It’s surprising how many classic Beatles songs feature Paul McCartney behind the drum kit. He’s been a guest on Foo Fighters new album, playing sticks on one of the tracks.
McCartney is been one-man-band performance on White Album gem “Martha My Dear, McCartney played all the instruments in the song “You Won’t See Me” including the drums. He also played drums on other tracks like Back in the USSR, band on The run and many others.
During the making of the White Album, Ringo Starr registered his personal disgust with the situation by walking out on the band for a few weeks (in August ’68).
That left the group without a drummer, which led the remaining three to try their hand at the kit on “Back in the U.S.S.R.” Though Ringo returned before long, that set a precedent. Later in the White Album sessions, Paul McCartney played drums on “Mother Nature’s Son” even though Ringo was in the studio that day.
The following year, Paul was back on drums for a May ’69 single. On the A-side, listeners heard “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” John Lennon’s No. 1 hit. For its B-side, fans got the George Harrison track, “Old Brown Shoe.” In this case, Paul played drums on both because Ringo was on a film shoot.
We publish an excerpt from Paul’s interview appeared on “Drum! Mag “- about Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl Speaking to ET Canada said: “He’s a pal. We’ve known him for a long time. He’s great. He’s the most wonderful person in the world. He’s a great guy. He hadn’t even heard of the song. He comes in and [frontman]Dave [Grohl] picked up an acoustic and showed him real quick. He sat on his special drum set that his tech set up for him. I sat there with a drumstick conducting. He did two takes.”
When did you first play drums?
McCartney: My first recollection is in Hamburg. You’d get behind the kit to try and show the drummer what you wanted.
That gradually grew to messing around on other people’s kits, which were lying around because there were a lot of groups playing in the places we played. You picked up the simplest beats very naturally.
I remember one evening when Tony Sheridan’s didn’t show up, so Tony said, “Come on, man, sit in!” I said, “No way! I can’t do this.” And he said, “Yeah, you can.” So I did it and then I was thinking, “Well! I’ve actually done a professional drumming gig!” Later, with The Beatles, there was a period where John, George, and I operated as a trio and picked up little bits of work.
I remember playing in an illegal club in somebody’s basement on Upper Parliament Street in Liverpool’s Caribbean Quarter. One day this guy called Lord Woodbine, who ran the club, asked if we’d come in and accompany this stripper called Janine. We said, “Wow! Yeah, man! There’s a job.” He even paid us money.
D. It sounds like you would have paid him for that gig.
McCartney: Exactly [laughs]. So she came in and said, “Okay, I need you to play Ravel’s Bolero.” We said, “Oh, gee. Sorry, luv. We don’t read music. But we’ve got ’Raunchy.’ That might do.”
I had somebody’s old drum kit, and I sat there with a broomstick between my legs, with a microphone tied to it so I could do a bit of vocals and drum at the same time. It was hilarious.
When Ringo joined the band, that must have interrupted your emerging career on drums.
McCartney: Yeah, I was completely redundant. We loved Ringo so much. He was our favorite drummer in Liverpool, and when he joined the band, it was an explosion: Every song sounded new and fresh. He could pass what we felt was the true test for drummers, which was to be able to play “What’d I Say” — the cymbal work and the toms.
Ringo adjusted from one section of the song to the next, rather than just lay down a beat. That influence is evident in your new album.
McCartney: That’s one thing about: they actually listen to the song, so they can allow the vocalist space. Then when you get to the end of a phrase, they make a comment: [sings], “Eight days a week … ba-dap-a-doo bop.”
But on Chaos that also has to do with Nigel Godrich, who is a thinking producer. Your natural inclination is to go “one, two, three, four, bang,” and you’re in with the drums. But Nigel would say, “You know, this song has a nice acoustic opening. Let’s let it ride.” We did that on “Friends To Go,” and then on the second verse I came in with just the bass drum. It didn’t need anything more than that.