Beatles' brother looks back on his years in showbiz

Mike McGear McCartney

Mike McGear McCartney

First published in News Bucks Free Press: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

MIKE McGear McCartney never meant to go into the music world- his brother Paul had that covered- being one fourth of the Beatles.

But showbiz beckoned and he formed his own band, The Scaffold. He later developed a passion for photography and in his new one man show coming to The Elgiva he tells his life story through his photos. He spoke to Freetime.

The last time the 70-year-old performer did a tour was 42 years ago.

He said: "I have never done a one man show. People like it, thank God for that.

"It was an unknown entity. The headline should be, 'He's not dead yet.'

"It is that long. We are going into theatres- it is totally fresh."

Mike has named his tour, Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll (I wish) and takes the audience through his life story- the ups and downs- and even sings a cappella.

He said: "It is very exciting. You are there in front of the audience and what the hell do you do?

"So what I do is, take people through my life- right to when I was born at the end of the Second World War.

"I show photos from the centre of Liverpool- there is no centre- it is totally bombed besides the Liver Building with the Liver birds on it.

"Everything else has been destroyed."

Mike is the younger brother of Paul McCartney, who he affectionately calls R Kid, and they grew up together in Liverpool with their parents.

Mike started his career as at a hairdressers in Liverpool.

He said: "I wasn't going to go into music because R kid had that role covered.

"I was just going to be a ladies barber- maybe get some salons and things.

"The Scaffold got me more into that world by me going down to the Everyman Theatre.

"They said, here you are, do it. And I said, no my brother is in a group. He's the show off in the family."

But he was persuaded to take part as a bit of fun and soon his musical career was developing.

He changed his name to Mike McGear, formed his own band Scaffold, and moved into the satire and comedy field.

Mike said: "R kid and his group were in a very important explosion. What was great- what was happening here at the same time- was the other side of Liverpool.

"I can show you the other side you have never heard.

"My brother and his wonderful group swamped it out. They were so big.

"They were so world wide- such a phenomenon."

He said he talks to his brother regularly, but perhaps understandably didn't want to talk too much about Paul.

Mike said: "This tour is nothing to do with him. It is like were you to ask him what are you doing, don't you want to talk about Mike's tour?"

The Scaffold achieved top 10 success in the UK with Lily the Pink reaching number one, Thank U Very Much number four and Liverpool Lou number seven.

He said: "We found ourselves on Top of the Pops with R Kid on one stage and the Rolling Stones over there and The Who over there.

"We were the fun side. R kid were the rock and roll."

Mike eventually turned his back on showbiz to return to his first love photography, with his work being acclaimed by exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institute in the US and Britain’s National Portrait Gallery.

So how did he get into photography? Mike said: "I saw these big enormous seagulls flying over our back garden in Liverpool.

"My mother had just died. I got our Kodak camera out, which we were not allowed to use as we had no money, we were real working class people.

"But I thought this is too extraordinary to miss- the family are going to love this.

"I got out in the back garden and I was waiting for that bird to come over. I got on the shed roof to see it.

"This picture is in the theatre on the show.

"I had these enormous things flying on my camera.

"I eventually said to me dad, shall I get the film back from the chemist?

"I got it and thought the people had given me the wrong film, but then I saw my Auntie and Uncle and my dad.

"I suddenly saw these little black dots in the middle of the grey sky.

"There is more to photography than meets the eye."

So he got books out of the library and learnt photography the hard way, and now has a great archive of pictures.

He said: "There are certain things that I have founds from my archives that are totally unique bits of experience."

Mike McGear McCartney is at The Elgiva in Chesham on May 22 at 8pm. Tickets are £16 and £14 for concessions from 01494 582900 or go to www.elgiva.com.

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