It was 20 years ago tonight (September 18th, 1999) that Paul McCartney premiered his Run Devil Run band featuring David Gilmour at Hollywood's Paramount Studios at PETA's Millennium Gala. The show was McCartney's first full-on set leading a band since the death the previous year of his wife, Linda McCartney. McCartney closed the live portion of the event on the movie backlot's famed “New York Street” following mini-sets by the B-52's, Sarah McLachlan, and Chrissie Hynde.
In addition to Gilmour, the band was filled out by Deep Purple's Ian Paice on drums, guitarist Mick Green from Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, keyboardist Pete Wingfield, and Doug Legacy on accordion. McCartney premiered a total of six tunes from his then-soon to be released album, Run Devil Run, performing four covers and two originals. The set featured “Honey Hush,” “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man,” “No Other Baby,” “Try Not To Cry,” “Lonesome Town,” and “Run Devil Run.” The entire event was released the following year on DVD as Paul McCartney and Friends: The PETA Concert For Party Animals.
In March 1999, Paul McCartney returned to work nearly a full year after Linda's death, reconvening at Abbey Road Studios with the band and producer Chris Thomas, who had first worked with the Beatles on 1968's “White Album” and had last worked with McCartney on his 1979 final Wings album, Back To The Egg. Over the years, Thomas was behind the boards for classic albums by the Sex Pistols, Pete Townshend, the Pretenders, INXS, Roxy Music, Badfinger, and Elton John. Legendary Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick was also on hand for the sessions.
McCartney recalled at the time, that hitting the studio after a year away from music and tracking material he wasn't really familiar with, actually paved the way for one of his most beloved late-period albums: “I thought, 'Wait a minute — not only do I not know if I can still sing okay after a year of not really singing; I also don't know the bass parts to these numbers — and I've never done them before.' Oh, great formula. But then I thought, 'Wait a minute, the only thing is — the other guys don't know 'em either!' That was the saving grace, I thought — 'well, that's okay.'”
Paul McCartney's Run Devil Run was released on October 5th, 1999 and stalled at Number 27 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The album missed the Top 10 on all the major global charts.