The album was a mix of new songs, Beatles rejects and ad-libbed offcuts, recorded in the studio and at McCartney’s home. It was swiftly assembled, released to coincide with The Beatles’ break-up, and divided fans and critics alike.
The release of McCartney was subject to much wrangling and disagreement within Apple. Neil Aspinall initially asked McCartney if the album could be delayed for a week, to allow Ringo Starr’s debut Sentimental Journey more time in the spotlight. McCartney agreed to this, but was dismayed to find that Allen Klein had already postponed his album’s release. A furious McCartney telephoned George Harrison to reinstate the original release date of 17 April, and sent a confirmation telegram to the other Beatles, Klein and Aspinall.
The Beatles’ Let It Be album was also complete, and the rest of the band were keen for it to be released ahead of the film of the same name. John Lennon informed EMI of Apple’s decision to delay the McCartney album, writing that “We have arrived at the conclusion that it would not be in the best interests of this company for the record to be released on that date.”
Harrison then wrote to McCartney, marking the envelope ‘From us, to you’ and leaving it at Apple for a messenger to deliver. However, Starr offered to take it to Cavendish Avenue, McCartney’s north London home. Harrison’s letter read:
Dear Paul, We thought a lot about yours and the Beatles LPs – and decided it’s stupid for Apple to put out two big albums within 7 days of each other (also there’s Ringo’s and Hey Jude) – so we sent a letter to EMI telling them to hold your release til June 4th (there’s a big Apple-Capitol convention in Hawaii then). We thought you’d come round when you realized that the Beatles album was coming out on April 24th. We’re sorry it turned out like this – it’s nothing personal. Love John George. Hare Krishna. A Mantra a Day Keeps MAYA! Away.
McCartney was furious, but continued with his plan to release the album on schedule. He announced the formation of his own company, McCartney Productions Ltd, on 7 April 1970. Its first projects would be the McCartney album and an animation based on the character Rupert Bear.
McCartney spent three weeks at number one in the United States, and was eventually certified double platinum. It fared slightly less well in the United Kingdom, being held off the top spot by Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.
There were no singles taken from McCartney in 1970, although a short film was made for ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ using Linda McCartney’s photographs. A live version of the song was issued belatedly in 1977. It reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, following its inclusion on the 1976 album Wings Over America.
Also on this day...
- 1969: Recording, mixing: I Want You (She’s So Heavy), Oh! Darling
- 1967: Recording, mixing: Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise), Only A Northern Song
- 1966: Recording, mixing: And Your Bird Can Sing, Taxman
- 1965: Filming: Help!
- 1964: Mixing: A Hard Day’s Night
- 1964: Filming: Paul McCartney’s unused scene in A Hard Day’s Night
- 1963: Live: Mersey View Pleasure Grounds, Frodsham
- 1961: Live: Top Ten Club, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.