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Wings Beat The Odds To Conquer US With ‘Band On The Run’

Paul McCartney’s band endured all manner of challenges in the making of Band On The Run, making its arrival atop the American chart all the sweeter.

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Paul McCartney had already enjoyed a decade of American chart-toppers, as a Beatle, with wife Linda and with Wings, when the band climbed to No. 1 there with Band On The Run on 13 April 1974. But the extremely trying circumstances behind the making of the LP — with last-minute personnel changes, technical difficulties, theft, illness and more — made the result all the sweeter.

With the unexpected departure of both Henry McCullough and Denny Seiwell just before recording was due to commence, Wings were down to the three-piece core of Paul, Linda and Denny Laine when they set about making the album in Lagos, Nigeria. They survived studio snafus, a robbery at knifepoint and any number of other challenges to make what would become, for many, the high point of the entire Wings catalogue.

Band On The Run entered the US chart just before Christmas 1973, and was propelled not just by approving reviews, but by the huge success of the ‘Jet’ single. Then came the release — by popular demand, as the press advertising said — of the title track. With its five-minute duration and tempo changes, it was perhaps an unlikely contender to be a 45, but radio stations lapped it up, and so did consumers. The single topped the Hot 100 and sold a million copies in America alone.

The album’s chart debut was at a relatively lowly No. 33, but it continued to build during the opening months of 1974. On 13 April, with the title song newly unveiled as a single, Band On The Run took over from John Denver’s Greatest Hits as America’s favourite album. It spent four non-consecutive weeks at the summit, and went on to amass more than two years — 116 weeks — on the bestsellers, by far the longest run of any post-Beatles McCartney recording.

Purchase Band On The Run here.

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