James Paul McCartney (TV special)

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James Paul McCartney
The opening title used for the special
Genre Musical
Created by Paul McCartney
Linda McCartney
Developed by ATV
Directed by Dwight Hemion
Starring Paul McCartney
Linda McCartney
Denny Laine
Henry McCullough
Denny Seiwell
Composer(s) Paul and Linda McCartney
• Paul McCartney (Maybe I'm Amazed)
Lennon–McCartney (Blackbird; Michelle; When I'm 64; A Hard Day's Night; Can't Buy Me Love; She Loves You; Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da; Yesterday; Yellow Submarine)
Louis Silvers (April Showers)
George Henry Powell (Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag)
Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell (You Are My Sunshine)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 1
Executive producer(s) Gary Smith, Dwight Hemion
Producer(s) Gary Smith (ATV)
Running time 50 mins approx.
Original network ABC (US)
Picture format 4:3
Original release 16 April 1973 (US)
10 May 1973 (UK)
Related shows Wings Over the World
Back To The Egg

James Paul McCartney is the title of a 1973 television special produced by ATV and starring English musician Paul McCartney and his then current rock group Wings. It was first broadcast on 16 April 1973 in the United States on the ABC network, and was later broadcast in the United Kingdom on 10 May 1973. To date, the program has never been officially released on any home video format.


Paul McCartney agreed to star in a television special for the British ATV network in order to settle his two-year legal dispute with Sir Lew Grade.[1][2] As the owner of the network and its music publishing division – and, by extension, the Beatles' Northern Songs catalogue[3] – Grade had objected to McCartney crediting his wife Linda as his co-writer since 1971, citing her lack of professional experience as a songwriter and musician.[4][5] McCartney's commitment to the television project allowed him to retain the second composer's publishing royalties,[1] which otherwise would have been assigned to Grade's company.[2][6]

James Paul McCartney was McCartney's first such special since the Beatles' 1967 television film Magical Mystery Tour[7] and was intended to showcase his versatility as an artist and entertainer.[1][8] Many of the portions featured his and Linda's band Wings; in others he would perform alone.[9] ATV hired Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion as producer and director, respectively, although McCartney was assured full creative control over the program's content.[10] Having recently completed their second album, Red Rose Speedway, Wings travelled to Marrakesh in early February 1973 to plan and rehearse for the show.[11][12]

Program content[edit]

Part 1
The program opens with a live performance by Wings in front of an audience of television screens.
Song: "Big Barn Bed"

Part 2
An acoustic medley of songs is performed by McCartney during a photographic session with his wife Linda as the photographer.
Songs: "Blackbird", "Bluebird", "Michelle", "Heart of the Country"

Part 3
A short music video-style performance set in an outdoor location of McCartney's version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb".
Songs: "Mary Had a Little Lamb"

Part 4
A television studio performance with Wings and orchestra in front of a live audience.
Songs: "Little Woman Love", "C Moon", "My Love"

Part 5
Another music video segment, this time for "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey". The "Admiral Halsey" section of the song was not included in the final broadcast version, however.
Songs: "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"

Part 6
A short voice-over from McCartney introduces a segment set in the Chelsea Reach public house near Liverpool. This features members of his family and Wings in a pub singalong.
Songs: "April Showers", "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag", "You Are My Sunshine"

Part 7
A Busby Berkeley-style musical number, featuring dancers dressed in half-man/half-woman costumes.
Songs: "Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance"

Part 8
A music video segment were McCartney introduces "Live And Let Die", the title theme from the 1973 James Bond movie.
Songs: "Live and Let Die"

Part 9
"Beatles Medley": a filmed segment with street passers-by singing various Beatles songs (off key) to comedic effect.
Songs: "When I'm 64", "A Hard Day's Night", "Can't Buy Me Love", "She Loves You", "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", "Yesterday", "Yellow Submarine"

Part 10
"Wings in Concert", recorded on a sound stage at Elstree Studios (Borehamwood), before a live audience.
Songs: "The Mess", "Maybe I'm Amazed", "Long Tall Sally" (US broadcast only; the UK and other European market replaced this with "Hi, Hi, Hi")

Part 11
A live acoustic performance of "Yesterday". Credits roll over the performance.
Songs: "Yesterday".


Critical reception to the program was highly unfavourable.[10][13][14] According to authors Chip Madinger and Mark Easter, the show "was roundly panned by every critic with a pulse, and was not a stunning success in the ratings either".[10] Melody Maker stated: "McCartney has always had an eye and ear for full-blown romanticism, and nothing wrong with that, but here he too often lets it get out of hand and it becomes over-blown and silly."[15] The New York Times' reviewer described it as "a series of disconnected routines strung together with commercials for Chevrolet cars", while The Washington Post criticised the amount of screen time allocated to Linda McCartney, saying that "her previous careers … certainly don't qualify her to perform in public."[16]

Writing for Rolling Stone, Lenny Kaye found McCartney "remote and distant from the camera" and added: "if the consequent production did nothing to heal McCartney's ongoing image problem, it certainly didn't help his musical offerings, which came off as forgettably ordinary and certainly disappointing."[17] Referring to the former Beatle's return to television, Alan Coren of The Times wrote: "[James Paul McCartney] was not the sort of programme you make a come-back with. It was the sort of programme you make a come-back after."[18]

Among more recent critiques, Peter Doggett describes the special as "insipid" and "unrecognisable as the work of the man who had conceived Magical Mystery Tour".[19] Robert Rodriguez writes that, in its attempts to present McCartney as all-round entertainer, the show embarrassed and alienated his rock audience, and that even the in-concert segment was lacklustre. Rodriguez concludes: "the band must surely have been conscious of their shortcomings alongside virtually any other recording act of the day. When Henry McCullough buries his head in his hands during the [McCartney] solo finale of 'Yesterday,' one feels his pain."[20] Tom Doyle contends that the show "wasn't all bad" but considers the "Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance" segment and the Chelsea Reach pub scene to have been particularly ill-advised for McCartney's image at the time.[21]


  1. ^ a b c Woffinden 1981, p. 67.
  2. ^ a b Sounes 2010, pp. 303–04.
  3. ^ Sounes 2010, p. 303.
  4. ^ Schaffner 1978, p. 151.
  5. ^ Doggett 2011, pp. 167–68.
  6. ^ Doggett 2011, pp. 168, 194–95.
  7. ^ Doyle 2013, pp. 78–79.
  8. ^ Schaffner 1978, p. 156.
  9. ^ Badman 2001, pp. 96–97.
  10. ^ a b c Madinger & Easter 2000, p. 180.
  11. ^ Badman 2001, p. 90.
  12. ^ Madinger & Easter 2000, p. 179.
  13. ^ Frontani 2009, p. 166.
  14. ^ Doyle 2013, p. 81.
  15. ^ Badman 2001, p. 97.
  16. ^ Frontani 2009, pp. 166, 269.
  17. ^ Kaye, Lenny (5 July 1973). "Review of Red Rose Speedway". Rolling Stone. p. 68. Retrieved 29 December 2015. 
  18. ^ Frontani 2009, p. 269.
  19. ^ Doggett 2011, p. 208.
  20. ^ Rodriguez 2010, pp. 329–30.
  21. ^ Doyle 2013, pp. 79–80.


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