Paul McCartney is never been one that has been scared to collaborate with others over the years and the results it’s fair to say have been mixed. The former Beatles magic touch sometimes isn’t enough to make the collaboration a success, the iconic bass player not able to replicate the chemistry that he had with The Fab Four.
Macca has always been open-minded when it comes to the creative process, a factor which has landed him in the studio with an array of artists from different eras on a regular basis. Many of his past collaborators have been raised on the music of McCartney and, quite often couldn’t quite believe their wish to spend time in the studio with the bonafide legend had come true.
We are going to take a look at some of the most obscure names that you wouldn’t have foreseen McCartney working with and going through his five most bizarre collaborations. The list is exclusively about studio collaborations involving the former Beatle rather than live duets with other artists.
See our list below.
Paul McCartney’s 5 unusual collaborations:
McCartney collaborated with the controversial rap icon in 2014 on ‘Only One’, an effort which the two of them write material as a tribute to West’s daughter, North, and the track sees Kanye sing from the perspective of his late mother, Donda West. The former Beatle only features on manipulated backing vocals rather than taking up a lead role, however, less than a month after the release of ‘Only One’ he would link up with West once more on Rihanna’s ‘FourFiveSeconds’.
“We ended up just talking a lot,” McCartney told DIY about the strange collaboration. “I played a few little things and one of them ended up as ‘FourFiveSeconds’ with Rihanna. It’s more a question of me feeling lucky that these people are interested [in working with me] and think that I can bring something to it. For me, I feel great. I like diversity.”
“We had two or three afternoons where we just hung out together in a Beverly Hills hotel in the bungalows out the back, and he had his engineer and was set up with a couple of microphones in case anything happened,” Macca continued. “I was tootling around on guitar, and Kanye spent a lot of time just looking at pictures of Kim [Kardashian] on his computer. I’m thinking, ‘Are we ever gonna get around to writing?!’ But it turns out he was writing. That’s his muse.”
The weird and wonderful supergroup Hollywood Vampires, one that features Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, actor Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper, is already a bizarre set-up so throwing Paul McCartney into the mix somehow makes things even more strange. Their self-titled 2015 debut album featured a cover of Badfinger’s ‘Come and Get It’ which McCartney penned back in 1969 — so the Vampires reached out to him and he was more than happy to guest on their cover.
“He comes strolling in, sits down at the piano like he’s in the band, turns around and says, ‘OK, I wrote this song for Badfinger. Alice, you sing this part, Joe You do this. It turns out he hadn’t played the song since he wrote it. He just sat down, no sheets, and just started playing. We played it live. It was amazing,” Alice Cooper revealed in 2018 to Classic Rock.
Cooper then divulged that Macca is an honorary vampire, “then, in order to make him a Vampire, he had to pass the initiation, which was a Red Vine dipped into guacamole – and he had to eat the whole thing… and he did it. He’s a Vampire for life.”
The Bloody Beetroots
McCartney dabbled into the world of electronic dance music when he provided vocals on the mysterious Italian DJ The Bloody Beetroots’ track ‘Out of Sight’. However, while the track had the potential to be a complete disaster, in reality, it was a roaring success with Macca’s voice sounding like a perfect fit on the song.
The track was originally the opening track from McCartney and Youth from Killing Joke’s band The Fireman’s 2008 record Electric Arguments which somehow ended up being recorded again as an almost unrecognisable remix by The Bloody Beetroots.
“I was in the studio with Youth from Killing Joke who is also the other half of The Fireman. He asked me, Bob, who would you like to work with on your new album? I told him that Paul McCartney’s one of my favourites. So Youth sent me the parts of a song by The Fireman [Nothing Too Much Out of Sight] and said, see what you can do. You need to know, my credo is: destroy to create”, Bloody Beetroots said to Red Bull about the collaboration.
“And that’s exactly what I did. I changed the melodies and rhythm. Paul loved it. It was him who decided to sing on my version of the song and to invite me to his studio. That was a pretty crazy adventure.”
Super Furry Animals
Paul McCartney’s addition on Super Furry Animals track ‘Receptacle For The Respectable’ is undoubtedly the most strange on the list, a time when the group somehow enlisted Macca to chew celery and carrots percussively into a microphone just like he had on the Beach Boys song ‘Smiley Smile’ back in 1967.
This sounds like it is made up but somehow, it is true as Gruff Rhys confirmed to The Independent back in 2001. “We’d already worked with him [on Liverpool Sound Collage with The Fireman ], and when we phoned him up, he said, ‘You’re fucking mad, you are! You mad bastards!’ But he agreed to do it. It took six months to organise. It was really cloak and dagger,” Rhys revealed.
The late George Michael and Paul McCartney are undoubtedly two of Britain’s most iconic cultural figures, creatives who attack music from the opposite sides of pop. That said, their meeting in 2006 on ‘Heal The Pain’ was a genius move. Michael had originally released the track in 1991 but had managed to secure Macca to duet the track with him for his greatest hits record and the former Beatle had another bizarre collaboration in his arsenal.
“I was big into Abbey Road and Revolver,” George once admitted “I made one record to show how much I loved Lennon [‘Praying for Time’], I made another record to show how much I loved McCartney [‘Heal the Pain’]. I didn’t dream McCartney would ever sing it. And actually, when he sings it, it sounds like a Paul McCartney record!”