From iconic ‘The Beatles’ album only three left after Michael Parkinson’s death

Paul McCartney’s recent tribute tweet to Michael Parkinson included the cover of the classic album Band On The Run by his group Wings, as the late chat show host was one of nine famous faces pictured on it.

But the passing of Parky meant only Macca, his then bandmate Denny Laine and the boxer John Conteh now survive.

Those who went before were Paul’s first wife Linda, actors James Coburn and Christopher Lee, broadcaster Clement Freud and entertainer Kenny Lynch.

The picture of this celebrity “band on the run” caught in a giant spotlight was taken on October 28 1973 by top snapper Clive Arrowsmith, who says it doesn’t seem like 50 years ago.

“It feels like no time at all. I’m always in the moment because I’m a Tibetan Buddhist and a Zen practitioner.”

When asked about the loss of yet another VIP from his iconic picture, he replies: “In the business of rock’n’roll and fashion, everybody fades away. Time is the great devourer of talent and beauty, and death the great leveller of everything.

You just have to seize the moment.” Born and raised in North Wales, Clive was studying painting and design in Queensferry, near Liverpool, when he met Paul. Back then he was in the pre-Beatles band The Quarrymen, with John Lennon and George Harrison.

“They had a squat in an old Victorian mansion opposite the (Anglican) cathedral and I used to go to Liverpool because of the music.”

Going on to gain a degree at Kingston College Of Art, Clive then began taking photos while working as a graphic designer for Rediffusion TV, art directing, with his friend Arnold Swartsman their pioneering pop show Ready Steady Go! on which
The Beatles appeared three times.

Paul formed Wings with Linda and Denny in 1971, a year after The Beatles broke up. Their third and most successful album, Band On The Run, was released on December 7 1973, topping the charts in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

Clive recalls: “Paul asked me to do the album cover because I was taking photos for various magazines and Linda liked my work. We chatted about doing it against a wall with everybody caught in a spotlight like in an old James Cagney film.

“We used a big flat wall at Osterley Park – of course they wouldn’t let us shoot at Strangeways. I hired an old Post Office van and a spotlight, and used a megaphone.

“Paul knew all the celebrities and invited them along. The reason they’re all holding on to each other is that there was a bit of a party. James Coburn brought champagne and some were a bit stoned. They were having a wonderful time, all dressed in convict uniforms.

“I remember Michael Parkinson being quite sober about it all. The rest of them were crazed out as it were with funny expressions, and they would not stop moving. It wasn’t an easy shoot to do.

As an inexperienced photographer I was deeply concerned it wasn’t going to work and scared to death, til I got the transparencies back from the laboratory.

“Out of three rolls of film I only got four frames where they were all reasonably sharp.” Clive was embarrassed by the colour of the spotlit area. “I apologised to Paul for the golden yellow, explaining I’d used the wrong type of film.

He wrote me a note saying ‘Don’t worry Clive. It was great. I really enjoyed it. Lots of love, Paul’ with a little doodle. I’ve got that in my archive.”

Clive also got a fee of “about £1,000, which was outrageous at the time”. Paul continued to hire Clive for other shoots –including Wings’ At The Speed Of Sound album (1976) and Paul’s ninth solo album Off The Ground (1993).

But they haven’t been in touch for 25 years because, as Clive points out, “he’s a busy guy.” However, Clive was close to George Harrison who died in 2001. “I used to visit him at home in Henley. He was my dear friend.

He stopped me drinking and got me together, and for a while I followed the Hindu path. And then I met my Tibetan teacher and became a Buddhist.”

Despite being a 70-something grandfather, Clive also remains a busy guy, currently working on four new books of his photographs and exhibiting in Paris, Palm Beach, Brazilia and Malmo.

Although that photo, like the album, became a classic, Clive prefers ones he took of Elton John hugging Phil Collins, David Bowie emerging from shadows, and the then Prince Charles standing in his garden at Highgrove.

The likes of LS Lowry, Raquel Welch, Carrie Fisher, Meryl Streep, Roald Dahl, and The Dalai Lama have also posed for him.

So what does Clive, himself a keen guitarist and lyricist, think when he looks at the Band On The Run picture now? Quick as a flash, he says: “Thank God I got it right!”

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