Classic Rock Wiki

"Band on the Run" is the title song from Paul McCartney and Wings' 1973 album Band on the Run. With a general theme of freedom, the song's lyrics were partly inspired by comments made by Paul McCartney's former bandmate, George Harrison. The song was released as a single in 1974, becoming an international chart success. It has since become one of the band's most famous songs.

The single sold one million copies in 1974 in the U.S., where it reached number 1, and it went to number 3 in the UK.[3][4]



  • 1 Background
  • 2 Recording
  • 3 Release
  • 4 Video
  • 5 Personnel
  • 6 Chart positions
    • 6.1 Weekly singles charts
    • 6.2 Year-end charts
  • 7 Other appearances
  • 8 References


The song is a three part medley. The parts are thematically related, but do not necessarily form a continuous narrative. Paul McCartney was inspired by George Harrisonin the first line of the second part of the medley: "If we ever get out of here." He reportedly said these words during one of the Beatles' many business meetings.[5]

"Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five", the closing track of the Band on the Run album, concludes with a brief excerpt of the chorus.


The song was recorded in two parts, in different sessions. The first two were taped in Lagos, Nigeria, while the third bit was recorded in October 1973 at AIR Studios in London.[8]


"Band on the Run", backed with "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five", was released in America on 8 April 1974 as the follow-up single Paul McCartney and Wings' Top 10 hit, "Jet". The song was a smash hit for the band, becoming McCartney's third American chart-topping single. The single was later released in Britain (instead backed with "Zoo Gang", the theme song to the television show of the same name), reaching number 3 on the British charts. The song was also a Top 40 single in multiple European countries, such as the Netherlands (number 7), Belgium (number 21), and Germany (number 22).

The U.S. radio edit was 3:50 in length. The difference was largely caused by the removal of the middle or the second part of the song, as well as the verse that starts with "Well, the undertaker drew a heavy sigh..."[9]

The single was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over one million copies.[10] The song features prominently on all McCartney/Wings compilations as well as McCartney's live shows. It was the second of five number-one singles for the band on the Billboard Hot 100.[3] Billboard ranked it number 22 on its Top Pop Singles of 1974 year-end chart.[11]


An official video, directed by Michael Coulson, was released along with the song. It served mostly as a tribute to The Beatles, featuring montages of still pictures from their career. Present-day McCartney and Wings were not shown. The video ends with a collage of Beatles pictures much like the album cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.[12]


  • Paul McCartney – lead and backing vocals, electric guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar, bass guitar, drums
  • Linda McCartney – backing vocals, keyboards
  • Denny Laine – backing vocals, electric guitar

Chart positions[edit][]

Weekly singles charts[edit][]

Chart (1974) Peak


Belgium (Ultratop)[13] 21
Canada (RPM 100 Top Singles)[14] 1
Germany (Media Control)[15] 22
Japan (Oricon)[16] 58
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[17] 7
New Zealand (RIANZ)[18] 1
UK Singles Chart (Official Charts Company) 3
US Billboard Hot 100[3] 1
US Easy Listening (Billboard)[3] 22

Year-end charts[edit][]

Chart (1974) Position
Canada (RPM 100 Top Singles) 20
US Billboard Hot 100 22

Other appearances[edit][]

  • The song is featured on Guitar Hero World Tour on the main set list.[19] Both the master recording and a live version were added to the Rock Band series as downloadable content.
  • "Band on the Run" appeared in the critically acclaimed film Boyhood.
  • The synthesizer section from 2:17–2:40 is sampled on the track "Cutting Rhythms" by Tone Lōc on the album Lōc-ed After Dark.[citation needed] The opening section of the track is sampled on the song "Brown Girl" by Amanda Diva from her EP Life Experience.