When Paul McCartney and John Bonham got together to make a rare Wings track
Paul McCartney was always an admirer of the former Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and, when the opportunity presented itself in 1976 for the two of them finally got in the studio and work together, it was an opportunity which the former Beatles man could not refuse.
Macca had huge admiration for Bonham and getting him involved with Wings would not be the last time that the two would cross paths but, somewhat bizarrely, their collaboration wouldn’t make it onto the record. The Led Zep sticksman lent his mercurial talent to the track ‘Beware My Love’ with McCartney instead opting to leave it off Wings at the Speed of Sound and sticking with Joe English’s version despite Bonham’s effort being far superior.
Wings at the Speed of Sound was universally loathed by critics who, at the time, felt the album was a bit lacklustre but, on the contrary, it eventually went on to be a huge commercial success and marked the height of the band’s popularity. Although there were bag fulls of criticism thrown towards the record, on the whole, one track that everybody seemed to get on board with was ‘Beware My Love‘ — which is seen as being the only true rock song on the album.
Bonham took part in the very first demo for the song, an addition which gave it a fiery tempo and one that Joe English would then try to replicate when Wings got to Abbey Road to record in the studio. Why McCartney didn’t put Bonham’s version on the record remains unknown. Perhaps it was out of loyalty and he may have felt like it would have been insulting to his longtime Wings drummer if he chose to go with the Led Zep man’s quickly thrashed out demo version rather than English’s effort. However, surely even he would concede that Bonham was a one-of-a-kind drummer whose talent is impossible to clone.
The song was hidden away by McCartney for almost 40 years until 2014 when it featured on the Speed of Sound. When the track was finally released, McCartney reminisced on the session fondly, “It was fantastic,” he said. “Bonham was always on my top-five drummer list and a great friend and ballsy drummer.” In the next few years before Bonham’s tragic death in 1980, McCartney and the Led Zeppelin drummer would link up yet again which provides a stark insight into how much they enjoyed working on ‘Beware My Love’ together.
In 1978, Macca was keen to put his heaving phonebook to the test by forming one of the biggest supergroups of all time. He asked the likes of Bonham to join his ‘Rockestra’ alongside other all-star names such as his Led Zep bandmate John Paul Jones, The Who’s Pete Townshend, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, plus a host more. The elite of the music world joined McCartney at Abbey Road Studios to record two songs for the latest Wings record Back To The Eggand the amount of talent in one room has yet to be matched since. The two songs in question are the ‘Rockestra Theme’ and ‘So Glad To See You Here’ which would only ever be performed live once in 1979 at the Hammersmith Odeon.