Paul McCartney: ‘I nearly gave up The Beatles in early ’60s’

Legend jokes that his stage fright almost got too much for him

Paul McCartney has jokingly revealed his stage fright was so bad in the 1960s he thought about quitting The Beatles.

Speaking tonight (November 25) in London at a preview screening of his new DVD, Good Evening New York City, the singer-songwriter explained he was so nervous before taking the stage in the band’s early period that he sometimes wondered if it was all worth it.

“They used to have a thing called the NME Poll Winners Party, where the owner of the NME would get us, the Stones, all the top acts, to come and perform for nothing! This was a couple of years into The Beatles’ career,” he said.

“So I remember being on the steps of Wembley Town Hall, literally getting ill with nerves, and thinking, ‘I’ve got to give this business up, this is no good’. It was quite nerve-wracking.”

He seems to have recovered fully from his nerves nowadays, though, saying: “I’m not so bad now. I know I’ve got a really good band, which helps. It’s nice at the end of the evening to take a bow and there’s just [five] of us. I used to feel sorry for Elvis in Vegas ’cause he used to have 50 people on stage with him and it didn’t sound any better than his early records, where there were three people.”

McCartney also explained that the band’s performances weren’t always well-received in their early days.

“We went to Stroud one day, and hardly anyone showed up, which wasn’t wonderful,” he said. “Then you used to have these Teddyboys, the louts, you know. They started throwing coins at us. So we ended up picking them up, [ended up] a couple of shillings richer!”

Talking about the recording of his new DVD, McCartney revealed that ‘Here Today’, written about late bandmate John Lennon, is always the most difficult to perform.

“That sometimes catches me out, it catches me out in this film version, where I realise I’m telling this man that I love him, and it’s like, ‘Oh my god’, like I’m publicly declaring it in front of all these people I don’t know! It’s like, ‘What am I doing?’ It’s a good thing to do, though.”

Later in the question and answer session, the Beatle said he’s always expecting to tire of the music business, but never does.

“You know, I keep expecting to get fed up, but I don’t, and I’m really glad I don’t,” he said. “The strange thing is it actually gets a bit more exciting, maybe because of this confidence, you start to think, ‘They really want to see me, maybe I can do this’.”

Then, asked by a journalist which song of his he would have liked John Lennon to perform, McCartney picked his 1970 song ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’, but admitted he would probably have a different answer if asked another time.

The Beatle is set to release his new DVD Good Evening New York City, featuring 33 songs recorded at New York City‘s Citi Field, on December 14.