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Wings Biography

Home > Music > W > Wings > Biography

Birth Place: England
Years Active: 1971–1981
Genres: Rock

Wings were a British-American rock group formed in 1971 and remained active until 1981. Wings were noted for frequent personnel changes as well as success, going through three different lead guitarists and four different drummers. However, the line-up consistently included a core trio of McCartney, his wife Linda, and ex-Moody Blues guitarist and singer Denny Laine.

As The Beatles were breaking up in 1970, McCartney was working on his debut solo album, “McCartney.” Backing vocals were provided by his wife, Linda, whom he had married the previous year. On his second solo album, “Ram,” McCartney added select outside musicians, including guitarists Hugh McCracken and David Spinozza and drummer Denny Seiwell. Seiwell had to perform in a secret audition for Paul and Linda before being chosen.

1971’s “Wild Life” was the debut album by the newly formed Wings. The album reached #11 in the U.K. and #10 in the U.S., where it went gold. “Dear Friend” and “Love Is Strange” were popular songs on the album.

Officially credited to “Paul McCartney & Wings” the album “Red Rose Speedway” was released in 1973. Engineered by Alan Parsons, it reached #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. In March 1973 “My Love,” the only single from the album, was released and became a U.K. Top 10 hit and McCartney's second solo U.S. #1.

The next Paul McCartney & Wings album, “Band on the Run,” was released in 1973 and became Wings' most successful album. Bolstered by the hits “Jet” and the title track, the album was a major success. It reached #1 in the U.S. on three separate occasions, and eventually went triple platinum. In the U.K., it spent seven weeks at the summit that summer, becoming the top selling British album of 1974. In early 1975, Paul McCartney & Wings won the Grammy award for Best Pop Vocal Performance By a Duo, Group or Chorus for “Band on the Run.”

McCartney’s string of #1 albums continued in 1975 with the release of the Wings album, “Venus and Mars.” Hits singles included “Listen to What the Man Said,” “Letting Go” and “Venus and Mars/Rock Show.”

The Wings album, “Wings at the Speed of Sound,” followed in 1976 and would be the last to reach #1 until 1982’s “Tug of War.” It became McCartney's most successful U.S. album, spending seven nonconsecutive weeks at #1 throughout the summer. Much of the album’s success came from the singles, “Silly Love Songs” and “Let 'Em In.”

Wings' 1977 single “Mull of Kintyre” became the first single to sell more than two million copies in the U.K., and remains the U.K.'s top selling non-charity single. The song was written in tribute to the picturesque Kintyre peninsula in Scotland, where McCartney has owned High Park Farm since 1966, and its headland or Mull of Kintyre.

Wings closed out the decade with two additional platinum selling albums, 1978’s “London Town” and what turned out to be Wings' final album, 1979’s “Back to the Egg.” During much of 1979, Wings were inactive as McCartney worked on a new solo album (“McCartney II”) without the band. In November and December 1979, Wings performed its final tour of the U.K. In October 1980, Wings returned to the studio to record demos of a number of songs for its next album. However, following the murder of John Lennon in December 1980, Paul McCartney was unable to continue with the sessions, and Wings went into hiatus.