Saturday 26 May 2007

Paul McCartney and Frank Bellamy


I tripped over some new information about "Suzy and the Red Stripes" and thought I'd look again at this article to improve it somewhat as I started it in 2007 (updated 10 years later)!

Bill Storie writes:
"I was told by Terry Jones (when I was researching Bert Fegg's book) that he himself had been told the "Wings" illustration [as I've labelled it] for Paul McCartney was originally commissioned for the cover of a solo album by Paul's wife Linda under the project title of "Linda and the Red Stripes". Terry himself didn't know if that was 100% true though and MPL publishing never replied to me on the subject but maybe someone else out there on the net might know?" Below are the comments on this story Bill wrote back in 1992 for his fan publication dedicated to Frank: Gopherville Argus

Bill Storie and Terry Doyle produced
Gopherville Argus in 1992 (Taken from Issue 1)
  • Paul McCartney takes two years to pluck up the courage to commission Frank Bellamy
  • It's for a record sleeve
  • Frank drew the rough
  • Meeting arranged in London
  • Frank died in July 1976


Gopherville Argus 1992 (Taken from Issue 2)

  • A bit more certainty it was for Linda's solo persona "Suzy and the Red Stripes"

This interesting article Seaside Woman by Suzy and the Red Stripes explains:
"Paul called the group Suzy (Linda) and the Red Stripes (Wings) and they signed with Epic under that name. The name Red Stripes is from one of Paul and Linda's favorite drinks."

Linda's Pictures 1976

I put out another call to the Internet via Facebook and received this from Tony Smith, the reporter who most wrote about Frank during his lifetime:

I also wrote to Paul [McCartney] not long after Frank's death, but received no reply. When I interviewed Frank early in 1976, he told me Macca and Linda called at his home entirely unannounced a few weeks earlier. He showed me a photographic book written by Linda and signed by them both, which they gave him, and I understand they wanted him to do the artwork for a forthcoming Wings album.
I'm guessing the present was Linda's pictures: a collection of photographs / photographs and words by Linda McCartney London: Cape, 1976.

  • So now we also know this encounter was likely to be the beginning of 1976

Which set me looking for any other information and I remembered this interview with Nancy Bellamy. On 9 July 1992 Nancy and Howard Corn (who was the Editor of the Eagle Times and lifelong champion of Eagle, who passed away in 2016) were interviewed on the radio programme  Turning Back the Years with Arnold Peters

AP: And of course through Frank’s work and his… for so many different people… it was largely the Eagle but also lots of other people you had strange phone calls some times, didn’t you?
NB: Well..
AP: The phone rang and you answered… go on, tell us.
NB: Yes, well one, I think it was a Saturday morning, the phone.. I used to answer the phone for Frank because it sort of helped him, it didn’t disturb him drawing, and this voice said ‘Can I speak to Frank Bellamy?’ and I said ‘Yes, who’s calling?’ and the voice on the other end said ‘Paul McCartney’ and I think my eyes must have widened very much but anyway I went to get Frank and sort of whispered to him ‘Paul McCartney’s on the phone for you’. So anyway the outcome of that was he went up to London to meet Paul and Linda McCartney and he said they were very very nice people and they wanted him to do a rough for a design for a sleeve for a record that they were producing.
AP: Just like that?
NB: Yes, just like that.

So here we learn

  • Phone call initiated process
  • Saturday morning?
  • London meeting happened
  •  Rough required for record sleeve

Lastly Russell  Jenkins - Frank's nephew - mentioned:

I seem to remember Franks’ meeting Paul and Linda being several years before Frank died [1976] and before the move to Geddington [1975] . I asked him what he had drawn for them and he said it was a woman coming out of the sea. So, “Seaside Woman” makes sense.  Maybe the artwork was never used because of Franks’ death?

  • The artwork was of a woman coming out of the sea

Wikipedia tells us that:

In 1977 the reggae-inspired single "Seaside Woman" was released by an obscure band called Suzy and the Red Stripes on Epic Records in the United States. Suzy and the Red Stripes were Wings, with Linda (who wrote the song) on lead vocals.The song, recorded by Wings in 1972, was written in response to allegations from Paul's publisher that Linda's co-writing credits were inauthentic and that she was not a real songwriter. 

"Seaside Woman" was first recorded 27 November 1972 at Air studios, London. later in 1973 further work was carried out at E.M.I.'s Boulogne-Billancourt Studios near Paris, and on 26 November at the Pathe-Marconi studios, Paris. An album was planned but never appeared at the time, however the single "Seaside Woman" (A-side) and the wittily titled B side "B-Side to Seaside" was released eventually in America on 31 May 1977 and reached number 59 in the Billboard charts.

Oscar Grillo created an animated short for the song in 1980, a year after it's first official release, and it went on to win the Cannes Film Festival’s "Short Film Palme d’Or.”

 There's more information on The Paul McCartney Project website on "Seaside Woman" and Linda's explanation for the name "Suzy and the Red Stripes" appears in "Band on the Run" by Barry McGee, (NY: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2003) where she says:

"When we were in Jamaica, there had been a fantastic version of "Susie Q", so they used to call me Suzy. And the beer in Jamaica is called Red Stripe, so that makes it Suzy and the Red Stripes" (p.225)

I've checked through all those items of artwork I have access to and still not found one of a anything that's likely to be this, so I would love to see the draft artwork. If anyone wants to suggest how Paul might communicate with me, or me with him - after a few attempts already - I'd be so grateful

~Norman Boyd

(Thanks to Bill Storie and Terry Doyle for dating the interview in Goperville Argus #2 Aug 1992, p.2) and Tony Smith for a better date, and for the wonderful websites such as The Paul McCartney Project

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