The Daily Record Interview
From The Daily Record
Sir Paul McCartney: I know it'll be time to quit when I don't get buzz from Hampden roar
Jun 11 2010 John Dingwall
SIR PAUL McCARTNEY has threatened to quit making pop music if the Hampden roar doesn't give him a thrill on a par with Shea Stadium.
Ahead of the Beatles legend's show at Scotland's national stadium, I joined Paul, his crew and entourage in Mexico City.
Paul, 67, insisted he still gets a thrill from playing to big crowds and is looking forward to the racket of the Glasgow crowd on June 20.
When Paul, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr performed live at the height of Beatlemania, they admitted they couldn't even hear what they were playing.
But despite the din of stadiums such as Shea in New York, Paul told why the Hampden roar will still impress.
He said: "I never get over that. I hope to never get over that because then you are jaded and if that happens then I'll give up. If I ever get to the stage of thinking, they're roaring - so what, I don't think I'll bother. But I don't. It's just the opposite. I can't believe it.
"Often I will watch other people's concerts and I think, look at their audience going crazy and that I wish our audience did that.
"Then I watched our tour film and they were doing that. Why don't I notice that? It is because I am performing and I can't look objectively at what is going on but when I do see a crowd going crazy it takes you back."
After more than 50 years in the business, Paul admits he still has a soft spot for the Scottish fans who took the Beatles to their hearts during a tour of Scotland in May, 1960.
Three years before Beatlemania - a term coined during the minitour of Scotland in 1963 - the Silver Beetles were the support for Johnny Gentle on a tour that took in Alloa Town Hall, Fraserburgh's Dalrymple Hall and Nairn's Regal Ballroom.
"Oh aye," Paul said, trying out an impersonation of what the Scots must have sounded like to him in those early days.
Back then, the band included Edinburgh-born "fifth Beatle" Stuart Sutcliffe, who died of a brain haemorrhage in 1962.
"The first thing we did was a Scottish tour with Johnny Gentle who was a wannabe rock 'n' roll star. We played Fraserburgh. They were very small gigs.
"The girls would ask, 'Whit's your name?' I'd say, 'My name's Paul Ramon.' They'd say, 'Ramon, oh that's great. Would you sign the book?' It was very cute.
"I had the stage name Paul Ramon and thought it was very groovy. George was Carl Harrison because he loved Carl Perkins.
"Stuart was Stuart de Stael because of the painter Nicolas de Stael. It was our first experience of fame, really."
We're chatting backstage at the Foro Sol, a stadium in the heart of one the most dangerous cities in the world.
But Paul admits it was during a 1963 tour of Scotland, supporting Roy Orbison, that the Beatles first feared for their safety.
Paul said: "The thing with Glasgow was that we were told to watch out.
"That was the word. People were scared to play Glasgow, so we thought, 'Nah, it'll be all right.'
"But we were still a little bit apprehensive and watching out. Then some guy jumped up on the stage at the end of our first Glasgow show with the Beatles.
"The guy jumps up and everyone is going, 'Ah, s***. This is it. He's going to hit you with a bottle. He's going to bottle you.' But then the guy suddenly starts dancing away and we realised they loved us and it was going to be great.
"But we heard later that Bowie went up and they did throw a few things at him.
"We've always had a very warm reception there, so I love it. You can't believe it was all that time ago we first went there. It's phenomenal."
Prior to the show in Mexico, Paul soundchecked for around 100 fans with his band - inviting five young kids to come onstage to play percussion during one song.
Then it was time for the main event, a hit-packed concert lasting almost three hours that included around 20 Beatles songs, 10 of his hits with Wings and highlights from his solo catalogue.
Paul's next gig was in Washington, in the ornate East Room of the White House.
There, the Liverpool legend accepted the Gershwin award for popular music from President Barack Obama, on behalf of the Library of Congress.
Stevie Wonder and Corinne Bailey Rae sang versions of Paul's hits to a select gathering.
During his performance, Paul made a quip that ex-president George W. Bush didn't know what a library was.
But Paul insisted he is not the type to get involved in a political dog-fight.
"I'm not really very political," he said. "I don't go out of my way to meet prime ministers and presidents. It's just if it happens.
"But it never happened with the Beatles. It would be like, Lyndon Johnson? No. Nixon? No. Obama, yes."
Asked if Obama reminded him of the civil rights movement which was in full swing when The Beatles first played in the US, he said: "I am a big fan of Obama's and it's a flashback for me. It really is.
"I just watched Invictus with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. The Beatles wouldn't go to South Africa because of apartheid, though we were asked. So to watch that film is like, oh my God, because we lived through that.
"To meet President Obama is like that, only more, because America is an even bigger country than South Africa.
"The Gershwin prize is a big honour. I'm the first non-American to get it. So that's huge." When I pointed out that Paul seems to be in a good place right now and is giving off good vibes, he smiled.
"Touch wood," he said, having just joked to his girlfriend Nancy Shevell that she is his latest groupie. "The band and I are enjoying playing together. That has a lot to do with it.
"I'm feeling good personally and the way we play nowadays, we don't just go out for three months and knock ourselves out and get fed-up.
"Now, every so often we'll go on tour. Like the White House, then some time off before Dublin, Hampden Park, Cardiff and Isle Of Wight. So that's another little batch.
"That might have something to do with it. Or maybe it's just that I'm enjoying myself