Wings (band)

Core members of Wings, Linda McCartney, Paul McCartney and Denny Laine.

Wings was a pop-rock band led by Paul McCartney, formed after the dissolution of the Beatles.

Before Wings

See Paul McCartney.

The Wings years

Late in 1971, drummer Denny Seiwell, and ex-Moody Blues guitarist and singer Denny Laine, joined Paul McCartney and wife Linda McCartney to record Paul's third post-Beatles project. The result was Wild Life, the first project to credit "Wings". (The band name is said to have come to McCartney as he was praying in the hospital while Linda was giving birth to their eldest child Stella McCartney.)

In 1972 McCartney returned to touring, mounting an impromptu tour of UK universities and small European venues (with the group literally driving around in a van), playing no Beatles numbers. He scored hits with the relatively light singles "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and "Hi Hi Hi" (the latter getting in trouble with the BBC for alleged drug references).

In early 1973, McCartney repeated this pattern, adding ex-Spooky Tooth guitarist Henry McCullough, and re-christening the band "Paul McCartney and Wings" for the album Red Rose Speedway which yielded the first big Wings hit, the romantic ballad "My Love". That same year, McCartney filmed his first American TV special James Paul McCartney, which was savagely criticised by noted rock journalist Lillian Roxon. Wings also recorded the hit theme song to the James Bond film Live and Let Die, which reunited McCartney with producer George Martin. Over the years this has remained one of the most memorable of all Bond songs, and is always an exciting part of McCartney's concert performances (often played to fireworks).

Following the release of Speedway, Denny Seiwell and Henry McCullough left the band, leaving the McCartneys and Denny Laine to cut their next album at EMI's recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria, recording what turned out to be their breakthrough album, Band on the Run.

The album went to #1 and spawned a half-dozen hit singles including the rockers "Jet" and "Helen Wheels", the acoustic ballad "Bluebird", the title track -- a suite of movements recalling side 2 of Abbey Road -- and the rocky non-album single "Junior's Farm". Moreover Band on the Run enjoyed a very positive critical reception, and did much to restore McCartney's somewhat damaged post-Beatles image. It also included two songs, "Let Me Roll It" and "Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five", thought to be answer songs to "How Do You Sleep?", John Lennon's earlier scathing attack on McCartney.

Band on the Run was followed by similarly successful albums Venus and Mars (1975), which was recorded in New Orleans, and Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976), recorded in Nashville, both of which took top chart positions. Also during this period, Wings embarked on a hugely successful and theatrical world tour, documented in the triple-live LP set Wings Over America, which included a late 1975 tour of Australia, McCartney's first visit there since the Beatles' epoch-making Antipodean tour in June, 1964. McCartney still mostly shied away from the Beatles catalogue; only five such numbers were typically included in the American shows. One of the Seattle concerts from the American leg of the '75-'76 world tour was filmed and later released as the concert feature Rockshow (1980). Further hits followed with the singles "Silly Love Songs" and "Let 'Em In".

Also in 1976, McCartney inaugurated Buddy Holly Week in London, founded on what would have been Holly's 40th birthday and marked with an annual celebrity party; his lifelong passion for the music of this rock'n'roll pioneer was also reflected in his aquisition of Holly's publishing catalogue. Ever the astute businessman, McCartney also cannily bought the rights to an off-Broadway musical he had seen in America, and this investment reaped huge returns when the musical was adapted into the smash-hit feature film Grease.

After the world tour McCartney took a break, but this period produced both the most obscure and the most successful records he has made. During 1977 he released the peculiar, unpromoted and little-known album Thrillington -- an orchestral re-make of the earlier Ram album, issued under the pseudonym 'Percy "Thrills" Thrillington', followed by single version of a live recording of "Maybe I'm Amazed". Later in the year the band recorded their next album in the Virgin Islands.

At the end of 1977 McCartney released the ballad "Mull of Kintyre", an ode to the Scottish coastal region he had made his home in the early Seventies. Its broad appeal was maximised by a pre-Christmas release and it became a massive international hit, dominating the charts in Britain, Australia and many other countries over the Christmas/New Year period and becoming one of the biggest selling UK singles of all time.

McCartney released the album London Town in 1978. During the recording of the album in May, 1977, both Joe English and Jimmy McCullough parted ways with Wings (McCulloch died of a heroin overdose in 1979.)

Though still released as a Wings album, the band was now reduced to Paul, Linda, Laine, and a host of studio players. The album was a major commercial success, reaching #2 on the charts, but featured a markedly softer-rock, synth-based sound and yielded only minor UK hits in "With a Little Luck" and "Girlfriend" (the former was a big hit in the US).

In 1979 Wings released the singles "Goodnight Tonight", "Getting Closer" and "Wonderful Christmastime" and the album Back to the Egg, a critical and commercial failure and the last McCartney project released under the Wings moniker, with McCartney returning to solo billing on future recordings.

During that year, Wings joined Buddy Holly's band, The Crickets onstage in London at the annual Buddy Holly Week party. McCartney was also honoured by The Guinness Book Of Records with a unique rhodium disc, recognising his achievement as the most successful popular music composer of all time.

In November and December of 1979 Wings performed their final tour of the UK, climaxing with a massive 'Rockestra' all-star collection of musicians in London in aid of UNICEF and Kampuchean refugees. This final version of the band included guitarist Lawrence Juber and drummer Steve Holly, who had joined the group in 1978. During this tour the live version of "Coming Up" was recodred, this being their final US number one the following year.

Wings continued to demo some more tunes during 1980/1981 but following a disastrous aborted Japanese tour they fell apart.

The longevity and success of Wings can be seen as something of a vindication for McCartney, whose early home-grown solo output, which frequently featured simplistic nursery-rhyme styled lyrics and sketchy arrangements and production, sometimes led to critical dismissal of his work as "lightweight" next to the more serious nature of his former bandmates' solo output. Though McCartney was the first Beatle to release a solo album after the official break-up of the band, it was John Lennon's early solo output which initially gained the lead in both critical opinion and commercial success, and George Harrison had scored a huge success with his 1971 triple-album solo debut All Things Must Pass. But by the mid-Seventies Lennon's solo career had run out of steam and he had stopped recording; Harrison too was fading from view by this time as by 1976 he had all but retired from recording and performing. As leader of Wings, McCartney however was rising to a new peak of success and he became the only one of the four Beatles who continued to tour and record regularly in the years after their split.

Wings' 1977 single, "Mull of Kintyre"/"Girls School" is still the biggest-selling non-charity single in the UK (although Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" sold more, its sales include a reissue in aid of the Terence Higgins Trust) and it ranked fourth in the official list of best selling singles in the UK issued in 2002.

Line-ups

Wings was ostensibly a true band, and in fact several members besides McCartney contributed songs and occasional vocals, but McCartney was unquestionably the group's leader and star. However, during its lifespan, Wings underwent numerous personnel changes.

Discography

  • Wild Life (1971)
  • Red Rose Speedway (1973)
  • Band on the Run (1973)
  • Venus and Mars (1975)
  • Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976)
  • Wings Over America (1976)
  • London Town (1978)
  • Back to the Egg (1979)

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However, during its lifespan, Wings underwent numerous personnel changes. The highest charting single in the US was the original release of "Only You" at #67. Wings was ostensibly a true band, and in fact several members besides McCartney contributed songs and occasional vocals, but McCartney was unquestionably the group's leader and star. Vince went on to record a single with Paul Quinn, had a brief project with Undertones singer Feargal Sharkey as The Assembly, and then founded the pop group Erasure. Wings' 1977 single, "Mull of Kintyre"/"Girls School" is still the biggest-selling non-charity single in the UK (although Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" sold more, its sales include a reissue in aid of the Terence Higgins Trust) and it ranked fourth in the official list of best selling singles in the UK issued in 2002. After the band split in 1983, Alison Moyet went on to a successful solo career. As leader of Wings, McCartney however was rising to a new peak of success and he became the only one of the four Beatles who continued to tour and record regularly in the years after their split. The You And Me Both album saw greater songwriting input from Moyet, adding a rather more mature and soulful flavour, particularly on the hit single Nobody's Diary.

But by the mid-Seventies Lennon's solo career had run out of steam and he had stopped recording; Harrison too was fading from view by this time as by 1976 he had all but retired from recording and performing. Heavily influenced by earlier bands like Kraftwerk, Yazoo expanded upon the synthpop formula by juxtaposing Moyet's bluesy emotional vocals with Clarke's clinical electronic hooks. Their art pop sound referenced disco but added a more new wave disaffected attitude that disco lacked. Though McCartney was the first Beatle to release a solo album after the official break-up of the band, it was John Lennon's early solo output which initially gained the lead in both critical opinion and commercial success, and George Harrison had scored a huge success with his 1971 triple-album solo debut All Things Must Pass. They recorded two albums entitled Upstairs at Eric's and You and Me Both. The longevity and success of Wings can be seen as something of a vindication for McCartney, whose early home-grown solo output, which frequently featured simplistic nursery-rhyme styled lyrics and sketchy arrangements and production, sometimes led to critical dismissal of his work as "lightweight" next to the more serious nature of his former bandmates' solo output. Their biggest hits included the singles "Only You" (later successfully covered by the socialist acapella group The Flying Pickets), "Don't Go" and "Situation". Wings continued to demo some more tunes during 1980/1981 but following a disastrous aborted Japanese tour they fell apart. Mute Records continued to release the output of this new Clarke project.

During this tour the live version of "Coming Up" was recodred, this being their final US number one the following year. Clarke surprised many by quitting Depeche Mode just as they were beginning to reap success, claiming that they "just weren't getting on, really", forming Yazoo with the then unknown Moyet. In November and December of 1979 Wings performed their final tour of the UK, climaxing with a massive 'Rockestra' all-star collection of musicians in London in aid of UNICEF and Kampuchean refugees. This final version of the band included guitarist Lawrence Juber and drummer Steve Holly, who had joined the group in 1978. Clarke had been the main song-writer in Depeche Mode, who had at that point recorded one album and three singles for Mute Records, including the hit Just Can't Get Enough. McCartney was also honoured by The Guinness Book Of Records with a unique rhodium disc, recognising his achievement as the most successful popular music composer of all time. Yazoo consisted of:. During that year, Wings joined Buddy Holly's band, The Crickets onstage in London at the annual Buddy Holly Week party. 'Yazoo'.

In 1979 Wings released the singles "Goodnight Tonight", "Getting Closer" and "Wonderful Christmastime" and the album Back to the Egg, a critical and commercial failure and the last McCartney project released under the Wings moniker, with McCartney returning to solo billing on future recordings. They were formed in 1981, using a moniker that Alison Moyet had seen on the labels of old blues albums.. The album was a major commercial success, reaching #2 on the charts, but featured a markedly softer-rock, synth-based sound and yielded only minor UK hits in "With a Little Luck" and "Girlfriend" (the former was a big hit in the US). Yazoo (known as Yaz in the U.S.) were an English electropop duo from Basildon, Essex, who had a number of top ten hits in the British and American charts in the early 1980s. Though still released as a Wings album, the band was now reduced to Paul, Linda, Laine, and a host of studio players. For alternate meanings, see Yazoo (disambiguation).. During the recording of the album in May, 1977, both Joe English and Jimmy McCullough parted ways with Wings (McCulloch died of a heroin overdose in 1979.). The below article is about Yazoo the music band.

McCartney released the album London Town in 1978. 1999 "Only You" (re-issue) #38. Its broad appeal was maximised by a pre-Christmas release and it became a massive international hit, dominating the charts in Britain, Australia and many other countries over the Christmas/New Year period and becoming one of the biggest selling UK singles of all time. 1990 "Situation" #14. At the end of 1977 McCartney released the ballad "Mull of Kintyre", an ode to the Scottish coastal region he had made his home in the early Seventies. 1983 "Nobody's Diary" #3. Later in the year the band recorded their next album in the Virgin Islands. 1982 "The Other Side of Love" #13.

During 1977 he released the peculiar, unpromoted and little-known album Thrillington -- an orchestral re-make of the earlier Ram album, issued under the pseudonym 'Percy "Thrills" Thrillington', followed by single version of a live recording of "Maybe I'm Amazed". 1982 "Don't Go" #3. After the world tour McCartney took a break, but this period produced both the most obscure and the most successful records he has made. 1982 "Only You" #2. Ever the astute businessman, McCartney also cannily bought the rights to an off-Broadway musical he had seen in America, and this investment reaped huge returns when the musical was adapted into the smash-hit feature film Grease. 1999 "Only Yazoo - The Best of Yazoo" #22 UK. Also in 1976, McCartney inaugurated Buddy Holly Week in London, founded on what would have been Holly's 40th birthday and marked with an annual celebrity party; his lifelong passion for the music of this rock'n'roll pioneer was also reflected in his aquisition of Holly's publishing catalogue. 1983 "You and Me Both" #1 UK, #69 US.

Further hits followed with the singles "Silly Love Songs" and "Let 'Em In". 1982 "Upstairs at Eric's" #2 UK, #92 US. One of the Seattle concerts from the American leg of the '75-'76 world tour was filmed and later released as the concert feature Rockshow (1980). Vince Clarke - synthesizers. McCartney still mostly shied away from the Beatles catalogue; only five such numbers were typically included in the American shows. Alison Moyet - singer. Also during this period, Wings embarked on a hugely successful and theatrical world tour, documented in the triple-live LP set Wings Over America, which included a late 1975 tour of Australia, McCartney's first visit there since the Beatles' epoch-making Antipodean tour in June, 1964.

Band on the Run was followed by similarly successful albums Venus and Mars (1975), which was recorded in New Orleans, and Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976), recorded in Nashville, both of which took top chart positions. It also included two songs, "Let Me Roll It" and "Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five", thought to be answer songs to "How Do You Sleep?", John Lennon's earlier scathing attack on McCartney. Moreover Band on the Run enjoyed a very positive critical reception, and did much to restore McCartney's somewhat damaged post-Beatles image. The album went to #1 and spawned a half-dozen hit singles including the rockers "Jet" and "Helen Wheels", the acoustic ballad "Bluebird", the title track -- a suite of movements recalling side 2 of Abbey Road -- and the rocky non-album single "Junior's Farm".

Following the release of Speedway, Denny Seiwell and Henry McCullough left the band, leaving the McCartneys and Denny Laine to cut their next album at EMI's recording studio in Lagos, Nigeria, recording what turned out to be their breakthrough album, Band on the Run. Over the years this has remained one of the most memorable of all Bond songs, and is always an exciting part of McCartney's concert performances (often played to fireworks). Wings also recorded the hit theme song to the James Bond film Live and Let Die, which reunited McCartney with producer George Martin. That same year, McCartney filmed his first American TV special James Paul McCartney, which was savagely criticised by noted rock journalist Lillian Roxon.

In early 1973, McCartney repeated this pattern, adding ex-Spooky Tooth guitarist Henry McCullough, and re-christening the band "Paul McCartney and Wings" for the album Red Rose Speedway which yielded the first big Wings hit, the romantic ballad "My Love". He scored hits with the relatively light singles "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and "Hi Hi Hi" (the latter getting in trouble with the BBC for alleged drug references). In 1972 McCartney returned to touring, mounting an impromptu tour of UK universities and small European venues (with the group literally driving around in a van), playing no Beatles numbers. (The band name is said to have come to McCartney as he was praying in the hospital while Linda was giving birth to their eldest child Stella McCartney.).

The result was Wild Life, the first project to credit "Wings". Late in 1971, drummer Denny Seiwell, and ex-Moody Blues guitarist and singer Denny Laine, joined Paul McCartney and wife Linda McCartney to record Paul's third post-Beatles project. See Paul McCartney. Wings was a pop-rock band led by Paul McCartney, formed after the dissolution of the Beatles.

Back to the Egg (1979). London Town (1978). Wings Over America (1976). Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976).

Venus and Mars (1975). Band on the Run (1973). Red Rose Speedway (1973). Wild Life (1971).

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