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Music

Remembering Paul McCartney's collaboration with Johnny Depp

@SamWKemp

Originally written for the 1969 film The Magic Christian, ‘Come And Get It’ has had one hell of a life. As well as finding its way into the hands of Badfinger, it also united the song’s composer, Paul McCartney, with The Hollywood Vampires, a supergroup comprised of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Alice Cooper and the actor Johnny Depp.

The track was the first single McCartney wrote for Badfinger. Prior to singing to Apple, the group were then known as The Iveys. They’d had some success with their singles ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ and ‘Dear Angie’, but their rise had stalled after they failed to make an impact on the American market. The Beatles came across their demos and were so impressed they signed them to Apple Records.

While McCartney had intended to write the soundtrack to The Magic Christian on his own, he ended up writing just one song for the film. With the help of Paul, Badfinger recorded ‘Come and Get It’ and two more ‘Carry on Till Tomorrow’ and ‘Roc of All Ages’. The tracks were combined with selections from The Iveys catalogue to form the group’s debut album Magic Christian Music.

‘Come and Get It’ saw McCartney in complete control, playing all the instruments on the record. Badfinger, who had wanted to try the song in their own style, were disappointed when they were told that the track had to be performed as it had been in the demo because it wouldn’t be a hit otherwise. In the end, McCartney was right, and the track ended up being Badfinger’s breakthrough single.

The song also marked a turning point for Apple, which had failed to bag a major hit outside The Beatles since its inception. Unfortuantely, it wasn’t to last. After a serious case of mismanagement, the label began an irreparable slide into disrepair in the 1970s, which had a bad effect on Badfinger’s career from which they never truly recovered.

Jumping ahead to 2015, Paul McCartney recieved a phone call from The Hollywood Vampires, who asked the Beatle if he was happy to guest star on their cover of the track: “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,” Alice Cooper told Classic Rock. “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.”

According to Cooper, McCartney was made an honourary vampire, joining Cooper on lead vocals, Joe Perry on lead guitar and backing vocals and Johnny Depp on slide, lead and rhythm guitar. “In order to make him a Vampire,” Cooper said of Macca, “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.”