The 1973 Paul McCartney TV Special is not only the most ’70s thing you’ll ever see, it’s a fascinating snapshot of a post-Beatles McCartney

Images from Paul McCartney's 1973 special
(Image credit: YouTube/Getty)

16 April, 1973, saw the broadcast of Paul McCartney's television special, James Paul McCartney, on the ABC network in the US (and later in the UK, on 10 May). The show was a weird hotpotch of staged segments, live shows, promo videos and documentary footage. Savaged by critics at the time – ”McCartney has neither the personality nor the all-round versatility to carry such an hour-long program,” said one – today it stands as an interesting document of where McCartney was at, just three short years after the dissolution of The Beatles

The Beatles split had sent McCartney into a fit of depression. Many of his contemporaries hadn’t made it out of the 60s: Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Beatles manager Brian Epstein, and Stuart Sutcliffe – the Beatles’ original bass player and the man who lent McCartney his bass when Paul considered taking over his spot – were all dead. Rock’n’roll excess, a burgeoning drug scene, and the stresses of fame had taken a heavy toll. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Tom Poak has written for the Hull Daily Mail, Esquire, The Big Issue, Total Guitar, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and more. In a writing career that has spanned decades, he has interviewed Brian May, Brian Cant, and cadged a light off Brian Molko. He has stood on a glacier with Thunder, in a forest by a fjord with Ozzy and Slash, and on the roof of the Houses of Parliament with Thin Lizzy's Scott Gorham (until some nice men with guns came and told them to get down). He has drank with Shane MacGowan, mortally offended Lightning Seed Ian Broudie and been asked if he was homeless by Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch.