Music

Mull of Kintyre at 40 – Paul McCartney speaks exclusively to The Big Issue

To mark the 40th anniversary of Paul McCartney and Wings' Mull of Kintyre becoming an epically big Christmas number one, we hear from the Beatle himself

November 1977: British rock stars Denny Laine, Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney with the Cambelton pipe band during the filming of the promotional video for the Wings song 'Mull of Kintyre'. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Four decades since Paul McCartney and Wings’ Mull of Kintyre became the biggest Christmas number one of all time, The Big Issue has travelled the long and winding road in search of the humble and heartwarming true story behind the song – and received a special message from the Beatle himself along the way.

We also reunited some of the members of the Campbeltown Pipe Band on Kintyre’s Saddell Bay Beach for the first time in 40 years to play their pipes again on the same sands where the iconic Mull of Kintyre video was made, as well as chatting to the song’s co-author Denny Laine.

You can read about it all in the special bumper Christmas edition of The Big Issue, on the streets from Monday, December 18.

It was a great experience recording it with the local pipe band… I still love it and it’s a very special song for me

“I wrote the song when I realised there were no new Scottish songs being written,” says McCartney. “It was a great experience recording it with the local pipe band and really exciting to see the amazing success it had in the charts at the time, so those memories mean I still love it and it’s a very special song for me.”

Mull of Kintyre was written and recorded on Macca’s High Park Farm in the hills above Campbeltown in the summer of 1977. It storied his love of the area where he had spent many happy times with his wife Linda and family since the break-up of The Beatles, and it would in many ways help put Kintyre on the map.

Embellished by the stirring sound of the Campbeltown Pipe Band, Mull of Kintyre went on to spend nine weeks atop the singles chart in the UK, and shift an estimated 9 million copies worldwide, making it not just the biggest-selling non-charity Christmas number one of all time, but one of the biggest-selling singles in music history.

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Campbeltown Pipe Band members Ian McKerral, Tommy Blue and John Brown were all either just 16 or 17 years old when they played on the song and starred in the video, and have many happy memories of working with McCartney and co on his farm, and later travelling down to London for TV appearances on Top of the Pops and the Mike Yarwood Christmas Show.

“At the time we didnae really realise how big it was gonnae be, I don’t think anybody did,” remembers McKerral.

“It felt as if the whole town was at number one,” recalls Brown.

The Big Issue Christmas special is on sale from Monday, December 18. Don’t have a vendor nearby? Then buy your copy of our award-winning magazine at The Big Issue Shop.

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