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(Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius)

Music

When Bob Weir and Paul McCartney sang The Beatles track 'Helter Skelter' with a drunk footballer

@SamWKemp

If there’s one thing to get a 1960s music fanatic’s blood pumping, then it is this: figures from two of the era’s biggest bands duetting one of the most evocative singles of the summer of love. Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that, back in 2016, that very thing took place when Paul McCartney of The Beatles and Grateful Dead founder Bob Weir shared the mic for a rendition of ‘Helter Skelter’.

‘Helter Skelter’ was written by McCartney for The Beatles’ 1968 White Album. While John Lenon would later accuse him of writing nothing but “granny music”, at this point in his career, Paul was committed to writing the dirtiest, chunkiest freak out he could muster. As he would later recall in Anthology: “I was in Scotland and I read in Melody Maker that Pete Townshend had said: ‘We’ve just made the raunchiest, loudest, most ridiculous rock ‘n’ roll record you’ve ever heard.’ I never actually found out what track it was that The Who had made, but that got me going; just hearing him talk about it. So I said to the guys, ‘I think we should do a song like that; something really wild’. And I wrote ‘Helter Skelter'”.

The song was released in 1968 and became one of the highest-selling singles of the summer of love. Of course, thanks to notorious psychopath Charles Manson, the song also ended up soundtracking the countercultural era’s bloody climax. Manson picked up on McCartney’s references to the fall of the Roman Empire and ended up convincing himself that ‘Helter Skelter’ was a coded prophecy for an apocalyptic race war.

Explaining his interpretation of the song during his trial in 1970, Manson said: “‘Helter Skelter’ means confusion. Literally. It doesn’t mean any war with anyone. It doesn’t mean that those people are going to kill other people. It only means what it means. ‘Helter Skelter’ is confusion. Confusion is coming down fast. If you don’t see the confusion coming down fast, you can call it what you wish. It’s not my conspiracy. It is not my music. I hear what it relates. It says, ‘Rise!’ It says ‘Kill!’ Why blame it on me? I didn’t write the music. I am not the person who projected it into your social consciousness”.

McCartney and Weir’s 2016 rendition was almost as chaotic and confused as Manson’s interpretation of it. Coming together at a concert at Fenway Park, the pair gave a brain-melting rendition of the iconic track with the help of Rob Gronkowski, an American football tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who was playing for the New England Patriots at the time. The fan footage that emerged following the performance shows McCartney and Weir thrashing out ‘Helter Skelter’ at maximum volume while ‘Gronk’ lurches around occasionally singing into a spare microphone. With a fit-inducing light show throwing light onto a tumultuous sea of bodies, the performance really does look like something from the end of days.

Make sure you check it out below.