"He got a lot of his style playing with Ringo, because Ringo’s a very basic drummer" - Denny Laine on Wings as a three-piece with Paul McCartney on drums

In a fascinating new Guitar World interview, guitarist Denny Laine has taken a look back at his Wings years, zeroing in on their breakthrough from 1973 and the shake-up that followed the abrupt departure of original drummer Denny Seiwell and lead guitarist Henry McCullough on the eve of the band's Lagos sessions for Band on the Run.

Paul just had that same approach to drumming [as Ringo]. It’s all about having a good feel and working with the vocal.

Denny Laine

Following a falling out between McCartney and McCullough during rehearsals for the sessions, Laine was "just as surprised as anyone when they didn’t turn up. I’ve been told that Paul had a talk with Henry the night before we went and he kind of decided he didn’t want to go."

Now, Wings was suddenly a three-piece but, recalls Laine of the band's sound, “It didn’t really change, except that before, we would have done the backing tracks as a band. Now it was me on acoustic guitar or keyboards and Paul on drums."

Denny Laine Wings 1973

Wings performing in May 1973, before the departure of guitarist Henry McCullough and drummer Denny Seiwell (left-right: Denny Laine, Henry McCullough, Paul McCartney and Denny Seiwell) (Image credit: Rolls Press/Popperfoto/Getty)

"We would put the track down that way where he could get the drum part first. That’s how it worked on that album, and I think that’s how we got the specific feel for Band on the Run

“Me and him had this kind of feel together musically. We slotted in well together... Paul’s got a good sense of rhythm, and he doesn’t overplay, which I like.”

Quizzed on McCartney's specific drumming style, Laine continues, “I think he got a lot of his style playing with Ringo, because Ringo’s a very basic drummer. He doesn’t overplay. He doesn’t try to show off and put in too many fills. 

"So Paul just had that same approach to drumming. It’s all about having a good feel and working with the vocal. 

"I remember on No Words (below), Paul forgot one of his drum entrances and came in a measure too late. But we left it in and kind of built the arrangement around that.” 

Laine, now 77, was speaking to Guitar World as he prepares for a Stories Behind the Songs tour that will range across his entire career, from the Moody Blues years (Laine was a co-founder), through Wings and on to his solo years.

For the full interview, head over to Guitar World.

Denny Laine Wings 1973

Denny Laine flouting health and safety regulations at home in 1973 (Image credit: Fin Costello / Getty)
Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.