Paul McCartney’s Top 10 Guest Shots

During and after his stint in the Beatles, Paul McCartney was one of the most important rock musicians in the world.  Songs written by McCartney alone were hits for other artists (see our post from May 26, “With A Little Help For Their Friends”) and any time he showed up at someone else’s recording session it was an event.

But those Beatle boys were rascals and more often than not they would get into some tomfoolery; McCartney was no exception.  Some of his cameos could be called bizarre at best.  Nevertheless, today we’ll count down his top 10 guest appearances on record (and video).

10. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was recorded at Abbey Road studios in 1972-73, and among the people who were interviewed for the dialogue between songs were Paul and Linda McCartney.  Their answers were too dull to be included on the final album, although McCartney’s Wings bandmate Henry McCullough uttered the line, “I don’t know, I was really drunk at the time.”  However, McCartney did appear on Dark Side of the Moon – sort of: when the album was remastered for CD in 1992, one could hear a version of the Beatles'”Ticket To Ride” after “Eclipse,” faintly over the heartbeats that close the album.

9. British comedienne Tracey Ullman made her first big splash in the U.K. with a hit song, “They Don’t Know,” in 1983.  The video for the song features Tracey as a housewife whose fantasies keep her going through life, and one of her final fantasies toward the end of the video involves Tracey driving down the highway, with … Paul McCartney.

YouTube: “They Don’t Know” by Tracey Ullman

8. When Tracey Ullman had a hit TV show on Fox, producer James Brooks hired a little-known cartoonist to create animated skits to use as segues.  These shorts became “The Simpsons,” the most successful animated TV series ever.  The voices of Paul and Linda McCartney appeared on the episode “Lisa The Vegetarian” during Season 7.

7. The Steve Miller Band’s Brave New World album from 1969 features some of Miller’s trademark tunes including “Space Cowboy” and the title track.  “My Dark Hour,” which closes the album, was co-written with Paul McCartney, who also sings backup and plays bass (as Paul Ramon).

MP3: “My Dark Hour” by the Steve Miller Band

6.   “We Love You,” a 1967 single from the Rolling Stones, features backing vocals by Paul McCartney and John Lennon.  With the B-side “Dandelion,” the single went to No. 8 on the U.K. pop charts but only managed to reach No. 50 in the United States.

MP3: “We Love You” by the Rolling Stones

5. It’s not so strange that McCartney would appear on solo records by his ex-Beatle bandmates.  You might think this sort of thing would have happened more frequently, but sadly it did not.  Nonetheless, McCartney wrote and sang on “Six O’Clock” for Ringo’s all-starr Ringo album in 1973.  He also played kazoo on “You’re Sixteen,” which was a big hit for Ringo.  And in 1981, when George Harrison recorded “All Those Years Ago” as a tribute to the fallen John Lennon, he invited McCartney and Ringo to sing harmony.  “All Those Years Ago” was a No. 2 hit in the United States.

MP3: “Six O’Clock” by Ringo Starr

MP3: “All Those Years Ago” by George Harrison

4. Mike McGear is Paul McCartney’s younger brother.  After knocking around as lead singer for British group The Scaffold, McGear went solo and in 1974 recorded McGear for Warner Bros.  Produced by brother Paul and with instrumental backing from Wings, the album was still a flop.  McGear retired from show business in 1980 and went back to going by Mike McCartney.

MP3: “Norton” by Mike McGear

3. As he did with some of the ex-Beatles, McCartney helped out his Wings partner Denny Laine on a couple of his solo albums.  Holly Days, his second solo LP from 1977, was co-produced by McCartney, who also obviously sang and played most of the instruments on this crudely recorded effort.  A tribute to the music of Buddy Holly, the album was cheap to produce because McCartney owned all of the publishing rights to Holly’s music at the time.

MP3: “Fool’s Paradise” by Denny Laine

MP3: “Rave On” by Denny Laine

2. When McCartney recorded Ram in 1971, he also hired someone to write orchestral arrangements for all of the songs on the album.   McCartney produced and recorded all-instrumental big-band versions of the songs on Ram, and called the album Thrillington after a pseudonym he created, Percy “Thrills” Thrillington.  Percy was supposed to be some kind of U.K. socialite and bandleader.  Anyway, the album wasn’t released until 1977 and dropped out of sight quickly due to its limited appeal.

MP3: “Monkberry Moon Delight” (from Ram)

MP3: “Monkberry Moon Delight” (from Thrillington)

1. In the mid-1960s, the Beatles’ rivals in the United States were the Beach Boys.  Brian Wilson’s concept masterpiece Pet Sounds apparently inspired McCartney to have the idea for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  Wilson intended to follow up with an even greater epic, Smile, but he melted down due to drug abuse and mental illness.  The Beach Boys instead put out a pasted-together version called Smiley Smile.  One highlight was the oddball tune “Vegetables,” with celery chewing sounds and drinking noises from one of the most famous guys in the world at the time – Paul McCartney.

MP3: “Vegetables” by the Beach Boys




2 Responses to “Paul McCartney’s Top 10 Guest Shots”

  1. Such a shame that your number one guest shot never happened. I had the opportunity to ask Brian Wilson himself in 1998 if Paul was on ‘Vegetables’. He told me that Paul was in attendance at the session but did not appear on the track. (When I got to ask Paul the same question in 2007, he told me he didn’t remember.) I suspect Paul was spotted eating some of the presumed buffet of veggies after the recording was finished and ‘witnesses’ confused this memory with one of Paul (fictitiously) crunching along on the tape. By the way, am I the only person to ever think to actually ask them about it? FYI, the group Super Furry Animals, aware of the Vegetables legend, had Paul crunching vegetables – for real – on the track ‘Receptacle For The Respectable’ on their 2001 LP ‘Rings Around The World’.

  2. 30daysout Says:

    “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

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