After the 1993 New World Tour and the Recording and releasing of all of the OFF THE GROUND material, that makes the end of Paul’s working relationship with THAT band.
He would never work with Robbie McIntosh, Hamish Stuart or Blair Cunningham again.
But he continues to work with Wix to this day. Also this would be the last tour for Linda McCartney.
She would help Paul a bit more on his next set of recordings, as well as his number one supporter.
After the success of the tour (not the same as the 1989-90 tour) and only moderate success of the album, Paul’s future seemed up in the air….
In January of 1994 Paul contributed to
The “Awareness Message Project, Volume 3- Give Up The Keys!
“Drive My Car” Paul McCartney contributed to a re-recording of The Beatles’ “Drive My Car“, in association with R.A.D.D. (Rockers Against Drunk Driving).
Paul made a cameo appearance in the promo video for the RADD single “Drive My Car” which was issued to promote a new anti-drunk driving campaign. Also seen in the video are Ringo, Harry Nilsson and Julian Lennon. The video was premiered during the telecast of “The American Music Awards” in early February.
Clips from the video were shown on numerous entertainment shows like “E!”” and “Entertainment Tonight”.
After the Beatles split, and after Apple records ceased to be after 1973, Apple corp remained a viable organization. It was now run by longtime Beatles employee, Neil Aspinall.
After the success of various early 1980’s VHS tapes (The Compleat Beatles and Their First U.S Visit etc..) which both documented the history of The Beatles, Aspinall as president of Apple began buying the rights of every bit of footage that was in seemingly in existence for the former Beatles with the intent of having Apple corp someday produce the definitive Beatles story.
Design went into and assembling the acquired footage and a demo reel was shown to those in the inner sanctum in what they were calling, “The Long And Winding Road.”
Nothing went further than making a first demo of the project. John was murdered and the project was seemingly shelved.
George Harrison had an amazing comeback in the mid-1980’s after falling off the grid for nearly a decade. He mortgaged his home to help Monty Python finance “The Holy Grail” and “Life Of Brian” and so he formed Hand Made films, which had major success right out of the gate. But soon the films produced all were failures, topped by Madonna and Sean Penn box office disaster “Shanghai Surprise”. By 1991 the company folded and the rights sold in 1994.
His longtime business manager Denis O’Brien was sued by Harrison (early in 1995), realizing he had been deprived of 16 million pounds over a 12 year period.
So as 1994 began George was now in bad shape financially (compared to Ringo/John and the wealthy Paul) and now the idea of the forgotten Beatles project became a possibility for the least receptive to such an idea.
George only insisted that it not be called “The Long And Winding Road” as it then would be too associated with Paul’s song. George would really never see eye to eye with Paul after the band breakup until the very end of his life.
So, in January 1994 work began on reassembling the old footage and newly bought footage and this time they would have it enhanced with the words and input of the three living ex-Beatles.
John would be represented in all of the archival footage and recorded audio sounds he left for us in his lifetime.
They decided to accompany the documentary with music also from the hours and hours of unheard (a chance to take a bite out of the many bootlegs of this material that filled the world markets) takes and alternate versions of their classics.
And also the three ex-Beatles decided they would record new instrumental and incidental music to accompany the project.
But then… in a amazing display of generosity and equal business sense, (she would be in store for 25% of all generated profits) Yoko turned the seedling of an idea into a blooming tree…
In January 1994, when Paul came over to New York to induct John into the Rock Hall Of Fame, Yoko apparently gave Paul tapes of at least four John Lennon compositions (the exchange definitely involved more than three songs).
Aspinall claims he believes the transaction consisted of “two cassettes” of John’s songs (“Free As A Bird,” “Real Love” and “Grow Old With Me”), “It might have been five or six tracks.” It’s possible at this stage that a fourth Lennon demo, entitled “Now And Then”, which had not been heard before, was handed over by Yoko.
“It was all settled before then, I just used that occasion to hand over the tapes personally to Paul. I did not break up the Beatles, but I was there at the time, you know?
Now I’m in a position where I could bring them back together and I would not want to hinder that. It was kind of a situation given to me by fate.”
-Yoko Ono Lennon
“So I took the tapes back, got copies made for the guys and they liked it.”-Paul.
“And that’s how it came about. It was just a natural thing which gradually evolved. It actually took about three years for all this to happen.” – Ringo
“I played these songs to the other guys, warning Ringo to have his hanky ready. I fell in love with “Free As A Bird“. I thought I would have loved to work with John on that. I liked the melody, it’s got strong chords and it really appealed to me.
Ringo was very up for it, George was very up for it, I was very up for it. I actually originally heard it as a big, orchestral, forties Gershwin thing, but it didn’t turn out like that.
Often your first vibe isn’t always the one. You go through a few ideas and someone goes ‘bloody hell’ and it gets knocked out fairly quickly. In the end, we decided to do it very simply.”- Paul
The first recording sessions with Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr since the break-up of the Beatles then started on February 11th, 1994.
The work on “Free As A Bird” was quite fruitful – they completed the work on this track during those February sessions which lasted till the end of the month. But time and effort were also spent on the three other songs.
George Martin, who had produced most of the Beatles’ 1960s recordings, turned down an invitation to produce “Free as a Bird” due to hearing problems (though he subsequently managed to produce and direct the Anthology series).
Harrison, in turn, suggested Jeff Lynne as producer, and work commenced at McCartney’s studio in February 1994.
Geoff Emerick and Jon Jacobs were chosen to engineer the new tracks.
The original tape of Lennon singing the song was recorded on a mono cassette, with vocals and piano on the same track. They were impossible to separate, so Lynne had to produce the track with voice and piano together, but commented that it was good for the integrity of the project, as Lennon was not only singing occasional lines, but also playing on the song.
Although Lennon had died in 1980, Starr said that the three remaining Beatles agreed they would pretend that Lennon had “gone for lunch“, or had gone for a “cup of tea“.
They recorded a track around Lennon’s basic song idea, but which had gaps they had to fill in musically. Some chords were changed, and the arrangement was expanded to include breaks for McCartney and Harrison to sing extra lines. Harrison played slide guitar in the solo.
The Beatles’ overdubs and production were recorded between February and March 1994 in Sussex, England, at McCartney’s home studio. It ends with a slight coda including a strummed ukulele by Harrison (an instrument he was known to have played often) and the voice of John Lennon played backwards.
The message, when played in reverse, is “Turned out nice again“, which was the catchphrase of ukulele entertainer George Formby (John was a big fan).
The final result sounds like “made by John Lennon“, which, according to McCartney, was unintentional and was only discovered after the surviving Beatles reviewed the final mix.
When Starr heard McCartney and Harrison singing the harmonies, and later the finished song, he said that it sounded just like them [The Beatles].
He explained his comment by saying that he looked at the project as “an outsider“.
Lynne fully expected the finished track to sound like The Beatles, as that was his premise for the project, but George added: “It’s gonna sound like them [The Beatles] if it is them… It sounds like them now”.
In 1994 Paul began writing music for his next major classical work, STANDING STONE, which would be finished and recorded and performed in 1997.
He also began writing songs for what would be his next album, which also would not be released until 1997.
Every ex-Beatles future musical releases would be put on hold as all aspects of what would be now called “The Beatles Anthology” was being assembled, recorded and the individuals involved being filmed.
Finally in 1994, all of the old performances by The Beatles from the early 1960’s on BBC radio were remastered and released on November 30th, called LIVE AT THE BBC. This was a glimmer into what the Anthology was to give us and it was awesome to hear. They even released “Baby, It’s You” as a single.
Next, 1995. A year of much work behind the scenes and the horrible day his world changed forever.