Did Paul McCartney ever consider “Band on the Run” to be jinxed? If he did, there had been a couple of good reasons to think so.

He and his Wings group were scheduled to fly to Nigeria to record “Band on the Run.” But some of the musicians never showed, so only Paul and Linda McCartney and Wings guitarist Denny Laine made the journey.

In the studio, McCartney sang lead and filled in on guitar, electric piano, bass, and drums.

“I played a lot of stuff myself,” he said. “It was almost a solo album. Almost.”

Not quite. Wife and partner Linda McCartney added synthesizers and electric piano to the tracks, and Denny Laine offered lead guitar. And both sang backup vocals.

“Band on the Run” became a five-minute-plus work that played out like a three-act mini-drama. There was the slow, meandering opening. A hard-rocking section kicked in next. Finally, a dynamic, Eagles-like harmony drove the work to a powerful finale.

But as the trio was walking back to their hotel that night, they were robbed at knifepoint, with thieves snatching their tapes and vanishing into the darkness. The McCartneys and Laine thus had to create a new recording from memory.

Flashback: At one time, the Beatles were a struggling band covering Top 40 hits in German bars. They eventually broke big in the UK in 1962, became teen idols throughout Europe the following year, and conquered America in 1964.

But when the Fab Four began their own music label — Apple Records — in 1968, they “officially” entered the world of Big Business. Consequently, the Beatles often had to endure boring meetings in stuffy boardrooms.

At one such gathering, George Harrison unknowingly handed McCartney a part of “Band on the Run.”

McCartney remembered, “It started off with, ‘If I ever get out of here.’ That came from a remark George made at one of the Apple meetings. He was saying that we’re all prisoners in some way.”

Lyrically, “Band on the Run” opened with the narrator already being incarcerated:


Stuck inside these four walls, Sent inside forever


When the song shifted to the next tier, we heard a prisoner’s lament:


If I ever get out of here


In the final section, we learned of a “jailer man” and how a county judge held a grudge because he’ll have to “search forevermore” but will never capture the elusive “band on the run.”

McCartney later explained that his lyrics involved police hassles and drug problems: “We were being outlawed for pot.” (He preferred marijuana over booze.) “Our argument on ‘Band on the Run’ was that we’re not criminals … So I just made up a song about people breaking out of prison.”

McCartney later said of his musical creation, “It’s a million things, all put together … a band on the run — escaping, freedom, criminals. You name it, it’s there.”

To McCartney’s delight, his fans embraced the Apple single, which topped Billboard’s chart. Even ex-partner John Lennon, often one of McCartney’s harshest critics, enthusiastically pronounced it “a great song.”


Randal C. Hill is a rock ’n’ roll historian who lives at the Oregon coast. He may be reached at wryterhill@msn.com.

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