A 3 part series of Steve Benham’s encounters with Paul McCartney
I first met Paul and Linda McCartney back in 1974 when I was working for Cavendish Organ Centre Boosey & Hawkes in London as one of the best keyboard demonstrators of Moog and ARP Synthesizers. My manageress Veronica Newell received a phone call from McCartney’s manager asking for a keyboard synthesizer demonstrator to show Linda some of the latest Synths on the market for her to use. So I was despatched along with an ARP Pro Soloist and an ARP Odyssey under each arm to the Carousel Club in Camden High Street London, where Wings were rehearsing and auditioning for a new drummer. On my arrival I witnessed Linda McCartney having an argument with a parking meter attendant while climbing into a light blue Rolls Royce convertible with all the kids in the back on their way to school having just being given a parking ticket. As I made my way out of the taxi and into the club there was a lot of activity, the road crew were busy setting up the drums, mic’s and amps and one of the crew members told me to set up the synths on top of the Fender Rhodes electric piano over in the corner. Being a massive Beatles fan, Paul McCartney was one of my musical hero’s, so the possibility of meeting him in person was overwhelming as I had only just turned 17 at the time.
Having set up the synths on top of the piano I sat and waited for him to arrive. The first to arrive was Ex Moody Blues member Danny Laine who asked me to give him an E on the piano for him to tune his guitar up too, then in came Paul who promptly picked up a Fender precision Bass Guitar and they started to play Hi Hi Hi, after which they launched into a few Rock n Roll standards.
As I was sat watching in ore at all of this from the side lines Paul saw me gently touching the piano keys and then to my amazement nodded for me to join in with them on the jam, so like any eager musician I couldn’t resist the opportunity to play with my all time hero, so off I went into playing a few good piano solos.
Along with the 2 synths I had brought and hidden a small portable cassette recorder that had a little hand held mic that I had taped to the handle of a bag.
I thought, well none of my friends are going to believe me when I tell them I’ve met Paul McCartney so I’d better find some way of proving it. Having taken the kids to school, Linda turned up looking a bit flustered after her encounter with an unforgiving parking attendant. She marched straight over to where I was sitting to have a look at the synths and said which is the best out of the 2, at which point Paul then came over and said, what’s the difference between this one and that one! As I began to show them the differences Paul said, I think its best for you to bring them both over to the house in St John’s Wood tomorrow morning so that Linda can have the chance to try them out. At which point Linda said, have you got a tape recorder there in your bag? So nervously I said yes, It’s so I can prove to my friends that I have met you and Paul, and she said I’d rather you turned it off, so having been found out, embarrassed, I slowly bent down and turned the recorder off and promptly pulled out my Band On The Run album for them both to sign. I have this album to this day as a fond reminder.
The next morning I turned up at the McCarneys white Georgian house in St Johns Wood which is just up the road from Abby Road Studios, where there was a big old hand painted bus sitting in the drive way. I knocked on the door while clutching 2 ARP Synths under each arm and a nice middle aged house keeper opened the door and said, Oh you must be the keyboard man! She said come in and follow me, unfortunately Linda is not here at the moment she’s taken the kids to school but Paul is in the kitchen making some breakfast, please go through. The next thing I know I’m sitting at a big old wooden farm table with Paul McCartney making me some fried eggs on toast with a fresh tomato on the side.
All I could think of was this is the guy who wrote Elenor Rigby, Yesterday and Let It Be! He said thanks for coming and I hope the eggs are not to runny. I said, thanks no the eggs are great! So we had a nice little chat over breakfast about his forthcoming Wings tour and then he said if you like I will send you a coupe of tickets for the Wembley concert. And of course I replied with a very positive, yes please. Linda ended up buying the Pro Soloist Synth from me and as promised, Paul’s management sent me 2 free tickets for the Wembley concert, so I took my girlfriend, then we went backstage after to say thank-you and we all had a jolly good time.
Read all about my next encounter with Paul McCartney that was many years later, but just as exciting, here in my next Blog… Regards, Steve Benham. Sound Street Radio.