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Sir Paul McCartney says Las Vegas is the rockers’ graveyard ‘where you go to die’

Sir Paul McCartney has slammed Las Vegas as the rockers’ graveyard ‘where you go to die’ as he admits ‘nothing attracts’ him about the idea of playing there.

Sir Elton John and Sir Rod Stewart have earned tens of millions of dollars playing at the Nevada city, but The former Beatle has no intention of taking up a residency on the famous strip.

In an interview Sir Paul, who celebrated his 78th birthday during lockdown, revealed to British GQ that he has ‘not really’ thought about performing solo residencies.

Sir Paul said: ‘That’s been something I’ve been trying to avoid my whole life. 

‘Definitely nothing attracts me about the idea. 

‘Vegas is where you go to die, isn’t it? It’s the elephants’ graveyard.’

Musicians who take residencies at a single venue, and are contracted to perform regular shows there, take a substantial cut of the earnings.

Sir Elton racked up a staggering $297million at the box office in Las Vegas during his two residencies, the Times reported.

He sold tickets worth $166 million from 2004 until 2009 and a further $131 million during his Million Dollar Piano show from 2011 until 2018.

Sir Elton said the groundbreaking nature of his first show, The Red Piano, ‘changed the image of Las Vegas a little’ after he initially was not sure if he wanted to do the residency.

His earnings were beaten by Celine Dion, who retired from her two residencies last year after making $681million from 2013 until 2019.

Performers are normally limited to 90 minute performances by the casinos, who make money back on the gaming floors. 

Broadcaster and author Paul Gambaccini said Sir Elton used to have a similar opinion to Sir Paul about Las Vegas, but has changed his mind in the last ten years.

He told The Times: ‘In 1973 I did an interview with Elton for Rolling Stone. In it he gave a similar thought to Paul. But of course in the last ten years he has had the record-breaking seasons in Las Vegas.’

Sir Rod Stewart made $57.4million from 2011 until 2018, with his Rod Stewart: The Hits in Vegas shows attracting more than 500,000 people in seven years. 

Some of the world’s biggest stars, including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Cher, have played residencies at Las Vegas.

Gambaccini said: ‘What Paul is saying represents the mindset of his generation, because every person in the 1960s thought that Vegas was for unhip people who are not making hits any more.’

He added that Las Vegas’s reputation massively changed from being somewhere rock stars go when they are ‘washed up’ when the Caesar’s Palace casino built a theater for Celine Dion.

John Meglen, Dion’s promoter, recalled: ‘Everybody thought we were crazy [because it] was kind of a place you went on the downside of your career.’ 

Sir Paul also told GQ that he is reluctant to do a residency on Broadway, like Bruce Springsteen did, as he does not want to just ‘follow a trend’. 

He said: ‘The idea is OK, but I think I’d just prefer to play with the band to a bigger audience, or even smaller – I don’t mind little clubs. 

‘I do a solo segment in the middle of my shows at the moment and to do a whole show like that, I’m not sure I fancy it.’

This comes as Sir Paul McCartney also revealed he found it ‘pretty hurtful’ when he was blamed for breaking up the Beatles when the group parted ways in 1970.

Reflecting on the misconceptions he faced during his time with the band, the singer, 78, spoke candidly with British GQ on Tuesday about how he felt at the time.

Saying people believed the band – which also consisted of John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr – ‘hated each other’ after their split, Sir Paul clarified that the group simply had ‘disputes’ like any other family would.

Of common misconceptions, he said: ‘I suppose that when the Beatles broke up, perhaps there was a misconception that we all sort of hated each other. 

‘What I realize now is that, because it was a family, because it was a gang, families argue. And families have disputes. And some people want to do this and some people want to do that. 

‘So I think what came about after that … the only way for me to save the Beatles and Apple – and to release Get Back by Peter Jackson and which allowed us to release Anthology and all these great remasters of all the great Beatles records – was to sue the band. 

‘If I hadn’t done that, it would have all belonged to Allen Klein. The only way I was given to get us out of that was to do what I did. 

‘I said “Well, I’ll sue Allen Klein,” and I wasn’t told I couldn’t because he wasn’t party to it. “You’ve got to sue the Beatles.”‘

Sir Paul’s decision led to tensions between the former members, with John even writing his song How Do You Sleep? which overtly referenced his former band mate, creating even more ‘hurtful’ misconceptions.

‘I remember reading an article, an interview with Yoko, who, OK, she was a big John supporter, I get that, but in this article she goes, “Paul did nothing. All he ever did was book studio,” Sir Paul continued.

‘And I’m going, “Err? No…” And then John does this famous song, How Do You Sleep?, and he’s going, “All you ever did was ‘Yesterday”… And I’m going, “No, man.”

‘But then you hear the stories from various angles and apparently people who were in the room when John was writing that, he was getting suggestions for the lyrics off Allen Klein. 

‘So, you see the atmosphere of “Let’s get Paul. Let’s nail him in a song…” And those things were pretty hurtful.’

During their time together, the Beatles became one of the most influential bands of all time with their releases making them the best-selling music act of all time. 

Sir Paul went on to look at more contemporary musicians, as he discussed his mental health and admitted he was determined not to struggle with ‘self-loathing’.

He said: ‘I remember talking to Lady Gaga about something we were doing together … and she was saying “Well, there’s the self-loathing.” And I think, “Sh*t, that’s the first time I’d ever heard anyone talk about that.”

And her, she was, like, at the top of her game, massively popular and everything she was doing was a hit, but she was just talking about self loathing. 

And I’m saying, “I kind of know what you mean, but I’m not allowing that. I’m not having that. It’s not a road I want to go down.” But you do get it. 

‘Any time you write a song, you’re going, “This is crap. This is terrible. Come on.” So I kick myself and say, “Get it better. If it’s terrible, get it better.” 

‘And sometimes someone will come along, someone who you respect, and say, “No, that’s great. Don’t worry about that,” and then show you a side to it that you didn’t notice and then you’ll go, “Oh yeah.”‘  

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