In 1978, Paul McCartney was looking for a new Wings axeman to fill the spot vacated by Jimmy McCulloch, who had left the group to join a revamped lineup of the Small Faces. "Do you know any good guitar players?" McCartney asked his longtime bandmate Denny Laine, who answered, "It just so happens that I do."
Laine's recommendation was British session guitarist Laurence Juber, whose versatile, elegant playing rounded out the Wings sound from '78 until the group's end in 1981. Juber, who has called Los Angeles his home for the past three decades, embarked on a successful second career as a studio musician and has released almost two dozen solo releases. But in the recently released book, Guitar With Wings: A Photographic Memoir, he looks back on his days working with an ex-Beatles in one of the '70s biggest bands.
The 250-page book (co-authored by Marshall Terrill and featuring a foreword by Denny Laine) contains over 200 previously unpublished photos, and for Juber, the year-long process of assembling the material was often filled with surprises. "I didn’t even know I had all of these photos," he says. "Some of them were on film rolls – they weren’t even on contact sheets. So it was nice to uncover it all and look at them and go, ‘Ah! I remember that…’”
Guitar With Wings: A Photographic Memoir can be purchased at Dalton Watson Fine Books and Guitar With Wings. In the following interview, Juber talks about his time with Paul McCartney and Wings, and on the pages that follows, he discusses a selection of the photos from the book.
Was Wings a happy group? Did it function well?
“It did function well, really, because it was like a family. Well, it was a family – you had a very happily married couple, Paul and Linda. There were some issues… Denny was an integral member and was in Wings throughout. A certain amount of tension developed because Denny’s wife, Jo Jo, and the McCartneys didn’t get along that well. But the band itself didn’t have issues. It was a really productive experience.”
Did Paul ever talk about some of the things that went wrong with The Beatles – stuff he wanted to avoid with Wings?
“He didn’t typically talk about The Beatles that much. Once in a while, he’d say something like, ‘In my old band…’ He’d make passing comments. He’d mention The Beatles if something was going on, if Yoko had said something in the press or there was a point of business – then he’d have a reaction. The Beatles weren’t really front and center, by any means.”
The Beatles had a bit of one-upmanship in the studio – sometimes Paul even played guitar parts that some people initially attributed to George. Was there ever any of that in Wings? Any battles over who would play which parts?
“Once in a while. With the song Getting Closer, Paul really wanted to play a rhythm guitar part on that, so he did. But there were plenty of times when it was wide open for me to make the contribution I wanted to make. Sometimes when we were jamming, Paul would play something and I would emulate it or add to it – we’d get in a bit of a cutting contest, as it were. But it was a very reasonable and productive creative relationship.”