15 Apr 2011 14:00:00.000
Former Wings guitarist Henry McCullough returned to The University of Nottingham more than 40 years after one of rock’s most surprising debut gigs.
Students on campus refused to believe that former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney and his new band Wings had turned up at the Students’ Union in an old van to play a gig in the early spring of 1972. But the lunchtime performance in the Portland Ballroom the following day has since gone down in rock and roll history.
Tonight at 7pm on the BBC’s One Show former students will remember lectures being cancelled and impromptu flyers advertising tickets for the gig at 40 pence. Word soon spread and it was a packed house that heard Wings play the Little Richard classics Lucille and Long Tall Sally and the controversial Wings debut single Give Ireland Back to the Irish.
Click here for full story
Sir Paul McCartney recalls the gig clearly: “I remember having 11 numbers to play and having to repeat a few, pretending they were special requests from the students. We decided we'd just go on the road with no plans; no hotels booked, no gigs booked a complete blank canvas. So we set off with the band, the family, the dogs, the babies - up the motorway.
“We headed north and saw a sign that said Ashby De La Zouch so we got off the motorway there and asked where the nearest Uni was. This became the idea that the only place we could maybe find a captive audience would be somewhere like a Uni, so we were directed to The University of Nottingham and that's how we found it.”
Former Nottingham students inundated the University’s Alumni Relations office when the gig was mentioned in their monthly e-newsletter. As a result independent TV production company Real Life Productions brought Henry back to the University to film Nottingham alumni who were at the gig for a BBC One Show programme which will be broadcast tonight, Friday 15 April 2011, at 7pm.
Henry was introduced by One Show presenter Carrie Grant to Nottingham alumni and audience members Jean Troy (Sociology 1974), Dudley George (Chemistry 1973) and Elaine Woodhams (Social Administration 1972) who organised the 1972 gig as social secretary of the Students’ Union at the time.
Elaine said: “I was in the bar with friends when a guy came into the bar claiming he was with Paul McCartney and they wanted to do a gig but initially I thought they were winding us up. But we went outside and parked in the front of Portland Building was van and when the door slid back there was Paul McCartney and I thought wow!
“Paul asked if they could play at lunchtime the next day but they didn’t want any publicity. I said I’d have to check with the Registrar but that we were definitely up for it. Word went round like wildfire. My recollection is that there were more than 800 people in the Portland Ballroom. It’s a great memory and I’m relieved we seized the opportunity rather than sent him away.”
The University’s Head of Alumni Relations, Claire Kilner, added: “Some of rock and pop’s major headliners have played at the University over the years but recalling this particular one has obviously brought memories flooding back for our alumni and no doubt it will be a big talking point at our May Fest reunion on 7 and 8 May.”
Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.
The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.
More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news
May Fest 2011 is on Saturday 7 May, 11am to 5.30pm, at The University of Nottingham.
The University is throwing open its doors to the community — with heaps of free activities for all ages. The Physics Buskers, thunder and lightning on demand and brain games. Get a glimpse of some of the amazing things that are happening on your doorstep. Visit: www.nottingham.ac.uk/mayfest
More information is available from Simon Heath-Harvey in the University’s Development Office on +44 (0)115 951 3690, email@example.com