new pieces, such as ‘Spiral’ and ‘Midwife’, working alongside the London Symphony Orchestra and the musicians and arrangers Richard Rodney Bennett and Jonathan Tunick. The wordplay of the album's title was a way of making clear that despite his lofty ambitions, Paul was still a man of the people and hadn't forgotten where he came from.
Paul recorded 'No Other Baby' for his 1999 cover album Run Devil Run. The song was originally written by Dickie Bishop and Bob Watson and recorded in 1957. Paul's version was released as a 7″ single and two CD singles, one of which was mixed in mono.
On 14th December 1999, 300 people squeezed into The Cavern Club in Liverpool to watch Paul perform at the legendary venue for the first time since The Beatles made it famous in 1963. Joining Paul on stage were Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, the legendary Mick Green and Pete Wingfield.