Band on the Run (song)

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"Band on the Run"
Single by Paul McCartney and Wings
from the album Band on the Run
B-side "Zoo Gang" (UK)
"Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five" (U.S.)
Released 8 April 1974 (U.S.)
28 June 1974 (UK)
Format 7" single
Recorded September 1973
Genre Rock
Length 5:09 (single version)
3:50 (radio edit)
Label Apple
Writer(s) Paul and Linda McCartney
Producer(s) Paul McCartney
Certification Gold (RIAA, 4 June 1974)[1]
Gold (BPI, 1 September 1974)[2]
Paul McCartney and Wings singles chronology
"Band on the Run"
"Junior's Farm"
Band on the Run track listing
Alternative covers
Spanish cover with "Zoo Gang" on b-side

"Band on the Run" is the title song from Paul McCartney and Wings' Band on the Run album. The single sold one million copies in 1974 in the U.S., where it reached number 1, and it went to number 3 in the UK.[3][4]


The song is a three part medley. The parts are thematically related, but do not necessarily form a continuous narrative. Paul McCartney was inspired by George Harrison in the first line of the second part of the medley: "If we ever get out of here." He reportedly said these words during one of the Beatles' many business meetings.[5]

The U.S. radio edit was 3:50 in length. The difference was largely caused by the removal of the middle or the second part of the song, as well as the verse that starts with "Well, the undertaker drew a heavy sigh..."[6]

"Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five", the U.S. single's B-side and the song that closes the Band on the Run album, concludes with a brief excerpt of the chorus.


The song was recorded in two parts, in different sessions. The first two were taped in Lagos, Nigeria, while the third bit was recorded in October 1973 at AIR Studios in London.[7]


The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[8] The song features prominently on all McCartney/Wings compilations as well as McCartney's live shows. It was the second of five number-one singles for the band on the Billboard Hot 100.[3] Billboard ranked it number 22 on its Top Pop Singles of 1974 year-end chart.[9]

The song is featured on Guitar Hero World Tour on the main set list.[10] Both the master recording and a live version were added to the Rock Band series as downloadable content.

"Band on the Run" appeared in the critically acclaimed film Boyhood.

Cover versions[edit]

  • A cover version of "Band on the Run" was recorded in 2007 by Foo Fighters as their contribution to the Radio 1 Established 1967 album. This album, commemorating BBC Radio 1's 40th anniversary, features a cover version of a song released in each of the station's 40 years recorded by a modern-day band or solo artist, "Band on the Run" being the song selected to represent 1974. They recorded the song during their stay in the UK at Abbey Road Studios, due to the history of the place with McCartney. They finished it all in the same day, including mixing and mastering. The song was played on Radio 1 a few days before the CD release and Paul McCartney commented on the cover, and thought they had done a good job. He mentioned that he even popped down to the studio during the day to see how the band were getting on. On 16 April 2011, the cover of the song was released on their album Medium Rare.
  • On 1 June 2008 McCartney was joined onstage by Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl for a special performance in Liverpool.[11] Grohl played guitar and sang backing vocals on "Band on the Run" and then played drums on Beatles songs "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "I Saw Her Standing There". Grohl later performed the song with Paul's band in 2010 at the White House, when Paul was given the Gershwin Award.
  • Tori Amos performed a snippet of this song at a number of shows during the Plugged '98 Tour.[12]
  • The synthesizer section from 2:17–2:40 is sampled on the track "Cutting Rhythms" by Tone Lōc on the album Lōc-ed After Dark.[citation needed] The opening section of the track is sampled on the song "Brown Girl" by Amanda Diva from her EP Life Experience.
  • Wings band member Denny Laine covered "Band on the Run" in 2007 on his album Performs the Hits of Wings.[13]
  • Former rock band Ween has covered the song live since 1998.[14]
  • American rock band Heart cover the song on the 2014 covers album The Art of McCartney.


An official video, directed by Michael Coulson, was released along with the song. It served mostly as a tribute to The Beatles, featuring montages of still pictures from their career. Present-day McCartney and Wings were not shown. The video ends with a collage of Beatles pictures much like the album cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[15]


Chart positions[edit]

Chart Peak
Canada (RPM 100 Top Singles) 1
Japan (Oricon) 58
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 7
New Zealand (RIANZ) 1
UK Singles Chart (Official Charts Company) 3
US Billboard Hot 100 1
US Easy Listening (Billboard) 22
Preceded by
"The Streak" by Ray Stevens
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
8 June 1974
Succeeded by
"Billy Don't Be a Hero" by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods
Preceded by
"The Streak" by Ray Stevens
Canadian RPM Singles Chart number-one single
8 June 1974
Succeeded by
"Sundown" by Gordon Lightfoot


  1. ^ "RIAA Gold and Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  2. ^ "Certified Awards Search". BPI. Archived from the original on 2012-10-02. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  3. ^ a b "Paul McCartney Charts and Awards". allmusic. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  4. ^ "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  5. ^ "BBC - Radio 2 - Sold On Song - Song Library - Band On The Run". BBC. Retrieved 21 March 2009. 
  6. ^ Allen J. Wiener, The Beatles: The Ultimate Recording Guide third revised edition (Holbrook, Massachusetts: Bob Adams Press, 1994), 396.
  7. ^ Luca Perasi, Paul McCartney: Recording Sessions (1969-2013), L.I.L.Y. Publishing, 2013, ISBN 978-88-909122-1-4, p.103
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Top Pop Singles" Billboard December 26, 1974: TA-8
  10. ^ "Activision Unveils Full Guitar Hero(R) World Tour Set List". 2008-10-26. Retrieved 2011-07-09. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Paul McCartney watched by Yoko Ono in Liverpool as Dave Grohl helps out". New Musical Express. Archived from the original on 12 February 2009. Retrieved 21 March 2009. 
  12. ^ "TORI AMOS | HEREINMYHEAD.COM | lyrics | band on the run". Hereinmyhead.Com. Retrieved 2011-07-09. 
  13. ^ "Performs the Hits of Wings". Allmusic. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Wings - Band On The Run (Original Video)". Youtube. Retrieved April 6, 2013.