The kids are always saying, "Mum, Dad, we're supposed to be the
hippies. You're supposed to be the straight parents. It's the wrong way
around." We joke about it but there is an element of truth to it. How
many people have fathers who play electric guitar and scream,
— Paul McCartney, 1990 —
Busking in the Brave New World
Ever since the final note of the Wings Over America tour of 1976 people have been badgering McCartney to get back up on the boards for another high-profile world tour. In almost every interview since, poor Paul has had to endure not only questions concerning a possible Beatles reunion but also the ever-present performance issue. After John died, of course, the overriding concern was security. Although it was never actually said in so many words (Paul in fact continually denied that he was afraid) the billionaire family man had no wish to expose himself to unnecessary danger.
Still, it's not that he didn't want to perform. As early as 1977 McCartney discussed the daft idea of converting MPL's Replica Studios into a quasi-Cavern Club with Wings jamming free at lunchtimes for Soho's wandering business trade. Having had to endure both the aborted 1980 Japanese concerts (which Steve Holly and Laurence Juber claim was planned as the initial leg of a much larger tour), as well as John's murder, was just too much. It would be a full nine years before McCartney again summoned up the nerve to actually go back out on the road.
"It scares me and it doesn't scare me," said McCartney, commenting on the unhappy possibility of being blown away by some loony Beatle fan out to get his name in the paper. "When the time for me to leave this mortal world comes, that'll be the time. And I don't know when or how that will be. So, yeah, it kind of scares me, but not enough for me to really do anything. I mean, I probably stand a worse chance of getting killed coming to work, or going on holiday."
Getting his chops together first in a sold-out series of gigs in Europe commencing in Oslo, Norway, on September 26, 1989, McCartney and his new band — Chris Whitten (drums and percussion), Linda McCartney (back-up vocals and Roland synthesizer), Robbie Mclntosh (lead guitar), Paul "Wix" Wickens (keyboards), and Hamish Stuart (guitar, bass, and vocals) — soon made their way to the United States where they met with predictable enthusiasm. Despite a very few negative criticisms (the hands-down best was a headline reading "Bland on the Run"), the tour was an unqualified success, allowing fans young and old the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see McCartney perform such classics as "Hey Jude," "Got to Get You into My Life," "Let It Be," "Get Back," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Eleanor Rigby," "The Long and Winding Road," "Live and Let Die," "Band on the Run," "Jet," "Let 'em In," "Silly Love Songs," and at least a dozen more equally special tunes.
That's not to imply, however, that the often-riveting two-hour-plus show was nothing more than a live jukebox of McCartney's greatest. Fitted in nicely among the more august material were quite a number of new tunes from his Flowers in the Dirt LP. Unlike the music of many other big acts, McCartney's catchy, hummable melodies can be quickly assimilated by the listener thus making it easier for him to include unfamiliar songs in a show's repertoire. "In the end," says Paul, "you pay attention to your fans."
Most of them will only see the show once, so they want from me what I wanted when I saw Bill Haley... The danger with all of us pterodactyls on the road is that you don't want to become a sixties package show. Or if you aren't careful with some of the songs, you can get a little lounge-pianoish ... I find now that I want to do my songs as close to the originals as possible . . . I've heard that with Bob Dylan, if a song gets too recognizable he throws it out. That's great for him, but it's not for me.
For both the McCartneys a major benefit of the fifteen-country tour was the extensive publicity the shows would give to the vegetarian and environmental causes so close to their hearts. Despite a few catty Jo Jo Laine remarks to the contrary, Paul appears to be every bit as strict concerning his much-written-about vegetarian lifestyle as he pretends, reportedly even going so far as sneaking out with Linda occasionally to seafood restaurants and markets to purchase live lobsters which they then set free in the ocean.
The McCartneys' formal alliance with the across-the-board environmental watchdog group Friends of the Earth also got a big boost from the tour, both publicity-wise and financially. On November 27, 1989, Michael S. Clark, president of the U.S. chapter of the privately funded organization sat down with Paul at a press conference to discuss some of the problems we all now face due to man's willful abuse of the planet. "Paul McCartney has embraced Friends of the Earth and is spreading the word to audiences throughout the world that by joining us they can help save the planet," explained Clark. "And that is a public service of significant value to the environment and our movement to protect it. Today we know only too well how badly the Earth is hurting — and that it needs every friend it can get. Mr. McCartney has become one of the Earth's best friends."
As for Paul's part in this international mutual admiration society, he personally contributed heavily to the more-than-worthy cause and actively encouraged his many fans to do the same, even going so far as to include a coupon in the tour program for them to fill out and mail in with their offerings: "When I was a boy, I would never have believed it if someone had told me that one day we'd have a hole in the sky — in the ozone layer — that there would be acid in our rain, that the seas wouldn't be clean enough to swim in and the air not clean enough to breathe. All I am trying to do on this tour is hopefully make people think about how we're wrecking this world and ask them to challenge their politicians to act."
For all the good will, however, the tour also spawned its share of controversy with McCartney's acceptance of a $3 million contract to allow the concerts to be promoted under the banner of the Visa credit card company. The concept of corporate sponsorship of rock 'n' roll, although here to stay, is distasteful to many who resent the implications of Madison Avenue meddling with this, America's purest, most native, and most uninhibited art form. McCartney, of course, dished out the usual propaganda about big tours being so incredibly expensive these days that without such support the fans would be forced to take up some of the slack at the ticket counter. Most observers though saw such rhetoric as more of the same old McCartney fast talk. Robert Christgau, senior music critic of the Village Voice, hit the nail squarely on the head with a biting assessment of McCartney's latest world-class deal: "I don't think Paul is anything but a businessman, and I'm not surprised he made this decision . . . the credit card sponsorship is especially odious. It's a financial institution. There's something funny about it, and what I regard as typical of a very shrewd, very wealthy entrepreneur, which is what McCartney basically is."
Rushing to the aid of their newest public mascot, representatives of Visa's own ad agency, BBDO in New York, only succeeded in making matters worse with managing director G. Gary de Paolo telling the Wall Street Journal, "What we've determined is he [Mr. McCartney] is very establishment. There isn't anybody more establishment than Paul McCartney. He's got a family of four, he jets home at every available moment, he's a twenty-year vegetarian ... It could almost get boring." One imagines that, for all his evangelical familial commitment, Paul couldn't have been too thrilled with de Paolo's double-edged defense. However squeaky clean his image these days it must still irk him somewhat to be thought of as such a musical milquetoast. He is, after all, a get-down, goodtime rock 'n' roller, once part of the most ground-breaking, experimental, revolutionary group of its day. In the final analysis it's difficult to imagine, say, John Lennon ever soliciting, or accepting such an offer. "I don't feel I have to apologize," McCartney later commented from the eye of the hurricane. "It seems to me that we're in a fairly obvious capitalist society . . . We all accept money for what we do and if you ever go in to your boss for the best deal you can get, you don't say, 'Give me the lowest wage you can think of.' I'm the same." His perpetual whining about how he's really no different from you or me (and therefore should be cut some slack) grows only more pathetic and unbelievable with each escalating royalty rate and multi-million-pound advance. The simple truth remains that as the single richest performer in all of show business he is a one-man walking monetary system with more assets than several mid-sized third world countries combined.
The recording that first inspired Paul's second great world tour was the only occasionally absorbing Flowers in the Dirt. Hyped by McCartney's minions as the best thing since Band on the Run, the thirteen-track work offered little of real import, serving up instead much of the same old McCartney musical mumbo jumbo or what one critic called, "pop for potheads." "I really took more care with the songs than anything," says Paul. "I wanted an album I could go out on tour with, an album people could relate to. I just didn't want some crummy album dogging the tour."
In all honesty Flowers in the Dirt is about a fifty-fifty proposition. That is, half of the tunes work admirably while the other half simply slog by, weighed down by their own overblown sense of self. Tunes in the first category include the Paul McCartney/Elvis Costello number "My Brave Face," as well as the funky "Rough Ride," exuberant "We Got Married," "Ou est le Soleil," and "Figure of Eight." The touching "Put It There" also gets high marks, not only for its folksy "Black-bird"-like guitar work, but for the honest, captivating way it seeks to delineate the often-mercurial ups and downs of the timeless and tricky father/son relationship. Among the stinkers on the meticulously packaged LP are the Paul/Elvis duet "You Want Her Too" (a kind of tired, backstreet "The Girl Is Mine") and the faceless "Don't Be Careless, Love," "That Day Is Done," "How Many People," and "Motor of Love."
Costello remembers the day-to-day buzz of the extended (almost two-year) recording sessions for the album: "Paul has a clever way of sidestepping confrontation by making jokes like, 'Well, you can never trust anything he says because he hates effects!' So rather than disagreeing with you, your argument's devalued before it's started. After a while that made the production kind of redundant."
Surprisingly, one of the few people to spring to McCartney's defense regarding his questionable work on Flowers was old pal Denny Laine:
I like Flowers in the Dirt because it's a band again and to me there's some good songs there. A couple of them I don't like, you know, because of the performance really. But some of them I really like, and the rest are of good quality ... I think Elvis Costello was a fine writing companion for him. Paul needed to have other people of the same stature giving him ideas. As for the band he put together, he was looking for people he admired and it took him that long to find a good combination of people who weren't so much in awe of him. When that came together he felt right to go on the road. I wish Paul would go on tour more often. After all, he's in a position to because everybody wants to see him and he's always bringing out albums. He's good enough to go out once a year.
Despite his prodigious output as an artist, Paul McCartney's off-hours still remain all-important to him. His twenty-three-year relationship with Linda is as stable as ever, although both parties claim the union is definitely a "real" marriage with all the attendant highs and lows. Paul has never strayed, a fact remarkable to many who see the dashing, witty, powerful ex-Beatle as the perfect over-forty candidate for a clandestine affair.
Although the McCartneys do row, it is never, ever in public. On the single occasion that Linda took flight after a fight with Paul, showing up at Denny and Jo Jo's, she was home again within a couple of hours. Above all, it is an intensely private and personal relationship. "There have been plenty of difficulties, but I'm not a very public person about those kinds of things," says Paul. "I'm not an easy person to live with, and I think sometimes she's not easy. . . ." Although it was suggested to me by several people once close to the McCartneys that Paul and Linda's relationship is more mother/son than husband/wife the remark, it seems to me, is based on jealousy rather than on fact. Their marriage seems a union of equals, a bond of mutual respect and love of family and home.
"Having seen them since before they got married," remembers George Martin, "I think the most impressive thing has been their determination to make it work . . . They were determined to build loyalty into their marriage and family, because it's not just a marriage, it's a family. They've gone out of their way to raise their family in a natural environment, and I think they've handled it extraordinarily well."
Perhaps the sweetest story ever told about the fairy tale McCartney marriage concerns an incident in September of 1982 when Linda exhibited her photographs in a London gallery only to discover that the high-priced prints weren't exactly setting any sales records. In the end, Paul secretly shelled out the $23,630 necessary to buy the unsold thirty-seven shots, managing to keep the transaction confidential to all but the nosey Sun who predictably splashed the romantic gesture all over their front page. "He didn't want to see her hurt," says a friend. "Deep down he's as soft as anyone. When Linda found out, she was so touched I was told she actually cried."
Having long ago outgrown the claustrophobic intimacy of their circular first home down south, in 1978 the McCartneys purchased adjacent East Gate Farm from local businessman Jim Higgs for a reported £100,000. In 1982 the old farmhouse on the property was razed and a luxury five-bedroom home of Paul's own design built on the site. Complemented by a full stable and a paddock for their several impossibly expensive thoroughbred horses, it includes a swimming pool as well an imposing sixty-five-foot watchtower McCartney insists was constructed for the sole purpose of allowing the family the pleasure of viewing the lush, green countryside. Just to be safe, a sturdy six-foot fence was also constructed at the request of local officials who feared for the family's safety after the murderous attack on John Lennon and reports of out-of-town cranks showing up in nearby Peasmarsh, trying to gain entry to the former Fab's retreat.
Inside the grounds of the stately country home are ducks, geese, chickens, and even peacocks which, when not roaming freely, reside in coops built by McCartney's own hands. Both homebodies in the extreme, Paul and Linda draw a definite line between family and business, with absolutely no gold records, awards, or other memorabilia anywhere to be seen. In fact, if it weren't for the baby Steinway grand piano and a small collection of Paul's favorite Martin guitars scattered around, one might think the tidy, well-organized household was that of some local solicitor or old-money blueblood.
Unfortunately, as is so often the case with Paul McCartney, at some point the ugly specter of pounds, shillings, and pence raises its head, interrupting even the pastoral quietude of his homey lifestyle in the grassy belly of England's upper-crust heartland. In the summer of 1990, one of McCartney's neighbors, single parent Pauline Jeal, who resides in a rustic cottage in Peasmarsh, received a notice that not only had Paul purchased the house she had been renting for the previous four years but also intended to renovate and then rent it out for big bucks, thus forcing her out. "When I asked Paul why he was so determined to kick us out of the cottage that's in the middle of a marsh, he wouldn't answer me. I only found out later that he's planning a big development in the area. They're thinking of putting up condos and shopping malls. This area is full of all kinds of wildlife. I couldn't imagine someone like Paul not caring about any of that and worried only about the almighty dollar.... I'm glad John Lennon isn't here to see this." Fruitless as it probably is, Mrs. Jeal plans to try to stave off McCartney's advances to her little home for as long as she can before moving on.
Meanwhile, back at Chez McCartney, one of the big attractions for country squire Paul is that most exalted of all twentieth century art forms, the TV game show. "They just love 'The Price Is Right,'" says a friend. "It's true!" Other big favorites for Paul, Mary, Stella, and James include the now-defunct American series "Fame" as well as, what seems as if it would be very small potatoes for the McCartney clan, "The $20,000 Pyramid." (Just about the amount Paul rakes in on his various publishing royalties while he's watching.) Linda, on the other hand, apparently just adored "Dallas" and that raunchy low-down cow poke JR Ewing. Jo Jo Laine, too, counted the long-winded soap as her fave rave, an ironic similarity of taste between two women who have precious little else in common.
Another high priority for Paul at home is his middle-class insistence that women pay attention to their prescribed duties, like housework. "I'm from your northern stock where women didn't get jobs. I was used to women who did the laundry on their knees, scrubbing the front step. I never thought that was degrading, but wonderful of them to do it." From all accounts, Linda, being as she is from such an upwardly mobile Jewish household, never even had to make her own bed as a child let alone engage in the kind of elbow-grease activities her working-class husband had in mind.
At first I thought Paul was so old-fashioned, with all this tidiness, and doing your own laundry and ironing .. . Well, when you read the little story books, it was the mother and the father and the kids ... It wasn't "And the cleaning lady came and ..." Paul was saying that there's a lovely pleasure in laundering something and smelling it, or ironing something. He remembers the smell in his house, of his mother, his auntie. His mum died when he was so young. So to have a wife who is intelligent, independent, artistic — but who also fulfills that role — was important. He thought I was missing something; I thought, "Come on, I want to be outdoors with my horse ..." If I were working, believe me, I wouldn't take this "You're the wife, this is your role." Oh, no, thank you!
McCartney explains his obviously outdated thinking by saying, "I mean my class likes to polish. But I suppose you couldn't tell a modern woman she should like to polish."
To his eternal credit Paul McCartney is definitely a man who loves his children. So much does he revere his own uncomplicated childhood he is determined that his kids too enjoy a similarly free and simple youth. So much available money one would think might tend to make such an ideal difficult to attain. It is a problem both Paul and Linda struggle with almost daily. Paul McCartney's head may indeed be in his business, but his heart is with his family. In that, he is un-movable.
I don't want them looking down on ordinary people. I see that as the main danger when you get money, especially inherited wealth. You start to think, "Well, I'm better than him, anyway, I've got more than him," and you tend to look down on him ... So my kids go to ordinary schools in order for them to learn how it is first. Then if you want to be terrific and privileged afterwards, you can handle it. You've got some humanity and compassion with it. So I'm trying to bring them up to have values, to have heart, more than anything ... I want them to actually care, you know, if someone gets hurt. And they do. They're very good kids like that.
It is not easy to get McCartney to talk about his offspring. Knowing full well that his exalted situation could instantly rocket them into the media, forcing them to grow up in public like, say, young John Kennedy, or maybe Tatum O'Neal, he keeps that part of his life very close to home. These days his two oldest, Heather and Mary, live together in a house in St. John's Wood, though not the family home (which is still owned by the McCartneys) on Cavendish Avenue. By all accounts the two young women both work and play with equal enthusiasm, just like their famous parents. Heather is a potter and Mary an assistant at MPL. Stella and James, of course, still live at home, something their admittedly possessive father is in no hurry to change. "I get strict when I think I have to," says Paul. "We don't swear around the house — usually it's me who does — and then I have to go around and apologize to everybody."
Another big concern of the former swinging London bachelor is the possible hidden agenda of his daughter's suitors. He's been there himself, he says, and knows the score.
It's very weird when you were man-the-hunter and you know what visiting boyfriends are after.... I try to get on with them, which is not always successful. I know what it was like for me to talk to fathers of girlfriends when no one was famous, and it was terrifying ... It's very difficult as a parent to smell out dishonorable motives. ... If I tell Mary her boyfriend's not that great, that's the one she'll have. I tell them, "When I was a kid you could mess around a bit, experiment, before you got engaged . . . When the pill arrived, me dad was jealous. I said, 'Didn't you?' And he said, 'No, there was VD in my day.' I was lucky."
One of the most impressive aspects of Paul and Linda's life these days is their philosophical commitment to ethical vegetarianism. Linda remembers their reasons for kicking the meat habit:
During the course of a Sunday lunch we happened to look out the kitchen window at our young lambs racing happily in the fields. Glancing down at our plates, we suddenly realized we were eating the leg of an animal that had until recently been gambolling in a field itself. We looked at each other and said, "Wait a minute, we love these sheep — they're such gentle creatures — so why are we eating them?" It was the last time we ever did.
So identified is Linda with the protection of wildlife that in Sussex the local RSPCA rings her regularly when they've run out of options in finding a home for a helpless creature. Unless these animals are predators the McCartneys generally take them in. "Linda is a crazy animal lover," says Paul. "We have lots of pets, and as a kid I used to run around with my Observer book of birds in my pocket. So from then on we stuck to eating things where nothing had to lose a life. One Christmas, Linda even managed to make a kind of macaroni turkey: you could cut it into slices just like the real thing. I know it sounds a bit corny, but we really value being vegetarians, and it doesn't seem too daft because our place is a nuthouse anyway!"
As time passed and the issue of animal protection became even more volatile and imperative, Paul and Linda both significantly stepped up their efforts on behalf of not only edible livestock but research animals as well. At the risk of being called "radical," late in 1990 they even went so far as to record a series of messages on behalf of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) which were played to callers on a special eight-hundred number throughout North America. An excerpt follows:
PAUL: "Wheel of Fortune" is the only big-name game show that still gives away fur coats as prizes. Help us get them to drop fur by calling Merv Griffin, the show's executive producer . . .
LINDA: Come on, Merv, you don't like fur coats. Give me a break. Thumbs up for Estee Lauder, Clinique, Avon, and Revlon for ending animal tests. Thumbs down to L'Oreal and Gillette for refusing to stop poisoning and killing animals ...
PAUL: The Sill Spring monkeys are survivors of a lab closed down by police nine years ago. They've been kept in tiny cages by the National Institute of Health ever since the research was arrested. Please call President Bush ... and ask him to give the word for those poor monkeys to be moved to a sanctuary.
To some, however, the McCartneys' unbridled love of animals seems occasionally at cross purposes with even the call of the wild they so revere. Denny explains:
You can't change the course of nature to my mind, but Paul and Linda tried. They kept their car outside at their home in St. John's Wood because their garage was full of rare livestock they planned to release into the Scottish hills to breed. Linda can't bear to see anything killed so she was heartbroken when the dogs got into the garage one night and killed some of her chickens. The survivors were taken up to Scotland and freed. But they wouldn't leave. They just sat around in the front garden waiting to be fed. Eventually the dogs killed the lot. I thought it was a stupid exercise.
As Kahlil Gibran once observed of people: "I saw them eating and I knew who they were." The McCartneys' commitment of more than twenty years to refusing to support the violent and bloody meat industry is cause for celebration. They are very influential role models. "For the forest to be green each tree must be green." So said the mirthful Maharishi. His indisputable logic places the responsibility to act clearly where it has always belonged. It is a challenge the McCartneys have graciously accepted. In this life it makes sense to try to be as nonviolent as possible. For the McCartneys, anyway, refusing to eat dead animals seems a good place to start.
Twenty years after Paul and the other Beatles officially called it a day, the group's complex karma was still coming back to haunt them. Following years of spiteful infighting, circumstances eventually forced the three surviving Beatles to regroup (if only for the sake of ongoing business) to proceed against Capitol, their old record company, in an effort to collect substantial monies allegedly owed the band. It would prove a long, painful, and arduous process for everyone involved. Although by 1990 most of the group's business hassles were resolved, there were, sadly, still a lot of jagged emotions among them. Despite Paul's tedious posturing that they were all the best of friends, his real feelings about his former colleagues were (and are) quite different. In fact, during the final days of the Beatles' much-publicized Apple/Capitol suit, he was overheard referring to his former colleagues as "arrogant, big-headed dopes" who should be grateful for the deal that was being offered them and join with him in "blowing up Apple" once and for all.
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Perhaps the most shocking revelation of all is McCartney's devastating attitude towards Beatle peacemaker, Ringo. "They really think they're something," he complained to business associates, "especially someone like Ringo!" Incredibly, the congenial drummer was apparently so broke at one point during the late eighties that he considered selling off a portion of his holdings in the Beatles' vast multi-million-pound business empire to an unidentified Arab investor. As a last-ditch effort to maintain the status quo, Starr turned to McCartney for a little help from his friend. "Okay," Paul told him, "I'll give you one more set of promotion fees ... I hate to see you begging me." In return for the hand-out, however, McCartney demanded that Ringo side with him in any ensuing negotiations relating to the permanent dissolution of Apple, "a far more reasonable reality" quips a former Beatle aide, "than the Fab Four suddenly becoming, say, 'John, Paul, George, and Abdul.'" In the cold light of day, it seems even the great Beatles themselves are as petty and sorrowful as the rest of us, something John and George, in particular, had been saying publicly for years.
Denny Laine's departure from Wings was the unfortunate precursor of several years of unrelenting hard luck. Only just now slowly climbing back towards the top, Laine has successfully moved on, but in many ways is still seen as one-half of something as opposed to an artist whole and independent. Disturbing as it is, it's not really all that unusual in the business. Being part of any popular, well-loved team brings with it a public identification with one's partners that's often tough to shake; witness Simon and Garfunkel, Jagger and Richards, even Lennon and McCartney. Although the world doesn't yet seem to recognize it, the writing and performing team of McCartney/Laine was very special indeed. Bringing out the bottom-line best in each other, their unique talents intertwined, bringing to Wings' music both a sensitivity and a rough edge it would otherwise never have had. After over eight years of not speaking a word to each other (and both feeling pretty miserable about it into the bargain), Paul attempted to make contact again in February of 1990, ringing a number one of his road crew had dug up while the whirlwind McCartney tour was steaming through Boston. Denny, unfortunately, wasn't in, with Jo Jo, of all people, answering the early evening call. "Hello," said a voice she instinctively and immediately recognized to be McCartney's. "Is Denny in, please?"
"No, sorry," said Jo Jo. "He just left a little while ago with his girlfriend and the baby. They've gone to his house in New Hampshire. Who's this?" "This is a friend of his, Paul." Taking the bull by the horns, Jo Jo, as usual, dove straight in with both feet. "Is this Paul McCartney?" she asked, barely able to hide both her excitement and nervousness at once again speaking to her old arch-nemesis. "Yeah, who's this?" replied Paul, seeming at last to catch on that this was no ordinary answering service. "Why it's your old friend Jo Jo!" she chirped, rendering McCartney literally speechless for the longest time. "Jo Jo?" he finally continued, surprisingly much warmer than she ever had any right to expect. "You know, Paul," she continued, seizing the precious moment in an effort to try to say something positive that might help bring the two ex-mates back in line once again, "those articles in the Sun that Denny did on you and Linda weren't really his words. It was all so twisted. I know he feels terrible about it." "I realize that, Jo," said Paul, suddenly even warmer and more sincere. "Look, just tell him I called, okay? I'll have someone ring tomorrow to try and connect up with him so we can get together. It was great to talk to you again. I'm just about to go on stage in a minute so I'll ring off. See you."
Like clockwork, the next afternoon John Hammel did indeed ring, making arrangements for Denny to come out to Worcester that evening to see the gig and drop backstage afterwards. By the time Denny got to the stadium the show had already started. A stranger to the area, he and an associate had gotten lost, turning off at the wrong ramp and then having to backtrack at least two or three times. It's difficult to imagine what was rushing through Laine's head as he stood there, down near the front of the stage, watching someone else play guitar alongside his old mate up there under the blinding lights. Hearing the first strains of "Band on the Run" ring out, and feeling the crowd swell under the plaintive, rising rhythms must have been very strange. It was he and Paul, after all, who had created those chords, on a similar evening, once many years ago in faraway Nigeria.
Stamping out the last of at least ten cigarettes he had smoked over the last hour and a half, Denny pulled on his coat after the last encore and walked backstage. Happily, among the sea of darting, unfamiliar faces he soon picked out old Wings-minder, Mike Walley. He threw his arms around the burly roadie in the kind of spontaneous arms-around reserved for those on the inside of rock 'n' roll.
"How ya doin', Den?" asked the obviously surprised and pleased assistant. "God, it's great to see you, man. Do Paul and Linda know you're here?"
"I think so," said Laine quietly.
"Well Christ, man," replied Walley, anticipating the long-awaited reunion he was about to witness, "let me take you back, then." Leading Laine and his friend down a long, heavily guarded corridor, the good-natured Brit paused just outside a large, well-secured hallway leading to the band's strictly off-limits dressing rooms. "I'll just go in and see what's up, mate," he said, darting off inside. "Hang on a sec."
Leaning up against the cold, concrete wall, Laine began to feel a bit sick to his stomach. After about ten minutes Mike emerged from inside, saying that he could go in just as soon as they cleaned up a bit and finished one quick interview. "You know how it is, mate," said the roadie, shrugging his shoulders in resignation. "It'll just be a minute."
Denny waited around another twenty minutes or so and then nodded to his partner that they should cut out. Walking unrecognized through the parking lot, back to the car, he paused only to zip up his jacket against the suddenly chilly late-night air. On the way home, says Jo Jo, neither of the men said a word.
Back at the stadium, the limo drivers too were getting restless waiting for the McCartneys to emerge with their entourage on their way back to the hotel. It had been a long night.