After The Beatles, what could John, Paul, George and Ringo possibly achieve? The answer for Paul McCartney was to form the rock band Wings with his wife Linda, and in WINGSPAN, which goes out on Saturday 19 May, Channel 4 tells the exclusive story of this daring follow-up venture.
With revealing and never-before-seen footage of Paul and Linda at home, plus open and frank interviews with Paul, Wingspan shows how the former Beatle, devastated by the break-up of his band, relaunched his career by driving around Britain with his family, asking for work and playing in small venues charging 50 pence admission.
Wingspan's producer/director Alistair Donald was asked to make the film by both Paul and Linda and it wasn't an easy process. "Making Wingspan initially involved months of searching through archives and collections around the world to compile the best footage, photographs and audio available," Alistair says. "We discovered a lot of excellent, rare and never-seen material".
"I wanted to have Paul tell us the story of Wings as the on-screen link. This meant that he could give the footage an authoritative perspective and also give Linda's view, which is essential as the story of Wings is equally an intimate scrapbook of a marriage and a family."
After watching a compilation tape of home movies set to music that Linda had had made for Paul, they were both so moved that they knew it could work as a documentary - both of their life together and of their band. As Paul himself says: "It was a little bit too personal for TV but it gave us the idea - we decided that Alistair should put together all the Wings footage, along with a lot of the home movie footage."
So why did Paul form a brand new rock band after the enormous success of The Beatles? "When The Beatles finished it was such a shock to me and my system," he says. "Besides being out of work, to my mind I'd lost one of the greatest jobs in the world. I thought that I just must continue in music, because I just love it too much. Linda said she was interested - I remember saying to her 'Imagine standing on a stage behind a curtain and there's an audience out there, the curtain goes up and we're on, we're a band - could you handle that? She said she thought she could and so that's why we decided to try."
Wings eventually became a huge band achieving the world record at the time for the biggest stadium concert at The Kingdome in Seattle in 1976 - bigger than anything The Beatles had ever done. "It was great, it was like a combination of all the efforts of everybody who'd ever been in Wings. We were playing great and really enjoying each other's company. That tour was the equivalent of getting to Shea Stadium with The Beatles."
And how did Paul feel when Wings had their first Number One hit with Mull Of Kintyre? "That was really good; that was the first pay-off and very gratifying because we had set out to prove that we could do it. There was so much bitterness in the wake of The Beatles that there was an element of 'we'll show you'."
Running Time: 95 minutes (approx)
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