THE BREAK UP OF THE BEATLES – ENTER WNO 481 – THE RISE OF PAUL McCARTNEY
In Tom Doyle’s book Man On The Run one of the chapters that mentions WNO 481 is titled ‘Life In The Slow Lane’. The text fondly states, “Its top speed was an un-impressively chugging 38mph …” it then goes on to explain that this was just what Paul needed after the events of the previous 3 years that started with John’s shock announcement in 1969 that he wanted a ‘divorce’ from The Beatles and then the considerable down-time lost in 1970 and 1971 Paul had spent coming to terms with the realisation that John, Paul, George and Ringo had gone their separate ways and that The Beatles as a band was no more.
WNO 481 was in no hurry and neither was James Paul McCartney now on a ‘Bond’ mission with the guys who were set the formidable task of replacing John, George and Ringo. Paul could have gone the supergroup route and just played safe alongside superstar friends like Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Keith Moon, Phil Collins, John Bonham and many others but he wanted to do again what he had done in the beginning with The Beatles, play gigs for fun with a bunch of musical mates. In 1969 Paul had put forward the idea of doing small gigs to the other Beatles but they refused.
While WNO 481 cruised through the summer heat of Europe instead of sweltering inside the bus Paul, Linda, and new musical mates; Denny Laine, Henry McCullough and Denny Seiwell all lazed around on the cushions, bean bags and pillows spread around the open top deck relaxing, goofing off, jamming, rehearsing and all the while the ever important bonding. They were living the messages in The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour – Yellow Submarine inspired artwork that invited everyone loud and proud, “We come in peace, we come to play, we come to have a good time, we Come Together – join us”
In 1970 when Paul announced The Beatles were splitting up the world’s media went into a frenzy to find out what John, Paul, George and Ringo would do next. John went off and had his well publicised adventures. For Paul the summer of ‘72 became the Summer Of Wings. In July and August for the 1972 Wings Over Europe Tour Paul got himself an old English seaside special open top double decker bus. 1972 Wings Tour Bus WNO 481 carried Paul McCartney, Linda, Heather, Mary and Stella McCartney, Wings band members Denny Laine, Henry McCullough, Denny Seiwell, wives and girlfriends over 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometres) to perform 25 concerts in 25 cities in 9 countries across Europe hotly pursued by reporters from around the globe documenting every turn of the wheel, every movement and note. As the tour progressed it was widely reported how the band developed and by the time the tour was completed Paul McCartney and Wings had transformed into a world-class musical working unit and Paul’s writing and performing resurgence confirmed that he had completed the painful transition from ex-Beatle to Paul McCartney and Wings …and WNO 481 had played its part bringing everyone together as new musical mates and bringing everything together as the springboard to Paul’s new musical life. The tour was a musical and critical success and provided the launch-pad to the next phase of the most successful music career of all time.
Once the ‘Bond Mission Summer Of Wings’ with 1972 Wings Tour Bus WNO 481 was successfully completed Paul was now ready to take on the two biggest live concert challenges in the world; to rock the UK and then to rock the USA. By 1976 Paul McCartney had written hit songs and with Wings performed his way back to the pinnacle of stadium rock. New concert attendance records were set that defined how rock concerts would be staged in the future. To paraphrase a music critic of the time, “… maybe The Beatles are no more but thank goodness we have Paul McCartney and Wings.”
“Wings toured the world and became the best-selling pop act of the 1970s, with an astonishing 27 U.S. Top 40 hits (beating Elton John’s 25) and five consecutive number one albums, including the highly acclaimed Band on the Run (1973) and Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976).” – https://www.britannica.com/biography/Paul-McCartney
For almost 60 years Paul McCartney has been a national treasure. He has written more Top 5 hits than anyone else in history, he’s the biggest selling pop and rock star of all time but back in 1972 he was in recovery from the painful break up of the biggest band in the world, essentially starting over and for one of his most important and pivotal tours he chose a tour bus unlike any other before, or since. He could have had his pick of the newest and best buses in the world including the Mercedes and Volvo’s etc. but he chose our old English Bristol KSW 5G ECW seaside special open top double decker bus WNO 481 as the 1972 Wings Tour Bus. He then brought old English to the lands of the Volvo’s and Mercedes that in turn flew the flag for the Backing Britain Campaign started in 1968. In 2016 Wings was inducted into The Grammy Hall Of Fame after 13 nominations and 6 wins.
WNO 481 is not only a classically beautiful example of 67 years of transport-of-the-people motoring heritage but when Paul McCartney gave WNO 481 its Wings almost 50 years ago an iconic Legend of Rock & Road was born.
Beatles authority Steve Bradley recently stated on his excellent Beatles Facebook Group Page, “Many of us have a big collection of Beatles memorabilia… but only one fan in the whole world has a double-decker bus with a Beatles connection – Tom Jennings” Steve also called WNO 481, “The world’s biggest Beatles collectible”
Long may the 1972 Wings Tour Bus WNO 481 keep rocking and rolling – thank you.
PAUL McCARTNEY’S WINGS ACHIEVEMENTS
PAUL McCARTNEY’S CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS
Paul McCartney explains why he chose a 20 year old seaside special open-top double-decker bus to be his 1972 Wings Tour Bus. This despite his promoter John Morris wanting to talk him out of it as he was concerned it wouldn’t be able to keep up with the accompanying brand new and highly efficient Mercedes trucks etc. Tom Salter, the Tour Manager and owner of the famous Gear Boutique in Carnaby St. didn’t carry the message to Paul, he thought an open-top double-decker bus adventure was a fantastic idea.
To give some context as to how things were for Paul on his first major tour flying solo with a new band after the break-up of The Beatles here’s an interview he did before the first concert.
“The first show of the European tour was booked for a deliberately out-of-the-way location – a 2,000-seat Roman amphitheatre at Châteauvallon, high in the pine-forested hills above Toulon on the south-eastern coast of France. Here, before the gig, on Sunday, 9 July 1972, Paul gave an informal press conference. ‘I’m starting all over again and working my way upwards,’ he accepted. ‘You don’t fight Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali – World Heavyweight Boxing Champion) on your first time out.’ He hinted at his recent crisis of confidence and the worry of being smothered by the weight of his reputation: ‘A year ago, I used to wake up in the morning and think, I’m a myth. I’m Paul McCartney. And it scared the hell out of me.’
“We knew we were going to tour in Europe and that the weather would be nice, and the idea of being stuck in a bus all the time, going from city to city, hotel to hotel, wasn’t too appealing so we decided to travel around in an open-top bus and got some sunshine as we traveled from one place to another.” – Paul McCartney
“If we’re gonna be in Europe in the summer going to places like the south of France it’s just silly to be in some little box all day gasping for air so we came up with this idea to have an open deck, upper deck kind of thing. We’ve got some mattresses up there so we can just cruise along, fantastic, lie around & get the sun.” – Paul McCartney
“We painted the outside psychedelic, like a magic bus,” McCartney says of their tour transport on that halcyon trip. “If you look at it very straight, very conventionally, it was quite a mad thing to do, to put a playpen on the top deck of the bus and put all the children in there while driving around Europe. It was not what you’d expect from a normal band. But we weren’t a normal band.” – Paul McCartney
In 2017 Paul McCartney tweeted to his millions of followers, “We’ve heard that the 1972 Wings Tour Bus is back on the road in the UK. Have info on this? Send us a DM!”
MPL (Sir Paul McCartney’s Company)
October 2019 we received an email from MPL. “We would like to wish you the best of luck with the refurbishment and please do send photographs when the bus is completed.”
Sir James Paul McCartney CH MBE (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and record and film producer who gained worldwide fame as co-lead vocalist and bassist for the Beatles.
His songwriting partnership with John Lennon remains the most successful in history. After the group disbanded in 1970, he pursued a solo career and formed the band Wings with his first wife, Linda, and Denny Laine.
In 1970, McCartney debuted as a solo artist with the album McCartney. Throughout the 1970s, he led Wings, one of the most successful bands of the decade, with more than a dozen international top 10 singles and albums.
McCartney is one of the most successful composers and performers of all time. He has written or co-written 32 songs that have reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and as of 2009, had sales of 25.5 million RIAA-certified units in the United States.
His honours include two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of the Beatles in 1988 and as a solo artist in 1999), 18 Grammy Awards, an appointment as a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1965, and a knighthood in 1997 for services to music.
As of 2020, he is also one of the wealthiest musicians in the world, with an estimated fortune of £800 million.
“The Beatles were a pretty hard act to follow, and we were going to follow them.” – Paul McCartney
After the break-up of The Beatles, McCartney could have worked with super-groups but he missed the camaraderie of a band on the road.
In the Summer of 1972, Paul McCartney and Wings travelled on WNO 481 for over 12,000 kilometres, 7,500 miles, to perform 25 concerts, in 25 cities, in 9 countries of Europe, for the 1972 Wings Over Europe Tour.
McCartney and his team had WNO 481 transformed into a ‘Woodstock on Wheels’, to bring his family and embryonic band on his first major tour since The Beatles.
When The 1972 Wings Over Europe Tour was over, Paul McCartney & Wings were the finished article and the real deal.
After the break-up of The Beatles, WNO 481 had played its part in helping Paul McCartney spread his Wings. Paul was now ready to take on the UK, the USA and the rest of the world.