Sign up below to be added to our mailing list for the latest news updates, access to exclusive contests, and more!
Following the success of Band on the Run, McCartney formed a new version of Wings with guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton. The new lineup was showcased on the 1974 British single "Junior's Farm" and the 1975 hit album Venus and Mars. Wings at the Speed of Sound followed in 1976, and it was the first Wings record to feature songwriting contributions by the other bandmembers. The album became a monster success on the basis of two McCartney songs, "Silly Love Songs" and "Let 'Em In." Wings supported the album with their first international tour, which broke many attendance records and was captured on the live triple album Wings Over America (1976). After the tour was completed, Wings rested a bit during 1977, as McCartney released an instrumental version of Ram under the name Thrillington and produced Laine's solo album, Holly Days. Later that year, Wings released "Mull of Kintyre," which became the biggest-selling British single of all time (at the time of its release), selling over two million copies. In 1978 Wings followed "Mull of Kintyre" with London Town, which became another platinum record. After its release, McCulloch left the band to join the re-formed Small Faces, and Wings released Back to the Egg in 1979. Though the record went platinum, it failed to produce any big hits. Early in 1980, McCartney was arrested for marijuana possession at the beginning of a Japanese tour; he was imprisoned for ten days and then released, without any charges being pressed. Wings embarked on a British tour in the spring of 1980 before McCartney recorded McCartney II, which was a one-man-band effort like his solo debut. The following year, Laine left Wings because McCartney didn't want to tour in the wake of John Lennon's assassination; in doing so, he effectively broke up Wings, which quietly disbanded as McCartney entered the studio later that year with Beatles producer George Martin to make his 1982 album Tug of War.
McCartney revisited Wings in 2001 for the compilation Wingspan, which was accompanied by a television documentary. In 2018, his Paul McCartney Archives Edition series released expanded versions of Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway. The two sets were paired in a limited edition that also featured a bonus disc called Wings Over Europe, which collected highlights from the band's first tour. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine