During a recent interview made by PaulMcCartney.com editors, The Beatles bassist Paul McCartney has revealed the untold story of his very special performance with Professor Longhair.
He also revealed that why Professor Longhair was invited to play. Here’s the story:
“He had this great style, this kind of rolling piano style. And he was singing this song called ‘Tipitina’, which is like one of his hits. He’s got this very interesting vocal sound, it was almost like a yodel. A funny little break in his voice… [Impersonates Professor Longhair singing ‘Tipitina’]. That’s a very bad impression of it… “
“So you saw him play live?”
“Yeah, we saw him live. We had been down to a club to see him. It was like, ‘Wow, great! Cool guy!’ So we just loved him and we invited him around the studio …because I was ripping him off! I just loved the style so much that I composed something called ‘My Carnival’ and it’s got the same riff, basically, that he plays… I just couldn’t play it as well!
But it’s the bass line definitely (sings Professor Longhair-style bass line). It was very similar. So I thought, well I can’t just rip him off and have him find out about it and think, ‘Oh, he’s just ripped me off!
So I’ll invite him to the session and be honest about it!’ So I did and said: ‘Hey listen, you’ve totally influenced me, but I’ve done this song’. And one of the nice things about where we were recording was Sea-Saint Studios, which was with Marshall Sehorn and Allen Toussaint who were partners in that studio.
So they knew all the New Orleans guys, like Ernie K. Doe. People who we knew who had hits and they would come down to the studio too. So you’d rope them in on the track and it would turn into a bit of a party. So, that’s where we knew him from, Professor Longhair.”
“When we finished ‘Venus and Mars’, even though the album didn’t have a “New Orleans sound”, the flavour of us being there for so long is in there. For me, when I think of the album, I think of New Orleans.
So, we were going to have a launch party and I was looking around for something interesting, something exciting for us to do. And I heard that the Queen Mary – the old, original Queen Mary – was now in Long Beach, which is just outside LA. And it was now some kind of a hotel thing and was available for functions. You could hire it, you could hire the big ballroom.
So we think, ‘Oh, well that’s perfect! We should do that and we should have a guest-list with all the LA celebs and people like this’. Which meant it was a pretty cool guest-list! So we’re thinking, ‘Oh, who’s going to entertain? Well, our favourites are currently The Meters and Professor Longhair.’
So we asked The Meters if they would back him and if he was happy to play with them. And everyone was happy. So that’s what we did: we booked them for the party! And then we thought, ‘Well, this an opportunity not to be missed. We should record it ‘cause they’re such favourite artists of ours!’ So again, we asked if they minded being recorded, which they didn’t, they were very happy to do that. And so we got this record out of it, which was very exciting.”
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