(This blog was also published in the Huffington Post)
I have only encountered Paul McCartney twice very very briefly.
Once was when he appeared on Channel 4’s The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross. I did not handle the music on the show and we barely chatted, but he seemed very accessible and extremely amiable.
The second time was when comedian Charlie Chuck and I drove to Brighton where Paul McCartney was throwing a Christmas party at the Dome for the staff of his MPL company and Charlie was performing. For some reason, we could not find the entrance to the Dome and Charlie said, “We’ll ask the next person we see in the street.”
We stopped beside someone – a pair of legs – in a side street, I rolled down the window, asked, “Could you help us…?” and, surreally, Paul McCartney’s face came down and looked through the window. He had been ambling along to his party at the Dome on foot, alone, untroubled by anyone, untroubled by ego.
I have never heard anything but good things about him which was why I was surprised this week to hear someone I know, with connections in the music business, say to me:
“I never liked Paul McCartney.”
“Why?” I asked my chum.
“No reason at all,” came the reply. “Never liked him. Never heard anything bad about him, but never liked him.”
He then told me this story.
I cannot guarantee it is a true story. But it is an interesting story.
My chum has a friend in the music business who was a friend of the late rock icon Ian Dury.
Paul McCartney and Ian Dury had never met but, it seems, McCartney was a big admirer of Dury’s work.
Two or three months before Ian Dury died, he got a phone call. The voice on the other end of the phone said:
“Hello, Ian, it’s Paul McCartney.”
Ian Dury’s reaction was along the lines of: “Yeah. Fuck off. Good one. It’s a pretty good imitation.”
The conversation went on for a bit, but Ian Dury never believed it was the real Paul McCartney.
A few days later, though, there was a knock on his door – it might have been a ring – and, sure enough, Paul McCartney is standing there
At this point, Ian Dury is very ill with the bowel cancer which will kill him in just a few weeks time.
Paul McCartney comes in, the two of them have a very pleasant conversation and Paul hands Ian a sheet of paper, saying: “I wanted to give you this list. These are consultants and therapists who helped Linda towards the end and made her life much much better. They may be able to help you too.”
Ian said something appreciative but, in passing, mumbled something about the cost.
“Oh, that’s no problem,” Paul McCartney told him: “They get paid by vouchers.”
When he left, he handed Ian Dury an envelope saying:
“These are some vouchers.”
After he had gone, Ian Dury opened the envelope.
Inside was a cheque for half a million pounds.
A few weeks later, he received another half million pounds.
I have no idea if this story is true or not. But it comes from someone who knew Ian Dury well, so I suspect it is.
My chum told me:
“I didn’t used to like Paul McCartney. No reason. I just didn’t like him. Now I do. I respect him a lot.”
Here he is on The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross: