Halesworth: The Scaffold’s Mike McGear McCartney stops by The Cut on his first tour for 42 years

Satirist and photographer Mike McGear McCartney, at The Cut this week

Satirist and photographer Mike McGear McCartney, at The Cut this week - Credit: Archant

Mike McGear McCartney of satirists The Scaffold is thinking of stealing my name - or at least using it when he comes to The Cut, Halesworth; it being in the mould of Johnny Gentle, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury... Honestly, I’m still picturing Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch conga-ing through the streets to the comedy trio’s chart-topper Lily the Pink to say no.

Satirist and photographer Mike McGear McCartney, at The Cut this week

Satirist and photographer Mike McGear McCartney, at The Cut this week - Credit: Archant

Mike McGear McCartney of satirists The Scaffold is thinking of stealing my name - or at least using it when he comes to The Cut, Halesworth; it being in the mould of Johnny Gentle, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury... Honestly, I’m still picturing Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch conga-ing through the streets to the comedy trio’s chart-topper Lily the Pink to say no.

“He came along to my 70th birthday party and told me about his Christmases as a child... this big rock and roll singer tells me at Christmas then New Year’s eve they would all go out into the street and start singing Lily The Pink as they went out doing the conga, then Auld Lang Syne, they’d all kiss each other and then conga back in to the house... absolute magic.”

It wouldn’t be the first, or even second, time McCartney has changed his name.

His brother was in a rock and roll group - “you wouldn’t have heard of them in East Anglia,” he jokes - who were getting a bit famous round Liverpool. Likening it to be called Mike Presely or Mike Sinatra, the name was so big he didn’t want to cash in on it.


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“I’m very proud of my heritage, but when you’re going in to the same sort of business... having that surname, I wanted to protect the innocent and be judged on my own merits...”

Ruling out Mike Dangerfield, he turned to popular scouse slang words fab and gear. Ruling out McFab, he settled on McGear as it sounded more Irish; keeping the name for 20 years. He went back to just McCartney after getting out of showbusiness and becoming a celebrated photographer with his work exhibited Sithsonian Institute in the US and Britain’s National Portrait Gallery.

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But then...

“There was this young lad I was working with and he kept telling his mum ‘right I’m going to work with Mike McCartney now’ and (she says) ‘oh are you love yes that’s fine, off you go, don’t be late for your tea’. Towards the end of the week he’d become aware I’d changed my name to McGear and so says to her ‘I’m just off to that Mike McGear’. She said ‘what do you mean Mike McGear’, Mike McGear from The Scaffold, you’re working with Mike McGear’. He said ‘I have been all week’.”

McCartney suddenly thought there’s a lot of people who have never heard of Mike McCartney but have heard of Mike McGear, after all The Scaffold did quite well for themselves at one stage he jokes of their career which included hit singles, albums and TV shows.

Sparking his first tour in 42 years, Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll (I Wish) combines both loves by chronicling his life as seen through the photos he’s taken along the way.

Expect loads of stories, like the time he, Roger McGough and John Gorman, fed up of singing Lily The Pink all year, wound a TV producer up by swapping the ends of the verses around so they made no sense and how their first miss was a cockney dirge released at the height of Merseybeat that was too slow to dance too.

“We were satirists for God’s sake, we were poetic word imagery... to do anything normal was not just in our scope,” he laughs.

He’ll also be bringing half of Do The Albert, the song they wrote to mark the Albert Hall’s centenary.

“We hosted the evening with Sir John Gielguld and the RPO... we made up this song with us The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Neil Innes and on drums was Keith Moon. We were dressed in white Lily the Pink suits singing Do The Albert which is ‘stand to attention, put your arms by your side and you feel half-a-mile wide...’. Wonderful, insane, all our stuff’s insane.”

McCartney also has other collector’s items to show off, including the original 1967 film of Thank You Very Much filmed around Liverpool and a rare sketch unearthed in the BBC archives that even Gorman didn’t remember.

“It’s us as three young men, black and white, doing what we did best, satirical sketches. I’m very proud of that, it totally sums out what we were about, why I joined The Scaffold. You can hear, the audience reaction is like absolute amazement. At the end they’re clapping and then wondering ‘what the hell are we clapping for because we don’t understand that’, it really is absolute magic.

“I will (also) be singing live on the stage at The Cut, Acapulco,” he jokes. “No band, no instruments whatsoever because I can’t play one. You’ve got to really suffer in Suffolk.”

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll (I Wish) comes The Cut, Halesworth, May 17.

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