Decades after The Beatles broke up, Paul McCartney has shed light on what life was like for him in the aftermath of the iconic band’s split.
While answering questions on his website, the rock and roll icon opened up about the challenges he faced and the lessons he learned in the years following the breakup of one of the most influential bands in music history.
“The main question I had was whether to keep going after The Beatles,” he wrote in response to a fan’s question.
“It was a hard act — some might say, an impossible act — to follow.”
The Beatles are widely considered the most influential band in popular music history. Alongside John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, McCartney gained international superstardom.
A fact that was not lost on the 80-year-old performer and one that made moving on to something new after The Beatles all the more difficult.
“The ingredients in the Beatles were so unique. You had John right there, who could have made any group brilliant. Then you had George’s talent, and Ringo’s, and then me,” he said.
“I didn’t know what to do with myself, and trying something new was really risky.”
“Then, of course, having [McCartney’s first wife] Linda [McCartney] in Wings, when she was not a ‘musician’, was a risk too. When the reviews started to come in a lot of them focused on her, asking, ‘What’s she doing in the band?’ And that was hurtful,” he recalled.
“But I rationalised it by thinking about when we started The Beatles and none of us knew our chords – over time we got better and picked things up.”
McCartney later reflected how starting Wings was like starting from “square one” again and that he was “earning” his fame once again.
“In the early days of Wings, we decided to go right back to square one, taking a van up the motorway and playing little spontaneous gigs at universities for students, rather than jumping straight in with big live shows,” McCartney said.
“I’d doubled back to almost being nothing – just some guy in the band – and now I was earning my fame again. By the time the mid-70s came around when we were doing a big American tour, that was the vindication of it. We were so tight and had come up together, as it were. The risk paid off.”
In what would no doubt be a potentially devastating prospect for McCartney fans the musician revealed that he questioned whether he would “keep going with music” after the iconic Fab Four went their separate ways.
“There’s a couple of times in life when you are forced into taking a risk,” he reflected.
“After The Beatles, this was my situation: ‘Do I keep going with music, or not?’ Well, I want to keep going. So, ‘How am I going to do it? Am I going to have a band, or am I just going to busk outside train stations? How’s it going to work?'”
It seemed McCartney’s decision to continue his music career paid off given he has gone on to considerable success as a solo performer.
In a testament to his longstanding success, on June 25, 2022, McCartney took to the stage of Glastonbury to become the oldest solo headliner at the festival.
McCartney, 80, appeared on the festival’s iconic Pyramid Stage in front of a crowd of thousands for an incredible set that lasted over two hours. He began his mammoth performance with The Beatles’ classic Can’t Buy Me Love.