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2003-Apr-07: More from the Barcelona Interview

Today's Mirror continues Brian Reade's interview with Sir Paul in Barcelona (see April 5).  Sir Paul still fights tears when he recalls the loss of his friend, George Harrison:
"It was different from my mum's and John's and Linda's because theirs were sudden and we knew George had been very ill for a while. But it was very, very sad because I loved him so much.  I'd just been through cancer with Linda and here I was going through it all over again with a mate of 50 years. He wasn't my immediate family but he almost was. He'd always felt like my little brother. (Sir Paul takes a deep breath and looks into the distance) What a lovely boy!

"The last time I met him, he was very sick and I held his hand for four hours. As I was doing it I was thinking, 'I've never held his hand before, ever. This is not what two Liverpool fellas do, no matter how well you know each other'. I kept thinking, 'He's going to smack me here'. But he didn't. He just stroked my hand with his thumb and I thought 'Ah, this is OK, this is life. It's tough but it's lovely. That's how it is'.

"I knew George before I knew any of the others and I loved that man. I'm so proud to have known him.  Still, as sad as it was, you take the great bit, which was that last time you saw him, and that's what you remember. That and all the other lovely memories."

Do Sir Paul and Ringo ever talk about who will be next?
"It's not worth thinking about, is it? When your number's up, it's up. So live your life. I don't worry too much about it. I was walking down the street in London the other day and some guy said 'Eh, Paul! No, no, you shouldn't be doing this. I don't like this. Where's your minder?' He was telling me off like he was my dad.

"But I enjoy life, I always have. I go to the pictures on my own, get on buses, even in New York. People are always going on at me for using the London Underground. But I use it all the time. I just wander off.

"I prefer to live life the way it should be and not worry too much because when the great man upstairs wants you, he'll have you."

As a young man, did he ever think he'd be touring at 60?
"When I was a kid in The Beatles, I didn't think I'd be doing this at 30! Back then nobody really lasted past their 20s. If you'd have said to me back then that I'd be playing for the Queen in her garden when I was 60, I might have laughed at you. But I did and I'm here still doing it and I don't feel too bad. As long as people are so interested they want to pay to see you, then it's cool."
How old does he feel?
"I don't feel any age, I never have. Those 30, 40, 50, 60 landmark birthdays never meant anything to me. I treat them all the same and it seems to work out like that. Life is really good right now, so why worry about things?

"When I was with Wings I used to worry about the shadow of The Beatles. So I wouldn't do any of their songs. Now I don't care. I just look at my whole career and choose anything I fancy doing. Which is why I'm doing 23 Beatles songs every night. It's great for everyone."

How did he feel about the negative criticism Wings often received?
"I've learned that if you try something different, you are going to get knocked. If I had just carried on doing my Beatles stuff maybe I wouldn't have got knocked. But I wanted to see if I could do something different.

"It was hard at first with Wings, because we were a bit rough. But there was a time when The Beatles weren't very good. The difference was we were being bad in private, whereas Wings were being it in public.  It's what happens when you take risks. I like taking risks. Half the time I don't know why I'm doing it. But I know that if The Beatles hadn't taken risks there would have been no Sergeant Pepper."

Is he proud of being the highest earning performer of all time?
"When I read about things like that I think, that's not me. Heather said to me this morning, 'I don't think of you as rich, you know.' And I said, 'I don't either.' But I am. And the best thing about it is being able to help friends and relatives with health problems.

"We just had a friend of Heather's who was stuck in an NHS hospital. She was going to be in over Christmas and I said 'Get her private'. They did the operation that night and she was home for Christmas. It sounds a bit goody-goody but that's the real buzz I get out of money."

So his fortune doesn't embarrass him?
"Not at all. When I left school I set out to get a job and earn good money if I could. I'm no different from anyone else. Some people think making all this money is uncool. I don't. I'm trying to do what I do to the very best of my ability. I'm not embarrassed if that means I earn loads."
How does this tour compare with his last live concert with The Beatles?
"At the end with The Beatles we couldn't hear ourselves with all the screaming. Our sound was going through little amps and baseball speakers in these huge stadiums and it was just a joke. So we just took the Mickey. John would be totally pissing about on the piano, whacking his arm up and down the keyboard and we were in hysterics. NOW we've got these gigantic speakers so no matter how loud they scream, we're going to win."
Sir Paul is returning to Britain during a time when the country is at war in Iraq:
"We're here to lift people's spirits. We're musicians, not politicians. I'd prefer peace to war and I agree with those people who went on the marches, because there was no second resolution.  But it is a complex issue and it's happening now. So I'm not going to say that our boys shouldn't be in there when they're laying their lives on the line. I've got relatives out there so I'm not going to say anything that would lower their morale. But yes, peace would definitely be preferable."

(kindly submitted by PLUGGED correspondent Joan M. Hopkins)


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