Lunacy in the Air

Paul and Linda McCartney’s band, Wings, recorded most of their fourth album, Venus and Mars, in 1975 in New Orleans, at the Sea-Saint Studio on Clematis Street in Gentilly.

Paul and Linda and their kids arrived in New Orleans in mid-January and stayed for about a month, living at Le Richelieu Hotel in the French Quarter.

While Paul complained of long hours at the studio, he and Linda did find time to enjoy New Orleans. They masked as clowns for Mardi Gras, attended Dr. John’s Lundi Gras concert in St. Bernard and then spent Fat Tuesday watching the parades go by from an apartment over Kolb’s Restaurant on St. Charles Avenue. Asked by Rolling Stone Magazine about his Mardi Gras experience, McCartney said, “This time of year in New Orleans there certainly is a great deal of lunacy in the air.”

Venus and Mars was released in May 1975; it was a No. 1 hit in the US and featured the hit single “Listen to What the Man Said.”

While Allan Toussaint and New Orleans percussionist Ken “Afro” Williams were the only locals credited on Venus and Mars, many other local musicians visited the Sea-Saint Studio to play and record with Wings. Dr. John, Professor Longhair and Dave Mason were rumored to have attended a late-night jam session, and the Young Tuxedo Brass Band recorded a song – “Baby Face” – with McCartney that wasn’t included on the original album, but was released later.  

Another recording released separately from the album was “My Carnival,” recorded on Ash Wednesday, which included George Porter Jr. and Benny Spellman. Inspired by their New Orleans adventures, it was the only song from that month of recording that McCartney felt had a local feel and flair to it. It was released in 1985 as the B-side to “Spies Like Us” and was dedicated to Professor Longhair.. 

 

 

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