The Wings Songs That Featured Denny Laine On Lead Vocals
via New York Post / Youtube
The evolutionary trajectory of the band Wings primarily finds its roots in the creative brilliance of the former Beatle Paul McCartney. Departing from one of the most prominent bands globally, McCartney harbored a strong desire to engage in another collaborative musical endeavor, eschewing solitary work.
While McCartney undoubtedly served as the driving force behind Wings, it was Denny Laine who played a critical role in transforming the collective into a cohesive and genuinely collaborative musical entity.
Laine, who also founded and played for prog rockers The Moody Blues, passed away on December 5, 2023, following an extended battle with interstitial lung disease, as announced in a social media post by his wife.
Having gained experience with The Moody Blues, Laine was already a seasoned veteran in the British music scene when he joined forces with Wings for the creation of Wild Life. Following the sudden departure of the rest of the band post the release of Red Rose Speedway, a record that featured unreleased Laine tracks such as “I Lie Around” and “I Would Only Smile”, Laine quickly assumed the role of McCartney’s right-hand man within the group.
From Band on the Run to Wings Over America
Following the decision to record their then-forthcoming album in Nigeria, Laine immediately helped shape his first Wings composition, “No Words”, and joined forces with McCartney to share lead vocals on “Picasso’s Last Words”. While McCartney’s musical imprint was evident in select melodic passages, Laine eventually assumed the lead vocalist position.
The album Venus and Mars witnessed the guitarist showcasing his vocal prowess on the mesmerizing track “Spirits of Ancient Egypt”. The swirling instrumental accompaniment seamlessly complemented the otherworldly themes prevalent throughout the record.
This marked a significant moment in Laine’s journey, solidifying his status as an indispensable contributor to the Wings musical tapestry.
Expanding his role further, Laine seamlessly integrated into McCartney’s stage performances, becoming an integral part of the live experience. His vocal contributions extended to the rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s classic “Richard Cory” on the live album Wings Over America, showcasing the versatility and depth that Laine brought to the collaborative dynamic within the band.
Wings at the Speed of Sound and London Town
Opting for a democratic songwriting approach during the creation of Wings at the Speed of Sound, Denny assumed a prominent role with the highest number of vocal contributions on any Wings project up to that point.
His distinctive voice graced tracks such as “The Note You Never Wrote” and “Time To Hide”, reflecting a departure from the conventional distribution of vocals within the band. Beyond the album cuts, Laine’s vocal presence resonated in the background of the chart-topping hit “Silly Love Songs”.
In the subsequent venture, London Town, Laine found himself in an even more prominent position as the rest of the band had once again departed. This departure allowed him the creative freedom to further showcase his musical prowess.
Steering towards a mellower approach to traditional rock, Laine infused tracks like “Children Children” and “Deliver Your Children” with a whimsical quality reminiscent of iconic Beatles compositions such as “Yellow Submarine” and “Octopus’s Garden”.
Laine’s final recordings with Wings
As Wings reached its conclusion with Back to the Egg, Laine secured another lead vocal spot on the album, delving into the sounds of punk rock with the song “Again and Again and Again”.
While Laine continued to contribute by playing various instruments on subsequent McCartney projects like Tug of War, Back to the Egg marked the final occasion where he was credited on an equal footing with McCartney.
Despite McCartney’s solo acknowledgment by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, the significance of Laine’s contributions throughout Wings’ history cannot be overstated.
While not seeking to rival McCartney in terms of songwriting, Laine’s undeniable impact on the band’s trajectory played a crucial role in distinguishing the former Beatle as a unique entity, unburdened by the shadows of his past with The Beatles.
“An outstanding vocalist and guitar player”
McCartney expressed his deep sorrow upon learning about the passing of his former bandmate. The former Beatle recounted his memories with Laine, sharing the following on social media:
“I am very saddened to hear that my ex-bandmate, Denny Laine, has died. I have many fond memories of my time with Denny: from the early days when the Beatles toured with the Moody Blues. Our two bands had a lot of respect for each other and a lot of fun together.”
Reflecting on their collaborative journey in Wings, Macca also paid tribute to Laine’s substantial contributions, citing Denny’s resilience as one of the band members who stayed since the beginning. “Denny joined Wings at the outset. He was an outstanding vocalist and guitar player,” McCartney went on.
Laine’s co-founder in Wings concluded: “Denny was a great talent with a fine sense of humor and was always ready to help other people. He will be missed by all his fans and remembered with great fondness by his friends. I send my condolences and best wishes to his wife, Elizabeth, and family. Peace and love Denny. It was a pleasure to know you. We are all going to miss you,” the Wings founder concluded.