For American Beatles fans, the 1976 Wings summer tour was a very big deal. The Paul McCartney-led band had played gigs throughout Europe in 1972 and 1973, but these were small-scale shows, sometimes staged with little advance warning. They opted to switch things up when they hit the road in late 1975 in support of Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound. They had a bunch of huge hits by this time and they decided it was time to headline arenas, and finally bring the show to America.
George Harrison had toured America in 1974, but he was far from top form and nobody was more disappointed by the end result than he was. Besides that brief outing, American Beatles fans hadn’t had a real chance to see one of their heroes live since the Beatles final tour in 1966, and even then it was a truncated set at a stadium with horrific sound. Concert technology had come a very long way since then, and McCartney was determined to make up for lost time with a sensational show.
One thing he didn’t want to do was turn the show into a Beatles nostalgia fest. The group had only been gone for six years, and he’d racked up a ton of his own hits by that point. Most shows featured 29 songs, and the only Beatles tunes were “Lady Madonna,” “The Long and Winding Road,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “Blackbird” and “Yesterday.” Most of them were packed into the middle of the set, insuring the set could climax with huge Wings numbers like “Band on the Run.”
Cameras were rolling at Seattle’s Kingdome on June 10th, 1976 for the concert film Rockshow. Here’s “Band on the Run” from that night.
Nobody knew it at the time, but the summer of 1976 was the only chance that American fans got to see Wings live. They toured the United Kingdom in 1979 and they planned to continue on to the rest of the world, but officials at New Tokyo Airport had different plans. They busted McCartney with 7.7 ounces of weed and threw him in jail 10 ten days. That was the end of Wings. He wouldn’t tour again until 1989, and by then Wings were a distant memory.