The opening date of Wings’ first tour took place at the University of Nottingham, England, on 9 February 1972.
Paul and Linda McCartney, their children Heather, Mary, and Stella, plus guitarists Denny Laine and Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell, were joined by two roadies – brothers-in-law Ian Horn and Trevor Jones. They travelled in a Ford Transit van rented from Avis, with a larger truck for their equipment.
On the day we left, I showed up at Cavendish [Avenue], leaving my wife, Monique, at home in bed. Then Paul goes, ‘Where’s Monique? She’s supposed to come along, too.’ It was going to be a real family thing.
Paul McCartney: The Biography, Philip Norman
Wings had few songs of their own and were under-rehearsed, but the tour was intended to road test the band with low-key, impromptu performances.
The aim was to perform at university towns and cities. Wings initially travelled to Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire, but discovered that there was no university in the small market town, so they headed back to the M1 motorway and drove on to Nottingham.
We went off on our little university tour, which was great. It was very ballsy to do, really, I couldn’t think of anything else. It didn’t feel ballsy at the time, it just felt like, well, what else do I do? We literally took off in a van up the M1, got to Ashby-de-la-Zouch, liked that name, ‘Great! Turn off here’. But there wasn’t a gig, there was just a little village and nothing else there. It was a signpost. Anyway we kept going until we got to Nottingham University, and then it suddenly hit, ‘Ah, that’s it – let’s do universities.’
The band arrived on the university campus at around 5pm on 8 February. Trevor Jones was sent off to check out the location, and spoke to the student union social secretary Elaine Woodhams.
Jones told Woodhams that Paul McCartney and his new band were waiting in the car park and wished to perform. A disbelieving Woodhams was taken to the band’s van and, after being introduced to McCartney, she agreed to put the band on the following night.
It was a big deal for them. But it was a bigger deal for us. It was, like, ‘This is it, the first fucking gig… let’s see what happens.
Man On The Run, Tom Doyle
News of the performance quickly spread through the campus. Tickets for the first show cost just 40 pence, which was split between each of the band members and the two roadies.
Two for you and two for you. We were like children. But it was all 50ps. You walked out of the university and your trousers were tripping you.
Man On The Run, Tom Doyle
Around 800 people witnessed the first Wings tour date. The band took to the stage at lunchtime in the campus’s Portland Building dinner hall, which doubled as a ballroom for events.
It was really great they were there to share it with us – we were extremely thankful that anyone showed up for us. It’s a great memory so it’s nice they can share that very nice off-the-wall experience with us. It must have been good fun. I can imagine it would have been great if I’d been at Uni and a band like us showed up. It must have also been nice to see Wings in their infancy! I think it was the first time we’d publicly played.
Alumni Exchange Magazine, Nottingham University
- ‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’
- ‘Give Ireland Back to the Irish’
- ‘Help Me Darling’
- ‘Thank You Darling’
- ‘Wild Life’
- ‘Bip Bop’
- ‘Shuffle Blues’
- ‘The Mess’
- ‘My Love’
- ‘Long Tall Sally’
The Wings University Tour took place in the UK over eleven days in February 1972, and visited Nottingham (9 February), York (10), Hull (11), Newcastle upon Tyne (13), Lancaster (14), Leeds (16), Sheffield (17), Salford (18), Birmingham (21), Swansea (22), and Oxford (23).
Also on this day...
- 2012: Paul McCartney’s star unveiled on Hollywood Walk of Fame
- 1993: US album release: Off The Ground by Paul McCartney
- 1970: Recording: Whispering Grass, Have I Told You Lately That I Love You by Ringo Starr
- 1967: Recording: Fixing A Hole
- 1964: The Beatles’ first Ed Sullivan Show
- 1963: Live: Empire Theatre, Sunderland
- 1962: Live: Technical College Hall, Birkenhead
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (evening)
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
- 1961: Live: The Beatles’ first Cavern Club show
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.