“McCartney Legacy”: Paul’s Post-Beatle Years

McCartney Legacy

Paul McCartney has always had a tendency for self-mythologizing. Even as early as 1989, he was writing anthems that were gloriously detailed in their precision turning his perceptions of the music industry into something grander, despite commissioning Mark Lewisohn to piece together a literary memento. When he finally got around to committing his memories to print, it was done with an agenda, positing his place as The Beatles’ true avant-gardist. Since then, there’s barely been a point where he hasn’t basked in his achievements, frequently collaborating with the many musicians who grew up playing along to his numerous hits.

The just-released book, McCartney Legacy, Vol. 1 1969-1973 by Allan Kozin and Adrian Sinclair is a deep-dive into the years just after the Beatles’ breakup. It both looks at the evolution of his music and his personal life during that period.

Unlike John Lennon, McCartney’s been relatively loath to demonstrate a more intimate portrait of himself. This is more the pity, because in the first of their planned multi-volume series, Kozinn and Sinclair show a man who was keenly aware of his musical aptitude, yet burdened by crippling self-doubt, particularly after the breakup of The Beatles. The book looks at all areas of his life, opening on a man caught in the middle of a creative wind, before closing on the triumph that was Band On The Run, commonly regarded as the most enjoyable of his solo work.

It didn’t hurt that he was backed by Denny Laine, a hot-shot guitarist from Birmingham, who imbued Wings with a series of counter harmonies that were arguably richer than George Harrison’s. Certainly, Denny Seiwell was a finer drummer than Ringo Starr, and Henry McCullough’s barrelling hooks more than compensated for John Lennon’s absence. And yet Wings were always doomed to follow The Beatles, a criticism McCartney bore at all times.

Indeed, he was often spurred into competition with his former partner.  In one of the book’s more impressive chapters, we discover a bassist who wants to challenge Lennon in the political anthem department. It’s to McCartney’s credit that “Give Ireland Back To The Irish” was something much greater than a jolly singalong, although Laine and McCullough both felt a little uncomfortable with the recording, particularly in light of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre. Conversely, Kevin Rowland – of Dexy’s Midnight Runners fame – loved the track, feeling that the song celebrated his Irish heritage at a time of great turmoil for the diaspora.

McCullough was never shy to let his opinions be known and quit the band just as they were about to fly to Lagos. McCartney handled it professionally, but it further caused him to question himself, especially since Seiwell soon followed in departing the group. To their credit, they had put up with their leader’s dogmatic approach, a man who was capable of performing a multitude of instruments by himself, but McCullough made his mark on the fragile “My Love” bringing fire to a track that was otherwise wet with pathos.

Seiwell made his mark on Ram, which was recorded in New York, where he had long made a name for himself. Lushly produced, Ram was met with scorn from the music press. Kozinn & Sinclair decorate the book with a collection of excerpts, some of them more vitriolic than the last. Only the iciest couldn’t have been affected by the sniping, and there are times in the book (a hefty 720 pages) when the bassist might hang his head in shame in reflection.

Ultimately, this McCartney is the more interesting McCartney and makes the docile, thumb-hoisting character look submissive in response. He’ll likely never show this side of himself to the public, which is more the pity because The McCartney Legacy shows a musician who is much more complex than his compositions or his interviews might express. This McCartney’s fiery. This McCartney’s human.

-Eoghan Lyng


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34 comments on ““McCartney Legacy”: Paul’s Post-Beatle Years

  1. Stuart Clarkson

    Hi hi hi…

  2. “Certainly, Denny Seiwell was a finer drummer than Ringo Starr”. Really? Hes subsequently played on tours with Billy Joel and performed on some soundtracks. But nothing of note. On the other hand, there are many hall of fame drummers who sing Ringo’s praises for his unique groundbreaking style and long distinguished career!

  3. Richard Short

    “Certainly Denny Seiwell was a finer drummer than Ringo Starr”(?) As they would say on Monday Night Football ” C’mon Man”. As I would say “pshaw, hog wash and a firm “Good day to you, sir!”. Peace and love.


    Denny Seiwell was a finer drummer than Ringo Starr. No he wasn’t. Yes he was. No he wasn’t. Yes he was… blah blah blah. Yawn.

    • Thanks for offering your insight.


        I thought about pointless arguing and offering up subjective opinions disguised as facts but it’s been done already so I went for insight.

  5. Eoghan Lyng

    Ringo was a creative drummer, and played with great ingenuity. But he wasn’t in Seiwell’s league.

  6. Marc Meyer

    Thanks for your review. It’s apparent that you and the authors would rather be negative about Macca, continue to lionize the Lennon mythology and short change Ringo’s skills. your review has helped me to decide not to buy the book. Cheers

    • Gordon Sawyer

      This piece is an outrage!!

      Next thing, he’ll be saying Wings were better than The Beatles!!!!!!!!!!


        Wings were certainly better live. A Beatles gig was 30 minutes of solid screaming – even the band had enough of that.

  7. Better than Ringo? I stopped reading right there……..

  8. maybe, but George Martin might have disagreed with you!


      Martin and Ringo always had an uneasy relationship. “‘I didn’t rate Ringo very highly. He couldn’t do a roll – and still can’t – though he’s improved a lot since.’ He compared The Beatles’ drummer, perhaps unjustly, to jazz drummers like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa who Martin said could “run rings around him”. Martin did give Ringo his due credit eventually, albeit not with fulsome praise, saying, “He is a good solid rock drummer. Above all, he does have an individual sound.”

  9. “he does have an individual sound” says it all! Buddy Rich can play drums, no doubt about it. Ringo plays the song! Buddy Rich playing as ‘The Beatles’ drummer? Give me a break!


      Which returns to the point that Ringo was the best drummer for the Beatles!

      • Eoghan Lyng

        For The Beatles.

        Seiwell was a better drummer.


          That will remain a matter of opinion and if you read my comments, I’m not picking sides- but I do know who will be remembered for longer so it’s irrelevant who was better.

  10. I think it was Roger Daltrey who said there was no such thing as the best song ever. I agree and would say it pertains to the best drummer ever, there is no such thing. I do agree with Barry Baddams, Ringo was the best drummer for the Beatles. I also think The Beatles may have never reached the point they did if any one of them had been someone else and also if someone other than George Martin sat in the control room!

  11. Benjamin Beguiling

    Ringo was an awful drummer.

  12. Loyalist Lincoln

    Why would it discuss Give Ireland Back..? It’s propaganda.

  13. Eoghan Lyng

    Well, well, well…

  14. Sean Farrell

    I don’t think Denny Laine was a “hot shot guitarist”. He was a capable musician who could play guitar, bass and piano, allowing Paul to switch when he wanted to. Comparing him to George Harrison is nonsense. George was the Beatles ‘ lead guitarist. I doubt Denny played a single solo in Wings. Even after Henry left, Paul played lead on the Band on the Run LP.

    • Eoghan Lyng

      He played the flamenco solos on Deliver Your Children, for one.

      • Sean Farrell

        That doesn’t make him a hot shot guitarist though. Like I say, Paul played most or all lead on BOTR when Wings had no lead guitarist. Denny was/is a talented all-round musician.

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