A flight of fancy - the first fluttering of Wings
I didn't want to ring up famous mates - Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker, that kind of thing - and suggest forming a band. That didn't seem right. I don't know why.
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I'd only ever really been in one group - the Quarry Men which became the Silver Beatles and then the Beatles - and that was John's group which I'd joined. Now I was putting together a group for myself. It was quite a challenge; and good fun. Going back to basics made it difficult but it seemed the only way to do it.
My much - publicised rivalry with John Lennon during the Ram period came about from the business problems we were experiencing after the breakup of the Beatles and the temporary end of our company, Apple. I had tried hard to save everything in the battles that ensued and I think there were one or two people on John's side who stirred things up and encouraged the rivalry. I've certainly heard some interesting stories since, but John and I had a love for each other that managed to survive through it all, and we ended up close friends.
With Ram we'd enjoyed the experience of working with other people. But to be in a band with complete strangers is a bit of a shock. With the Beatles, John, George and I had played together for quite a while before we became successful. But the thought of working with complete strangers used to terrify me - the idea that you're sitting there, look to one side and think 'Who the hell's that?' So having my best mate, my wife, in the new band, was to be very comforting.
P: Do you think you can handle being in a band?
L: I don't know. I've never done It before.
P: But when the Beatles started we'd never done it before, either. Can you imagine: we're standing behind a curtain, the curtain opens, there’s people there... you feel about that? Would it completely freak you or could you get into it?
L: I think I could get into it.
That was how it started. I said, 'Right, let's try it, we'll put a band together’.
From the Ram sessions, Denny Seiwell seemed like a good band member and we also asked Hugh McCracken if he wanted to join. He came to Scotland and rehearsed with us but he didn't like the idea of it. I think he was happier in New York. We were starting from the ground up. So Hugh bowed out. That was OK - I understood why.
I wanted another male to sing along with and remembered Denny Laine, whom I'd known from his days with the Moody Blues. They once toured with the Beatles and we'd had some good laughs. I had always admired the way he sang Go Now. I knew he was a good singer, and a nice guy, so we asked him if he wanted to be in a band with us and he said yes. With me on bass, Linda on keyboard, Denny Seiwell on drums and Denny Laine on guitar, that became the first Iine – up of the band.
During our early days Linda and I wrote songs together. It was a combination of things. Being so close, we naturally gave each other ideas. Also, the song publishing company refused to recognize her as a writer, which I thought was a bit of a cheek.
Our first album was recorded in just two weeks. I'd read that Bob Dylan had just made a quick album, and I really liked the idea, because we tended to take longer and longer to make records. The early albums by the Beatles hadn't taken long and it seemed to me that Dylan was getting back to that. I was a great admirer of his - and still am to this day - so I thought ‘Well, if it's good enough for him, let's do it.' So I got the band together and said that we should make it quickly, doing it almost live.
Linda was heavily pregnant with Stella while we were recording the band's first album. The family thing was already intertwining: we were starting a family and we were making an album. If she'd have wanted to stop the sessions we would have done, but it just didn't arise. A lot of women work until two weeks before the baby is due and that's what Linda did. Even though it was a rock band, it was still a job.
I used to check out the other Beatles' solo albums, and I think they checked out mine, too. There was a strange competitiveness now that we were separated. It was odd to have feelings of jealousy for each other after having been so tight for so long...
All this time, we still didn't have a name for the band. When Linda gave birth to Stella there was a complication: something called placenta previa. She had to have a Caesarian and stay in hospital to recover. To be supportive, I stayed there with her, sleeping in a little camp-bed. It had been such a touch-and-go thing, such a drama, that I was imagining angels' wings. And I thought, 'That's a nice image - wings. I wonder if there's been a band called Wings?' That's how the name came about, in King's College Hospital, in London, as we recovered from the birth of Stella.
So Wings became the name. And the first album became Wings Wild Life.
A press launch is always a good excuse to have a night out, so we invited friends and journalists, played the album, danced and had a few funny people come on to entertain. I wore an outrageous big check suit that I thought would be good. When I went to collect it from the tailor that morning he told me that it wasn't finished. I said, 'Maybe not, but it's a look!' So I went to the party with the cotton and the stitching showing, and everyone said, 'Your suit's not finished.' I said, 'Yeah, I know. Great, huh?'
We were up in Scotland and I was painting the big corrugated - iron roof. During that time, Linda had bought some of the first reggae records that hit Britain, Tighten Up, and she'd play them downstairs while I was painting the roof. We both loved the music and going to Jamaica became our big ambition. When we did, we really fell in love with it: the country, the people, the music, the lifestyle, the weather. We spent weeks there, soaking up a lot of reggae - it was the start of rap but they used to call it toasting. There was a radio station called rjr that played reggae all day long, and a little shop in Montego Bay called Tony's Record Store where we used to sift through all the 45s. It reminded us of the 1950s. We'd buy them by the titles - one record was called Poison Pressure by Lennon-McCartney. I thought, ‘Oh yeah? This is interesting.' It was no song I'd ever had a part in, nor John. Maybe we weren't the only Lennon-McCartney in the world, though - perhaps it was Moses Lennon and Winston McCartney.
Because of all the business troubles at Apple we really didn't have much money. Well, I had some but I couldn't get at it because it was frozen. But Linda had some savings from her photography so we were able to live on that for a while. We always used to say that if all the money went, if we became broke, then we'd go to Jamaica and live in a little shack.
Because of all the business troubles at Apple we really didn't have much money. Well, I had some but I couldn't get at it because it was frozen. But Linda had some savings from her photography so we were able to live on that for a while. We always used to say that if all the money went, if we became broke, then we'd go to Jamaica and live in a little shack. After our first visit to Jamaica, Linda wrote her first song, Seaside Woman. We cut a demo and I played drums. I didn't have a snare drum, though, so I used a couple of ropes. Again, that's why we called it our ‘funky period' - it was all improvised. The harmonies on tracks like Seaside Woman became central to Wings. That sound was slightly different to what anyone else was doing. Elton John said he really loved our harmonies, and when I later worked with Michael Jackson he asked for Linda to be on the harmonies. Our voices did blend very well together.