Now, in a concert film being shown around the world, people can see just how special Paul McCartney and Wings (Linda McCartney, Joe English, Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch) really were. Rockshow chronicles the 1975-76 Wings Over America tour and Mr. McCartney was very much involved with its release, calling it a tour that “is destined to live forever.”
The movie was first released in 1980, but has never been released on DVD. A DVD release is scheduled for this year, but first Rockshow is being screened in nearly 1,000 theaters in more than 700 cities worldwide. These special theatrical presentations will include a bonus 12-minute interview with Mr. McCartney as well. The film will be shown at The State Theatre on its 46-inch HD screen on May 17 at 8 p.m.
One person very familiar with that tour and the former Beatle himself is Chris Salewicz, who wrote the biography, McCartney: the Definitive Biography nearly 25 years ago, and saw a number of dates on the tour.
”The Beatles were the first group I ever saw in 1963 and I knew the story about them,” Mr. Salewicz says. “McCartney was blamed for breaking up the Beatles and was maybe more vilified when Lennon died, but I knew that Paul McCartney was the engine of the group and I wanted to readdress the balance — not in any controversial way — but to show the truth.”
”I went up to Liverpool and came across quite a lot of key figures and family of his,” Mr. Salewicz says. “I trekked around and talked to Pete Best’s mom for example. I always believe that when you write a biography, you need to talk about the beginnings as much as possible.”
That included speaking with two of the former Beatle’s teachers, family and people he had built relationships with along the way.
”I wasn’t very surprised about much. I learned about his industrious nature as a kid and I began to realize just how much of an affect the death of his mother had on him. It was unquestionable,” he says. “It was very fashionable to knock Paul back then but he’s a very sensitive guy.”
Although Mr. Salewicz’s book was unauthorized, Mr. McCartney was so pleased with the final outcome that he agreed to sit down with him for an interview and the two have become close.
Mr. Salewicz has seen the film but more importantly, he attended a couple of the Los Angeles shows.
”The thing about that show is it was 10 years since the Beatles had last played in America and it’s like Beatlemania and was such a big deal,” he says. “Listening to the show now, you realize just how unfair the bad reviews were because there’s so much good material and it sounds fantastic.”
During the Wings Across America tour, Mr. McCartney created one of the most sophisticated and dazzling rock shows of the time and Wings would play in front of more than 600,000 people at 31 shows in the U.S. and Canada, ending with three mind-bending nights at The Forum in Los Angeles.
This would be Wings’ only major North American tour, despite having released four consecutive gold albums: “Red Rose Speedway,” “Band on the Run” “Venus and Mars” and “Wings at the Speed of Sound.”
From the very first notes of “Venus and Mars” through “Lady Madonna,” Mr. McCartney’s James Bond entry “Live and Let Die,” “Blackbird” to “Soily,” the 30-tune set list displayed in the film is a joy for anyone who has ever called themselves a McCartney, Beatles or Wings fan.
”All the albums had fantastic songs on them and the film is just a great representation of it all,” Mr. Salewicz says. “Since we hit the new millennium, everything is about history and this is a great way to reacquaint yourself with a time in McCartney’s life that not all Beatles fans may know that much about. It’s beautifully filmed.”
Paul McCartney and Wings Rockshow will be screened at the State Theatre, 15 Livingston Ave., May 17, 8 p.m. Tickets cost $12. For more information, go to www.statetheatrenj.org or call 732-246-7469.