‘Ode To A Koala Bear’ was the b-side of the ‘Say Say Say’ single, released by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.

Although issued with the Jackson duet, ‘Ode To A Koala Bear’ is a solo McCartney production. It was recorded in December 1980 during the Tug Of War, and completed the following year.

The basic track was recorded on 8 December, the day that John Lennon was murdered in New York City.

That day was another regular session day. I think I was booked from 2pm – 5 or 6pm but as always with the possibility the session would go on a bit later, and as it was for Paul, you made yourself available, of course.

We put the track down with Paul playing piano, me on kit. We left the studio that evening at about 9pm, so I think that meant 4pm New York time. It was the same day John was killed. So, it may be a touch gruesome, but this track, which Paul told me was about one of his kids’ toys, who were also there with Linda, was the last track Paul recorded while John was still alive. I know this is weird stuff, but I grew up loving The Beatles, and not only was it a great thrill for me to work with Paul, but it was such a shock to see him the following day in the same clothes he had been wearing the previous day talking to the press about John’s murder.

Paul Robinson, drummer
Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas (1970-1989), Luca Perasi

The release

‘Say Say Say’ was released on 3 October 1983 as the lead single from Pipes Of Peace, with ‘Ode To A Koala Bear’ on the b-side.

The single topped the singles charts in Canada, Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the USA, and became a top ten hit in Australia, Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, and the UK.

It was McCartney’s best-selling single of the 1980s, and his final US number one. In December 1983 the RIAA certified ‘Say Say Say’ gold, representing sales of 1,000,000 copies.

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