By Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair
I'll address the obvious question first; is five years of Sir Paul McCartney's life really worth 672 pages? Yes, it is. If I were given the job of cutting out some extraneous material, I wouldn't be able to cut more than five or ten pages, so, not worth the trouble.
Here's an example; you could ask, is it worth cutting down trees to publish the "Paul is dead" hoax? Yes, it was really silly, but it happened. It's history, and it has to be documented.
During the 1969-1973 time period, Paul:
- was a heavy participant in the making of the "Let It Be" album. If you've read this far, you have probably seen the excellent "Get Back" documentary, and this book covers some of that.
- broke up with The Beatles. This is covered in extensively detail, especially the contractual and financial implications. And I can understand why Paul got annoyed at being asked in almost every press interview about The Beatles reuniting.
- Married Linda, settled on a farm in Scotland, became a father.
- Put Wings together.
- Recorded five albums. The book provides extensive details on how and where every song was recorded. Required reading for music geeks, might be boring for everyone else. Even so, it's important to know just how much time and effort is required to record music, even of the mediocre variety.
- Did three concert tours. Wings did a "stealth" tour three years before Bob Dylan did one.
- Filmed a TV special.
- Got busted for marijuana possession twice.
- Nearly got murdered in Lagos, Nigeria.
One thing that caught my attention was the subject of wages for sidemen. In 1971 and 1972, Wings members Denny Seiwell, Henry McCullough, and Denny Laine were paid a retainer of £70 per week, plus a £500 bonus for the "Red Rose Speedway" album, and a £1,000 end-of-year loyalty bonus. That's £2,340. Adjust that for inflation, and convert it to US dollars, and it comes to $40,000. Another example: during Wings' 1973 tour, the warmup band, Brinsley Schwarz, was paid £125 per show, or £25 per member. Again, adjusting for inflation and converting to dollars, that's $425. Before you accuse Paul of stinginess, however, it's important to note that much of his income and assets were tied up in the separation of Paul from the Beatles and Allen Klein.
I'll give you this one negative; the book nearly lost me on page two, when the authors tells us that Paul is a Gemini. Well, actually, he was born under the sign of Taurus; you can look it up. Mercifully, there are only two other astrology references, beyond page 400. I say, leave astrology to the Spice Girls and Yoko Ono. Oh, and Linda is a Virgo, not Libra.
This book is well written and researched. Is it worth reading, if you're not a hard-core fan of Sir Paul, or a serious student of music? I can say that there are a lot of interesting, and sometimes funny, anecdotes. For example, the time that Paul asked for, and received, an autograph from Donny Osmond.