Is there a more vintage question for musicians than to decide on who makes up their dream supergroup? While the realities of most of these fictitious groups would be full of an ego clashing nightmare, the classic dinner table conversation is inescapable for those with a fantastical imagination.
Of course, the reality is that former Beatle Paul McCartney is an artist that would most likely be included in every supergroup worth their salt on the planet. However, when he got asked this question, he had to leave himself on the bench. If anybody is well equipped to answer this probe, then it’s Macca. Across his remarkable career, he has shared the stage with the world’s greatest, collaborating with icons from multiple eras, ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Kanye West.
In truth, this question is almost impossible to get people to agree on, and the beauty of creating a fictional supergroup is that it will always divide opinion. If we all picked the same line-up of musicians, then music wouldn’t be the subjective beast that makes us all love it so much. Music is a game of opinions, and as it happens, Paul McCartney’s view is one to be revered.
Speaking with Brazillian newspaper, Estadão in 2019, McCartney provided the answer to the much-debated question that every muso at one point has spent far too long dreaming up in our heads.
Macca got off to a strong start by selecting Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, with who he collaborated with Wings on ‘Beware My Love’ – a song which didn’t the light of day until 2014. When the track was belatedly released, McCartney explained: “It was fantastic,” he said. “Bonham was always on my top-five drummer list and a great friend and ballsy drummer.”
“On keyboards…Billy Preston,” the Beatles man told the publication. George Harrison brought Preston into the fold with The Fab Four while the band went through a tumultuous period after seeing him perform with Ray Charles in London and being blown away.
“It’s interesting to see how nicely people behave when you bring a guest in, because they don’t want everybody to know they’re so bitchy,” Harrison remarked in Anthology. “Suddenly everybody’s on their best behaviour.”
On bass duties, McCartney deliberated before landing on The Who’s John Entwistle. Meanwhile, on guitar, there was only ever one choice for McCartney; the great Jimi Hendrix. During an interview with Stephen Colbert, Macca recalled when he first watched Hendrix live and how the guitarist covered The Beatles’ after spotting him in the crowd.
“He must have been so into it because normally it might take a day for rehearsal, and then you might wonder whether you’d put it in, but he just opened with it,” he said on the US chat show. “It’s a pretty major compliment in anyone’s book. I put that down as one of the great honours of my career. I mean, I’m sure he wouldn’t have thought of it as an honour, I’m sure he thought it was the other way round, but to me, that was like a great boost.”
After McCartney selected the star-studded group, he needed a charismatic singer who could hold court around Hendrix, Bonham, Preston and Entwistle. Who could pull off this task? From McCartney’s perspective, it had to be Elvis Presley, who he described as “immortal”.
Most supergroups seem convoluted, and in reality, they would lack the cohesiveness they have in our imaginations. Still, all these superstars vying to be the centre of attention is part of the fun. Picturing Elvis Presley’s scorn as Hendrix breaks out into yet another solo and steals the limelight away from him would be a joy to behold. If anybody could match the showmanship of Hendrix, it’s The King.