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Paul McCartney closes the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

Sir Paul McCartney brought the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony to a close.

The music legend performed the closing lines of the Abbey Road song ‘The End’, before playing the 1968 classic ‘Hey Jude’.


McCartney performed ‘Hey Jude’ at a grand piano. He was accompanied by his band: Rusty Anderson (guitar), Brian Ray (bass guitar), Paul ‘Wix’ Wickens (keyboards) and Abe Laboriel Jr (drums). The Olympic athletes, volunteer ceremony performers and the stadium audience also sang along with the song’s ending.

Audio problems bedevilled the opening lines, with the audio from the live performance mixed with the delayed broadcast version, causing an unfortunate overlay.

The Olympic ceremony began at 9pm BST, and ended after midnight on 28 July. Directed by Danny Boyle, with musical direction by Underworld, it took place at the Olympic Stadium in east London.

The ceremony charted the development of Britain from pre-Industrial Revolution to the present day, and referenced the Suffragette movement, James Bond, Harry Potter, the National Health Service, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. ‘She Loves You’ was also among the many songs appearing in the soundtrack.

Musical contributions came from the London Symphony Orchestra, Evelyn Glennie, Mike Oldfield, Dizzee Rascal, Arctic Monkeys, Emeli Sandé, Alex Trimble of Two Door Cinema Club, and McCartney. Also appearing were Bradley Wiggins, Kenneth Branagh, JK Rowling, Tim Berners-Lee, David Beckham and Rowan Atkinson.


McCartney’s daughter Stella designed his stage clothes, along with the Team GB performance kit, podium suits and village wear. She tweeted a picture of the jacket cuffs that incorporated the Olympic rings logo.


A week before the ceremony, a video showed the band rehearsing for the performance. During their version of The Beatles’ ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ the sound cut out, a reference to the curfew at the end of his recent guest appearance at Bruce Springsteen’s concert in Hyde Park, London.

Unfortunately the Olympics organisers are refusing to allow any YouTube uploads of the actual opening ceremony.


Last updated: 11 July 2024
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