So with this upcoming book I went back to the March/April 1975 issue of The White Thing to find this article that was written when the Paul news was brand new.
Paul in New Orleans
The Write Thing
McCartney always manages to choose such dull places to record his albums, like Lagos, Nigeria during a cholera epidemic and a monsoon (he also managed to get mugged while there), and Dustin Hoffman will never be the same after watching Paul pass out while singing “Drink to me” for the twentieth time. But for the ultimate in ho-hum what could exceed New Orleans during the Mardi Gras? What boring thing can he possibly do next year?
Paul and his entourage arrived in mid-January with a working visa good until March 1 and studio time reserved at Sea-Saint Recording Studio for the rest of January and all of February. His visa was good for studio work only and not for live performing. A local man, hired to work with the band as a technician, said Paul had been considering at least eight other studios, including one in Brazil. But McCartney chose Sea-Saint because Paul Simon had recommended it to him. Allen Toussaint, the co-owner, arranged the horn parts on Simon’s last album. Toussaint was an early rhythm and blues artist in New Orleans, and now works with such stars as Maria Muldaur, The Band, and Ringo Starr, for whom he may write songs, arrange or play during the sessions. Besides the attraction of Sea-Saint, Paul is here to absorb the unique “New Orleans sounds”, which refers to the style of rhythm and blues that originated in this city.
Paul auditioned several local drummers and keyboard players to add one of each to the band temporarily in order to incorporate elements of a “funky New Orleans sound” in the songs for the new album. Denny Laine and Jimmy McCullough are still with the band, but Geoff Britton, the drummer, left Wings when he was offered a chance to appear in a karate film and write the soundtrack. “The breakup had been entirely amicable and Britton is back in England now.” The new, but temporary drummer during their stay was Joe English, 24, an American from New York.
They recorded every week day, coming in about midafternoon to the studio on Clematis street which was always surrounded by about a hundred fans, photographers, and other assorted gawkers. Every day he would sign autographs, pose for pictures, as the paper down there put it, “He has been extremely friendly to the throngs of people that have been waiting for him each afternoon at Sea-Saint. Paul’s warmth and every-present smile have endeared him to the residents of Clematis Street and the crowds of onlookers that greet him.”
Knowing exactly where Paul McCartney was every day and what time, and that the was playing “Mr. Charming-Public-Relations Man” drove me slightly crazy with jealousy and a mad desire to take the next plane to N.O. and if it wouldn’t’ have been for the two hundred dollars in air fare I would have gone too.
The newspapers there also printed where the McCartney’s were staying according to the States Item they were secretly living at Le Richelieu motel on Chartres. They also drove around town inconspicuously in a Volkswagen or a beat-up Valiant. One weekend night they went out to hear Professor Longhair (who they said was “fantastic”), a guru of rock n roll piano playing, a Jed’s University Inn on Oak Street. They went incognito according to the paper, but if they were so “secret” and “incognito” and “Inconspicuous” then how come everyone knows about it?
On February 13 Paul held his first and only press conference (if you could call it that). The happening took place aboard the excursion boat “Voyageur” with some 100 photographers, reporters, and other “of questionable credentials” jamming the small boat so that whatever side Paul was on the boat tilted 15 degrees into the water!
“The black top-hatted Paul replaced his head cover with a Tuxedo Brass Band hat, then pout a multi-colored beret over that and back to his top hat as he clutched a black cane and danced to the Tuxedo’s “Saints Go Marching In,” upon his hour-and-a-half late arrival at the dock on Canal Street. On board, Pau smiled the familiar grin, tried to drink his champagne and amiably answered inane questions as his American wife shouted in a British accent, “Throw me something mister!”
“Dressed in a rumpled blue coat, black pants and heavy brown shoes, Paul kept a distracted smile on his face through the whole thing.”
“The McCartneys and their band Wings, were in the studio until about 2 a.m. the night before, working on the album, and then jamming until 5 a.m. with Allen Toussaint and Atlanta recording star Mylon LeFevre. Linda shows callouses on her hands from playing the organ from the band.”
“Scotching reports that the album had a strong New Orleans flavor to it, McCartney said it sounded more like his music – polished, energetic rock—except for a song called “My Carnival” written the morning of Ash Wednesday.
The reason they decided to spend six weeks in New Orleans was “because we thought it would be warm and because it’s a great musical city and it’s easier to record in a place that’s a little crazy.” “I doubt that is’ possible the Beatles will ever sing again together. Everyone’s happy with what he’s doing now.” Said Paul, who said he “occasionally” sees the others. But he does plan on taking Wings on tour around the U.S.
Marshall Sehorn, the part-owner of Sea-Saint talks about disguising the McCartneys as clowns and their three daughters as fairies on Mardi Gras. The other Wings were Napoleon (Jimmy), Gen. Beauregard and the wolfman (Denny). “Can you imagine two limousines and an Oldsmobile convertible going through these crowds on LaSalle hunting for Indians?” Sehorn asks, adding that they found the Wild Tchoupitoulas and the Wild Magnolias (recording stars in their own right). Then the group watched the parades from the third floor balcony which they rented from Kolb’s restaurant.
“It was lovely,” says McCartney. They caught lots of “double cones,” he says, “as opposed to single oons,” A reporter writers this down. “What’s the matter?” McCartney asks, “Is the humor a little too much for you? Over your head? Under your head?”
“We spend about 10 hours a day in the studio with no lunch breaks and stuff,” said Paul. It’s my job. It’s not as glamorous as it’s painted. We’re not combing work with being tourists. Watch your finger,” he advised a photographer whose camera was covered by another. Paul also said he hadn’t been too bothered by crowds on the street in New Orleans. “People don’t’ go crackers in a crowd. Nice people have treated us nice,” he said. Why doesn’t he have more press conferences? “I don’t like them,” said Paul. “It’s not the grooviest thing to do on a Tuesday morning, you know?” No one told him it was Thursday.
Denny Laine sat in the background and played a tape of the song Paul wrote with the New Orleans flavor, “My Carnival.” There’s sort of a Fat Domino piano through McCartney’s characteristic polished, energetic music, lots of Mardi Gras noise and brass band sound and a chorus of “All you good people get ready to play…I want to hear you say, ‘Come on down. This is my carnival.’”
“I’ve always switched styles, “said Paul, “but I think I sounded country when I was in Nashville because we used Nashville players. It’s not a whole new direction for me. We are a little influenced by wherever we are, but we’re doing our own sound.” The new yet untitled record which will be released in mid-April will consist of rock, ballads, rhythm, and “good old McCartney and Wings music,” added a helpful Linda McC. Asked to explain what the music sounds like to him, Paul with his flip humor still showing, replies, “It’s just like my stuff, but it’s better.”
Buster Holmes drove up to the dock in a gold Chevrolet station wagon loaded with $300 worth of his superb soul food for 100 people on a second cruise – red beans, sausage, ham hocks, potato bread, mustard greens.
After the press was unloaded, that second cruise must have been something The McCartneys would be free of the spotlight pressures, they could relax and listen to two good New Orleans soul bands , the Meters and Chocolate Milk.
But the real treat would be a small all-star show of New Orleans rock and roll of the early 1960’s – with the likes of Ernic K-doe (Mother-in-law), Lee Dorsey (Working in a Coal Mine), Earl King (Trick Bag) and Robert Parker (Barefootin’) aboard to sing, drink and mix with the newer celebrities.
The McCartneys stayed in New Orleans only one week after this, leaving a week earlier than had been expected. During their last week they were dubbing vocals and brass over the nearly completed recordings. They flew next to Los Angeles to mix the tapes out there and to complete the album.
I’m sure everyone has already heard something on Linda’s subsequent arrest on March 3, for suspicion of possessing marijuana. Paul was driving their rented ’74 silver Lincoln Continental along Santa Monica Blvd. with Linda and the three kids all in the car, when he went through a red light shortly after midnight. The officer smelled the marijuana as he was writing out a traffic citation and ordered them out of the car. He found 16 grams in linda’s purse. She was released on $500 bail and ordered to appear in municipal court on March 10.
On March 9 one fan was driving down Sunset Blvd, and saw a sign on the side of one building that said, ‘Welcome to L.A. Paul and Linda McCartney and Family!” I’m sure Paul and Linda saw the irony in that!
Paul has so far not scheduled any L.A. press conferences, so all that is coming out right now are unconfirmed rumors.