Joe English – Making Music with Paul McCartney

Scott K Fish

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SKF NOTE: Here’s the back story on my interviews with Joe English which began in 1980 and concluded years later. During his music career Joe played with some excellent bands — including his own. But he is perhaps best known for the music he made playing drums with Paul McCartney and Wings.

I’ve isolated from the full interviews Joe’s comments about his time with Paul McCartney. From his audition until Joe chose to leave the band and move back permanently to the United States.

Mostly this Q&A is verbatim. In a few brief spots our conversation veered away from McCartney and Wings. For clarity I’ve edited out those sidetracked moments.

Finally, I decided to post Joe’s recollections in two parts
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Joe English: No audition. Tony Dorsey met me in Nashville. He was with McCartney at Allen Toussaint's studio, Sea-Saint. He said, "Man, I want you to have this gig."

I said, "Tony, I don't know the material." And then I went right into a recording situation -- which I hadn't hardly been doing any of.

Tony said, "Don't worry. You just watch me." He was the arranger and was sort of directing the date. He stood in front of the drum booth and gave me every cue: when to stop, when to hit accents.

Scott K Fish: There were no [drum] charts?

JE: I didn't read. We went ahead and did it and I guess my concept of playing was different. McCartney liked it and it jelled. So we went to New Orleans, and then to Los Angeles, to mix the album at Wally Heider [Studios]. And McCartney asked me to join the band.

That didn't take much thought. I said, "Yes sir. I'll take the job."

I eventually had an apartment over in London. I was going back-and-forth, spending some time over there and some time at home.

When I moved to England we started to get into some heavy recording. The on-the-scene experience and the skill I got in recording with McCartney -- hour upon hour, into the early morning, working at the board with him, recording and learning recording techniques -- that was really fun. I couldn't have asked for a better guy to work with for learning what songs are about, and learning what recording in the studio is about.

Full post https://scottkfish.com/2020/05/20/joe-english-making-music-with-paul-mccartney/
 

Nacci

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Scott, though I do appreciate your posts, they almost always leave me with more questions than answers.

So McCartney is going off on his own, forming the band Wings, he is a drummer in his own right, arguably one of the most famous people on earth and could have his pick of the drumming liter.

Who is Tony Dorsey? Why is he in Nashville talking with English? English, as far as I can tell is some guy from Syracuse who moved to Macon Georgia to live in a house owned by the Allman Brothers then ends up playing and hanging out with Jamoie. How did Dorsey hear about him? Where is the audition? English himself says he doesn’t know the material, can’t read music, has “hardly” any experience in the Studio but takes the job and is ferried to England to immediately begin recording with McCartney.

There are a lot of holes in this narrative unless I and missing something.
 

Nacci

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Somewhat more enlightening. So Dorsey is a trombonist and arranger and he is working with Wings. He knows Jamoie and English knows Jamoie. McCartney is firing his drummer and this is how the stars align for a dirt poor drummer that can’t read music and has very little recording experience to get the gig of a lifetime.
 

MrDrums2112

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Right place, right time. Just because he was dirt poor and didn’t read doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good drummer or had the feel and style McCartney was looking for at that time.
 

Nacci

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Right place, right time. Just because he was dirt poor and didn’t read doesn’t mean he wasn’t a good drummer or had the feel and style McCartney was looking for at that time.
No, it certainly doesn’t. What it does mean is that he was one lucky man, outside of the sphere of what could be called likely candidates and that he got the throne that a lot of top guys would have loved to have.

..... and, where is the part in the actual audition for McCartney?
 
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equipmentdork

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My band covers "Listen To What The Man Said", and Joe's track is a perfect example of when to play and when not to play. It works so well and I play it as close as I can. Lay back, sit in the pocket, and have fun.



Dan
 

tillerva

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I presume he’s the drummer on Silly Love Songs. I presume a lot of people don’t like the song but I absolutely love it. I never thought that much of the drumming on it until I listened to it through headphones-WOW. Absolutely incredible drumming.
 

Ptrick

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I love his playing on the live video “Rockshow”.
 

drumstuff66

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I presume he’s the drummer on Silly Love Songs. I presume a lot of people don’t like the song but I absolutely love it. I never thought that much of the drumming on it until I listened to it through headphones-WOW. Absolutely incredible drumming.
I like the song and the drumming - I like a lot of Wings' songs and Joe English's drumming on them....spent some time in a tribute band playing them. But the sounds and production? Idk...
 

tillerva

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My faith in humanity is restored! I actually love the production of that era of music. Everything sounds so tight.
 
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Scott K Fish

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Scott, though I do appreciate your posts, they almost always leave me with more questions than answers.

So McCartney is going off on his own, forming the band Wings, he is a drummer in his own right, arguably one of the most famous people on earth and could have his pick of the drumming liter.

Who is Tony Dorsey? Why is he in Nashville talking with English? English, as far as I can tell is some guy from Syracuse who moved to Macon Georgia to live in a house owned by the Allman Brothers then ends up playing and hanging out with Jamoie. How did Dorsey hear about him? Where is the audition? English himself says he doesn’t know the material, can’t read music, has “hardly” any experience in the Studio but takes the job and is ferried to England to immediately begin recording with McCartney.

There are a lot of holes in this narrative unless I and missing something.
Joe English's comments in this excerpt begin after I asked about his getting the McCartney gig, "Was it an audition?" That said, you raise a good point about Tony Dorsey - and I thank the others on this thread you filled in the blank. I didn't know who Tony Dorsey was, and I didn't want to interrupt Joe to ask. That sort of thing happens during interviews. I figured I could find out later about Dorsey. Or maybe Joe would have clarified if I let him talk.

I should have tracked down info on Tony Dorsey and provided a link to it in this post. I will do so. I normally do that to make reading easier.

Finally, I did open my post intro with a link to the Joe English interview back story. It would be too time consuming for me to replay all the info covered in that interview. I assume people reading this post will either know Joe English or, if not, will be motivated enough to do some homework.

That said, you remind me I can do a better job clarifying. Thank you for that.

Best, skf
 

Fat Drummer

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Joe and I had an interesting intertwined life for about 10 years together. While calling him a friend might be a little overstated, we did spend a lot of time in the same projects and hung out when we were together.

It all began when I discovered the band Wings with the release of "Band on The Run" in 1973 though this record was before Joe. I was not old enough to be influenced by the Beatles (they broke up when I was 8 years old) but wow, I was hooked on Wings to be sure! And when 14 years old Ward picked up the live "Wings Over America" tripple wax release in 1976, the die was cast for my strong Joe English influence. In fact, based on the cool inner art work depecting the band live, I took off my front kick head and wrote my name on the felt batter strip inside simply because Joe did!

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Fast forward to the 80's and 90's when I had become a working vocational musician, I had found myself involved on many CCM projects where Joe was also working by that time and that is where we began our relationship. In the world of "big fish eats little fish", I was a solid medium fish. I was often hired to replace a bands drummer for a high profile record or larger national tour, and as luck would have it, Joe was often hired to replace me on even higher budget label projects and twice for international tours. We would hang at various studios together when working in Nashville or backstage on several tours where we were both on the same bill. We would sit around and chat and I would pepper him with questions about Paul and Wings and he would give great back stories and insights. I never lost sight of the fact that I was hanging with a childhood idol, it was a very cool time in my professional life.

Sadly, Joe left the business after some health issues that prevented drumming (I honestly don't remember but I think there was a bad car crash that hurt a foot or leg maybe) but by my late 30's I was ready to leave the road and he had left the scene about the same time (he was maybe 12 to 15 years older then me). I tried a few times to track him down over the years but never had any luck, though we lived fairly close (a few hundred miles apart) for several years, we just never reconnected.

Thanks for the post Scott, it was fun to take a moment and reminisce back... those were fun conversations and times together. I wish Joe well wherever he is today and still thank him for the inspiration he provided to young me all those years ago with Wings.

Ward
 
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