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Paul McCartney Talks ’70s Beatles Reunion Offers in KROQ Interview

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Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

By Brian Ives 

Paul McCartney called into Los Angeles’s KROQ (a Radio.com station) during the Kevin and Bean show this morning to plug his current “Out There” tour, which hits Dodger Stadium on Aug. 10. During their conversation, they discussed everything from the Beatles to Dave Grohl to his daughter’s musical taste.

Macca seemed to be in a jovial mood, and when asked if he has to be addressed as “Sir Paul,” he replied, “King Paul will do.” Comparably, when reminded that he last played Dodger Stadium 48 years ago with the Fab Four, he said, “It couldn’t have been me!”

But as for the long-told rumor about how close he and John Lennon came to actually showing up on “Saturday Night Live” in 1976 when Lorne Michaels offered the Beatles a whopping $3000 to reunite? “It nearly happened man, it very, very nearly happened.”

The legend has always been that Paul was visiting John in New York City, and that they were watching “SNL” at Lennon’s apartment. McCartney told the KROQ hosts, “We’re just sitting around and having a laugh and ‘Saturday Night Live’ came on, and he said, ‘Have you been watching this?’ ‘No, I’m living in England, why, what’s going on?’ He said, ‘They’ve got this amazing thing going on, where Lorne Michaels came on last week and he said I’m entitled to offer you, the Beatles, so much money [to reunite].’  It wasn’t an awful lot – it was the standard rate.

“So John said, ‘It’s a hoot, you know what would be great, we can go down there now. It’s only around the corner, we should show up.’ For about five minutes, we were going ‘We’ve got to do it.’ Then it was like, ‘Are you kidding, let’s stay in and watch the show, stay comfortable, if we go down there it’s gonna be crazy. It would be a great story,’ but we decided against it.”

Related: Radio.com Minimation: Paul McCartney on George Harrison

When asked if the decision to never reunite was one of the smartest decisions they ever made, McCartney agreed. “We talked about it, we certainly got offered a lot of money to do it, but it was one of those things, it was like, ‘You know what, guys? We’ve done it. We’ve come full circle. We’ve been through all the joys and the horrors of being in a band, we’ve done everything we wanted to do.'”

He added this somewhat stunning admission: they feared that the reunion would not be well-received. “‘If we get back together again, it could fall flat, we might not enjoy it, so why do it?'” he explained. “As we say in England, leave ‘em laughing.”

Although he points out, “Once or twice, it was quite tempting, we got some tempting offers. [But] Why spoil the whole thing and come out of retirement and have it not work, so we decided against it. I agree with you, it was the smartest move.”

They also asked about his more recent musical partnership with Dave Grohl.

“The thing about Dave is, he’s such an enthusiast, he’s a live wire,” McCartney said. “Anything you do with him is ‘up.’ As you know, you’ve interviewed him. He’s a very ‘up’ guy and it’s very infectious. I’m a great enthusiast too. So when he asked me to come along and do some music for the Sound City thing, I said, ‘Well, OK, we’ll see what happens.’ I got there and he said, ‘What are we going to do, should we do an old rock ‘n’ roll song?’ And he made a couple of suggestions. And I said ‘I’ve done that.’ A couple of the ones he mentioned I’d done with the Beatles. I said, ‘I don’t want to try to top those.’

“I’d just been given a new guitar by Johnny Depp, that little cigar box thing, I was so in love with it, I said, ‘Let me wail away on this and see what happens.’ I started kicking around on that, and Dave jumped in on drums, so there was no way there wasn’t going to be any chemistry. And then Krist [Novoselic] and Pat [Smear] started playing alongside us, and we suddenly had a big thing going. We listened to it, the first take was about 20 minutes and we said ‘What are we gonna do, should we structure it a little bit?’ So we agreed on what we were gonna do, got back in there, made the song, and it was all over in about three hours. All of us had a complete blast.

“In the middle of all of that, I didn’t know that I was in a Nirvana reunion,” he admitted. “I thought I was jamming with a bunch of guys. It was only when I heard them talking, ‘Hey, we haven’t done this in 20 years or something!’ I’m going, ‘What are you talking about, guys?’ ‘Well, you know, we’re Nirvana.’ I must admit, I didn’t even know, I said, ‘Oh, OK, that’s pretty cool.'”

Given that that song, “Cut Me Some Slack,” won a GRAMMY, and that Grohl lives in L.A., is there a chance he might join McCartney’s band when they play Dodger Stadium? “There’s always a possibility, it depends who is in town and who fancies showing up. Nowadays I have millions of people I know out there, not least of all, Ringo [Starr]. Who knows, we might find a couple of them creeping up on stage unbeknownst to me.”

Finally, asked if he minds talking about the Beatles after all these years, he acknowledged that people are sometimes self-conscious about asking him about it.

“I do enjoy it, it’s like talking about your college days, when you’re not in college anymore and there’s quite a few years gone by,” he said. “I’m looking back on it, it’s like looking at a scrapbook. People think sometimes, ‘I don’t want to bore you, I don’t want to ask you a Beatles question,’ I say, ‘No, it’s OK.’ I could be at a dinner party, and everyone is telling their stories, and I’m thinking, ‘It’d be good if they asked me a Beatles question, I’ve got a few stories there.'”

Visit KROQ for full audio of the interview.

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