Paul McCartney's Aussie Connections

Paul McCartney's Aussie Connections


He first visited our shores in 1964 with a little-known quartet from Liverpool called The Beatles, now one of rock’s greatest musicians is finally back Down Under more than half a century on. Sir Paul McCartney has arrived in Australia for his first Australian tour in 24 years, but there have been a number of Aussies who’ve played bit-parts in his career to date. Here are five Aussies (or Kiwis we’ve claimed as our own) who have spent time with the man behind the eternal tunes Hey Jude, Band On The Run and Eleanor Rigby.

Bryan Brown

Although he played a major hand in the storyline (or lack thereof) for The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour film of 1967, Paul McCartney made his official debut as a screen writer with 1984’s Give My Regards To Broad Street. Starring alongside Paul and fellow Beatle Ringo Starr was Bryan Brown, the Aussie who had gained fame with his appearance as a Boer War lieutenant in 1980’s award-winning Breaker Morant. Panned for its paper-thin plot about a musician misplacing his new recordings, Brown played Paul’s manager Steve. The film failed to recoup its $9 million budget, but it didn’t stop Brown and McCartney sharing some enjoyable experiences on set – the pair caught up backstage a decade later after one of Paul’s 1993 Sydney shows.

Steve Shrimpton

Bryan Brown’s Give My Regards To Broad Street’s manager character Steve was based on McCartney’s actual manager Stephen Shrimpton, who was born in Melbourne and began working for McCartney in 1974. Shrimpton became the managing director of MPL (McCartney Productions Limited) in 1980 after a number of years in the music industry, first with EMI in the ‘60s and then overseeing the management of Wings. Shrimpton reportedly brought “a breath of fresh Australian air to the Soho based company with his open, direct manner and language peppered with cricket phrases”. In 1986 he moved to a senior roles with Warner Music, becoming president of Warner Music International in 1995.

Eddie Rayner

The end of New Zealand’s plaintive pop experts Split Enz in 1984 led to frontman Neil Finn and drummer Paul Hester forming the band which would eventually become Crowded House. The release of Crowded House’s eponymous debut wasn’t the only high profile release featuring Split Enz graduates in August 1986, with keyboardist Eddie Rayner popping up on Paul McCartney’s solo album Press To Play in that same month. While the details of how Rayner was tapped on the shoulder to join in on the sessions aren’t easy to come by, it had been reported McCartney attended a Split Enz show in 1979 and was particularly a fan of their track Charley. Press To Play was one of McCartney’s less memorable albums, but Rayner has said of the experience “I was in the presence of greatness”. Fun fact: Rayner also played on the rather Enz-ish 1985 McCartney single Spies Like Us, which was taken from the Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd film of the same name. How’s that for a collision of pop culture greats?

Norman Gunston

Norman Gunston, a tenacious journalist character created by actor Garry McDonald in the ‘70s, regularly baffled international musicians with his interview style. Arriving in Oz for a Wings tour in 1975, Paul McCartney was a better sport and far less flummoxed than some of The Little Aussie Bleeder’s other celebrity victims, but appeared to enjoy the question “Was there any truth in the rumour that you were dead?”. Attempting to interview Wings during an Aussie press conference, watching the video more than 40 years later it’s Linda McCartney’s dubious impersonation of Yoko Ono which jars the most.

Julian Mendelsohn

A few years after Press To Play, another Antipodean popped up in the liner notes for a McCartney album. Moving to the UK after finishing schooling in Australia in the early ‘70s, Julian Mendelsohn’s impressive CV includes audio work with Kate Bush, Pet Shop Boys, Peter Gabriel, INXS and Simple Minds. Mendelsohn crossed paths with Macca when he was tapped to co-produced McCartney’s 1993 solo album Off The Ground. The Beatlesque samba sounds of the single Hope Of Deliverance went to number one in Australia and the album eventually hit gold sales, but Off The Ground as a whole has remained an under-appreciated release in McCartney’s canon. After working with McCartney, Mendelsohn moved back to Australia, where he now operates Melbourne’s MoreNoiz Audio Production.


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