When Paul McCartney busked 'Yesterday' on London's streets and nobody noticed
8 September 2023, 14:03 | Updated: 8 September 2023, 14:12
Listen to this article
It's one in a blue moon you'll see one of The Beatles busking on the streets.
We all remember the iconic intro to A Hard Day's Night where the four boys were chased through the streets by screaming girls.
Dealing with the trappings of fame is one thing, but Beatlemania was another beast entirely - once The Beatles arrived, things were never the same again.
So you'd understand why the Fab Four kept their inner circle close knit, and didn't galavant around the city streets in case they were marauded by fans.
- When John Lennon and Paul McCartney reconciled and nearly reformed The Beatles
- When Jane Asher left Paul McCartney in shock by breaking up with him live on TV
- The real reason why John Lennon hated The Beatles' classic anthem 'Let It Be'
- A Hard Day’s Night: 10 amazing facts about The Beatles’ classic movie
Beatlemania eventually died down, the band broke up, and they all went their separate ways. They were still superstars individually, though you'd still not expect to see them on the streets.
That's precisely what happened in 1984, when Paul McCartney busked his timeless song 'Yesterday' outside of Leicester Square Station in London.
Though, probably disbelieving that Macca himself would be performing on the street, nobody paid attention to him.
Paul McCartney Busking - "Yesterday"
Standing next to the doorway of the Tube station, decked out in sunglasses whilst dusk settled in around him, McCartney sang one of his most enduring songs.
Though, people didn't likely pay attention as he sang it as a skiffle version, which disguised his iconic voice and melody.
He was also in a literal disguise, with ruffled up hair, wearing clothes that had seen better days,
Busy Londoners just nudged past and ran for their tube as Paul openly engaged with them, but still there was no gasps or furore knowing that the legendary Beatle was standing right there.
The bit was filmed for a daydream sequence in 1984 film, Give My Regards To Broad Street, in which the plot was about McCartney losing his tapes and trying to get them back by midnight that night.
The film was a complete flop, and evidently not memorable in anyway given this incredible scene was largely forgotten by everyone other than die-hard fans.
Paul described the sequence in an interview with the New York Daily News later that year:
"Y'know, they just made me up and dropped me off. I told 'em we'd never get away with it, but they kept putting dirt on and rufflin' up me hair -- I was looking better and better -- and I figured, why not."
"So I was standin' there plunkin' chords, doing this silly version of the song, and no one noticed it was me," he continued.
- When Frank Sinatra paid tribute to The Beatles with a gorgeous cover of 'Something'
- The Beatles' 20 greatest songs ever, ranked
- New Beatles song 'Now and Then': The 'final' Beatles track with John Lennon explained
- QUIZ: How well do you know Paul McCartney and Wings' lyrics?
"No one wants to look a busker in the eye of course, 'cus then they'd get his life story. So they'd toss coins and I'd be going, 'Yesterday, all my troubles -- thank you, sir -- seemed so far away.'"
"This fabulous drunk Scotsman, who didn't know me from Jesus, came up, threw his arm around me and gave me all his coins."
"I started doing these little dances and some punks came by, studs and leather, and they were dancing, too. Not because this guy's a Beatle, but because this was something happening," McCartney added.
"It was a great feeling. Just me and the music."
This isn't the only time Paul has ever had a brush with busking on the city streets.
In 2013, the 'Let It Be' legend surprised onlookers Covent Garden as he announced an impromptu pop-up gig for the release of his album, New.
He'd also sparked headlines in 2020 when he dropped coins into the guitar case of singer-songwriter Charlotte Campbell, who was busking outside of Charing Cross Station.
Though it's a very different scenario from one of the most influential, famous figures in music performing himself to people that weren't paying any attention.