Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Day with Wings

Paul and Linda from May 1974, around the time this story took place

This is a very neat fan story.   You know how Paul held auditions whenever he needed new members of  Wings?   Well one fan named Stephen Phillips was fortunate enough to audition for Wings!   What an experience that must have been for him.   And while he obviously wasn't chosen, just the fact that he got to play the drums for Paul and Linda.    I am sure that it has crossed his mind that if he HAD been chosen instead of Joe English, he would have done all of those amazing Wings World tours (the ones of the UK, Australia and North America), recorded in New Orleans, etc.   

This story was from the April 1976 issue of With a Little Help from my friends

My Day with Wings
By Stephen Phillips

My name is Stephen Phillips and I was born in London 23 years ago and now live in Kent, a county about 35 miles from there.  My favourite pastimes are listening to music and playing drums.  I started drumming on my eleventh birthday after being given a snare drum from my parents as my gift.  When I had reached the age of 15, I played at my first booking behind three guitarists at a club in Hampshire where I was then living.  I was terrible!  So I recall.  Keeping the beat for a group was harder than I anticipated but over the years I progressed into various bands playing anything from a waltz to pop.  It was great to play Beatles numbers on stage, providing it went as rehearsed.  The audience always joined in with the band when playing numbers such as “Ob la di, Hey Jude, Get Back or Yesterday.”

The years passed and I was now in a heavy band playing Hawkwind, Jimi Hendrix and similar music when I read in the newspapers in April 1974 that Paul McCartney was looking for a drummer to complete his lineup.  Knowing that I had nothing to lose, I phoned McCartney Productions, London, asking if I could be considered to have an audition for the part.  I told his secretary which bands I had played in and also gave my name, address and the phone number of where I worked.  She replied that she could not promise anything as Paul look at the large list of applicants and chooses who he wishes to see and hear.  That was that then, I thought.  I stood no chance now because of all the famous drummers that would have applied for this auction, myself being an unknown in the recording studios and I began to forget about my chances of ever being considered, but fate was to lend a hand.
On the 26th April, 1974 I received a phone call at work from McCartney Productions, saying that Paul wanted to see me on the 29th of April at a famous theatre in London at 3:30pm.  I was shattered and felt very nervous!  I returned home and surprised my parents about my news.  I dashed to my room to play every Beatle and Wings record in case I was asked to play a certain number.  It was nerves as I knew the records so well but I was afraid I might have missed something.  Came the 29th of April and I was on my way to be auditioned by Paul McCartney for Wings.

I arrived at the stage door at 2:15 when I noticed Linda, Paul’s wife, in a shop next door.  I waited until she came out and asked for her autograph, telling her that I had come for the audition.  We talked for a minute or so and then walked through the stage door and down some steps to the side of the stage.  Linda and I talked again about Band on the Run and the way they had recorded the album.  We continued in conversation until she said she had to go and see Paul and left me to talk with the other drummers waiting their turn.

Paul was not on the stage.  Instead were three session musicians, a keyboard player with a lead and bass guitarist.  The band played the same four tunes for each drummer.  One was “Green Onion” and another was “Caravan,” plus two others which I do not know the titles.  The sound was very tight indeed; I guess it had to be!  My nerves were near on breaking as I knew that very soon I’d be doing my party piece!

I talked to the various named drummers who sat around me.  I knew most of them as I had seen them on T.V. through I cannot name them as this would be unethical.  At 3:30 I was announced to Paul, Linda and friends in the audience as I walked on to the stage.  My heart was beating faster and faster as I sat behind the kit making sure that all the drums were in the correct position.  All the stage lights shone down on the drums so I could not see anyone out in the seats, however hard I tried  the keyboard player explained that we were first going to play ‘Caravan’ and after sixteen bars change to quickstep rhythm and after so many bars there would be stop breaks for the drums.  I nodded in agreement as he counted us in.  I played O.K. throughout, but would have been better if it hadn’t been for nerves.

Soon the four numbers were finished and as I stood, I received a warm hand-clap and then I heard Paul’s voice, “That was great, Steve, really good.  We’ll be in touch next week.”  I smiled and bowed as I walked off the stage.  I can’t explain the feeling I had then.  To have actually played in front of the man who I idolized, in a way, for so long.  My life-time ambition had been fulfilled.  In June I received a letter from his office stating that I had not been successful in achieving the position as drummer with Wings, but thanking me for attending the audition.

In August 1975 I had to go into hospital for a major operation on my hip which I had badly damaged years before.  On the 1st September, while still in hospital, I received a telegram.  It read, “Dear Steve, sorry to hear about your operation but hope you’re feeling better now.  All the best.  Love Paul and Linda McCartney and Wings.”  It made my day no end!

A few days later a parcel arrived containing two Wings t-shirts, “Letting Go” single and a postcard form Paul and Linda.  I wrote to them both, thanking them for their kindness and helping to cheer me up.  I have my Wings telegram framed on my bedroom wall now.  Not many people would have bothered about their fans the way Paul and Linda did for me and I will never forget it.  Neither will I forge the phone call I received saying that I had an audition in three days’ time with Paul McCartney and Wings.



  1. Hi,I was delighted to see my story on your page after so long. It was not Joe English but Geoff Britain who was given the Wings drumming position. When Geoff left Wings,then Joe took over. Steve Phillips

  2. I really like the great sound of the drum. I tried to learn how to play it many times but it's so hard for me.