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Kanye West Orders Fast Food in London, Stands on a Table to Greet His Fans

Kanye West Orders Fast Food in London, Stands on a Table to Greet His Fans



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At first Kanye reportedly told fans he was “just a singer who wants to be left alone”

Kanye stood on a table so that his fans could all take their Kanye selfies at the same time.

Shortly before attending the Brit Awards in London earlier this month, Kanye West visited Nando’s, an international chain restaurant.

According to People, Kanye ordered a plain burger and fries, medium double-burger, garlic bread, chicken, and spicy rice.

Though West turned fans away at first, reportedly telling them “I’m just a singer who wants to be left alone,” he soon changed his mind and, as you can see from the photo above, jumped on a table so that his fans could properly shower him with attention.

Thus began what must have been several minutes of very intense selfie-taking and tweeting.

West then yelled, “If we are gonna do this, let's do it right!” After fans swarmed him and chanted “Yeezus” appreciatively, Kanye climbed down and left shortly after, ready to perform at the awards ceremony.

On Twitter, Nando’s shared the surprise Kanye sighting, noting that West “is much taller in real life.”

So, it turns out Kanye is much taller in real life... #NandosO2 pic.twitter.com/fccOkaZS6K

— Nando's (@NandosUK) February 25, 2015


Celebrities Who Had Affairs That Ruined Their Careers

The aftermath of adultery isn't pretty for anyone involved, but when it's a celebrity affair, things can get especially messy. From Oscar-winners to reality stars, and singers to sports icons, these celebs have dealt with more than just public disdain for their bad bedroom behavior — it's also taken a toll on their careers.

Some celebs, like Jude Law and LeAnn Rimes, have faced the music and addressed their bad press head-on — owning up to the circumstances of the past. Others, like Ryan Phillippe, have pushed back, eventually claiming that enough is enough. Meg Ryan went the same route, eventually spilling the tea on her own relationship, but more on that in a bit.

The careers of some scandalous stars — here's lookin' at you, Tiger Woods — are showing signs of new life, while others — cough cough: Jesse James — are going nowhere fast. Let's take a closer look at some celebs who were entangled in affairs that ruined their careers.


The House That Hova Built

It’s difficult to know what to ask a rapper. It’s not unlike the difficulty (I imagine) of being a rapper. Whatever you say must be considered from at least three angles, and it’s an awkward triangulation. In one corner you have your hard-core hip-hop heads the type for whom the true Jay-Z will forever be that gifted 25-year-old with rapid-fire flow, trading verses with the visionary teenager Big L — “I’m so ahead of my time, my parents haven’t met yet!” — on a “rare” (easily dug up on YouTube) seven-minute freestyle from 1995. Meanwhile, over here stands the pop-rap fan. She loves the Jiggaman with his passion for the Empire State Building and bold claims to “Run This Town.” Finally, in the crowded third corner, stand the many people who feel rap is not music at all but rather a form of social problem. They have only one question to ask a rapper, and it concerns his choice of vocabulary. (Years pass. The question never changes.) How to speak to these audiences simultaneously? Anyway: I’m at a little table in a homey Italian restaurant on Mulberry Street waiting for Mr. Shawn Carter, who has perfected the art of triangulation. It’s where he likes to eat his chicken parms.

He’s not late. He’s dressed like a kid, in cap and jeans, if he said he was 30 you wouldn’t doubt him. (He’s 42.) He’s overwhelmingly familiar, which is of course a function of his fame ­ — rap superstar, husband of Beyoncé, minority owner of the Nets, whose new home, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, will open this month — but also of the fact he’s been speaking into our ears for so long. No one stares. The self-proclaimed “greatest rapper alive” is treated like a piece of the furniture. Ah, but there’s always one: a preppy white guy discreetly operating his iPhone’s reverse-camera function. It’s an old hustle it makes Jay chuckle: “They think they’re the first one who’s ever come up with that concept.”

He likes to order for people. Apparently I look like the fish-sandwich type. Asked if he thinks this is a good time for hip-hop, he enthuses about how inclusive hip-hop is: “It provided a gateway to conversations that normally would not be had.” And now that rap’s reached this unprecedented level of cultural acceptance, maybe we’re finally free to celebrate the form without needing to continually defend it. Say that I’m foolish I only talk about jewels/Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it? He’s not so sure: “It’s funny how you can say things like that in plain English and then people still do it.” He is mildly disappointed that after publishing “Decoded,” his 2010 memoir, people still ask the same old questions. The flippancy annoys him, the ease with which some still dismiss rap as “something that’s just this bad language, or guys who degrade women, and they don’t realize the poetry and the art.” This is perhaps one downside to having the “flow of the century.”

With Tupac, you can hear the effort, the artistry. And Biggie’s words first had to struggle free of the sheer bulk of the man himself. When Jay raps, it pours right into your ear like water from a tap.

The fish sandwich arrives. Conversation turns to the schoolboy who was shot to death, Trayvon Martin — “It’s really heartbreaking, that that still can happen in this day and age” — and, soon after, to Obama: “I’ve said the election of Obama has made the hustler less relevant.” When he first made this point, “People took it in a way that I was almost dismissing what I am. And I was like: no, it’s a good thing!” He didn’t have Obama growing up, only the local hustler. “No one came to our neighborhoods, with stand-up jobs, and showed us there’s a different way. Maybe had I seen different role models, maybe I’d’ve turned on to that.” Difficult to keep these two Americas in your mind. Imagine living it — within one lifetime!

In “Decoded,” Jay-Z writes that “rap is built to handle contradictions,” and Hova, as he is nicknamed, is as contradictory as they come. Partly because he’s a generalist. Biggie had better boasts, Tupac dropped more knowledge, Eminem is — as “Renegade” demonstrated — more formally dexterous. But Hova’s the all-rounder. His albums are showrooms of hip-hop, displaying the various possibilities of the form. The persona is cool, calm, almost frustratingly self-controlled: “Yeah, 50 Cent told me that one time. He said: ‘You got me looking like Barksdale’ ” — the hot-blooded drug kingpin from HBO’s “The Wire” — “and you get to be Stringer Bell!” — Barksdale’s levelheaded partner. The rapper Memphis Bleek, who has known Jay-Z since Bleek himself was 14, confirms this impression: “He had a sense of calm way before music. This was Jay’s plan from day one: to take over. I guess that’s why he smiles and is so calm, ’cause he did exactly what he planned in the ’90s.” And now, by virtue of being 42 and not dead, he can claim his own unique selling proposition: he’s an artist as old as his art form. The two have grown up together.

Jay-Z, like rap itself, started out pyrotechnical. Extremely fast, stacked, dense. But time passed and his flow got slower, opened up. Why? “I didn’t have enough life experience, so what I was doing was more technical. I was trying to impress technically. To do things that other people cannot do. Like, you can’t do this” — insert beat-box and simultaneous freestyle here — “you just can’t do that.” Nope. Can’t even think of a notation to demonstrate what he just did. Jay-Z in technician mode is human voice as pure syncopation. On a track like “I Can’t Get With That,” from 1994, the manifest content of the music is never really the words themselves it’s the rhythm they create. And if you don’t care about beats, he says, “You’ve missed the whole point.”

Plenty did, hearing only a young black man, boasting. I got watches I ain’t seen in months/Apartment at the Trump I only slept in once.

But asking why rappers always talk about their stuff is like asking why Milton is forever listing the attributes of heavenly armies. Because boasting is a formal condition of the epic form. And those taught that they deserve nothing rightly enjoy it when they succeed in terms the culture understands. Then something changed: “As I started getting life experiences, I realized my power was in conveying emotions that people felt.” He compared himself to a comedian whose jokes trigger this reaction: “Yo, that’s so true.” He started storytelling — people were mesmerized. “Friend or Foe” (1996), which concerns a confrontation between two hustlers, is rap in its masterful, full-blown, narrative form. Not just a monologue, but a story, complete with dialogue, scene setting, characterization. Within its comic flow and light touch — free from the relentless sincerity of Tupac — you can hear the seeds of 50, Lil Wayne, Eminem, so many others. “That was the first one where it was so obvious,” Jay noted. He said the song represented an important turning point, the moment when he “realized I was doing it.”

At times he restricts himself formally, like the Oulipo, that experimental French literary group of the 1960s. In the song “22 Two’s,” from 1996, we get 22 delicious plays on the words “too” and “two.”

Ten years later, the sequel, “44 Fours,” has the same conceit, stepped up a gear. “Like, you know, close the walls in a bit smaller.” Can he explain why? “I think the reason I still make music is because of the challenge.” He doesn’t believe in relying solely on one’s natural gifts. And when it comes to talent, “You just never know — there is no gauge. You don’t see when it’s empty.”

In the years since his masterpiece “Reasonable Doubt,” the rapper has often been accused of running on empty, too distant now from what once made him real. In “Decoded,” he answers existentially: “How distant is the story of your own life ever going to be?” In the lyrics, practically:

Life stories told through rap/Niggas actin’ like I sold you crack/Like I told you sell drugs, no, Hov’ did that/So hopefully you won’t have to go through that. But can’t a rapper insist, like other artists, on a fictional reality, in which he is somehow still on the corner, despite occupying the penthouse suite? Out hustlin’, same clothes for days/I’ll never change, I’m too stuck in my ways. Can’t he still rep his block? For Jay-Z, pride in the block has been essential and he recognized rap’s role in taking “that embarrassment off of you. The first time people were saying: I come from here — and it’s O.K.” He quotes Mobb Deep: “No matter how much money I get, I’m staying in the projects!” But here, too, he sees change: “Before, if you didn’t have that authenticity, your career could be over. Vanilla Ice said he got stabbed or something, they found out he was lying, he was finished.” I suggested to him that many readers of this newspaper would find it bizarre that the reputation of the rapper Rick Ross was damaged when it was revealed a few years ago that he was, at one time, a prison guard. “But again,” Jay says, “I think hip-hop has moved away from that place of everything has to be authentic. Kids are growing up very differently now.”

Sure are. Odd Future. Waka Flocka Flame. Chief Keef. Returning to what appear to be the basic building blocks of rap: shock tactics, obscenity, perversely simplistic language. After the sophistication of Rakim, Q-Tip, Nas, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West and Jay himself, are we back on the corner again? “Yeah, but Tupac was an angel compared to these artists!” He shakes his head, apparently amused at himself. And it’s true: listening to a Tupac record these days feels like listening to a pleasant slice of Sinatra. But Jay-Z does not suffer from nostalgia. He loves Odd Future and their punk rock vibe. He sees their anger as a general “aversion to corporate America,” particularly as far as it has despoiled the planet. “People have a real aversion to what people in power did to the country. So they’re just lashing out, like: ‘This is the son that you made. Look at your son. Look at what you’ve done.’ ”

But surely another thing they’re reacting against, in the Harold Bloom “anxiety of influence” sense, is the gleaming $460 million monument of Hova himself.

Years ago, Martin Amis wrote a funny story, “Career Move,” in which the screenwriters live like poets, starving in garrets, while the poets chillax poolside, fax their verses to agents in Los Angeles and earn millions off a sonnet. Last year’s “Watch the Throne,” a collaboration with Kanye, concerns the coming to pass of that alternative reality. Hundred stack/How you get it? Jay-Z asks Kanye on “Gotta Have It.” The answer seems totally improbable, and yet it’s the truth: Layin’ raps on tracks! Fortunes made from rhyming verse. Which is what makes “Watch the Throne” interesting: it fully expresses black America’s present contradictions. It’s a celebration of black excellence/Black tie, black Maybachs/Black excellence, opulence, decadence. But it’s also a bitter accounting of the losses in a long and unfinished war. Kanye raps: I feel the pain in my city wherever I go/314 soldiers died in Iraq/509 died in Chicago. Written by a couple of millionaire businessmen on the fly (“Like ‘New Day,’ Kanye told me that — the actual rap — last year at the Met Ball, in my ear at dinner”), it really shouldn’t be as good as it is. But somehow their brotherly rivalry creates real energy despite the mammoth production. And in one vital way the process of making it was unusually intimate: “Most people nowadays — because of technology — send music back and forth.” But this was just two men “sitting in a room, and really talking about this.” At its most sublime — the ridiculously enjoyable “Niggas in Paris” — you feel a strong pull in both men toward sheer abandon, pure celebration. Didn’t we earn this? Can’t we sit back and enjoy it? It’s a song that doesn’t want to be responsible, or to be asked the old, painful questions. Who cares if they’re keeping it real? Or even making sense? Check that beat! Then there’s that word. “It’s a lot of pain and a lot of hurt and a lot of things going on beyond, beneath that.” He offers an analogy: “If your kid was acting up, you’d be like, ‘What is wrong with you?’ If they have a bellyache — ‘Oh, you ate all the cotton candy.’ You’d make these comparisons, you’d see a link. You’d psychoanalyze the situation.”

Rappers use language as a form of asymmetrical warfare. How else to explain George W. Bush’s extraordinary contention that a line spoken by a rapper — “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” — was “one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency”? But there have always been these people for whom rap language is more scandalous than the urban deprivation rap describes. On “Who Gon Stop Me,” Jay-Z asks that we “please pardon all the curses” because “when you’re growing up worthless,” well, things come out that way. Black hurt, black self-esteem. It’s the contradictory pull of the “cipher,” rap terminology for the circle that forms around the kind of freestyling kid Jay-Z once was. What a word! Cipher (noun): 1. A secret or disguised way of writing a code. 2. A key to such a code. 3. A person or thing of no importance. “Watch the Throne” celebrates two men’s escape from that circle of negation. It paints the world black: black bar mitzvahs, black cars, paintings of black girls in the MoMA, all black everything, as if it might be possible in a single album to peel back thousands of years of negative connotation. Black no longer the shadow or the reverse or the opposite of something but now the thing itself. But living this fantasy proves problematic: Only spot a few blacks the higher I go/What’s up to Will? Shout-out to O/That ain’t enough, we gon’ need a million more/Kick in the door, Biggie flow/I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go. You’re 1 percent of the 1 percent. So what now? Power to the people, when you see me, see you! But that just won’t do. It’s Jay-Z who’s in Paris, after all, not the kids in the Marcy Houses, the housing project in Brooklyn where he grew up. Jay-Z knows this. He gets a little agitated when the subject of Zuccotti Park comes up: “What’s the thing on the wall, what are you fighting for?” He says he told Russell Simmons, the rap mogul, the same: “I’m not going to a park and picnic, I have no idea what to do, I don’t know what the fight is about. What do we want, do you know?”

Jay-Z likes clarity: “I think all those things need to really declare themselves a bit more clearly. Because when you just say that ‘the 1 percent is that,’ that’s not true. Yeah, the 1 percent that’s robbing people, and deceiving people, these fixed mortgages and all these things, and then taking their home away from them, that’s criminal, that’s bad. Not being an entrepreneur. This is free enterprise. This is what America is built on.”

It’s so weird watching rappers becoming elder statesmen. I’m out for presidents to represent me. Well, now they do — and not only on dollar bills. Heavy responsibility lands on the shoulders of these unacknowledged legislators whose poetry is only, after all, four decades young. Jay-Z’s ready for it. He has his admirable Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation, putting disadvantaged kids through college. He’s spoken in support of gay rights. He’s curating music festivals and investing in environmental technologies. This October, his beloved Nets take up residence in their new home — the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. And he has some canny, forward-looking political instincts: “I was speaking to my friend James, who’s from London, we were talking about something else, I just stopped and I was like, ‘What’s going to happen in London?’ This was maybe a month before the riots. He was like, ‘What?’ I said: ‘The culture of black people there, they’re not participating in changing the direction of the country. What’s gonna happen there?’ He actually called me when it blew up, he was like, ‘You know, I didn’t really understand your question, or the timing of it, until now.’ ”

But still I think “conscious” rap fans hope for something more from him to see, perhaps, a final severing of this link, in hip-hop, between material riches and true freedom. (Though why we should expect rappers to do this ahead of the rest of America isn’t clear.) It would take real forward thinking. Of his own ambitions for the future, he says: “I don’t want to do anything that isn’t true.” Maybe the next horizon will stretch beyond philanthropy and Maybach collections.

Meanwhile, back in the rank and file, you still hear the old cry go up: Hip-hop is dead! Which really means that our version of it (the one we knew in our youth) has passed. But nothing could be duller than a ’90s hip-hop bore. Lil Wayne? Give me Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Nicki Minaj? Please. Foxy Brown. Odd Future? WU TANG CLAN 4EVAH. Listening to Jay-Z — still so flexible and enthusiastic, ears wide open — you realize you’re like one of these people who believes jazz died with Dizzy. The check comes. You will be unsurprised to hear the Jiggaman paid. At the last minute, I remembered to ask after his family, “Oh, my family’s amazing.” And the baby? “She’s four months.” Marcy raised me, and whether right or wrong/Streets gave me all I write in the song. But what will TriBeCa give Blue? “I actually thought about that more before she was born. Once she got here I’ve been in shock until maybe last week?” Her childhood won’t be like his, and this fact he takes in his stride. “We would fight each other. My brother would beat me up,” he says, but it was all in preparation for the outside. “I was going to have to fight, I was going to have to go through some things, and they were preparing me.” He smiles: “She doesn’t have to be tough. She has to love herself, she has to know who she is, she has to be respectful, and be a moral person.” It’s a new day.


L.A. restaurants: Top 13 spots on hotter-than-ever Sawtelle Boulevard

The stretch of Sawtelle Boulevard often referred to as Little Osaka recently has expanded so quickly that it’s bursting beyond its traditional boundaries. With so many new restaurant openings, they’re popping up north of Santa Monica Boulevard and south of Olympic.

Shin Sen Gumi officially opened last month a block north of Santa Monica, and the West L.A. outpost of Daikokuya and both Sushi Stop (the second location on Sawtelle) and its shabu-shabu cousin have opened just past Olympic.

Among the chock-a-block restaurants there are not one but two kaiten (revolving) sushi bars, soba specialists and cream-pufferies, punctuated by karaoke bars and the new Daiso — the Japanese "$1.50" (or 100-yen) store that is plastic heaven, or purgatory — but either way a wonderment.

Ramen, soy milk hot pot, $2.75 sushi, soup dumplings, burgers, panko-crusted katsu pork . here’s the best of old and new on Sawtelle Boulevard:

Not a restaurant per se, but Coffee Tomo serves excellent coffee and tasty pretzels in weird combinations such as sweet potato and cheese or red bean and cheese. The honey-butter bread ain’t bad either. The red Diedrich roaster at the front of the shop signals the seriousness with which they take their coffee, but it’s not too serious — you can have your espresso with a little foam, raw sugar and a cinnamon stick.

11309 Mississippi Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 444-9390, www.coffeetomo.com.

The latest Sushi Stop location on Sawtelle, this one’s got a distinct izakaya vibe, where crowds gather around the U-shaped bar checking off their $2.75-per-order sushi while Frank Ocean’s “Lost” plays. They probably can’t stop thinking, “This really is not bad for $2.75 sushi. ” Specialty sushi (some of which costs more) include flame-seared salmon belly, crispy rice topped with spicy tuna and blue crab hand roll.

2222 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 479-1222, www.sushistopusa.com.

You won’t find this place unless you know what you’re looking for. Secreted away on the second floor of the Olympic Collection, it’s a serene Tokyo-esque restaurant from a former Shibucho chef. Its signature dish might be the soy milk hot pot, a single serving (you might be able to share if you order other dishes) of Japanese nabe, or stew, brought to the table on a special stand equipped with its own burner. Order a side of the chicken meatball skewers.

11301 W. Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, (310) 473-3960, www.restaurant-morinoya.com.

10. Seoul Sausage Company

Korean barbecue-influenced street food in the form of, for example, galbi poutine — braised short ribs served over twice-fried French fries with cheese, kimchi-pickled onions and avocado lime crema. The sausages are only slightly less over the top, such as the Korean BBQ beef sausage with garlic jalapeño aioli and kimchi relish. Also: Spam musubi.

11313 Mississippi Ave., Los Angeles, (310) 477-7739, www.seoulsausage.com.

Japanese katsu import Kimukatsu specializes in fried pork cutlets. The “cutlets” are actually stacks of layered thinly sliced pork, battered with panko and deep-fried. The katsu comes in varieties such as black pepper-seasoned and even cheese-filled.

2121 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, (310) 477-1129, www.kimukatsu.com.

Soup dumplings on the Westside! Are they as good as Din Tai Fung’s? Maybe not quite as good but still pretty delicious, with juicy pork filling and delicate dumpling skins. And other tables will gawk when you order the beef roll. Between 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. the crispy pork dumplings are available, a disk of dumplings interconnected by crispy-fried flour. Your Taiwanese fix west of the 405.

2049 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 235-2089.

7. YakitoriyaA Sawtelle stalwart open for more than 10 years, Yakitoriya has quirky service, but its binchotan-grilled skewers are expertly prepared one by one by the chef-owner, an alumnus of Kokekokko who also sometimes takes orders and runs food. Also: You might not have known about its very good chicken ramen, but now you do.

11301 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 479-5400.

Where once Sawtelle Kitchen turned out Asian-fusion entrees, Flores is now serving small plates with modern touches from husband and wife co-chefs who formerly worked at l’Atelier de Joel Robuchon and the Bazaar. There are deviled eggs with crispy pig’s ear and pimenton pig cheek croquetas blistered shishito with sea salt and lemon chicken liver toast with confit grapes kanpachi with lime and Thai coconut and cote de boeuf for two. Plus there’s Sunday brunch, to be enjoyed on the patio.

2024 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (424) 273-6469, www.floreslosangeles.com.

The newest Shin Sen Gumi, located in what used to be a Mexican restaurant, serves the chain’s signature Hakata-style ramen with porky tonkotsu broth. The ramen here might be even better than at its other locations — with big, rich flavor and lots of body — served in a Mexican-diner-meets-ramen-shop atmosphere.

1601 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (424) 208-3293, www.shinsengumiusa.com.

Plan Check brought gourmet burgers and cocktails to the Sawtelle strip when it opened last year — burgers with ketchup “leather,” dashi cheese and schmaltz onions. For beers and burgers, along with smoky fried chicken and short rib pot roast with bone marrow turnover, its patioed corner spot draws crowds. There’s also an extensive Japanese whiskey list.

1800 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 288 6500, www.plancheck.com.

Expect the line to be only somewhat shorter at this Daikokuya location than at the Little Tokyo original. Stepping inside is somewhat surreal, with a host’s stand that looks like a border-crossing station, guarded by a mannequin dressed as a security guard. Yet its lost-in-translation, lantern-strewn atmosphere is inviting and its kotteri (pork fat)-fortified ramen worth the wait.

2208 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 575-4999, www.dkramen.com.

Sushi chef Ken Namba founded Kiriko in 1999, with a philosophy of creating classic sushi with modern touches. His signature house-smoked salmon sushi is a shining example. And the sushi here has long been considered a good value for top-notch fish.

11301 W. Olympic Blvd., No. 102, Los Angeles, (310) 478-7769, www.kirikosushi.com.

1. Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle/Tsujita Annex

Tsujita LA’s tsukemen has become an iconic Sawtelle dish served only at lunch, it draws droves of fans who line up for the “dip” ramen — its noodles and über-concentrated broth served separately, with toppings such as succulent roasted pork chashu. Its across-the-street annex serves both ramen and tsukemen at a 12-seat bar, along with spare, elegant rice bowls and slightly weird vegetable juices.


Life In Heidi&rsquos New Studio

Heidi realized that she could definitely afford to live alone once she did research and jumped at the opportunity. She ultimately settled on a cozy studio nearby campus. Once settling upon her new place, Heidi had to move out of her old room and into her new home.

Facebook/Heidi Alice Savitt

On the way out, Heidi met her outgoing home&rsquos new tenants to pass off her keys. In a rush, she handed the new tenants her keys, flashed them a quick smile, and ran off to keep moving and decorating her new studio apartment. As she watched her old home disappear in the rearview mirror, she thought she had put her days in that home behind her. But she would be back sooner than expected.


Contents

The Big Boy mascot Edit

The chain is best known for its trademark chubby boy with a pompadour hairstyle wearing red-and-white checkered overalls holding a Big Boy sandwich (double-decker cheeseburger). The inspiration for Big Boy's name, as well as the model for its mascot, was Richard Woodruff (1932–1986) of Glendale, California. [23] When he was six years old, Woodruff walked into the diner Bob's Pantry as Bob Wian was attempting to name his new hamburger. Wian said, "Hello, Big Boy" to Woodruff, and the name stuck. Warner Bros. animation artist Ben Washam sketched Richard's caricature, which became the character seen on the company trademark. [note 3]

In 1955, Bob Wian hired Manfred Bernhard, son of graphic designer Lucian Bernhard, [8] : 12 to create a new public image for Big Boy. [24] Bernhard was not impressed with Washam's mascot, saying it was sloppy and had a moronic expression. [24] The "West Coast Big Boy" mascot was revised, fiberglass statues molded, schemes created for menus and building designs, and a comic book for children launched.

In 1951, Bob Wian's original franchisee Dave Frisch developed a slightly different Big Boy character. He was slimmer, wore a side cap, saddle shoes and striped overalls. Having reddish or blonde hair he was portrayed in a running pose. [note 4] Known as the "East Coast Big Boy", he was copyrighted by Frisch's and used for statues and comic books for Frisch's, and its subfranchisees Manners and Azar's. Before 1954, Parkette (Shoney's) used both versions, though never together. [25] [26] Since 1956, the Wian "West Coast Big Boy" design was used exclusively by all franchisees other than Frisch's, Manners and Azar's. In the late 1960s, both characters were redrawn to appear similar, incorporating the checkered outfit, pompadour and hamburger above the raised arm from the West Coast design, and the running pose and direction of the East Coast design. In the 1980s, the hamburger was removed from the West Coast design representing a de-emphasis of the hamburger in North American Big Boy restaurants, it also accommodated the Japanese Big Boy restaurants, which do not serve hamburgers on a bun.

Big Boy statues Edit

The changing Big Boy
A. 1937. The first Big Boy (left) was derived from a sketch by Warner Brothers animation artist Bennie Washam in 1937. A frequent customer, Washam doodled the character on a napkin for Bob Wian for a free lunch. [27] The logo, redrawn holding a hamburger (right), was typically used by Wian and several early franchisees: Parkette (Shoney's), [25] Elias Brothers [28] and Frejlach's. [29] The orientation was also reversed.
B. 1952. Wian's first franchisee, David Frisch, developed his own Big Boy character. Dated 1952, the design was copyrighted in 1951 and became known as the East Coast Big Boy. He was the model for fiberglass statues used by Frisch's, and subfranchises Azar's and Manners. This Big Boy varied between blond and reddish blond hair. Unlike West Coast designs (A) and (C), he held the hamburger in both hands and was always running to his left.
C. 1956. This scheme introduced the modern Big Boy character and is the model for the iconic fiberglass statues. It replaced Wian's original figure (A), and was actually seen in 1955 Shoney's advertisements. Typically drawn with the hamburger atop his right arm, occasionally the hamburger was raised atop his left arm. [30] Shown is a common version of the several renderings used. By 2009, a new styled version is sometimes being used again. [31] [32]
D. 1969. Revised East Coast Big Boy. [33]
E. 1969. Revised West Coast Big Boy.
Differences between the East and West Coast designs, including the statues, created confusion along the Ohio-Michigan border where Frisch's and Elias Brothers operated. This motivated a common Big Boy mark, derived with elements of both predecessors, (B) and (C). He retained the look of the West Coast figure (C) but assumed the running pose and orientation of the East Coast figure (B). Nonetheless similar West and East Coast versions were realized, maintaining the facial style of the previous marks, respectively. Frisch's continued to use (D) through 2016.
F. 1981. To emphasize a full menu the hamburger was removed from the West Coast design.
G. 1988. After buying Big Boy, Elias Brothers lowered the left arm completely.

Early versions of the West Coast Big Boy statues were gigantic, measuring up to 16 feet tall [34] [35] with later versions as short as 4 feet. [36] The early statues always included the Big Boy hamburger above mascot's raised right arm much later versions eliminated the hamburger with both arms clutching the suspenders instead. The hamburger remained a part of the Frisch's East Coast statues, though the slingshot was eliminated from the figure's back pocket. Although still used by that chain, some Frisch's restaurants currently display the West Coast statue instead.

In recent years, Big Boy statues have come into conflict with local zoning ordinances. In 2002, Tony Matar, a Big Boy franchisee in Canton, Michigan was cited in violation of local sign ordinances. The town claimed the statue was a prohibited second sign Matar asserted that the 7 foot statue was a sculpture, not a sign. [37] A 2004 compromise allows the existing statue to remain with the words "Big Boy" removed from the figure's bib. [38] When a Brighton, Michigan franchise closed in early 2015 for financial reasons, zoning codes caused the entire sign—topped with a rotating Big Boy statue—be taken down before the restaurant could be reopened. [39] In contrast the planning commission in Norco, California—known as Horsetown USA—was concerned that the statue was not western enough. In response, the restaurant's Big Boy statue is now outfitted wearing a cowboy hat and boots. [40]

A few other modified statues are in official use. In Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, a Frisch's statue is painted wearing a 1970s Reds baseball uniform with a Reds ball cap added. Frisch's Big Boy hamburgers are sold at two of the park's concession booths. [41] Rather than modifying a typical statue, the Big Boy restaurants in Manistique [42] [43] and St. Ignace, [44] Michigan display full scale moose statues dressed in checkered overalls with "Big Boy" printed across the chest. To conform with Gaylord, Michigan's Alpine theme, the local restaurant's statue previously wore a green Tyrolean hat. [45] (The restaurant was rebuilt in 2016, and no longer displays the modified statue.)

In March 2017, Frisch's unveiled a restyled statue. The new statue resembles the West Coast design but wears striped overalls like the original East Coast Big Boy. [46] The debut statue wearing a Reds uniform is placed near the existing statue at Great American Ball Park another is planned for an unnamed Frisch's restaurant. [47] Frisch's will gradually swap the new statues for existing restaurant statues in need of repair. [46]

Because of the closing or separation of former Big Boy restaurants, many West Coast statues were acquired by private individuals, often traded through eBay. [48] [49] Smaller versions of the statues are sold as coin banks and bobblehead figures. [50] The three dimensional Big Boy figure was also used on early ash trays, [51] salt and pepper shakers, [52] wooden counter displays and as small unpainted pewter models. [53]

Gigantic air inflatable Big Boy figures are available and typically used for restaurant openings and special promotions, where permitted. [54]

Adventures of the Big Boy comic book Edit

  • Top row (left to right): No. 1, July 1956, West Coast and East Coast versions No. 13, July 1957, West Coast and East Coast versions.
  • Bottom row: No. 155, June 1969, West Coast and East Coast versions No. 156, July 1969, combined version No. 1, Shoney's version, 1976 (month unknown).

Adventures of the Big Boy (initially The Adventures of Big Boy) was a promotional comic book given free to children visiting the restaurants. Intended to "give the kids something to do while they waited for their food", [55] the book involves the escapades of Big Boy, his girlfriend Dolly and dog Nugget. From the comic books children could also join the Big Boy Club, a kids club offering them free Big Boy hamburgers, [56] decoder cards, [56] pin-back buttons [57] and other premiums. The serial – sometimes called "King of the Giveaways" [24] [55] – once had distribution estimated at three million copies. [58]

Manfred Bernhard commissioned Timely Comics to produce the book. In the first year, Adventures of the Big Boy was managed by Sol Brodsky, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Bill Everett, Brodsky, and Dan DeCarlo. [59] [55] [60] [note 5] DeCarlo continued drawing in the second year and Lee writing the series through 1961. [61] [note 6] For 17 years, starting in the mid 1970s, Manny Stallman drew the (Marriott) series, [62] followed by Bob Bindig who drew the series until 1995. [55] [63] [note 7]

Variations Edit

Because of the distinct East and West Coast Big Boy mascots, dual versions of Adventures were produced, identical except for the detail of the Big Boy figure. [65] In July 1969, the versions merged, and a fluffy brown haired Big Boy appeared. [65] In 1976, Shoney's began publishing their own series instead. [note 8] Contracted to Paragon Products, this version featured an older, leaner Big Boy, with his siblings Katie and Tripp replacing Dolly and Nugget, [55] and was adopted by the JB's and Azar's Big Boy franchises. [67] After 75 issues, it became Shoney's Fun and Adventure Magazine introducing a Shoney's mascot ("Uncle Ed" bear) in place of Big Boy, allowing it to serve Shoney's non-Big Boy restaurants. [55] [note 9]

Cancellation Edit

In 1996, after 39 years and 466 issues, [67] Big Boy cancelled the comic book and hired Craig Yoe's Yoe! Studio to revamp the characters and produce a magazine styled replacement. [68] [69] After 63 issues, the Big Boy Magazine was itself cancelled in 2008. [70]

The Big Boy hamburger Edit

The signature Big Boy hamburger is the original double deck hamburger. [71]

The novel hamburger started as a joke. In February 1937, some local big band musicians, who were regular customers of Bob's Pantry, visited the restaurant. When ordering, bass player Stewie Strange asked, "How about something different, something special?" [72] [emphasis added]. [note 10] Bob Wian improvised, creating the first (then unnamed) Big Boy, intending the thing "look ridiculous, like a leaning tower". [72] Demand for "the special" soared but Wian sought a "snappy" name, which became Big Boy. [72] [note 11] In 1938, the Big Boy hamburger cost 15¢ [8] : 156 [76] ($2.65 in 2018). [77] The Big Boy costs $6.49 in Michigan, in 2018. [78] Several slogans were used from the 1950s through the 1970s to promote the Big Boy hamburger, such as, "A Meal in One on a Double–Deck Bun" and "Twice as Big, Twice as Good". On menus from that period, it was called, ". the Nationally Famous, Original Double–Deck Hamburger. ".

The Big Boy hamburger inspired and was the model for other double deck hamburgers. This includes McDonald's Big Mac, [79] Burger Chef's Big Shef [80] and Burger King's Big King. [81] [82]

The Big Boy consists of two thin beef patties placed on a three-layer bun with lettuce, a single slice of American cheese, and either mayonnaise and red relish (a combination of sweet pickle relish, ketchup and chili sauce), [74] : D4 Big Boy special sauce (often called thousand island dressing) or (at Frisch's, Manners and Azar's) tartar sauce on one or each slice of bun. (Regardless, the Big Boy condiment used was often simply referred to as "special sauce" on menus chainwide.) Wian used a sesame seed bun while Frisch's used a plain bun and included pickles. [note 12] The Big Boy hamburger originally called for a quarter pound (4 ounces) of fresh ground beef, but later, franchisees were permitted to use frozen beef patties, and the minimum content reduced to a fifth of a pound to offset increasing food costs. Other specifications were exacting, such as the bun's bottom section being 1½ inches high and the center section ¾ inches, and 1½ ounces of shredded lettuce used. [83]

Originally, the Big Boy hamburger was the only common menu item required of all Big Boy franchisees. [83]

Other core menu items Edit

Just as Bob Wian's Big Boy hamburger was served by all franchises, the early franchises also contributed signature menu items. Frisch's provided the "Brawny Lad" and "Swiss Miss" hamburgers, Shoney's contributed the "Slim Jim" sandwich and Hot Fudge Ice Cream Cake, while Strawberry Pie was introduced by Eat'n Park. Hot Fudge Cake and Strawberry Pie remain popular dessert items chainwide but other items were not necessarily offered by all franchises, and franchises would sometimes change the item's name: The "Slim Jim" became the "Buddie Boy" at Frisch's, and Elby's renamed the "Swiss Miss" as the "Brawny Swiss". [84] [85] Similarly, when franchisees left Big Boy, they would typically rebrand the Big Boy hamburger: it became the "Superburger" (Eat'n Park), [86] the "Buddy Boy" (Lendy's), [87] the "Big Ben" (Franklin's), [88] and the "Elby Double Deck hamburger" (Elby's). [89] Shoney's reintroduced the "Classic Double Decker", somewhat different than the Big Boy, about a decade after leaving. [90]

Big Boy offers breakfast, burgers and sandwiches, salads, dinner combinations, and various desserts. [84] [91]

Bob Wian developed rules and philosophies about how Big Boy should operate. Besides the (construction of the) Big Boy hamburger he attributed most of his success and that of his franchisees to following these rules. [72] His fundamental restaurant principles were: "serve the best quality food, at moderate prices, in spotless surroundings, with courtesy and hospitality." [92] [83] He believed "the customer is always right" and instructed employees that, "if any food item is not satisfactory, return it cheerfully and apologize for the error". [11] Wian said he had five basic rules for building his business: " 'be a good place to work for, sell to, buy from, and invest in. And be a good neighbor in the community.' " [93] He also attributed the growth to, "capable management and conservative policy of not trying to seat more people than can be served or opening more restaurants than can be serviced." [93] If some disruption occurred at a restaurant, such as a new manager or renovation, Wian would postpone advertising until operations would return to his standards. [8] : 81

Typical of Big Boy restaurants, Elby's Big Boy used a nine-step process waiting on dining room customers: [94]

  1. Greet customers within one minute of being seated, serving water and taking beverage orders.
  2. Serve beverages and take meal orders.
  3. Call in meal orders to kitchen.
  4. Place setups (e.g., silverware) and condiments, serve salad items.
  5. Watch kitchen (number panel) for completed order and promptly serve meals to table.
    (The kitchen should complete orders within 8 minutes, 10 minutes for steaks.)
  6. Check back with customers within a few minutes: "Is everything OK?"
  7. Return and place check on the table: "I'll return shortly."
  8. Suggest dessert and take dessert orders.
  9. Serve desserts or deliver final check, remove empty dishes.

Bob Wian was discerning of employees, hiring wait staff—which he considered a profession—by appearance, intelligence and enthusiasm. [11] He preferred employees with little or no restaurant experience which afforded training in the Big Boy tradition. [83] [95] Wian said that he "conned [employees] into believing in themselves . I put my cooks in chef's outfits, even though they couldn't boil an egg". [74] : D4 Other than wait staff, employees typically started as dishwashers and busboys, and advanced to short-order cooks, and then possibly to management. [83] [92] [95] Bob's Big Boy was one of the first restaurant chains to offer health insurance and profit-sharing to employees. [96]

Bob Wian excelled at franchise relations. He led 20-person training crews to open new Big Boy restaurants, [72] made periodic nationwide tours of the franchises, [97] was available for consultations and claimed to know every manager's name. [74] : D4 He also assembled the principal franchisees as board members of the National Big Boy Association to participate in leadership. After Wian left, some Big Boy operators began to question the value of their franchise. [98] [99] [100]

Operation and history Edit

In addition to the Big Boy name, the "Big Boy" concept, menu, and mascot were originally licensed to a wide number of regional franchise holders (listed in the next section). Because many of the early franchisees were already in the restaurant business when joining Big Boy, "Big Boy" was added to the franchisee name just as the Big Boy hamburger was added to the franchisee's menu. In this sense it is confusing when referring to a chain, as each named franchisee was itself a chain and Big Boy could be considered a chain of chains. People tend to know Big Boy not simply as Big Boy but as the franchise from where they lived such as Bob's Big Boy in California, Shoney's Big Boy in the south or Frisch's Big Boy in much of Ohio, Marc's Big Boy in the Upper Midwest, among the many others.

Each regional franchisee typically operated a central commissary which prepared or processed foods and sauces to be shipped fresh to their restaurants. [9] [101] [102] [103] However, some items might be prepared at the restaurants daily, such as soups and breading of seafood and onion rings.

Through the 1950s and 1960s, the emphasis changed from drive-in restaurant to coffee shop and family restaurant. New franchisees without existing restaurants signed on. A larger standard menu was developed. Most adopted a common graphic design of menus and promotional items, offered by Big Boy but personalized to the franchise. Stock plans of restaurant designs were provided by Los Angeles architects Armet and Davis or Chicago architectural designer Robert O. Burton, and modified as needed.

In the 1960s, Big Boy and other drive-in restaurants could not compete with the spreading fast food restaurants such as McDonald's and Burger King. Big Boy built its last drive-in in 1964 and by 1976, only 5 of the chain's 930 restaurants offered curb service. [1] [104] Big Boy redefined itself as a full service restaurant in contrast to fast food. Nonetheless, in the late 1960s and 1970s, Bob's, Shoney's and JB's also opened Big Boy Jr. stores, designed as fast food operations which offered a limited menu. Sometimes called drive-ins, these junior stores did not use carhops. [105] [106] [107] In 1993, Marc's Big Boy similarly developed Big Boy Express stores using dual drive-thrus and no interior dining area. [108] Two Express stores were built, offered for sale a year later and closed in 1995. [109] [110]

Several franchises also held Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises and sold that chicken in their Big Boy restaurants these included Marc's, [111] McDowell's, [112] [113] Lendy's and one or more Shoney's subfranchises. The practice was discouraged and Big Boy eventually provided a similar scheme of selling buckets of take out chicken, marketed as Country Style [114] or Country Cousin Chicken. [115] Franchises who resisted the change were forced to remove Kentucky Fried Chicken menu items and physically relocate those operations. [113] However, Marriott sold "Pappy Parker Fried Chicken" in Bob's Big Boys [116] the Marriott owned brand was also sold in the company's Hot Shoppes and Roy Rogers Restaurants, [117] [118] and later Marriott Hotel Restaurants. [119]

Big Boy's origins as a drive-in restaurant, required a much smaller investment to open and much lower costs to operate: a small building having no dining room or limited counter space. Thus persons of modest assets could become Big Boy operators. It was the profits from these operations which allowed not only additional drive-ins, but operators to build modern restaurants with large pleasant dining rooms. Many of the early successful franchisees would probably not have assets (converted to present value) sufficient to join Big Boy today.

By 1979, there were more than a thousand Big Boy restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, and about 20 franchisees. Shoney's, Elias Brothers and Frisch's—charter franchisees—controlled the vast majority. [120] These mega franchisees paid practically no fees, e.g., Frisch paid $1 per year for its core four state territory. After Bob's, the four original franchisees (in order) were Frisch's, Eat'n Park, Shoney's (originally called "Parkette") and Elias Brothers, all clustered near the state of Ohio. All, including Bob's, remain in operation today, albeit Elias Brothers is simply known as Big Boy, and Eat'n Park and Shoney's dropped Big Boy affiliation in the 1970s and 1980s.

Big Boy developed named franchisees in several ways. Very quickly the Big Boy name and even the Big Boy character were being widely used without permission. Bob Wian, needing Big Boy restaurants operating in multiple states to maintain national (U.S.) trademark protection, offered very generous franchise agreements to Frisch's, Eat'n Park and Parkette (Shoney's). In 1952, Wian instituted a formal franchise process and Elias Brothers became the first such "official" franchisee paying Wian 1% of sales. Bob Wian also settled trademark infringements allowing the rogue operator to become a licensed franchisee, such as McDowell's Big Boy in North Dakota. [121] Franchisees were permitted to subfranchise these early subfranchisees often used their own name and operated independently: Frisch's licensed Azar's, and Manners Shoney's licensed Adler's, Arnold's, Becker's, Elby's, Lendy's, Shap's, Tune's, and Yoda's. [122] [123] (An eastern Pennsylvania Elby's franchisee briefly operated as Franklin's Big Boy before dropping Big Boy.)

Acquisitions and mergers also occurred. In the early 1970s, Frisch's acquired Kip's Big Boy JB's acquired Vip's, Kebo's, Leo's and Bud's which were rebranded JB's. Shoney's acquired the Missouri territory previously assigned to Tote's. After buying Big Boy, Elias Brothers bought Elby's and TJ's. Elby's was unique in leaving and rejoining the Big Boy system. When Marriott purchased Big Boy (Wian Enterprises) in 1967, this included Bob's Big Boy. The name "Bob's" would be used by all Marriott owned Big Boys and became common in parts of the eastern U.S. and elsewhere, far away from Bob's historic territory.

Frisch's now owns the "Big Boy" name in a defined four-state region and it's franchisee Azar's closed in 2020. Bob's is licensed Big Boy Restaurant Group. Many of the other former franchise owners (Shoney's, particularly) have expanded into the former territories of other franchise holders.

After buying the Big Boy system from Marriott, Elias Brothers planned to phase out franchise names, [124] only generally realized by Big Boy Restaurants International after 2000. [125] This was intended to strengthen the trademark but also prevent defections, such as happened with Shoney's Big Boy retaining identity as Shoney's. [126] [127] The same occurred with Eat'n Park, Elby's, Lendy's, JB's, and Abdow's who kept their names after leaving Big Boy. Big Boy now permits operators to informally identify by location such as Tawas Bay Big Boy in East Tawas, Michigan. [128]

Unlike most modern franchises, the historic Big Boy franchisees differed somewhat from one another in pricing and menus. After purchasing Big Boy in 1987, Elias Brothers intended to standardize the name and menu, but Bob's, Frisch's and McDowell's (now known as Bismarck Big Boy) continue to offer distinctions from the standard Big Boy menu. [129]

Franchising costs today Edit

Big Boy Restaurant Group and Frisch's Big Boy Restaurants both continue to offer franchises in their exclusive territories, each having 20 year terms. As of 2014, Big Boy Restaurant Group charges a $40,000 franchise fee, and an ongoing 4% royalty and up to 3% advertising fees based on weekly gross revenue. [130] [131] (In most of Michigan the franchisee pays a 2% advertising fee and must spend an additional 1% on local advertising. Franchisees in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or outside of Michigan pay a ½% advertising fee and must spend 1½% on local advertising.) [132] As of 2020, Frisch's Big Boy charges a $40,000–$45,000 franchise fee, and an ongoing 4% royalty and 2½% advertising fees on gross revenue. [133] [note 13] The majority of Big Boy Restaurant Group units are franchised [130] while the majority of Frisch's units are currently company owned. [135] Big Boy Restaurant Group franchise agreements are not renewable but new agreements are required. [130]

Roster of named franchisees Edit

Big Boy restaurants were cobranded with at least 34 different names representing various franchisees. These franchisees are listed below with territories, time span, founders, comic book code (in brackets) and additional notes, as known:

  • Abdow's (Western and Central Massachusetts, Connecticut, 1963–1994, founded by George and Ron Abdow and their sister Phyllis Abdow-LaVallee) [136][137] Abdow's opened as a Hi-Boy franchisee in 1959, bought a Big Boy franchisee in 1963 and changed the corporate name to Abdow's Big Boy in 1965. [138] Abdow's left Big Boy in 1994 over menu conflicts with Elias Brothers and value served for the franchise fees, removing 18 restaurants from the national chain. [139][140] Now defunct, many converted to Elxsi Corporations's Bickfords Family Restaurants or remain vacant. [N]
  • Adler's (Lynchburg, Virginia, 1958–1960, founded by Abe Adler) [141] Became a Lendy's Big Boy, when Adler sold the business to Leonard Goldstein of Lendy's. [142]
  • Arnold's (Folsom, Pennsylvania, 1955–?, founders unknown) Arnold's and Tune's operated in the Philadelphia area. [143]
  • Azar's (Northern Indiana, Colorado, 1953-2020, [144][99][note 14] founded by brothers Alex, David and George Azar) Opened in Ft. Wayne, Indiana as a Frisch's subfranchise and in 1967 expanded to the Denver, Colorado market. Operated 26 units in 1984. [99] Alex Azar's son, George Azar, became CEO. [146] After closing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the last Azar's Big Boy closed permanently. [147][148] Alex Azar became a member of the Big Boy Board of Directors. [149] [T]
  • Becker's (Rochester and Buffalo, New York, 1956 [150] –1965, [151] founded by Abe Becker) Shoney's opened a restaurant in Rochester in the mid 1950s which may have become Becker's Big Boy. [122] By 1957, Becker's was operating four Big Boy restaurants in Greater Rochester. [152] Trying to expand too quickly created a financial crisis and the end of the franchise. [153]

Logos of historic Big Boy franchisees.

Franchisees were once required to use their own name with the Big Boy name and character. Some changed logos periodically and these show designs used while a Big Boy affiliate, most dating from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s. Eat'n Park, Shoney's and JB's are no longer affiliated with Big Boy. Logos for Adler's, Arnold's, Bud's and Chez Chap were not available to the artist.

  • Bob's (California, Arizona, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont and Indiana, Ohio, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania toll roads and airport locations operated in several states by the Marriott Corp. or others, 1936+, founded by Robert C. "Bob" Wian) The original Big Boy chain, which in Wian's time was confined to Southern California, Arizona and Nevada. Because Marriott developed and acquired Big Boy restaurants elsewhere, principally the northeastern U.S., Bob's developed a more diverse territory and identity. Bob's in Nevada and Arizona were purchased by JB's Big Boy. [154] Currently, Bob's operates only five restaurants – all in Southern California. Bob's units are the only operators under the domain of the Big Boy Restaurant Group now permitted to use a franchise name for public identity. Wian was the original chairman of the Big Boy Board of Directors. [A]
  • Chez Chap (Westmount, a suburb of Montreal, Quebec, 1978–?, founded by Chapman Baehler) Baehler was Bob Wian's stepson. [156]
  • Don's (Burlington, Vermont, 1984, founded by Donald Allard) One of several chain restaurants operated by Allard. [157][158] Restaurant was rebranded as Bob's Big Boy about 1986, [159] and closed, with plans to construct a Red Lobster Restaurant on the site in 1991. [160] As of 2020, there has been an Olive Garden on that site for some years.
  • Eat'n Park (metro Pittsburgh, 1949–1975, [161] founded by Larry Hatch and William Peters) Hatch and Peters were supervisors at Isaly's in Pittsburgh. [162] On Isaly's business in Cincinnati, Hatch saw the success of the Frisch's Big Boy Drive-In prompting contact with founder Bob Wian, who needed national exposure to gain national trademark protection. [163] Within a year Eat'n Park opened as the second Big Boy franchisee. When the 25 year franchise agreement expired Eat'n Park dropped Big Boy, attributed to the loss of drive-in popularity but primarily motivated by the end of the $1 per year license fee the franchise had enjoyed. [164] Pittsburgh area Big Boy rights were reassigned to Elby's in 1977. [165] [D]
  • Elby's (Northern West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, Maryland, [166] 1956–1984, 1988–2000, founded by brothers George, Ellis and Michael Boury) Named after a brand of flavoring syrup sold by the Bourys' restaurant supply business. [103] Originally acquired the Big Boy rights to northern West Virginia through Shoney's. [122][123][167] In 1960 Elby's expanded into Ohio, [168] licensed through Frisch's. Six years later, Bob Wian awarded Elby's franchisor rights to Pennsylvania, excluding the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas Pittsburgh was awarded Elby's in 1977. [165] When Frisch's refused existing terms on a fourth Ohio unit in 1971, [169] Elby's withdrew from Big Boy affiliation in Ohio, leading to a long running trademark battle by Frisch's. [170] In August 1984 Elby's dropped Big Boy entirely, four months after Shoney's—franchisor for Elby's West Virginia stores—broke affiliation. [99][167] Opened units in Maryland after leaving Big Boy. The Elby's name and most company restaurants were sold to Elias Brothers in 1988 becoming Big Boys again. (George and Michael Boury retained nine Ohio units that could not become Big Boys because of nearby Frisch's operations they were rebranded as Shoney's restaurants until placed for sale in 1993. [171] ) Although officially stripped of the Elby's name, identity was so strong that the Elby's name continued in print advertisements. [126][172] The last remaining Elby's closed in 2000 in response to the Elias Brothers financial crisis. [E]
  • Elias Brothers (Michigan, Northeastern Ohio, Ontario, Canada, 1952–2000, founded by Fred, John and Louis Elias) In 1938 the brothers opened Fred's Chili Bowl in Detroit and later the Dixie Drive-In in Hazel Park, which would become the first Elias Brothers Big Boy. Considered the "first official franchisee" because they were the first to formally apply to Bob Wian. [8] : 111 Worked with Wian, Schoenbaum and Manfred Bernhard to create the 1956 Big Boy character design and launch the comic book. Owned the Big Boy system from 1987 through 2000 when the bankrupt company was sold to Robert Liggett. Many Michigan units continue operations stripped of the Elias Brothers name and these are the vast majority (90%) of Big Boy Restaurant Group's Big Boy stores. Fred Elias became a member of the Big Boy Board of Directors. [149] [F]
  • Franklin's (Eastern Pennsylvania, 1966–1978, founded by Marvin and Joseph Franklin) Subfranchised by and originally operated as Elby's. [173] Franklin discontinued use of the Elby's name in 1976, but initially continued to operate as Big Boy Restaurants. [174][175][note 15] Opposing lawsuits were filed. In August 1978, a federal court cancelled Franklin's contracts with Elby's, awarded Elby's an undisclosed cash settlement and enjoined Franklin's from use of the "Elby's" and "Big Boy" names, food items, recipes and other materials. [179] Nonetheless, Franklin's renamed the "Big Boy" the "Big Ben" and adopted a Benjamin Franklin theme. [88] Elby's subsequently built new restaurants adjacent to several Franklin's units. [180][181] The 12 unit chain was sold to Hershey's Foods and Friendly's Restaurants in 1985. [182]
  • Frejlach's (Illinois, 1954–196?, founded by Irvin Frejlach) Added Big Boy to their established chain of ice cream shops. [29] Unlike other franchisees, the stores did not directly use the Big Boy name they remained Frejlach's Ice Cream Shoppes not Frejlach's Big Boy. [183] The company also owned rights to McDonald's restaurants in Cook County (Chicago), Illinois which were sold back to Ray Kroc in 1956. Irvin's brother Lucian "Lou" Frejlach became a member of the Big Boy Board of Directors. [149]
  • Frisch's (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee Florida until the early 1990s, 1947+, founded by David Frisch) The Cincinnati restaurant chain and first franchisee, began serving Big Boy hamburgers in 1946, but opened their first Big Boy Drive-In restaurant in 1948 Frisch's now operates 96 Big Boys and franchises 25 Big Boys to others. Frisch's subfranchised to Azar's and Manners, which used the Frisch's styled Big Boy, to Milton and David Bennett in 1955, who operate as Frisch's in northwest Ohio and also licensed Elby's to operate three Big Boy units in the upper Ohio Valley until 1971. In 2001 Frisch's became the perpetual owner of the Big Boy trademark in most of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee, and received $1.2 million to relinquish all other Big Boy territories to Big Boy Restaurants International, to whom Frisch's is no longer a franchisee or licensee. [184] On August 24, 2015, Frisch's was sold to an Atlanta-based private equity fund, ending family ownership and control of the chain. [21][167][185] [X]
  • JB's (Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Washington, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Nebraska, Kansas, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut [154] 1961–1988, founded by Jack M. Broberg.) The first JB's Big Boy opened in 1961 in Provo, Utah. In the 1970s JB's expanded by acquiring neighboring Big Boy franchisees: Vip's, Leo's, Kebo's and Bud's. After Marriott refused granting additional territory, in 1984, JB's sued to leave Big Boy. The parties settled, JB's paying $7 million in exchange for additional territory, including central and northern California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona where it operated as Bob's Big Boy JB's also purchased 29 existing Bob's Big Boy restaurants from Marriott. [186][187] Citing a lack of benefit except use of the Big Boy symbol for its over $1 million annual franchise fees, in 1988 JB's allowed its Big Boy franchise to expire, removing 110 units from the Big Boy system. [188] As of December 2016, fifteen JB's Restaurants operate in five states. [189] [H]
  • JB's (Canada - Ontario, Alberta and Quebec, 1969–1979, founded by John Bitove, Sr.) Bitove, a well known Canadian businessman, was the franchisee for Canada generally, along with Roy Rogers Restaurants, both Marriott owned brands. JB's of Canada grew to 32 Big Boy restaurants before selling to Elias Brothers. [190]
  • Kebo's (Seattle and Tacoma, Washington area before JB's dba Bob's, ?–1974, founded by W. Keith Grant.) "Kebo" came from the owners, Keith, Ed and Bob. Two units were sold to JB's in 1974.
  • Ken's (Maryland, Washington DC, [191] 1963–?, founded by Bill Bemis) named in honor of Bill Bemis' father Ken Bemis, who founded the White Log Coffee Shop chain. [192][193] Three Maryland Ken's Big Boys operated in 1969. [191] "Ken's" became "Bob's" in the early 1970s. [K]
  • Kip's (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, 1958–1991, founded Fred Bell, Thomas W. Holman and James Reed) Bell owned and operated Kip's of Texas, while Holman and Reed owned and operated Kip's of Oklahoma and Kansas. [194] Acquired by Frisch's in 1972. Kip's territory was transferred to Big Boy Restaurants International in 2001. Bell became an original member of the Big Boy Board of Directors. [B]
  • Lendy's (Western Virginia, 1955–1964, founded by Leonard Goldstein) Owned by Goldstein but operated as Shoney's 1955–1959. [123] Territory proximity to Yoda's angered Goldstein and concurrent franchise with Kentucky Fried Chicken antagonized franchisor Alex Schoenbaum, prompting Lendy's to leave Big Boy. [195][196] Renamed the "Big Boy" hamburger as the "Buddy Boy" and created a Buddy Boy mascot similar to Frisch's Big Boy character.
  • Leo's (Spokane, Washington, Montana, 1966–1971, founded by Leo A. Hansen, Jr. [197] ) The first Leo's Big Boy opened in Great Falls, Montana in 1966. Grew to four units before being acquired by and renamed JB's in 1971, Hansen becoming a vice-president of JB's Big Boy. [198]
  • Manners (Northeastern Ohio (Cleveland TV market), 1954–1979, founded by Robert L. and Ramona Manners) Franchisee through Frisch's, used the Frisch styled mascot design. Like Frisch's, Manners was already established having opened Manners Drive-In in 1939, 15 years before becoming a Big Boy franchisee. [199] Paid Frisch's $10 per month for each location. In 1968 Manners Big Boy was sold to Consolidated Foods (now known as Sara Lee Corporation). Marriott purchased the 39 units in 1974 and five years later dropped the name "Manners". [200] Marriott sold 26 remaining restaurants to Elias Brothers in 1985. [201] [W]
  • Marc's (Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, 1958–1995, founded by Ben Marcus and Gene Kilburg [72] ) Owned by the Marcus Corporation, Marc's Big Boy debuted in Milwaukee in November 1958. [202] The chain grew to 4 units by 1962, 22 units by 1970, [203] doubling this number within 4 years [204] and eventually operated as many as 64 Big Boys over a 4 state territory. [205][108] Among these, acquiring Illinois Top's Big Boy restaurants by 1974—rebranding those in Chicago suburbs Marc's. [206] In 1989, Marc's Big Boy Corporation was renamed Marc's Restaurants [207] and a two-year experiment launched completely removing Big Boy at two of its stores, the test demonstrating no effect on business. In 1992, the Marc's format was upscaled and renamed Marc's Big Boy Cafes [205] in 1993 13 Big Boy Cafes were converted to Marc's Cafe and Coffee Mills, and the company launched 2 Big Boy Express drive-thru stores. [108][note 16] The following year, the 13 Cafe and Coffee Mill restaurants were sold to a group of employees, with 3 remaining Big Boys and 2 Big Boy Express units offered for sale. [109] In 1995, the company closed its last Big Boy operation. [110] Some former units later operated as Annie's American Cafe and as Perkins Restaurants. However, in 2017 the Marcus Corporation sold Big Boy hamburgers at the [email protected] restaurant in its downtown Milwaukee hotel [205][208] in March 2017, the sandwich is priced at $11 on the lunch menu [209] and $12 on the dinner menu both served with fries. [210] [J] Now known as Aria Café and Bar at Saint Kate hotel, as of 2019 the Big Boy goes for $15. [211] [J]
  • Mark's (Hyattsville, Maryland, 1960 [212] –1962? [213] ) A single unit existed at 3050 East-West Parkway, Hyattsville, which was a Ken's Big Boy in 1964. [213][191]
  • McDowell's (North Dakota, 1954–1960 independently as "Big Boy Drive-Inn", 1960+ as franchise, founded by Harley McDowell) A trademark infringement suit against McDowell was filed by Wian in 1959 ultimately resulting in a franchise agreement. [121] Operates exclusively as a drive through. McDowell's name was dropped and the remaining store is now called the Bismarck Big Boy. Along with Big Boy hamburgers, the single restaurant sells flying pizza-burgers and french fries by the pound with chicken gravy. [L]
  • Mr. B's (New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, [214] 1963–1969, [215] founded by Manfred Bernhard) [8] : 75 [216] Operated a restaurant in Keene, New Hampshire and Brattleboro, Vermont.
  • Shap's (Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1959–1964?, founded by I. Shapiro, Pem Cooley, and E. D. Latimer) Franchised by Shoney's. Shap's was abbreviated for Shapiro's. Operated two small units in Chattanooga. Latimer bought out the other partners and changed the name to its franchisor's, Shoney's. [217]
  • Shoney's/Parkette (Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Philadelphia, PA, 1952–1984, [note 17] founded by Alex Schoenbaum), Originally called the Parkette, in 1952 it became Parkette Big Boy Shoppes. An unrelated "Parkette Drive-In" had opened in Kentucky [218] so in 1954, a public contest for a new name resulted in Parkette becoming Shoney's, which was also a reference to founder Alex "Shoney" Schoenbaum. [219] Shoney's also subfranchised to Arnold's, Becker's, Elby's, [167] Lendy's, Shap's, Tune's, and Yoda's., [122][123] and many using the Shoney's name. Ray Danner, the Nashville Shoney's franchisee purchased the company in 1971 and five years later dropped Big Boy from the company name. [220][note 18] In April 1984 Shoney's Inc.—by then the largest Big Boy franchisee with 392 units—paid $13 million to break its contract with Big Boy, allowing expansion into Frisch's and other franchisees' Big Boy territories. [99][221] Schoenbaum became a member of the Big Boy Board of Directors. [149] [M][P]
  • Ted's (Rhode Island, Eastern Massachusetts) Massachusetts was divided between Ted's Big Boy in the east and Abdow's Big Boy in the west, corresponding to the division of Rhode Island and Connecticut between the two franchises.
  • TJ's (Rochester, Batavia and Syracuse, New York, 1972–?, founded by Anthony T. Kolinski, John Gazda and John Giamartino) [222] Grew to 9 stores by 1986. [223] TJ's was purchased by Big Boy (Elias Brothers). Elias closed 4 stores in 1992 [224] and sold one Syracuse store to a local investor. It closed 3 more Syracuse restaurants in 1994. [225][226]
  • Tops (Illinois, 1956–1993, founded by Lucian Frejlach [227] ) Operated primarily in the suburbs of Chicago. [228] By 1974, the Chicago area stores became Marc's Big Boys, while the central Illinois units remained Tops. [206] [Q]
  • Tote's (Missouri, 1964–197?, founded by Edward R. Todtenbier) [229][230] Todtenbier was a Frisch's franchisee in Anderson, Indiana, and planned to open 33 Tote's Big Boys in Missouri, 9 in the St. Louis area. [231] In 1972 the Missouri Big Boy territory was reassigned to Shoney's. [232] [U]
  • Tune's (Philadelphia and Levittown, Pennsylvania, 1956–1963, [233][234][235] founded by Jack Engel [236] ) In the mid to late 1950s Alex Schoenbaum seeded various franchises including Tune's. [122][237] Two drive-in restaurants opened. [238] By the early 1960s, the Levittown unit closed [239] and the other was rebranded as Shoney's.
  • Vip's (New Mexico, Texas, [240] Wyoming, [241] 1962–1982. founded by Daniel T. Hogan and James O'Conner [242] ) Vip's refers to two distinct restaurant chains. The Big Boy franchisee relevant here, Vip's Big Boy of New Mexico, was acquired by JB's Big Boy in 1972 but continued using the Vip's name until rebranded in 1982. [243][244][154] The other, Vip's Restaurants of Salem, Oregon, was not a Big Boy franchisee but sold units to JB's Big Boy, which operated them as Bob's Big Boy. [186] The non-Big Boy, Salem-based chain had 53 locations at its peak, all sold and rebranded, including 35 to Denny's in 1982 and 16 to JB's in 1984. [245]
  • Yoda's (Western Virginia, founded by Jack Young and Bill Schroeder) Young was Leonard Goldstein's (Lendy's) brother-in-law. Merged with Lendy's. [196][123]

Outside the United States Edit

Mady's Big Boy of Windsor, Ontario, was not a franchisee, though sometimes identified as one and using a similar looking mascot. [246] In 1965 Bob Wian sued Mady's for trademark infringement but failed because (his) Big Boy was judged not widely known in Canada. The case is considered important in Canadian and international trademark law. [247] In 1973 Elias Brothers bought Mady's and established an Elias Big Boy on Mady's original site. [248] John Bitove, Sr. owned the rights to Big Boy for the remainder of Canada, which he sold to Elias Brothers in 1979. [190] During the mid to late 1980's there was one in Nassau, Bahamas.

Outside of North America, Big Boy Japan owns and operates 274 Big Boy Hamburger Steak & Grill Restaurants in Japan. Founded in 1977, Big Boy Japan now also operates 45 Victoria Station restaurants in Japan and is a subsidiary of Zénsho Holdings Co., Ltd. [3] [22] [249] The Japanese Big Boy Restaurants do not offer the Big Boy hamburger or most other American Big Boy menu items, offering a distinct menu instead. [250] They also offer beer and wine. [250] Zensho had purchased Big Boy Japan from the ailing Daiei in 2002 for 8.65 billion yen. [251] [252]

Big Boy also operated (or planned to open) restaurants in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Brazil, the Philippines and Thailand. [253]

Big Boy Restaurants International Edit

The Michigan-based owner of the Big Boy chain, which chiefly franchises previous Elias Brothers Big Boy restaurants in Michigan, has suffered a gradual loss of franchised restaurants. About 175 Big Boys existed in July 2006, [254] compared to 76 in July 2019.

On April 16, 2017, the last Big Boy restaurant in the city of Detroit closed. [255] The Big Boy in Fenton, Michigan, was expected to close in 2017. [256] Both properties have been sold to developers. Likewise, in 2016, the Jackson, Michigan, Big Boy closed after the site was purchased by a developer. [257]

Other franchisees are simply leaving the Big Boy chain. In April 2017, the Danville Big Boy, the only unit in Illinois, dropped Big Boy and will operate as the Border Cafe. [258] In 2016 both the Ann Arbor, Michigan, restaurant (on North Zeeb Road) [259] and the restaurant in Houghton Lake, Michigan continued to operate but not as Big Boy restaurants. [257] The Tecumseh [260] and Alma, Michigan [13] restaurants announced they will allow their franchise agreements to expire on November 1, 2017 and early 2018, respectively, and both will continue to operate independently. The Marine City, Michigan Big Boy closed in February 2018, to reopen independently by a new owner. [14] However, in the same month, Big Boy added a new franchisee, an existing restaurant reopening as a Big Boy, in Woodhaven, Michigan. [15] In April 2018, the Coldwater, Michigan location closed, media sources noting multiple health code violations and poor customer reviews. [261] [16]

Company-owned restaurants have also closed for under-performance. [262] [263] [264]

Big Boy Restaurants International tried a new fast casual concept known as Big Boy's Burgers and Shakes in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. [265] [256] The restaurant was closed in 2019.

In November 2020, the Big Boy restaurant in Sandusky, Michigan was stripped of its franchise when it refused to comply with Michigan's COVID-19 restrictions. It now operates as Sandusky Family Diner. [266] [267]


METHODOLOGY

The selection process for this list of the 50 Great American Restaurants was based on triangulated data from the most recent rankings on Eater, Business Insider, The Daily Meal, Trip Advisor, and Open Table, along with special attention the most recent James Beard Awardees. Once the list was compiled, ranking used the aforementioned sources plus additional information available on Wikipedia and local digital food journalism along the following criteria:

(1) “nostalgia rating” (i.e., their “classic” status within American society, especially in relation to their own geographic region and chefs),

(2) their “taste rating” (i.e., their culinary and gastronomic qualities),

(3) their “cult rating” (i.e., their quantity and quality of enthusiasts and awards), and

(4) their “hospitality rating” (i.e., their service and attention to the full experience of the meal). Each rating is calculated on a 5-point Likert scale with a total Rave Meter assigned on a cumulative 20 point scale.

While some of the restaurants are newer and others are quite old, the list is based on the most up-to-date information available, to ensure that you can feel confident in your selection being current and on present trends in the ever-changing food world. Read through the list and know that from one to fifty, there isn’t a bad meal to be had on the list!


Contents

James Paul McCartney was born on 18 June 1942 at Walton Hospital in the Walton area of Liverpool, where his mother, Mary Patricia (née Mohin), had qualified to practise as a nurse. His father, James ("Jim") McCartney, was absent from his son's birth due to his work as a volunteer firefighter during World War II. [8] McCartney has a younger brother named Michael and a stepsister named Ruth. The children were baptised in their mother's Catholic faith, even though their father was a former Protestant who had turned agnostic. Religion was not emphasised in the household. [9]

McCartney attended Stockton Wood Road Primary School in Speke from 1947 until 1949, when he transferred to Joseph Williams Junior School in Belle Vale because of overcrowding at Stockton. [10] In 1953, he was one of only three students out of 90 to pass the 11-Plus exam, meaning he could attend the Liverpool Institute, a grammar school rather than a secondary modern school. [11] In 1954, he met schoolmate George Harrison on the bus from his suburban home in Speke. The two quickly became friends McCartney later admitted: "I tended to talk down to him because he was a year younger." [12]

— Paul McCartney, Playboy interview, 1984

McCartney's mother, Mary, was a midwife and the family's primary wage earner her earnings enabled them to move into 20 Forthlin Road in Allerton, [14] where they lived until 1964. [15] She rode a bicycle to her patients McCartney described an early memory of her leaving at "about three in the morning [the] streets . thick with snow". [16] On 31 October 1956, when McCartney was 14, his mother died of an embolism as a complication of surgery for breast cancer. [17] McCartney's loss later became a connection with John Lennon, whose mother, Julia, had died when he was 17. [18]

McCartney's father was a trumpet player and pianist who led Jim Mac's Jazz Band in the 1920s. He kept an upright piano in the front room, encouraged his sons to be musical and advised McCartney to take piano lessons. However, McCartney preferred to learn by ear. [19] [nb 1] When McCartney was 11, his father encouraged him to audition for the Liverpool Cathedral choir, but he was not accepted. McCartney then joined the choir at St Barnabas' Church, Mossley Hill. [22] McCartney received a nickel-plated trumpet from his father for his fourteenth birthday, but when rock and roll became popular on Radio Luxembourg, McCartney traded it for a £15 Framus Zenith (model 17) acoustic guitar, since he wanted to be able to sing while playing. [23] He found it difficult to play guitar right-handed, but after noticing a poster advertising a Slim Whitman concert and realising that Whitman played left-handed, he reversed the order of the strings. [24] McCartney wrote his first song, "I Lost My Little Girl", on the Zenith, and composed another early tune that would become "When I'm Sixty-Four" on the piano. American rhythm and blues influenced him, and Little Richard was his schoolboy idol "Long Tall Sally" was the first song McCartney performed in public, at a Butlin's Filey holiday camp talent competition. [25]

1957–1960: The Quarrymen

At the age of fifteen on 6 July 1957, McCartney met John Lennon and his band, the Quarrymen, at the St Peter's Church Hall fête in Woolton. [26] The Quarrymen played a mix of rock and roll and skiffle, a type of popular music with jazz, blues and folk influences. [27] Soon afterwards, the members of the band invited McCartney to join as a rhythm guitarist, and he formed a close working relationship with Lennon. Harrison joined in 1958 as lead guitarist, followed by Lennon's art school friend Stuart Sutcliffe on bass, in 1960. [28] By May 1960, the band had tried several names, including Johnny and the Moondogs, Beatals and the Silver Beetles. [29] They adopted the name the Beatles in August 1960 and recruited drummer Pete Best shortly before a five-engagement residency in Hamburg. [30]

1960–1970: The Beatles

In 1961, Sutcliffe left the band and McCartney reluctantly became their bass player. [31] While in Hamburg, they recorded professionally for the first time and were credited as the Beat Brothers, who were the backing band for English singer Tony Sheridan on the single "My Bonnie". [32] This resulted in attention from Brian Epstein, who was a key figure in their subsequent development and success. He became their manager in January 1962. [33] Ringo Starr replaced Best in August, and the band had their first hit, "Love Me Do", in October, becoming popular in the UK in 1963, and in the US a year later. The fan hysteria became known as "Beatlemania", and the press sometimes referred to McCartney as the "cute Beatle". [34] [nb 2] McCartney co-wrote (with Lennon) several of their early hits, including "I Saw Her Standing There", "She Loves You", "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (1963) and "Can't Buy Me Love" (1964). [36]

In August 1965, the Beatles released the McCartney composition "Yesterday", featuring a string quartet. Included on the Help! LP, the song was the group's first recorded use of classical music elements and their first recording that involved only a single band member. [37] "Yesterday" became one of the most covered songs in popular music history. [38] Later that year, during recording sessions for the album Rubber Soul, McCartney began to supplant Lennon as the dominant musical force in the band. Musicologist Ian MacDonald wrote, "from [1965] . [McCartney] would be in the ascendant not only as a songwriter, but also as instrumentalist, arranger, producer, and de facto musical director of the Beatles." [39] Critics described Rubber Soul as a significant advance in the refinement and profundity of the band's music and lyrics. [40] Considered a high point in the Beatles catalogue, both Lennon and McCartney said they had written the music for the song "In My Life". [41] McCartney said of the album, "we'd had our cute period, and now it was time to expand." [42] Recording engineer Norman Smith stated that the Rubber Soul sessions exposed indications of increasing contention within the band: "the clash between John and Paul was becoming obvious . [and] as far as Paul was concerned, George [Harrison] could do no right—Paul was absolutely finicky." [43]

In 1966, the Beatles released the album Revolver. Featuring sophisticated lyrics, studio experimentation, and an expanded repertoire of musical genres ranging from innovative string arrangements to psychedelic rock, the album marked an artistic leap for the Beatles. [44] The first of three consecutive McCartney A-sides, the single "Paperback Writer" preceded the LP's release. [45] The Beatles produced a short promotional film for the song, and another for its B-side, "Rain". The films, described by Harrison as "the forerunner of videos", aired on The Ed Sullivan Show and Top of the Pops in June 1966. [46] Revolver also included McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby", which featured a string octet. According to Gould, the song is "a neoclassical tour de force . a true hybrid, conforming to no recognizable style or genre of song". [47] Except for some backing vocals, the song included only McCartney's lead vocal and the strings arranged by producer George Martin. [48] [nb 3]

The band gave their final commercial concert at the end of their 1966 US tour. [50] Later that year, McCartney completed his first musical project independently of the group—a film score for the UK production The Family Way. The score was a collaboration with Martin, who used two McCartney themes to write thirteen variations. The soundtrack failed to chart, but it won McCartney an Ivor Novello Award for Best Instrumental Theme. [51]

Upon the end of the Beatles' performing career, McCartney sensed unease in the band and wanted them to maintain creative productivity. He pressed them to start a new project, which became Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, widely regarded as rock's first concept album. [52] McCartney was inspired to create a new persona for the group, to serve as a vehicle for experimentation and to demonstrate to their fans that they had musically matured. He invented the fictional band of the album's title track. [53] As McCartney explained, "We were fed up with being the Beatles. We really hated that fucking four little mop-top approach. We were not boys we were men . and [we] thought of ourselves as artists rather than just performers." [54]

Starting in November 1966, the band adopted an experimental attitude during recording sessions for the album. [55] Their recording of "A Day in the Life" required a forty-piece orchestra, which Martin and McCartney took turns conducting. [56] The sessions produced the double A-side single "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane" in February 1967, and the LP followed in June. [35] [nb 4] Based on an ink drawing by McCartney, the LP's cover included a collage designed by pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, featuring the Beatles in costume as the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, standing with a host of celebrities. [58] The cover piqued a frenzy of analysis. [59]

— John Lennon, Rolling Stone magazine, 1970

Epstein's death in August 1967 created a void, which left the Beatles perplexed and concerned about their future. [61] McCartney stepped in to fill that void and gradually became the de facto leader and business manager of the group that Lennon had once led. [62] In his first creative suggestion after this change of leadership, McCartney proposed that the band move forward on their plans to produce a film for television, which was to become Magical Mystery Tour. According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, the project was "an administrative nightmare throughout". [63] McCartney largely directed the film, which brought the group their first unfavourable critical response. [64] However, the film's soundtrack was more successful. It was released in the UK as a six-track double extended play disc (EP), and as an identically titled LP in the US, filled out with five songs from the band's recent singles. [35] The only Capitol compilation later included in the group's official canon of studio albums, the Magical Mystery Tour LP achieved $8 million in sales within three weeks of its release, higher initial sales than any other Capitol LP up to that point. [65]

The Beatles' animated film Yellow Submarine, loosely based on the imaginary world evoked by McCartney's 1966 composition, premiered in July 1968. Though critics admired the film for its visual style, humour and music, the soundtrack album issued six months later received a less enthusiastic response. [66] By late 1968, relations within the band were deteriorating. The tension grew during the recording of their eponymous double album, also known as the "White Album". [67] [nb 5] Matters worsened the following year during the Let It Be sessions, when a camera crew filmed McCartney lecturing the group: "We've been very negative since Mr. Epstein passed away . we were always fighting [his] discipline a bit, but it's silly to fight that discipline if it's our own". [69]

In March 1969, McCartney married his first wife, Linda Eastman, and in August, the couple had their first child, Mary, named after his late mother. [70] Abbey Road was the band's last recorded album, and Martin suggested "a continuously moving piece of music", urging the group to think symphonically. [71] McCartney agreed, but Lennon did not. They eventually compromised, agreeing to McCartney's suggestion: an LP featuring individual songs on side one, and a long medley on side two. [71] In October 1969, a rumour surfaced that McCartney had died in a car crash in 1966 and was replaced by a lookalike, but this was quickly refuted when a November Life magazine cover featured him and his family, accompanied by the caption "Paul is still with us". [72]

McCartney was in the midst of business disagreements with his bandmates when he announced his departure from the group on 10 April 1970. [73] He filed a suit for the band's formal dissolution on 31 December 1970, and in March 1971 the court appointed a receiver to oversee Apple's finances. An English court legally dissolved the Beatles' partnership on 9 January 1975, though sporadic lawsuits against their record company EMI, Klein, and each other persisted until 1989. [62] [nb 6] [nb 7]

1970–1981: Wings

As the Beatles were breaking up in 1969–70, McCartney fell into a depression. His wife helped him pull out of that condition by praising his work as a songwriter and convincing him to continue writing and recording. In her honour, he wrote "Maybe I'm Amazed", explaining that with the Beatles breaking up, "that was my feeling: Maybe I'm amazed at what's going on . Maybe I'm a man and maybe you're the only woman who could ever help me Baby won't you help me understand . Maybe I'm amazed at the way you pulled me out of time, hung me on the line, Maybe I'm amazed at the way I really need you." He added that "every love song I write is for Linda." [79] [80]

In 1970, McCartney continued his musical career with his first solo release, McCartney, a US number-one album. Apart from some vocal contributions from Linda, McCartney is a one-man album, with McCartney providing compositions, instrumentation and vocals. [81] [nb 8] In 1971, he collaborated with Linda and drummer Denny Seiwell on a second album, Ram. A UK number one and a US top five, Ram included the co-written US number-one hit single "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey". [83] Later that year, ex-Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine joined the McCartneys and Seiwell to form the band Wings. McCartney had this to say on the group's formation: "Wings were always a difficult idea . any group having to follow [the Beatles'] success would have a hard job . I found myself in that very position. However, it was a choice between going on or finishing, and I loved music too much to think of stopping." [84] [nb 9] In September 1971, the McCartneys' daughter Stella was born, named in honour of Linda's grandmothers, both of whom were named Stella. [86]

Following the addition of guitarist Henry McCullough, Wings' first concert tour began in 1972 with a debut performance in front of an audience of seven hundred at the University of Nottingham. Ten more gigs followed as they travelled across the UK in a van during an unannounced tour of universities, during which the band stayed in modest accommodation and received pay in coinage collected from students, while avoiding Beatles songs during their performances. [87] McCartney later said, "The main thing I didn't want was to come on stage, faced with the whole torment of five rows of press people with little pads, all looking at me and saying, 'Oh well, he is not as good as he was.' So we decided to go out on that university tour which made me less nervous . by the end of that tour I felt ready for something else, so we went into Europe." [88] During the seven-week, 25-show Wings Over Europe Tour, the band played almost solely Wings and McCartney solo material: the Little Richard cover "Long Tall Sally" was the only song that had previously been recorded by the Beatles. McCartney wanted the tour to avoid large venues most of the small halls they played had capacities of fewer than 3,000 people. [89]

In March 1973, Wings achieved their first US number-one single, "My Love", included on their second LP, Red Rose Speedway, a US number one and UK top five. [90] [nb 10] McCartney's collaboration with Linda and former Beatles producer Martin resulted in the song "Live and Let Die", which was the theme song for the James Bond film of the same name. Nominated for an Academy Award, the song reached number two in the US and number nine in the UK. It also earned Martin a Grammy for his orchestral arrangement. [91] Music professor and author Vincent Benitez described the track as "symphonic rock at its best". [92] [nb 11]

After the departure of McCullough and Seiwell in 1973, the McCartneys and Laine recorded Band on the Run. The album was the first of seven platinum Wings LPs. [94] It was a US and UK number one, the band's first to top the charts in both countries and the first ever to reach Billboard magazine's charts on three separate occasions. One of the best-selling releases of the decade, it remained on the UK charts for 124 weeks. Rolling Stone named it one of the Best Albums of the Year for 1973, and in 1975, Paul McCartney and Wings won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance for the song "Band on the Run" and Geoff Emerick won the Grammy for Best Engineered Recording for the album. [95] [nb 12] In 1974, Wings achieved a second US number-one single with the title track. [97] The album also included the top-ten hits "Jet" and "Helen Wheels", and earned the 413th spot on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. [98] [nb 13]

Wings followed Band on the Run with the chart-topping albums Venus and Mars (1975) and Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976). [100] [nb 14] In 1975, they began the fourteen-month Wings Over the World Tour, which included stops in the UK, Australia, Europe and the US. The tour marked the first time McCartney performed Beatles songs live with Wings, with five in the two-hour set list: "I've Just Seen a Face", "Yesterday", "Blackbird", "Lady Madonna" and "The Long and Winding Road". [102] Following the second European leg of the tour and extensive rehearsals in London, the group undertook an ambitious US arena tour that yielded the US number-one live triple LP Wings over America. [103]

In September 1977, the McCartneys had a third child, a son they named James. In November, the Wings song "Mull of Kintyre", co-written with Laine, was quickly becoming one of the best-selling singles in UK chart history. [104] The most successful single of McCartney's solo career, it achieved double the sales of the previous record holder, "She Loves You", and went on to sell 2.5 million copies and hold the UK sales record until the 1984 charity single, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" [105] [nb 15]

London Town (1978) spawned a US number-one single ("With a Little Luck"), and continued Wings' string of commercial successes, making the top five in both the US and the UK. Critical reception was unfavourable, and McCartney expressed disappointment with the album. [107] [nb 16] Back to the Egg (1979) featured McCartney's assemblage of a rock supergroup dubbed "Rockestra" on two tracks. The band included Wings along with Pete Townshend, David Gilmour, Gary Brooker, John Paul Jones, John Bonham and others. Though certified platinum, critics panned the album. [109] Wings completed their final concert tour in 1979, with twenty shows in the UK that included the live debut of the Beatles songs "Got to Get You into My Life", "The Fool on the Hill" and "Let it Be". [110]

In 1980, McCartney released his second solo LP, the self-produced McCartney II, which peaked at number one in the UK and number three in the US. As with his first album, he composed and performed it alone. [111] The album contained the song "Coming Up", the live version of which, recorded in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1979 by Wings, became the group's last number-one hit. [112] By 1981, McCartney felt he had accomplished all he could creatively with Wings and decided he needed a change. The group discontinued in April 1981 after Laine quit following disagreements over royalties and salaries. [113] [nb 17] [nb 18]

1982–1990

In 1982, McCartney collaborated with Stevie Wonder on the Martin-produced number-one hit "Ebony and Ivory", included on McCartney's Tug of War LP, and with Michael Jackson on "The Girl Is Mine" from Thriller. [117] [nb 19] "Ebony and Ivory" was McCartney's record 28th single to hit number one on the Billboard 100. [119] The following year, he and Jackson worked on "Say Say Say", McCartney's most recent US number one as of 2014 [update] . McCartney earned his latest UK number one as of 2014 [update] with the title track of his LP release that year, "Pipes of Peace". [120] [nb 20]

In 1984, McCartney starred in the musical Give My Regards to Broad Street, a feature film he also wrote and produced which included Starr in an acting role. It was disparaged by critics: Variety described the film as "characterless, bloodless, and pointless" [122] while Roger Ebert awarded it a single star, writing, "you can safely skip the movie and proceed directly to the soundtrack". [123] The album fared much better, reaching number one in the UK and producing the US top-ten hit single "No More Lonely Nights", featuring David Gilmour on lead guitar. [124] In 1985, Warner Brothers commissioned McCartney to write a song for the comedic feature film Spies Like Us. He composed and recorded the track in four days, with Phil Ramone co-producing. [125] [nb 21] McCartney participated in Live Aid, performing "Let it Be", but technical difficulties rendered his vocals and piano barely audible for the first two verses, punctuated by squeals of feedback. Equipment technicians resolved the problems and David Bowie, Alison Moyet, Pete Townshend and Bob Geldof joined McCartney on stage, receiving an enthusiastic crowd reaction. [127]

McCartney collaborated with Eric Stewart on Press to Play (1986), with Stewart co-writing more than half the songs on the LP. [128] [nb 22] In 1988, McCartney released Снова в СССР, initially available only in the Soviet Union, which contained eighteen covers recorded over the course of two days. [130] In 1989, he joined forces with fellow Merseysiders Gerry Marsden and Holly Johnson to record an updated version of "Ferry Cross the Mersey", for the Hillsborough disaster appeal fund. [131] [nb 23] That same year, he released Flowers in the Dirt a collaborative effort with Elvis Costello that included musical contributions from Gilmour and Nicky Hopkins. [133] [nb 24] McCartney then formed a band consisting of himself and Linda, with Hamish Stuart and Robbie McIntosh on guitars, Paul "Wix" Wickens on keyboards and Chris Whitten on drums. [135] In September 1989, they launched the Paul McCartney World Tour, his first in over a decade. During the tour, McCartney performed for the largest paying stadium audience in history on 21 April 1990, when 184,000 people attended his concert at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. [136] That year, he released the triple album Tripping the Live Fantastic, which contained selected performances from the tour. [137] [nb 25] [nb 26]

1991–1999

McCartney ventured into orchestral music in 1991 when the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society commissioned a musical piece by him to celebrate its sesquicentennial. He collaborated with composer Carl Davis, producing Liverpool Oratorio. The performance featured opera singers Kiri Te Kanawa, Sally Burgess, Jerry Hadley and Willard White with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the choir of Liverpool Cathedral. [140] Reviews were negative. The Guardian was especially critical, describing the music as "afraid of anything approaching a fast tempo", and adding that the piece has "little awareness of the need for recurrent ideas that will bind the work into a whole". [141] The paper published a letter McCartney submitted in response in which he noted several of the work's faster tempos and added, "happily, history shows that many good pieces of music were not liked by the critics of the time so I am content to . let people judge for themselves the merits of the work." [141] The New York Times was slightly more generous, stating, "There are moments of beauty and pleasure in this dramatic miscellany . the music's innocent sincerity makes it difficult to be put off by its ambitions". [142] Performed around the world after its London premiere, the Liverpool Oratorio reached number one on the UK classical chart, Music Week. [143]

In 1991, McCartney performed a selection of acoustic-only songs on MTV Unplugged and released a live album of the performance titled Unplugged (The Official Bootleg). [144] [nb 27] During the 1990s, McCartney collaborated twice with Youth of Killing Joke as the musical duo "the Fireman". The two released their first electronica album together, Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest, in 1993. [146] McCartney released the rock album Off the Ground in 1993. [147] [nb 28] The subsequent New World Tour followed, which led to the release of the Paul Is Live album later that year. [149] [nb 29] [nb 30]

Starting in 1994, McCartney took a four-year break from his solo career to work on Apple's Beatles Anthology project with Harrison, Starr and Martin. He recorded a radio series called Oobu Joobu in 1995 for the American network Westwood One, which he described as "widescreen radio". [153] Also in 1995, Prince Charles presented him with an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Music—"kind of amazing for somebody who doesn't read a note of music", commented McCartney. [154]

In 1997, McCartney released the rock album Flaming Pie. Starr appeared on drums and backing vocals in "Beautiful Night". [155] [nb 31] Later that year, he released the classical work Standing Stone, which topped the UK and US classical charts. [157] In 1998, he released Rushes, the second electronica album by the Fireman. [158] In 1999, McCartney released Run Devil Run. [159] [nb 32] Recorded in one week, and featuring Ian Paice and David Gilmour, it was primarily an album of covers with three McCartney originals. He had been planning such an album for years, having been previously encouraged to do so by Linda, who had died of cancer in April 1998. [160]

McCartney did an unannounced performance at the benefit tribute, "Concert for Linda," his wife of 29 years who died a year earlier. It was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 10 April 1999, and was organised by two of her close friends, Chrissie Hynde and Carla Lane. Also during 1999, he continued his experimentation with orchestral music on Working Classical. [161]

2000–2009

In 2000, he released the electronica album Liverpool Sound Collage with Super Furry Animals and Youth, using the sound collage and musique concrète techniques that had fascinated him in the mid-1960s. [162] He contributed the song "Nova" to a tribute album of classical, choral music called A Garland for Linda (2000), dedicated to his late wife. [163]

Having witnessed the 11 September 2001 attacks from the JFK airport tarmac, McCartney was inspired to take a leading role in organising the Concert for New York City. His studio album release in November that year, Driving Rain, included the song "Freedom", written in response to the attacks. [164] [nb 33] The following year, McCartney went out on tour with a band that included guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, accompanied by Paul "Wix" Wickens on keyboards and Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums. [166] They began the Driving World Tour in April 2002, which included stops in the US, Mexico and Japan. The tour resulted in the double live album Back in the US, released internationally in 2003 as Back in the World. [167] [nb 34] [nb 35] The tour earned a reported $126.2 million, an average of over $2 million per night, and Billboard named it the top tour of the year. [169] The group continues to play together McCartney has played live with Brian Ray, Rusty Anderson, Abe Laboriel Jr. and Wix Wickens longer than he played live with the Beatles. [170]

In July 2002, McCartney married Heather Mills. In November, on the first anniversary of George Harrison's death, McCartney performed at the Concert for George. [171] He participated in the National Football League's Super Bowl, performing "Freedom" during the pre-game show for Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 and headlining the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005. [172] The English College of Arms honoured McCartney in 2002 by granting him a coat of arms. His crest, featuring a Liver bird holding an acoustic guitar in its claw, reflects his background in Liverpool and his musical career. The shield includes four curved emblems which resemble beetles' backs. The arms' motto is Ecce Cor Meum, Latin for "Behold My Heart". [173] In 2003, the McCartneys had a child, Beatrice Milly. [174]

In July 2005, he performed at the Live 8 event in Hyde Park, London, opening the show with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (with U2) and closing it with "Drive My Car" (with George Michael), "Helter Skelter", and "The Long and Winding Road". [175] [nb 36] In September, he released the rock album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, for which he provided most of the instrumentation. [177] [nb 37] [nb 38] In 2006, McCartney released the classical work Ecce Cor Meum. [180] [nb 39] The rock album Memory Almost Full followed in 2007. [181] [nb 40] In 2008, he released his third Fireman album, Electric Arguments. [183] [nb 41] Also in 2008, he performed at a concert in Liverpool to celebrate the city's year as European Capital of Culture. In 2009, after a four-year break, he returned to touring and has since performed over 80 shows. [185] More than forty-five years after the Beatles first appeared on American television during The Ed Sullivan Show, he returned to the same New York theatre to perform on Late Show with David Letterman. [186] On 9 September 2009, EMI reissued the Beatles catalogue following a four-year digital remastering effort, releasing a music video game called The Beatles: Rock Band the same day. [187]

McCartney's enduring fame has made him a popular choice to open new venues. In 2009, he performed three sold-out concerts at the newly built Citi Field, a venue constructed to replace Shea Stadium in Queens, New York. These performances yielded the double live album Good Evening New York City later that year. [188]

2010–present

In 2010, McCartney opened the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania it was his first concert in Pittsburgh since 1990 due to the old Civic Arena being deemed unsuitable for McCartney's logistical needs. [189] [nb 42] In July 2011, McCartney performed at two sold-out concerts at the new Yankee Stadium. A New York Times review of the first concert reported that McCartney was "not saying goodbye but touring stadiums and playing marathon concerts". [191] McCartney was commissioned by the New York City Ballet, and in September 2011, he released his first score for dance, a collaboration with Peter Martins called Ocean's Kingdom. [192] Also in 2011, McCartney married Nancy Shevell. [193] He released Kisses on the Bottom, a collection of standards, in February 2012, the same month that the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences honoured him as the MusiCares Person of the Year, two days prior to his performance at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards. [194]

McCartney remains one of the world's top draws. He played to over 100,000 people during two performances in Mexico City in May, with the shows grossing nearly $6 million. [195] [nb 43] In June 2012, McCartney closed Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee Concert held outside Buckingham Palace, performing a set that included "Let It Be" and "Live and Let Die". [197] He closed the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on 27 July, singing "The End" and "Hey Jude" and inviting the audience to join in on the coda. [198] Having donated his time, he received £1 from the Olympic organisers. [199]

On 12 December 2012, McCartney performed with three former members of Nirvana (Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl, and Pat Smear) during the closing act of 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief, seen by approximately two billion people worldwide. [200] On 28 August 2013, McCartney released the title track of his upcoming studio album New, which came out in October 2013. [201] A primetime entertainment special was taped on 27 January 2014 at the Ed Sullivan Theater with a 9 February 2014 CBS airing. The show featured McCartney and Ringo Starr, and celebrated the legacy of the Beatles and their groundbreaking 1964 performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The show, titled The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles, featured 22 classic Beatles songs as performed by various artists, including McCartney and Starr. [202]

In May 2014, McCartney canceled a sold-out tour of Japan and postponed a US tour to October due to begin that month after he contracted a virus. [203] He resumed the tour with a high-energy three-hour appearance in Albany, New York on 5 July 2014. [204] On 14 August 2014, McCartney performed in the final concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California before its demolition. It was the same venue that the Beatles played their final concert in 1966. [205] In 2014, McCartney wrote and performed "Hope for the Future," the ending song for the video game Destiny. [206] [207] In November 2014, a 42-song tribute album titled The Art of McCartney was released, which features a wide range of artists covering McCartney's solo and Beatles work. [208] Also that year, McCartney collaborated with American rapper Kanye West on the single "Only One", released on 31 December. [209] In January 2015, McCartney collaborated with West and Barbadian singer Rihanna on the single "FourFiveSeconds". [210] They released a music video for the song in January [211] and performed it live at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards on 8 February 2015. [212] McCartney featured on West's 2015 single "All Day", which also features Theophilus London and Allan Kingdom. [213]

In February 2015, McCartney performed with Paul Simon for the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special. McCartney and Simon performed the first verse of "I've Just Seen a Face" on acoustic guitars, and McCartney later performed "Maybe I'm Amazed". [214] McCartney shared lead vocals on the Alice Cooper-led Hollywood Vampires supergroup's cover of his song "Come and Get It", which appears on their debut album, released on 11 September 2015. [215] On 10 June 2016, McCartney released the career-spanning collection Pure McCartney. [216] The set includes songs from throughout McCartney's solo career and his work with Wings and the Fireman, and is available in three different formats (2-CD, 4-CD, 4-LP and Digital). The 4-CD version includes 67 tracks, most of which were top-40 hits. [217] [218] McCartney appeared in the 2017 adventure film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. [219]

In January 2017, McCartney filed a suit in United States district court against Sony/ATV Music Publishing seeking to reclaim ownership of his share of the Lennon–McCartney song catalogue beginning in 2018. Under US copyright law, for works published before 1978 the author can reclaim copyrights assigned to a publisher after 56 years. [220] [221] McCartney and Sony agreed a confidential settlement in June 2017. [222] [223] On 20 June 2018, McCartney released "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me" from his album Egypt Station, which was released on 7 September through Capitol Records. [224] Egypt Station became McCartney's first album in 36 years to top the Billboard 200, and his first to debut at number one. [225]

McCartney's 18th solo album, McCartney III, was released on 18 December 2020, via Capitol Records. [226] [227] An album of "reinterpretations, remixes, and covers" titled McCartney III Imagined was released on 16 April 2021. [228]

McCartney is a largely self-taught musician, and his approach was described by musicologist Ian MacDonald as "by nature drawn to music's formal aspects yet wholly untutored . [he] produced technically 'finished' work almost entirely by instinct, his harmonic judgement based mainly on perfect pitch and an acute pair of ears . [A] natural melodist—a creator of tunes capable of existing apart from their harmony." [229] McCartney likened his approach to "the primitive cave artists, who drew without training". [230]

Early influences

— McCartney on Presley, The Beatles Anthology, 2000

McCartney's earliest musical influences include Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, and Chuck Berry. [232] When asked why the Beatles did not include Presley on the Sgt. Pepper cover, McCartney replied, "Elvis was too important and too far above the rest even to mention . so we didn't put him on the list because he was more than merely a . pop singer, he was Elvis the King." [233] McCartney stated that for his bassline for "I Saw Her Standing There", he directly quoted Berry's "I'm Talking About You". [234]

McCartney called Little Richard an idol, whose falsetto vocalisations inspired McCartney's own vocal technique. [235] McCartney said he wrote "I'm Down" as a vehicle for his Little Richard impersonation. [236] In 1971, McCartney bought the publishing rights to Holly's catalogue, and in 1976, on the fortieth anniversary of Holly's birth, McCartney inaugurated the annual "Buddy Holly Week" in England. The festival has included guest performances by famous musicians, songwriting competitions, drawing contests and special events featuring performances by the Crickets. [237]

Bass guitar

Best known for primarily using a plectrum or pick, McCartney occasionally plays fingerstyle. [238] He was strongly influenced by Motown artists, in particular James Jamerson, whom McCartney called a hero for his melodic style. He was also influenced by Brian Wilson, as he commented: "because he went to very unusual places". [239] Another favourite bassist of his is Stanley Clarke. [240] McCartney's skill as a bass player has been acknowledged by bassists including Sting, Dr. Dre bassist Mike Elizondo, and Colin Moulding of XTC. [241]

— Lennon, Playboy magazine published in January 1981

During McCartney's early years with the Beatles, he primarily used a Höfner 500/1 bass, although from 1965, he favoured his Rickenbacker 4001S for recording. While typically using Vox amplifiers, by 1967, he had also begun using a Fender Bassman for amplification. [243] During the late 1980s and early 1990s, he used a Wal 5-String, which he said made him play more thick-sounding basslines, in contrast to the much lighter Höfner, which inspired him to play more sensitively, something he considers fundamental to his playing style. [244] He changed back to the Höfner around 1990 for that reason. [244] He uses Mesa Boogie bass amplifiers while performing live. [245]

MacDonald identified "She's a Woman" as the turning point when McCartney's bass playing began to evolve dramatically, and Beatles biographer Chris Ingham singled out Rubber Soul as the moment when McCartney's playing exhibited significant progress, particularly on "The Word". [246] Bacon and Morgan agreed, calling McCartney's groove on the track "a high point in pop bass playing and . the first proof on a recording of his serious technical ability on the instrument." [247] MacDonald inferred the influence of James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour", American soul tracks from which McCartney absorbed elements and drew inspiration as he "delivered his most spontaneous bass-part to date". [248]

Bacon and Morgan described his bassline for the Beatles song "Rain" as "an astonishing piece of playing . [McCartney] thinking in terms of both rhythm and 'lead bass' . [choosing] the area of the neck . he correctly perceives will give him clarity for melody without rendering his sound too thin for groove." [249] MacDonald identified the influence of Indian classical music in "exotic melismas in the bass part" on "Rain" and described the playing as "so inventive that it threatens to overwhelm the track". [250] By contrast, he recognised McCartney's bass part on the Harrison-composed "Something" as creative but overly busy and "too fussily extemporised". [251] McCartney identified Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band as containing his strongest and most inventive bass playing, particularly on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". [252]

Acoustic guitar

— McCartney, Guitar Player, July 1990

McCartney primarily flatpicks while playing acoustic guitar, though he also uses elements of fingerpicking. [253] Examples of his acoustic guitar playing on Beatles tracks include "Yesterday", "I'm Looking Through You", "Michelle", "Blackbird", "I Will", "Mother Nature's Son" and "Rocky Raccoon". [254] McCartney singled out "Blackbird" as a personal favourite and described his technique for the guitar part in the following way: "I got my own little sort of cheating way of [fingerpicking] . I'm actually sort of pulling two strings at a time . I was trying to emulate those folk players." [253] He employed a similar technique for "Jenny Wren". [255] He played an Epiphone Texan on many of his acoustic recordings, but also used a Martin D-28. [256]

Electric guitar

— McCartney, Guitar Player, July 1990

McCartney played lead guitar on several Beatles recordings, including what MacDonald described as a "fiercely angular slide guitar solo" on "Drive My Car", which McCartney played on an Epiphone Casino. McCartney said of the instrument: "if I had to pick one electric guitar it would be this." [258] McCartney bought the Casino in 1964, on the knowledge that the guitar's hollow body would produce more feedback. He has retained that original guitar to the present day. [259] He contributed what MacDonald described as "a startling guitar solo" on the Harrison composition "Taxman" and the "shrieking" guitar on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Helter Skelter". MacDonald also praised McCartney's "coruscating pseudo-Indian" guitar solo on "Good Morning Good Morning". [260] McCartney also played lead guitar on "Another Girl". [261]

During his years with Wings, McCartney tended to leave electric guitar work to other group members, [262] though he played most of the lead guitar on Band on the Run. [263] In 1990, when asked who his favourite guitar players were he included Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton and David Gilmour, stating, "but I still like Hendrix the best". [253] He has primarily used a Gibson Les Paul for electric work, particularly during live performances. [245]

In addition to these guitars, McCartney is known to use and own a range of other electric guitars, usually favouring the Fender Esquire and its subsequent incarnation, the Fender Telecaster, using the latter with a sunburst finish on Wings' tours in the 1970s. He also owns a rare Ampeg Dan Armstrong Plexi guitar, the only left handed one known to be in existence, which appeared in the Wings video for "Helen Wheels". [264]

Vocals

McCartney is known for his belting power, versatility and wide tenor vocal range, spanning over four octaves. [265] [266] He was ranked the 11th greatest singer of all time by Rolling Stone, [267] voted the 8th greatest singer ever by NME readers [268] and number 10 by Music Radar readers in the list of "the 30 greatest lead singers of all time". [269] Over the years, McCartney has been named a significant vocal influence by Chris Cornell, [270] Billy Joel, [271] Steven Tyler, [272] Brad Delp, [273] and Axl Rose. [274]

McCartney's vocals have crossed several music genres throughout his career. On "Call Me Back Again", according to Benitez, "McCartney shines as a bluesy solo vocalist", while MacDonald called "I'm Down" "a rock-and-roll classic" that "illustrates McCartney's vocal and stylistic versatility". [275] MacDonald described "Helter Skelter" as an early attempt at heavy metal, and "Hey Jude" as a "pop/rock hybrid", pointing out McCartney's "use of gospel-style melismas" in the song and his "pseudo-soul shrieking in the fade-out". [276] Benitez identified "Hope of Deliverance" and "Put It There" as examples of McCartney's folk music efforts while musicologist Walter Everett considered "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "Honey Pie" attempts at vaudeville. [277] MacDonald praised the "swinging beat" of the Beatles' twenty-four bar blues song, "She's a Woman" as "the most extreme sound they had manufactured to date", with McCartney's voice "at the edge, squeezed to the upper limit of his chest register and threatening to crack at any moment." [278] MacDonald described "I've Got a Feeling" as a "raunchy, mid-tempo rocker" with a "robust and soulful" vocal performance and "Back in the U.S.S.R." as "the last of [the Beatles'] up-tempo rockers", McCartney's "belting" vocals among his best since "Drive My Car", recorded three years earlier. [279]

McCartney also teasingly tried out classical singing, namely singing various renditions of "Besame Mucho" with the Beatles. He continued experimenting with various musical and vocal styles throughout his post-Beatles career. [280] [281] [282] [ text–source integrity? ] "Monkberry Moon Delight" was described by Pitchfork's Jayson Greene as "an absolutely unhinged vocal take, Paul gulping and sobbing right next to your inner ear", adding that "it could be a latter-day Tom Waits performance". [283]

Keyboards

McCartney played piano on several Beatles songs, including "She's a Woman", "For No One", "A Day in the Life", "Hello, Goodbye", "Lady Madonna", "Hey Jude", "Martha My Dear", "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road". [284] MacDonald considered the piano part in "Lady Madonna" as reminiscent of Fats Domino, and "Let It Be" as having a gospel rhythm. [285] MacDonald called McCartney's Mellotron intro on "Strawberry Fields Forever" an integral feature of the song's character. [286] McCartney played a Moog synthesizer on the Beatles song "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and the Wings track "Loup (1st Indian on the Moon)". [287] Ingham described the Wings songs "With a Little Luck" and "London Town" as being "full of the most sensitive pop synthesizer touches". [288]

Drums

McCartney played drums on the Beatles' songs "Back in the U.S.S.R.", "Dear Prudence", "Martha My Dear", "Wild Honey Pie" and "The Ballad of John and Yoko". [289] He also played all the drum parts on his albums McCartney, McCartney II and McCartney III, as well as on Wings' Band on the Run, and most of the drums on his solo LP Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. [290] His other drumming contributions include Paul Jones' rendition of "And the Sun Will Shine" (1968), [291] Steve Miller Band's 1969 tracks "Celebration Song" and "My Dark Hour", [292] [293] and "Sunday Rain" from the Foo Fighters' 2017 album Concrete and Gold. [294]

Tape loops

In the mid-1960s, when visiting artist friend John Dunbar's flat in London, McCartney brought tapes he had compiled at then-girlfriend Jane Asher's home. They included mixes of various songs, musical pieces and comments made by McCartney that Dick James made into a demo for him. [295] Heavily influenced by American avant-garde musician John Cage, McCartney made tape loops by recording voices, guitars and bongos on a Brenell tape recorder and splicing the various loops. He referred to the finished product as "electronic symphonies". [296] He reversed the tapes, sped them up, and slowed them down to create the desired effects, some of which the Beatles later used on the songs "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "The Fool on the Hill". [297]

Creative outlets

While at school during the 1950s, McCartney thrived at art assignments, often earning top accolades for his visual work. However, his lack of discipline negatively affected his academic grades, preventing him from earning admission to art college. [298] During the 1960s, he delved into the visual arts, explored experimental cinema, and regularly attended film, theatrical and classical music performances. His first contact with the London avant-garde scene was through artist John Dunbar, who introduced McCartney to art dealer Robert Fraser. [299] At Fraser's flat he first learned about art appreciation and met Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Peter Blake, and Richard Hamilton. [300] McCartney later purchased works by Magritte, whose painting of an apple had inspired the Apple Records logo. [301] McCartney became involved in the renovation and publicising of the Indica Gallery in Mason's Yard, London, which Barry Miles had co-founded and where Lennon first met Yoko Ono. Miles also co-founded International Times, an underground paper that McCartney helped to start with direct financial support and by providing interviews to attract advertiser income. Miles later wrote McCartney's official biography, Many Years from Now (1997). [302]

McCartney became interested in painting after watching artist Willem de Kooning work in de Kooning's Long Island studio. [303] McCartney took up painting in 1983, and he first exhibited his work in Siegen, Germany, in 1999. The 70-painting show featured portraits of Lennon, Andy Warhol and David Bowie. [304] Though initially reluctant to display his paintings publicly, McCartney chose the gallery because events organiser Wolfgang Suttner showed genuine interest in McCartney's art. [305] In September 2000, the first UK exhibition of McCartney's paintings opened, featuring 500 canvases at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol, England. [306] In October 2000, McCartney's art debuted in his hometown of Liverpool. McCartney said, "I've been offered an exhibition of my paintings at the Walker Art Gallery . where John and I used to spend many a pleasant afternoon. So I'm really excited about it. I didn't tell anybody I painted for 15 years but now I'm out of the closet". [307] McCartney is lead patron of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, a school in the building formerly occupied by the Liverpool Institute for Boys. [308]

When McCartney was a child, his mother read him poems and encouraged him to read books. His father invited Paul and his brother Michael to solve crosswords with him, to increase their "word power", as McCartney said. [309] In 2001, McCartney published Blackbird Singing, a volume of poems and lyrics to his songs for which he gave readings in Liverpool and New York City. [310] In the foreword of the book, he explains: "When I was a teenager . I had an overwhelming desire to have a poem published in the school magazine. I wrote something deep and meaningful—which was promptly rejected—and I suppose I have been trying to get my own back ever since". [311] His first children's book was published by Faber & Faber in 2005, High in the Clouds: An Urban Furry Tail, a collaboration with writer Philip Ardagh and animator Geoff Dunbar. Featuring a squirrel whose woodland home is razed by developers, it had been scripted and sketched by McCartney and Dunbar over several years, as an animated film. The Observer labelled it an "anti-capitalist children's book". [312] In 2018, he wrote the children's book Hey Grandude! together with illustrator Kathryn Durst, which was published by Random House Books in September 2019. The book is about a grandpa and his three grandchildren with a magic compass on an adventure. [313]

In 1981, McCartney asked Geoff Dunbar to direct a short animated film called Rupert and the Frog Song McCartney was the writer and producer, and he also added some of the character voices. [315] His song "We All Stand Together" from the film's soundtrack reached No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart. In 1992, he worked with Dunbar on an animated film about the work of French artist Honoré Daumier, which won them a BAFTA award. [316] In 2004, they worked together on the animated short film Tropic Island Hum. [317] The accompanying single, "Tropic Island Hum"/"We All Stand Together", reached number 21 in the UK. [318]

McCartney also produced and hosted The Real Buddy Holly Story, a 1985 documentary featuring interviews with Keith Richards, Phil and Don Everly, the Holly family, and others. [319] In 1995, he made a guest appearance on the Simpsons episode "Lisa the Vegetarian" and directed a short documentary about the Grateful Dead. [320]

Business

Since the Rich List began in 1989, McCartney has been the UK's wealthiest musician, with an estimated fortune of £730 million in 2015. [321] In addition to an interest in Apple Corps and MPL Communications, an umbrella company for his business interests, he owns a significant music publishing catalogue, with access to over 25,000 copyrights, including the publishing rights to the musicals Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, Annie and Grease. [322] He earned £40 million in 2003, the highest income that year within media professions in the UK. [323] This rose to £48.5 million by 2005. [324] McCartney's 18-date On the Run Tour grossed £37 million in 2012. [325]

McCartney signed his first recording contract, as a member of the Beatles, with Parlophone Records, an EMI subsidiary, in June 1962. In the United States, the Beatles recordings were distributed by EMI subsidiary Capitol Records. The Beatles re-signed with EMI for another nine years in 1967. After forming their own record label, Apple Records, in 1968, the Beatles' recordings would be released through Apple although the masters were still owned by EMI. [35] Following the break-up of the Beatles, McCartney's music continued to be released by Apple Records under the Beatles' 1967 recording contract with EMI which ran until 1976. Following the formal dissolution of the Beatles' partnership in 1975, McCartney re-signed with EMI worldwide and Capitol in the US, Canada and Japan, acquiring ownership of his solo catalogue from EMI as part of the deal. In 1979, McCartney signed with Columbia Records in the US and Canada—reportedly receiving the industry's most lucrative recording contract to date, while remaining with EMI for distribution throughout the rest of the world. [326] As part of the deal, CBS offered McCartney ownership of Frank Music, publisher of the catalogue of American songwriter Frank Loesser. McCartney's album sales were below CBS' expectations and reportedly the company lost at least $9 million on the contract. [327] McCartney returned to Capitol in the US in 1985, remaining with EMI until 2006. [328] In 2007, McCartney signed with Hear Music, becoming the label's first artist. He remains there as of 2012 [update] 's Kisses on the Bottom. [329]

In 1963, Dick James established Northern Songs to publish the songs of Lennon–McCartney. [330] McCartney initially owned 20% of Northern Songs, which became 15% after a public stock offering in 1965. In 1969, James sold a controlling interest in Northern Songs to Lew Grade's Associated Television (ATV) after which McCartney and John Lennon sold their remaining shares although they remained under contract to ATV until 1973. In 1972, McCartney re-signed with ATV for seven years in a joint publishing agreement between ATV and McCartney Music. Since 1979, MPL Communications has published McCartney's songs.

McCartney and Yoko Ono attempted to purchase the Northern Songs catalogue in 1981, but Grade declined their offer. Soon afterward, ATV Music's parent company, Associated Communications Corp., was acquired in a takeover by businessman Robert Holmes à Court, who later sold ATV Music to Michael Jackson in 1985. McCartney has criticised Jackson's purchase and handling of Northern Songs over the years. In 1995, Jackson merged his catalogue with Sony for a reported £59,052,000 ($95 million), establishing Sony/ATV Music Publishing, in which he retained half-ownership. [331] Northern Songs was formally dissolved in 1995, and absorbed into the Sony/ATV catalogue. [332] McCartney receives writers' royalties which together are 33⅓ percent of total commercial proceeds in the US, and which vary elsewhere between 50 and 55 percent. [333] Two of the Beatles' earliest songs—"Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You"—were published by an EMI subsidiary, Ardmore & Beechwood, before signing with James. McCartney acquired their publishing rights from Ardmore in 1978, and they are the only two Beatles songs owned by MPL Communications. [334]

Drugs

McCartney first used drugs in the Beatles' Hamburg days when they often used Preludin to maintain their energy while performing for long periods. [335] Bob Dylan introduced them to marijuana in a New York hotel room in 1964 McCartney recalls getting "very high" and "giggling uncontrollably". [336] His use of the drug soon became habitual, and according to Miles, McCartney wrote the lyrics "another kind of mind" in "Got to Get You into My Life" specifically as a reference to cannabis. [337] During the filming of Help!, McCartney occasionally smoked a joint in the car on the way to the studio during filming, and often forgot his lines. [338] Director Richard Lester overheard two physically attractive women trying to persuade McCartney to use heroin, but he refused. [338] Introduced to cocaine by Robert Fraser, McCartney used the drug regularly during the recording of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and for about a year in total but stopped because of his dislike of the unpleasant melancholy he felt afterwards. [339]

Initially reluctant to try LSD, McCartney eventually did so in late 1966, and took his second "acid trip" in March 1967 with Lennon after a Sgt. Pepper studio session. [340] He later became the first Beatle to discuss the drug publicly, declaring: "It opened my eyes . [and] made me a better, more honest, more tolerant member of society." [341] He made his attitude about cannabis public in 1967, when he, along with the other Beatles and Epstein, added his name to a July advertisement in The Times, which called for its legalisation, the release of those imprisoned for possession, and research into marijuana's medical uses. [342]

In 1972, a Swedish court fined McCartney £1,000 for cannabis possession. Soon after, Scottish police found marijuana plants growing on his farm, leading to his 1973 conviction for illegal cultivation and a £100 fine. As a result of his drug convictions, the US government repeatedly denied him a visa until December 1973. [343] Arrested again for marijuana possession in 1975 in Los Angeles, Linda took the blame, and the court soon dismissed the charges. In January 1980, when Wings flew to Tokyo for a tour of Japan, customs officials found approximately 8 ounces (200 g) of cannabis in his luggage. They arrested McCartney and brought him to a local jail while the Japanese government decided what to do. After ten days, they released and deported him without charge. [344] In 1984, while McCartney was on holiday in Barbados, authorities arrested him for possession of marijuana and fined him $200. [345] Upon his return to England, he stated that cannabis was less harmful than the legal substances alcohol, tobacco and glue, and that he had done no harm to anyone. [346] In 1997, he spoke out in support of decriminalisation of cannabis: "People are smoking pot anyway and to make them criminals is wrong." [299] He quit cannabis in 2015, citing a desire to set a good example for his grandchildren. [347]

Vegetarianism and activism

Since 1975, McCartney has been a vegetarian. [348] [349] He and his wife Linda were vegetarians for most of their 29-year marriage. They decided to stop consuming meat after Paul saw lambs in a field as they were eating a meal of lamb. Soon after, the couple became outspoken animal rights activists. [350] In his first interview after Linda's death, he promised to continue working for animal rights, and in 1999, he spent £3,000,000 to ensure Linda McCartney Foods remained free of genetically engineered ingredients. [351] In 1995, he narrated the documentary Devour the Earth, written by Tony Wardle. [352] McCartney is a supporter of the animal-rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He has appeared in the group's campaigns, and in 2009, McCartney narrated a video for them titled "Glass Walls", which was harshly critical of slaughterhouses, the meat industry, and their effect on animal welfare. [353] [354] [355] McCartney has also supported campaigns headed by the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, World Animal Protection, and the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. [356] [357]

Following McCartney's marriage to Mills, he joined her in a campaign against land mines, becoming a patron of Adopt-A-Minefield. [358] In a 2003 meeting at the Kremlin with Vladimir Putin, ahead of a concert in Red Square, McCartney and Mills urged Russia to join the anti-landmine campaign. [359] In 2006, the McCartneys travelled to Prince Edward Island to raise international awareness of seal hunting. The couple debated with Danny Williams, Newfoundland's then Premier, on Larry King Live, stating that fishermen should stop hunting seals and start seal-watching businesses instead. [360] McCartney also supports the Make Poverty History campaign. [361]

McCartney has participated in several charity recordings and performances, including the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, Ferry Aid, Band Aid, Live Aid, Live 8, and the recording of "Ferry Cross the Mersey". [362] In 2004, he donated a song to an album to aid the "US Campaign for Burma", in support of Burmese Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. In 2008, he donated a song to Aid Still Required's CD, organised as an effort to raise funds to assist with the recovery from the devastation caused in Southeast Asia by the 2004 tsunami. [363]

In 2009, McCartney wrote to Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, asking him why he was not a vegetarian. As McCartney explained, "He wrote back very kindly, saying, 'my doctors tell me that I must eat meat'. And I wrote back again, saying, you know, I don't think that's right . I think he's now being told . that he can get his protein somewhere else . It just doesn't seem right—the Dalai Lama, on the one hand, saying, 'Hey guys, don't harm sentient beings . Oh, and by the way, I'm having a steak.'" [364] In 2012, McCartney joined the anti-fracking campaign Artists Against Fracking. [365]

Save the Arctic is a campaign to protect the Arctic and an international outcry and a renewed focus concern on oil development in the Arctic, attracting the support of more than five million people. This includes McCartney, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and 11 Nobel Peace Prize winners. [366] [367] In 2015, following British prime minister David Cameron's decision to give Members of Parliament a free vote on amending the law against fox hunting, McCartney was quoted: "The people of Britain are behind this Tory government on many things but the vast majority of us will be against them if hunting is reintroduced. It is cruel and unnecessary and will lose them support from ordinary people and animal lovers like myself." [368] During the 2019–21 coronavirus pandemic, McCartney called for Chinese wet markets (which sell live animals including wild ones) to be banned. He expressed concern over both the health impacts of the practice as well as its cruelty to animals. [369]

Meditation

In August 1967, McCartney met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the London Hilton and later went to Bangor in North Wales to attend a weekend initiation conference, where he and the other Beatles learned the basics of Transcendental Meditation. [370] He said, "The whole meditation experience was very good and I still use the mantra . I find it soothing." [371] In 2009, McCartney and Starr headlined a benefit concert at Radio City Music Hall, raising three million dollars for the David Lynch Foundation to fund instruction in Transcendental Meditation for at-risk youth. [372]

Football

McCartney has publicly professed support for Everton and has also shown favour for Liverpool. [373] In 2008, he ended speculation about his allegiance when he said: "Here's the deal: my father was born in Everton, my family are officially Evertonians, so if it comes down to a derby match or an FA Cup final between the two, I would have to support Everton. But after a concert at Wembley Arena I got a bit of a friendship with Kenny Dalglish, who had been to the gig and I thought 'You know what? I am just going to support them both because it's all Liverpool.'" [374]

Relationships

Girlfriends

Dot Rhone

McCartney's first serious girlfriend in Liverpool was Dorothy "Dot" Rhone, whom he met at the Casbah club in 1959. [375] According to Spitz, Rhone felt that McCartney had a compulsion to control situations. He often chose clothes and makeup for her, encouraging her to grow her blonde hair to simulate Brigitte Bardot's hairstyle, [376] and at least once insisting she have her hair restyled, to disappointing effect. [377] When McCartney first went to Hamburg with the Beatles, he wrote to Rhone regularly, and she accompanied Cynthia Lennon to Hamburg when they played there again in 1962. [378] The couple had a two-and-a-half-year relationship, and were due to marry until Rhone's miscarriage. According to Spitz, McCartney, now "free of obligation", ended the engagement. [379]

Jane Asher

McCartney first met British actress Jane Asher on 18 April 1963 when a photographer asked them to pose at a Beatles performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. [380] The two began a relationship, and in November of that year he took up residence with Asher at her parents' home at 57 Wimpole Street, London. [381] They had lived there for more than two years before the couple moved to McCartney's own home in St. John's Wood in March 1966. [382] He wrote several songs while living at the Ashers', including "Yesterday", "And I Love Her", "You Won't See Me" and "I'm Looking Through You", the latter three having been inspired by their romance. [383] They had a five-year relationship and planned to marry, but Asher broke off the engagement after she discovered he had become involved with Francie Schwartz, [384] an American screenwriter who moved to London at age 23 thinking she could sell a script to the Beatles. She met McCartney and he invited her to move into his London house, where events ensued that possibly broke up him and Asher. [385]

Wives

Linda Eastman

Linda Eastman was a music fan who once commented, "all my teen years were spent with an ear to the radio." [386] At times, she skipped school to see artists such as Fabian, Bobby Darin and Chuck Berry. [386] She became a popular photographer with several rock groups, including the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Grateful Dead, the Doors and the Beatles, whom she first met at Shea Stadium in 1966. She commented, "It was John who interested me at the start. He was my Beatle hero. But when I met him the fascination faded fast, and I found it was Paul I liked." [387] The pair first became properly acquainted on 15 May 1967 at a Georgie Fame concert at The Bag O'Nails club, during her UK assignment to photograph rock musicians in London. [388] As Paul remembers, "The night Linda and I met, I spotted her across a crowded club, and although I would normally have been nervous chatting her up, I realised I had to . Pushiness worked for me that night!" [389] Linda said this about their meeting: "I was quite shameless really. I was with somebody else [that night] . and I saw Paul at the other side of the room. He looked so beautiful that I made up my mind I would have to pick him up." [387] The pair married in March 1969. About their relationship, Paul said, "We had a lot of fun together . just the nature of how we aren’t, our favourite thing really is to just hang, to have fun. And Linda's very big on just following the moment." [390] He added, "We were crazy. We had a big argument the night before we got married, and it was nearly called off . [it's] miraculous that we made it. But we did." [391]

After the break-up of the Beatles, the two collaborated musically and formed Wings in 1971. [392] They faced derision from some fans and critics, who questioned her inclusion. She was nervous about performing with Paul, who explained, "she conquered those nerves, got on with it and was really gutsy." [393] Paul defended her musical ability: "I taught Linda the basics of the keyboard . She took a couple of lessons and learned some bluesy things . she did very well and made it look easier than it was . The critics would say, 'She's not really playing' or 'Look at her—she's playing with one finger.' But what they didn't know is that sometimes she was playing a thing called a Minimoog, which could only be played with one finger. It was monophonic." [393] He went on to say, "We thought we were in it for the fun . it was just something we wanted to do, so if we got it wrong—big deal. We didn't have to justify ourselves." [393] Former Wings guitarist McCullough said of collaborating with Linda, "trying to get things together with a learner in the group didn't work as far as I was concerned." [394]

They had four children—Linda's daughter Heather (legally adopted by Paul), Mary, Stella and James—and remained married until Linda's death from breast cancer at age 56 in 1998. [395] After Linda died, Paul said, "I got a counsellor because I knew that I would need some help. He was great, particularly in helping me get rid of my guilt [about wishing I'd been] perfect all the time . a real bugger. But then I thought, hang on a minute. We're just human. That was the beautiful thing about our marriage. We were just a boyfriend and girlfriend having babies." [396]

Heather Mills

In 2002, McCartney married Heather Mills, a former model and anti-landmine campaigner. [397] In 2003, the couple had a child, Beatrice Milly, named in honour of Mills's late mother and one of McCartney's aunts. [174] They separated in April 2006 and divorced acrimoniously in March 2008. [398] In 2004, he commented on media animosity toward his partners: "[the British public] didn't like me giving up on Jane Asher . I married [Linda], a New York divorcee with a child, and at the time they didn't like that". [399]

Nancy Shevell

McCartney married New Yorker Nancy Shevell in a civil ceremony at Marylebone Town Hall, London, on 9 October 2011. The wedding was a modest event attended by a group of about 30 relatives and friends. [193] The couple had been together since November 2007. [400] Shevell is vice president of a family-owned transportation conglomerate which owns New England Motor Freight. [401] She is a former member of the board of the New York area's Metropolitan Transportation Authority. [402] Shevell is about 18 years younger than McCartney. [403] They had known each other for about 20 years prior to marrying, having met because both had homes in the Hamptons. [403]

Beatles

John Lennon

Though McCartney had a strained relationship with Lennon, they briefly became close again in early 1974, and played music together on one occasion. [404] In later years, the two grew apart. [405] McCartney often phoned Lennon, but was apprehensive about the reception he would receive. During one call, Lennon told him, "You're all pizza and fairytales!" [406] In an effort to avoid talking only about business, they often spoke of cats, babies, or baking bread. [407]

On 24 April 1976, McCartney and Lennon were watching an episode of Saturday Night Live at Lennon's home in the Dakota when Lorne Michaels made a $3,000 cash offer for the Beatles to reunite. While they seriously considered going to the SNL studio a few blocks away, they decided it was too late. This was their last time together. [408] VH1 fictionalised this event in the 2000 television film Two of Us. [409] McCartney's last telephone call to Lennon, days before Lennon and Ono released Double Fantasy, was friendly: "[It is] a consoling factor for me, because I do feel it was sad that we never actually sat down and straightened our differences out. But fortunately for me, the last phone conversation I ever had with him was really great, and we didn't have any kind of blow-up", he said. [410]

Reaction to Lennon's murder

— McCartney, Guitar World, January 2000

On 9 December 1980, McCartney followed the news that Lennon had been murdered the previous night Lennon's death created a media frenzy around the surviving members of the band. [412] McCartney was leaving an Oxford Street recording studio that evening when he was surrounded by reporters who asked him for his reaction he responded: "It's a drag". The press quickly criticised him for what appeared to be a superficial response. [413] He later explained, "When John was killed somebody stuck a microphone at me and said: 'What do you think about it?' I said, 'It's a dra-a-ag' and meant it with every inch of melancholy I could muster. When you put that in print it says, 'McCartney in London today when asked for a comment on his dead friend said, "It's a drag".' It seemed a very flippant comment to make." [413] He described his first exchange with Ono after the murder, and his last conversation with Lennon:

I talked to Yoko the day after he was killed, and the first thing she said was, "John was really fond of you." The last telephone conversation I had with him we were still the best of mates. He was always a very warm guy, John. His bluff was all on the surface. He used to take his glasses down, those granny glasses, and say, "it's only me." They were like a wall you know? A shield. Those are the moments I treasure. [413]

In 1983, McCartney said: "I would not have been as typically human and standoffish as I was if I knew John was going to die. I would have made more of an effort to try and get behind his 'mask' and have a better relationship with him." [413] He said that he went home that night, watched the news on television with his children and cried most of the evening. In 1997, he said that Lennon's death made the remaining ex-Beatles nervous that they might also be murdered. [414] He told Mojo magazine in 2002 that Lennon was his greatest hero. [415] In 1981, McCartney sang backup on Harrison's tribute to Lennon, "All Those Years Ago", which featured Starr on drums. [416] McCartney released "Here Today" in 1982, a song Everett described as "a haunting tribute" to McCartney's friendship with Lennon. [417]

George Harrison

Discussing his relationship with McCartney, Harrison said: "Paul would always help along when you'd done his ten songs—then when he got 'round to doing one of my songs, he would help. It was silly. It was very selfish, actually . There were a lot of tracks, though, where I played bass . because what Paul would do—if he'd written a song, he'd learn all the parts for Paul and then come in the studio and say (sometimes he was very difficult): 'Do this'. He'd never give you the opportunity to come out with something." [418]

After Harrison's death in November 2001, McCartney said he was "a lovely guy and a very brave man who had a wonderful sense of humour". He went on to say: "We grew up together and we just had so many beautiful times together – that's what I am going to remember. I'll always love him, he's my baby brother." [419] On the first anniversary of his death, McCartney played Harrison's "Something" on a ukulele at the Concert for George he would perform this rendition of the song on many subsequent solo tours. [420] He also performed "For You Blue" and "All Things Must Pass", and played the piano on Eric Clapton's rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". [421]

Ringo Starr

During a recording session for The Beatles in 1968, the two got into an argument over McCartney's critique of Starr's drum part for "Back in the U.S.S.R.", which contributed to Starr temporarily leaving the band. [422] Starr later commented on working with McCartney: "Paul is the greatest bass player in the world. But he is also very determined . [to] get his own way . [thus] musical disagreements inevitably arose from time to time." [423]

McCartney and Starr collaborated on several post-Beatles projects, starting in 1973 when McCartney contributed instrumentation and backing vocals for "Six O'Clock", a song McCartney wrote for Starr's album Ringo. [424] McCartney played a kazoo solo on "You're Sixteen" from the same album. [425] Starr appeared (as a fictional version of himself) in McCartney's 1984 film Give My Regards to Broad Street, and played drums on most tracks of the soundtrack album, which includes re-recordings of several McCartney-penned Beatles songs. Starr played drums and sang backing vocals on "Beautiful Night" from McCartney's 1997 album Flaming Pie. The pair collaborated again in 1998, on Starr's Vertical Man, which featured McCartney's backing vocals on three songs, and instrumentation on one. [426] In 2009, the pair performed "With a Little Help from My Friends" at a benefit concert for the David Lynch Foundation. [427] They collaborated on Starr's album Y Not in 2010. McCartney played bass on "Peace Dream", and sang a duet with Starr on "Walk with You". [428] On 7 July 2010, Starr was performing at Radio City Music Hall in New York with his All-Starr Band in a concert celebrating his seventieth birthday. After the encores, McCartney made a surprise appearance, performing the Beatles' song "Birthday" with Starr's band. [429] On 26 January 2014, McCartney and Starr performed "Queenie Eye" from McCartney's new album New at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. [430] McCartney inducted Starr into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2015, and played bass on his 2017 album Give More Love. On 16 December 2018, Starr and Ronnie Wood joined McCartney onstage to perform "Get Back" at his concert at London's O2 Arena. Starr also made an appearance on the final day of McCartney's Freshen Up tour in July 2019, performing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" and "Helter Skelter". [431]

Achievements

McCartney was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 as a member of the Beatles and again as a solo artist in 1999. In 1979, the Guinness Book of World Records recognised McCartney as the "most honored composer and performer in music", with 60 gold discs (43 with the Beatles, 17 with Wings) and, as a member of the Beatles, sales of over 100 million singles and 100 million albums, and as the "most successful song writer", he wrote jointly or solo 43 songs which sold one million or more records between 1962 and 1978. [432] In 2009, Guinness World Records again recognised McCartney as the "most successful songwriter" having written or co-written 188 charted records in the United Kingdom, of which 91 reached the top 10 and 33 made it to number one. [433]

McCartney has written, or co-written, 32 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100: twenty with the Beatles seven solo or with Wings one as a co-writer of "A World Without Love", a number-one single for Peter and Gordon one as a co-writer on Elton John's cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" one as a co-writer on Stars on 45's "Medley" one as a co-writer with Michael Jackson on "Say Say Say" and one as writer on "Ebony and Ivory" performed with Stevie Wonder. [434] As of 2009 [update] , he has 15.5 million RIAA certified units in the United States as a solo artist plus another 10 million with Wings. [435]

Credited with more number ones in the UK than any other artist, McCartney has participated in twenty-four chart topping singles: seventeen with the Beatles, one solo, and one each with Wings, Stevie Wonder, Ferry Aid, Band Aid, Band Aid 20 and "The Christians et al." [436] [nb 44] He is the only artist to reach the UK number one as a soloist ("Pipes of Peace"), duo ("Ebony and Ivory" with Wonder), trio ("Mull of Kintyre", Wings), quartet ("She Loves You", the Beatles), quintet ("Get Back", the Beatles with Billy Preston) and as part of a musical ensemble for charity (Ferry Aid). [438]

"Yesterday" is one of the most covered songs in history with more than 2,200 recorded versions, and according to the BBC, "the track is the only one by a UK writer to have been aired more than seven million times on American TV and radio and is third in the all-time list . [and] is the most played song by a British writer [last] century in the US". [439] His 1968 Beatles composition "Hey Jude" achieved the highest sales in the UK that year and topped the US charts for nine weeks, which is longer than any other Beatles single. It was also the longest single released by the band and, at seven minutes eleven seconds, was at that time the longest number one. [440] "Hey Jude" is the best-selling Beatles single, achieving sales of over five million copies soon after its release. [441] [nb 45]

In July 2005, McCartney's performance of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" with U2 at Live 8 became the fastest-released single in history. Available within forty-five minutes of its recording, hours later it had achieved number one on the UK Official Download Chart. [175]

In December 2020, the release of his album McCartney III and its subsequent charting at number 2 on the US Billboard 200 earned McCartney the feat of being the first artist to have a new album in the top two chart positions in each of the last six decades. [443]


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Gold Medal in Nonfiction for the California Book Award &bull Winner of the 2007 Bay Area Book Award for Nonfiction &bull Winner of the 2007 James Beard Book Award/Writing on Food Category &bull Finalist for the 2007 Orion Book Award &bull Finalist for the 2007 NBCC Award

"Thoughtful, engrossing . . . You're not likely to get a better explanation of exactly where your food comes from." &mdashThe New York Times Book Review

"An eater's manifesto . . . [Pollan's] cause is just, his thinking is clear, and his writing is compelling. Be careful of your dinner!" &mdashThe Washington Post

"Outstanding . . . a wide-ranging invitation to think through the moral ramifications of our eating habits." &mdashThe New Yorker

"If you ever thought 'what's for dinner?' was a simple question, you'll change your mind after reading Pollan's searing indictment of today's food industry-and his glimpse of some inspiring alternatives . . . I just loved this book so much I didn't want it to end." &mdashThe Seattle Times

&ldquoMichael Pollan has perfected a tone&mdashone of gleeful irony and barely suppressed outrage&mdashand a way of inserting himself into a narrative so that a subject comes alive through what he&rsquos feeling and thinking. He is a master at drawing back to reveal the greater issues.&rdquo &mdashLos Angeles Times

&ldquoMichael Pollan convincingly demonstrates that the oddest meal can be found right around the corner at your local McDonald&rsquos . . . He brilliantly anatomizes the corn-based diet that has emerged
in the postwar era.&rdquo &mdashThe New York Times

&ldquo[Pollan] wants us at least to know what it is we are eating, where it came from and how it got to our table. He also wants us to be aware of the choices we make and to take responsibility for them. It&rsquos an admirable goal, well met in The Omnivore&rsquos Dilemma.&rdquo &mdashThe Wall Street Journal

&ldquoA gripping delight . . . This is a brilliant, revolutionary book with huge implications for our future and a must-read for everyone. And I do mean everyone.&rdquo &mdashThe Austin Chronicle

&ldquoAs lyrical as What to Eat is hard-hitting, Michael Pollan&rsquos The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals&hellipmay be the best single book I read this year. This magisterial work, whose subject is nothing less than our own omnivorous (i.e., eating everything) humanity, is organized around two plants and one ecosystem. Pollan has a love-hate relationship with &lsquoCorn,&rsquo the wildly successful plant that has found its way into meat (as feed), corn syrup and virtually every other type of processed food. American agribusiness&rsquo monoculture of corn has shoved aside the old pastoral ideal of &lsquoGrass,&rsquo and the self-sustaining, diversified farm based on the grass-eating livestock. In &lsquoThe Forest,&rsquo Pollan ponders the earliest forms of obtaining food: hunting and gathering. If you eat, you should read this book.&rdquo &mdashNewsday

&ldquoSmart, insightful, funny and often profound.&rdquo &mdashUSA Today

&ldquoThe Omnivore&rsquos Dilemma is an ambitious and thoroughly enjoyable, if sometimes unsettling, attempt to peer over these walls, to bring us closer to a true understanding of what we eat&mdashand, by extension, what we should eat . . . It is interested not only in how the consumed affects the consumer, but in how we consumers affect what we consume as well . . . Entertaining and memorable. Readers of this intelligent and admirable book will almost certainly find their capacity to delight in food augmented rather than diminished.&rdquo &mdashSan Francisco Chronicle

&ldquoOn the long trip from the soil to our mouths, a trip of 1,500 miles on average, the food we eat often passes through places most of us will never see. Michael Pollan has spent much of the last five years visiting these places on our behalf.&rdquo &mdashSalon.com

&ldquoThe author of Second Nature and The Botany of Desire, Pollan is willing to go to some lengths to reconnect with what he eats, even if that means putting in a hard week on an organic farm and slitting the throats of chickens. He&rsquos not Paris Hilton on The Simple Life.&rdquo &mdashTime

&ldquoA pleasure to read.&rdquo &mdashThe Baltimore Sun

&ldquoA fascinating journey up and down the food chain, one that might change the way you read the label on a frozen dinner, dig into a steak or decide whether to buy organic eggs. You&rsquoll certainly never look at a Chicken McNugget the same way again . . . Pollan isn&rsquot preachy he&rsquos too thoughtful a writer and too dogged a researcher to let ideology take over. He&rsquos also funny and adventurous.&rdquo &mdashPublishers Weekly

&ldquo[Pollan] does everything from buying his own cow to helping with the open-air slaughter of pasture-raised chickens to hunting morels in Northern California. This is not a man who&rsquos afraid of getting his hands dirty in the quest for better understanding. Along with wonderfully descriptive writing and truly engaging stories and characters, there is a full helping of serious information on the way modern food is produced.&rdquo &mdashBookPage

&ldquoThe Omnivore&rsquos Dilemma is about something that affects everyone.&rdquo &mdashThe Sacramento Bee

&ldquoLively and thought-provoking.&rdquo &mdashEast Bay Express

&ldquoMichael Pollan makes tracking your dinner back through the food chain that produced it a rare adventure.&rdquo &mdashO, The Oprah Magazine

&ldquoA master wordsmith&hellipPollan brings to the table lucid and rich prose, an enthusiasm for his topic, interesting anecdotes, a journalist&rsquos passion for research, an ability to poke fun at himself, and an appreciation for historical context . . . This is journalism at its best.&rdquo &mdashChristianity Today

&ldquoFirst-rate . . . [A] passionate journey of the heart&hellipPollan is . . . an uncommonly graceful explainer of natural science this is the book he was born to write.&rdquo &mdashNewsweek

&ldquo[Pollan&rsquos] stirring new book . . . is a feast, illuminating the ethical, social and environmental impacts of how and what we choose to eat.&rdquo &mdashThe Courier-Journal

&ldquoFrom fast food to &lsquobig&rsquo organic to locally sourced to foraging for dinner with rifle in hand, Pollan captures the perils and the promise of how we eat today.&rdquo &mdashThe Arizona Daily Star

&ldquoA multivalent, highly introspective examination of the human diet, from capitalism to consumption.&rdquo &mdashThe Hudson Review

&ldquoWhat should you eat? Michael Pollan addresses that fundamental question with great wit and intelligence, looking at the social, ethical, and environmental impact of four different meals. Eating well, he finds, can be a pleasurable way to change the world.&rdquo &mdashEric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness

&ldquoWidely and rightly praised&hellipThe Omnivore&rsquos Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals [is] a book that&mdashI kid you not&mdashmay change your life.&rdquo &mdashAustin American-Statesman

&ldquoWith the skill of a professional detective, Michael Pollan explores the worlds of industrial farming, organic and sustainable agriculture, and even hunting and gathering to determine the links of food chains: how food gets from its sources in nature to our plates. The findings he reports in this this book are often unexpected, disturbing, even horrifying, but they are facts every eater should know. This is an engaging book, full of information that is most relevant to conscious living.&rdquo &mdashDr. Andrew Weil, author of Spontaneous Healing and Healthy Aging

&ldquoMichael Pollan is a voice of reason, a journalist/philosopher who forages in the overgrowth of our schizophrenic food culture. He&rsquos the kind of teacher we probably all wish we had: one who triggers the little explosions of insight that change the way we eat and the way we live.&rdquo &mdashAlice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse restaurant

&ldquoMichael Pollan is such a thoroughly delightful writer&mdashhis luscious sentences deliver so much pleasure and humor and surprise as they carry one from dinner table to cornfield to feedlot to forest floor, and then back again&mdashthat the happy reader could almost miss the profound truth half hidden at the heart of this beautiful book: that the reality of our politics is to be found not in what Americans do in the voting booth every four years but in what we do in the supermarket every day. Embodied in this irresistible, picaresque journey through America&rsquos food world is a profound treatise on the hidden politics of our everyday life.&rdquo &mdashMark Danner, author of Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror

&ldquoEvery time you go into a grocery store you are voting with your dollars, and what goes into your cart has real repercussions on the future of the earth. But although we have choices, few of us are aware of exactly what they are. Michael Pollan&rsquos beautifully written book could change that. He tears down the walls that separate us from what we eat, and forces us to be more responsible eaters. Reading this book is a wonderful, life-changing experience.&rdquo &mdashRuth Reichl, editor in chief of Gourmet magazine and author of Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise

About the Author

Michael Pollan is the author of seven previous books, including CookedFood RulesIn Defense of FoodThe Omnivore's Dilemma and The Botany of Desire, all of which were New York Times bestsellers. He's also the author of the audiobook Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World. A longtime contributor to the New York Times Magazine, he also teaches writing at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley. In 2010, TIME magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Our National Eating Disorder 

What should we have for dinner?

This book is a long and fairly involved answer to this seemingly simple question. Along the way, it also tries to figure out how such a simple question could ever have gotten so complicated. As a culture we seem to have arrived at a place where whatever native wisdom we may once have possessed about eating has been replaced by confusion and anxiety. Somehow this most elemental of activities&mdashfiguring out what to eat&mdashhas come to require a remarkable amount of expert help. How did we ever get to a point where we need investigative journalists to tell us where our food comes from and nutritionists to determine the dinner menu?

For me the absurdity of the situation became inescapable in the fall of 2002, when one of the most ancient and venerable staples of human life abruptly disappeared from the American dinner table. I&rsquom talking of course about bread. Virtually overnight, Americans changed the way they eat. A collective spasm of what can only be described as carbophobia seized the country, supplanting an era of national lipophobia dating to the Carter administration. That was when, in 1977, a Senate committee had issued a set of &ldquodietary goals&rdquo warning beef-loving Americans to lay off the red meat. And so we dutifully had done, until now.

What set off the sea change? It appears to have been a perfect media storm of diet books, scientific studies, and one timely magazine article. The new diet books, many of them inspired by the formerly discredited Dr. Robert C. Atkins, brought Americans the welcome news that they could eat more meat and lose weight just so long as they laid off the bread and pasta. These high-protein, low-carb diets found support in a handful of new epidemiological studies suggesting that the nutritional orthodoxy that had held sway in America since the 1970s might be wrong. It was not, as official opinion claimed, fat that made us fat, but the carbohydrates we&rsquod been eating precisely in order to stay slim. So conditions were ripe for a swing of the dietary pendulum when, in the summer of 2002, the New York Times Magazine published a cover story on the new research entitled &ldquoWhat if Fat Doesn&rsquot Make You Fat?&rdquo Within months, supermarket shelves were restocked and restaurant menus rewritten to reflect the new nutritional wisdom. The blamelessness of steak restored, two of the most wholesome and uncontroversial foods known to man&mdashbread and pasta&mdashacquired a moral stain that promptly bankrupted dozens of bakeries and noodle firms and ruined an untold number of perfectly good meals.

So violent a change in a culture&rsquos eating habits is surely the sign of a national eating disorder. Certainly it would never have happened in a culture in possession of deeply rooted traditions surrounding food and eating. But then, such a culture would not feel the need for its most august legislative body to ever deliberate the nation&rsquos &ldquodietary goals&rdquo&mdashor, for that matter, to wage political battle every few years over the precise design of an official government graphic called the &ldquofood pyramid.&rdquo A country with a stable culture of food would not shell out millions for the quackery (or common sense) of a new diet book every January. It would not be susceptible to the pendulum swings of food scares or fads, to the apotheosis every few years of one newly discovered nutrient and the demonization of another. It would not be apt to confuse protein bars and food supplements with meals or breakfast cereals with medicines. It probably would not eat a fifth of its meals in cars or feed fully a third of its children at a fast-food outlet every day. And it surely would not be nearly so fat.

Nor would such a culture be shocked to discover that there are other countries, such as Italy and France, that decide their dinner questions on the basis of such quaint and unscientific criteria as pleasure and tradition, eat all manner of &ldquounhealthy&rdquo foods, and, lo and behold, wind up actually healthier and happier in their eating than we are. We show our surprise at this by speaking of something called the &ldquoFrench paradox,&rdquo for how could a people who eat such demonstrably toxic substances as foie gras and triple crème cheese actually be slimmer and healthier than we are? Yet I wonder if it doesn&rsquot make more sense to speak in terms of an American paradox&mdashthat is, a notably unhealthy people obsessed by the idea of eating healthily.

TO ONE DEGREE or another, the question of what to have for dinner assails every omnivore, and always has. When you can eat just about anything nature has to offer, deciding what you should eat will inevitably stir anxiety, especially when some of the potential foods on offer are liable to sicken or kill you. This is the omnivore&rsquos dilemma, noted long ago by writers like Rousseau and Brillat-Savarin and first given that name thirty years ago by a University of Pennsylvania research psychologist named Paul Rozin. I&rsquove borrowed his phrase for the title of this book because the omnivore&rsquos dilemma turns out to be a particularly sharp tool for understanding our present predicaments surrounding food.

In a 1976 paper called &ldquoThe Selection of Foods by Rats, Humans, and Other Animals&rdquo Rozin contrasted the omnivore&rsquos existential situation with that of the specialized eater, for whom the dinner question could not be simpler. The koala doesn&rsquot worry about what to eat: If it looks and smells and tastes like a eucalyptus leaf, it must be dinner. The koala&rsquos culinary preferences are hardwired in its genes. But for omnivores like us (and the rat) a vast amount of brain space and time must be devoted to figuring out which of all the many potential dishes nature lays on are safe to eat. We rely on our prodigious powers of recognition and memory to guide us away from poisons (Isn&rsquot that the mushroom that made me sick last week?) and toward nutritious plants (The red berries are the juicier, sweeter ones). Our taste buds help too, predisposing us toward sweetness, which signals carbohydrate energy in nature, and away from bitterness, which is how many of the toxic alkaloids produced by plants taste. Our inborn sense of disgust keeps us from ingesting things that might infect us, such as rotten meat. Many anthropologists believe that the reason we evolved such big and intricate brains was precisely to help us deal with the omnivore&rsquos dilemma.

Being a generalist is of course a great boon as well as a challenge it is what allows humans to successfully inhabit virtually every terrestrial environment on the planet. Omnivory offers the pleasures of variety, too. But the surfeit of choice brings with it a lot of stress and leads to a kind of Manichaean view of food, a division of nature into The Good Things to Eat, and The Bad.

The rat must make this all-important distinction more or less on its own, each individual figuring out for itself&mdashand then remembering&mdashwhich things will nourish and which will poison. The human omnivore has, in addition to his senses and memory, the incalculable advantage of a culture, which stores the experience and accumulated wisdom of countless human tasters before him. I don&rsquot need to experiment with the mushroom now called, rather helpfully, the &ldquodeath cap,&rdquo and it is common knowledge that that first intrepid lobster eater was on to something very good. Our culture codifies the rules of wise eating in an elaborate structure of taboos, rituals, recipes, manners, and culinary traditions that keep us from having to reenact the omnivore&rsquos dilemma at every meal.

One way to think about America&rsquos national eating disorder is as the return, with an almost atavistic vengeance, of the omnivore&rsquos dilemma. The cornucopia of the American supermarket has thrown us back on a bewildering food landscape where we once again have to worry that some of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. (Perhaps not as quickly as a poisonous mushroom, but just as surely.) Certainly the extraordinary abundance of food in America complicates the whole problem of choice. At the same time, many of the tools with which people historically managed the omnivore&rsquos dilemma have lost their sharpness here&mdashor simply failed. As a relatively new nation drawn from many different immigrant populations, each with its own culture of food, Americans have never had a single, strong, stable culinary tradition to guide us.

The lack of a steadying culture of food leaves us especially vulnerable to the blandishments of the food scientist and the marketer, for whom the omnivore&rsquos dilemma is not so much a dilemma as an opportunity. It is very much in the interest of the food industry to exacerbate our anxieties about what to eat, the better to then assuage them with new products. Our bewilderment in the supermarket is no accident the return of the omnivore&rsquos dilemma has deep roots in the modern food industry, roots that, I found, reach all the way back to fields of corn growing in places like Iowa.

And so we find ourselves where we do, confronting in the supermarket or at the dinner table the dilemmas of omnivorousness, some of them ancient and others never before imagined. The organic apple or the conventional? And if the organic, the local one or the imported? The wild fish or the farmed? The trans fats or the butter or the &ldquonot butter&rdquo? Shall I be a carnivore or a vegetarian? And if a vegetarian, a lacto-vegetarian or a vegan? Like the hunter-gatherer picking a novel mushroom off the forest floor and consulting his sense memory to determine its edibility, we pick up the package in the supermarket and, no longer so confident of our senses, scrutinize the label, scratching our heads over the meaning of phrases like &ldquoheart healthy,&rdquo &ldquono trans fats,&rdquo &ldquocage-free,&rdquo or &ldquorange-fed.&rdquo What is &ldquonatural grill flavor&rdquo or TBHQ or xanthan gum? What is all this stuff, anyway, and where in the world did it come from?

MY WAGER in writing The Omnivore&rsquos Dilemma was that the best way to answer the questions we face about what to eat was to go back to the very beginning, to follow the food chains that sustain us, all the way from the earth to the plate&mdashto a small number of actual meals. I wanted to look at the getting and eating of food at its most fundamental, which is to say, as a transaction between species in nature, eaters and eaten. (&ldquoThe whole of nature,&rdquo wrote the English author William Ralph Inge, &ldquois a conjugation of the verb to eat, in the active and passive.&rdquo) What I try to do in this book is approach the dinner question as a naturalist might, using the long lenses of ecology and anthropology, as well as the shorter, more intimate lens of personal experience.

My premise is that like every other creature on earth, humans take part in a food chain, and our place in that food chain, or web, determines to a considerable extent what kind of creature we are. The fact of our omnivorousness has done much to shape our nature, both body (we possess the omnicompetent teeth and jaws of the omnivore, equally well suited to tearing meat and grinding seeds) and soul. Our prodigious powers of observation and memory, as well as our curious and experimental stance toward the natural world, owe much to the biological fact of omnivorousness. So do the various adaptations we&rsquove evolved to defeat the defenses of other creatures so that we might eat them, including our skills at hunting and cooking with fire. Some philosophers have argued that the very open-endedness of human appetite is responsible for both our savagery and civility, since a creature that could conceive of eating anything (including, notably, other humans) stands in particular need of ethical rules, manners, and rituals. We are not only what we eat, but how we eat, too.

Yet we are also different from most of nature&rsquos other eaters&mdashmarkedly so. For one thing, we&rsquove acquired the ability to substantially modify the food chains we depend on, by means of such revolutionary technologies as cooking with fire, hunting with tools, farming, and food preservation. Cooking opened up whole new vistas of edibility by rendering various plants and animals more digestible, and overcoming many of the chemical defenses other species deploy against being eaten. Agriculture allowed us to vastly multiply the populations of a few favored food species, and therefore in turn our own. And, most recently, industry has allowed us to reinvent the human food chain, from the synthetic fertility of the soil to the microwaveable can of soup designed to fit into a car&rsquos cup holder. The implications of this last revolution, for our health and the health of the natural world, we are still struggling to grasp.

The Omnivore&rsquos Dilemma is about the three principal food chains that sustain us today: the industrial, the organic, and the hunter-gatherer. Different as they are, all three food chains are systems for doing more or less the same thing: linking us, through what we eat, to the fertility of the earth and the energy of the sun. It might be hard to see how, but even a Twinkie does this&mdashconstitutes an engagement with the natural world. As ecology teaches, and this book tries to show, it&rsquos all connected, even the Twinkie.

Ecology also teaches that all life on earth can be viewed as a competition among species for the solar energy captured by green plants and stored in the form of complex carbon molecules. A food chain is a system for passing those calories on to species that lack the plant&rsquos unique ability to synthesize them from sunlight. One of the themes of this book is that the industrial revolution of the food chain, dating to the close of World War II, has actually changed the fundamental rules of this game. Industrial agriculture has supplanted a complete reliance on the sun for our calories with something new under the sun: a food chain that draws much of its energy from fossil fuels instead. (Of course, even that energy originally came from the sun, but unlike sunlight it is finite and irreplaceable.) The result of this innovation has been a vast increase in the amount of food energy available to our species this has been a boon to humanity (allowing us to multiply our numbers), but not an unalloyed one. We&rsquove discovered that an abundance of food does not render the omnivore&rsquos dilemma obsolete. To the contrary, abundance seems only to deepen it, giving us all sorts of new problems and things to worry about.

Each of this book&rsquos three parts follows one of the principal human food chains from beginning to end: from a plant, or group of plants, photosynthesizing calories in the sun, all the way to a meal at the dinner end of that food chain. Reversing the chronological order, I start with the industrial food chain, since that is the one that today involves and concerns us the most. It is also by far the biggest and longest. Since monoculture is the hallmark of the industrial food chain, this section focuses on a single plant: Zea mays, the giant tropical grass we call corn, which has become the keystone species of the industrial food chain, and so in turn of the modern diet. This section follows a bushel of commodity corn from the field in Iowa where it grew on its long, strange journey to its ultimate destination in a fast-food meal, eaten in a moving car on a highway in Marin County, California.

The book&rsquos second part follows what I call&mdashto distinguish it from the industrial&mdashthe pastoral food chain. This section explores some of the alternatives to industrial food and farming that have sprung up in recent years (variously called &ldquoorganic,&rdquo &ldquolocal,&rdquo &ldquobiological,&rdquo and &ldquobeyond organic&rdquo), food chains that might appear to be preindustrial but in surprising ways turn out in fact to be postindustrial. I set out thinking I could follow one such food chain, from a radically innovative farm in Virginia that I worked on one recent summer to an extremely local meal prepared from animals raised on its pastures. But I promptly discovered that no single farm or meal could do justice to the complex, branching story of alternative agriculture right now, and that I needed also to reckon with the food chain I call, oxymoronically, the &ldquoindustrial organic.&rdquo So the book&rsquos pastoral section serves up the natural history of two very different &ldquoorganic&rdquo meals: one whose ingredients came from my local Whole Foods supermarket (gathered there from as far away as Argentina), and the other tracing its origins to a single polyculture of grasses growing at Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia.

The last section, titled Personal, follows a kind of neo-Paleolithic food chain from the forests of Northern California to a meal I prepared (almost) exclusively from ingredients I hunted, gathered, and grew myself. Though we twenty-first-century eaters still eat a handful of hunted and gathered food (notably fish and wild mushrooms), my interest in this food chain was less practical than philosophical: I hoped to shed fresh light on the way we eat now by immersing myself in the way we ate then. In order to make this meal I had to learn how to do some unfamiliar things, including hunting game and foraging for wild mushrooms and urban tree fruit. In doing so I was forced to confront some of the most elemental questions&mdashand dilemmas&mdashfaced by the human omnivore: What are the moral and psychological implications of killing, preparing, and eating a wild animal? How does one distinguish between the delicious and the deadly when foraging in the woods? How do the alchemies of the kitchen transform the raw stuffs of nature into some of the great delights of human culture?

The end result of this adventure was what I came to think of as the Perfect Meal, not because it turned out so well (though in my humble opinion it did), but because this labor- and thought-intensive dinner, enjoyed in the company of fellow foragers, gave me the opportunity, so rare in modern life, to eat in full consciousness of everything involved in feeding myself: For once, I was able to pay the full karmic price of a meal.

Yet as different as these three journeys (and four meals) turned out to be, a few themes kept cropping up. One is that there exists a fundamental tension between the logic of nature and the logic of human industry, at least as it is presently organized. Our ingenuity in feeding ourselves is prodigious, but at various points our technologies come into conflict with nature&rsquos ways of doing things, as when we seek to maximize efficiency by planting crops or raising animals in vast monocultures. This is something nature never does, always and for good reasons practicing diversity instead. A great many of the health and environmental problems created by our food system owe to our attempts to oversimplify nature&rsquos complexities, at both the growing and the eating ends of our food chain. At either end of any food chain you find a biological system&mdasha patch of soil, a human body&mdashand the health of one is connected&mdashliterally&mdashto the health of the other. Many of the problems of health and nutrition we face today trace back to things that happen on the farm, and behind those things stand specific government policies few of us know anything about.

I don&rsquot mean to suggest that human food chains have only recently come into conflict with the logic of biology early agriculture and, long before that, human hunting proved enormously destructive. Indeed, we might never have needed agriculture had earlier generations of hunters not eliminated the species they depended upon. Folly in the getting of our food is nothing new. And yet the new follies we are perpetrating in our industrial food chain today are of a different order. By replacing solar energy with fossil fuel, by raising millions of food animals in close confinement, by feeding those animals foods they never evolved to eat, and by feeding ourselves foods far more novel than we even realize, we are taking risks with our health and the health of the natural world that are unprecedented.

Another theme, or premise really, is that the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world. Daily, our eating turns nature into culture, transforming the body of the world into our bodies and minds. Agriculture has done more to reshape the natural world than anything else we humans do, both its landscapes and the composition of its flora and fauna. Our eating also constitutes a relationship with dozens of other species&mdashplants, animals, and fungi&mdashwith which we have coevolved to the point where our fates are deeply entwined. Many of these species have evolved expressly to gratify our desires, in the intricate dance of domestication that has allowed us and them to prosper together as we could never have prospered apart. But our relationships with the wild species we eat&mdashfrom the mushrooms we pick in the forest to the yeasts that leaven our bread&mdashare no less compelling, and far more mysterious. Eating puts us in touch with all that we share with the other animals, and all that sets us apart. It defines us.

What is perhaps most troubling, and sad, about industrial eating is how thoroughly it obscures all these relationships and connections. To go from the chicken (Gallus gallus) to the Chicken McNugget is to leave this world in a journey of forgetting that could hardly be more costly, not only in terms of the animal&rsquos pain but in our pleasure, too. But forgetting, or not knowing in the first place, is what the industrial food chain is all about, the principal reason it is so opaque, for if we could see what lies on the far side of the increasingly high walls of our industrial agriculture, we would surely change the way we eat.

&ldquoEating is an agricultural act,&rdquo as Wendell Berry famously said. It is also an ecological act, and a political act, too. Though much has been done to obscure this simple fact, how and what we eat determines to a great extent the use we make of the world&mdashand what is to become of it. To eat with a fuller consciousness of all that is at stake might sound like a burden, but in practice few things in life can afford quite as much satisfaction. By comparison, the pleasures of eating industrially, which is to say eating in ignorance, are fleeting. Many people today seem perfectly content eating at the end of an industrial food chain, without a thought in the world this book is probably not for them. There are things in it that will ruin their appetites. But in the end this is a book about the pleasures of eating, the kinds of pleasure that are only deepened by knowing.


Epic Rap Battles of History provide examples of the following tropes:

  • Bruce Lee vs. Clint Eastwood is notably the first battle where Lloyd rapped but Peter didn't. Since then, we've also had Adam vs. Eve, Goku vs. SupermanJack the Ripper vs. Hannibal Lecter, Gordon Ramsay vs Julia Child, Theodore Roosevelt vs Winston Churchill, and Wolverine vs Freddy Kruger.
  • Tesla vs. Edison is a weird example in that it's the only battle where Peter is visually completely absent but still does the vocals for Tesla.
  • Michael Jordan VS Muhammad Ali is the first battle ever where neither Peter nor Lloyd appear at all - not for vocals note Though Peter still voiced the announcer , not for a cameo, nothing.
  • Similarly, Edgar Allan Poe vs Stephen King, which also pits two returning guest stars (Zach Sherwin and George Watsky) against each other.
  • "Renaissance Artists vs the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" puts a new twist on this, with Peter and Lloyd voicing the Turtles. Lloyd performed as the turtles along with stunt actor Xin Wuku, so he wasn't entirely absentee. The battle also brought in a record four special guests (previous guests Rhett & Link and first-timers Ian and Anthony from Smosh) as the Renaissance artists.
  • Catherine the Great from Alexander the Great vs. Ivan the Terrible, who entered the battle by beheading Pompay the Great with a garrote wire .
  • Wonder Woman.
  • Implied by Chuck Norris. Who was, y'know, 100 feet tall and glowing at the time, which may have lent some credence to his claim.
  • Kim Jong-Il calls himself one.
  • Cleopatra claims to be descended from the gods. Justified here in that the Egyptians really did believe the Pharaohs were incarnations of the gods.
  • Bill Gates calls himself one too because he owns Xbox.
  • Justified with Zeus and Thor, who really are gods.
  • Ivan the Terrible describes himself as "Heaven-sent, divine and holy".
  • Alexander the Great claims immortality, which was associated with the Gods in Ancient Greece, so he's indirectly calling himself one.
  • Teddy Roosevelt calls Winston Churchill a "bloated, drunk old man" who needs to "do-si-do on over to a 12-step program". Churchill opens his verse by requesting "a cigar and a large glass of brandy" and admits to being "toasted" while battling.
  • Ivan the Terrible threatens to smack Alexander the Great "harder than [he] hit that bottle". Alexander responds by accusing Ivan of having "vodka bars" and demanding Ivan fetch him a drink.
  • Wolverine. "The only thing that scares me is a fridge with no beer".
  • Beethoven is a good example: in Real Life he was a caustic, sicklymusician but with strong opinions. In ERB? Manly as hell.
  • Every other comment for Gordon Ramsay vs. Julia Child points out that the former deliberately plays up his aggression and profanity for American television.
  • Bill Gates mourns Steve Jobs after he dies, then gets angry at Jobs for leaving him.
  • Stan Lee apologizes for his rage during his second verse against Jim Henson. He laments that Jim was taken too soon from this world.
  • Thomas Jefferson and Frederick Douglass both had shades of this in their second verse. Jefferson admitted guilt for participating in the plantation system, and Douglass acknowledged that Jefferson's contributions to history should not be understated, despite his flaws.
  • The portrayal of William Wallace and his men are based off the Braveheart movie, where they're painted in woad and wearing kilts. In real life, Sir William Wallace was a rich, well-to-do land owning nobleman from the southlands of Scotland. Kilts wouldn't be invented until 400 years after his death, and the movie was largely based off a poem about Wallace written 170 years after his death. The battle attempts to set up a Slobs vs. Snobs relation between the two, but Washington would've been the Slob in real life in comparison. Leonidas is also depicted using his appearance from 300 instead of a historically-accurate depiction, though this is somewhat more justifiable considering that he is rapping against Master Chief.
  • Nietzsche's portrayal is inaccurate in that he is equated with his most bombastic proclamations and he describes himself as a "nihilist" which the real Nietzsche did not. Nietzsche argued against nihilism and he described it in detail but always as something to be overcome. That said, they did get Nietzsche's real-life dislike for Socrates and Voltaire right. Also the line "They call me Ubermensch!" may be interpreted as this trope, but since it's not the same as "I AM the Ubermensch!" it gets a pass, barely.
  • Shaka refers to Caesar's legionaries as "pasty white hordes" at one point. While a Sub-Saharan African like Shaka would of course consider them very light by comparison, they definitely could not be described as pasty. Caesar's men were mainly recruited from what are now central and southern Italy (the parts north of the Rubicon were considered Celtic at that point), and so the dominant phenotype among them would be tanned/olive-skinned, as well as brown-haired and brown-eyed (something attested to by the Pompeii frescoes, and, well, modern central and southern Italians, who haven't changed genetically since the fall of the Roman Empire). In fact many Roman accounts made a specific distinction between themselves and the Germanic/Celtic/Belgic tribes specifically because lighter features were much more common among the latter groups.
  • In "Mr. T. vs. Mr. Rogers", Mr. T calls Mr. Rogers a 40-year-old virgin. Though this is an obvious reference to the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin playing off of Rogers's super-family-friendly persona, this was not actually true, as Rogers got married in his mid-20s, and had a son when he was in his early 30s.
  • Abraham Lincoln is loud and bombastic with a deep voice. In real life, Lincoln was widely known to be soft-spoken with a squeaky voice, though not without gravitas. This was duplicated fairly accurately in Lincoln.
  • Theodore Roosevelt, similarly, had a very squeaky voice in real life, and a posh Mid-Atlantic accent one.
  • When Christopher Columbus threatens Captain Kirk with shoving a flag up his ass and claim him for Spain, the Spanish flag he's holding is the current variation of the Rojigualda flag that was adopted in 1785, more than two and a half centuries after Columbus died.
  • Vladimir Putin, Sir Isaac Newton and Theodore Roosevelt have gone from newscasters to actual Rap Battlers.
    • Only fans that have been following since at least the first half of season 2 seem to remember that Charles Darwin was also a newscaster before a battler. He was also the first to greet us with the much beloved "What's up, bitches?"
    • KassemG cameos as himself in both Nice Peter vs EpicLLOYD and Cleopatra vs Marilyn Monroe.
    • Napoleon, Emperor of France.
    • Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith.
    • Adolf Hitler, Chancellor and Fuhrer of Germany.
    • Genghis Khan, Khagan of the Mongol Empire.
    • Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the USA.
    • Benjamin Franklin, Governor of Pennsylvania.
    • Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska.
    • Kim Jong-il, Leader of North Korea.
    • Leonidas, King of the Spartans.
    • Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.
    • Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the US, got fed up with the lack of ERB over the summer, and told Epic Lloyd and Nice Peter to get off their asses and get back to work with a structured release schedule. If they didn't, he threatened to carve his own chin out of Mount Rushmore and beat them with his own stoney mustache.
    • Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States.
    • Mario tried to do so behind the scenes when Princess Peach nagged the ever-living bajeezus out of him. He finds out that the gun is empty and starts crying.
    • In their third battle, Vader mocks Hitler by stating that when his bunker "started getting fired up", he "put a gun in [his] mouth and fired up". (He actually shot himself through his right temple.)
    • Chuck Norris' second verse.
    • The Mario Brothers grow a bit in their second verse after eating mushrooms.
    • The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man appears during "Ghostbusters vs MythBusters".
    • Special mention goes to Abe Lincoln, who scoffs at how Chuck Norris can block bullets with his beard by boasting how he catches them with his skull.
    • The MegaPowers.
    • Both the Wright Brothers and the Mario Brothers.
    • Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.
    • Jim Henson vs. Stan Lee: Walt Disney successfully takes over both of their works as well as the ERBs themselves.
    • In-Universe we have Pablo Picasso, Walter White, Michael Jordan, Gandhi, Jamie Hyneman, Alfred Hitchcock, Lao Tzu, Socrates, and Thanos.
    • Ironically averted when Batman himself comes to fight.
    • Einstein pushes Hawking's button when he questions the validity of Hawking's Black Hole Theory.
    • Dr. Seuss does not like being accused of writing the Twilight series.
    • Mr. Rogers goes from mostly-polite teasing to outright scary when accused of child molestation.
    • Don't tell Kim Jong-il he's from China.
    • Leonidas learned the hard way not to put his hands (or feet) on Master Chief.
    • Marilyn Monroe got downright vicious when her miscarriages were brought up.
    • Chuck Norris loses his cool when he has a bucket of pennies dumped all over his head.
    • Don't call Marty a chicken.
    • Barack Obama doesn't like having his wife being called the "Female version of Patrick Ewing" very much.
    • You can tell that Santa's elves don't take kindly to being referred to as slaves.
    • Babe Ruth seems absolutely pissed off that Lance Armstrong cheated and tears him a new one for it. note There was controversy over whether or not Babe Ruth called his famous home run shot, but the general opinion is that he did not cheat, which makes his anger in the rap more justified.
    • Mozart seems very offended that Skrillex could be considered "a musician."
    • Vladimir Lenin is extremely angry that Stalin completely destroyed his revolution.
    • Blackbeard looks like he's about to cut Capone open after his beard gets insulted.
    • Do not take the Lord's name in vain around Joan of Arc, lest she get vicious.
    • Muhammad Ali loses his cool when Michael Jordan refers to him by his birth name of Cassius. This was actually an easy way to get him pissed off in real life.
      • For his part, Michael Jordan gets angry and aggressive when Ali accuses him of selling out.
      • Also from the Philosophers battle, Voltaire loses his cool when Socrates calls him a frog note a common ethnic slur against the French , Lao Tzu snaps at Sun Tzu when the latter tells him his philosophy doesn't make sense, and Confuicus drops his politeness when Sun Tzu makes fun of his eyebrows.
      • According to Kim Jong-Il, Hulk Hogan's wife thinks so.
      • Master Chief claims to have showed Leonidas' Queen his "plasma cannon" while he was away.
      • Beethoven claims he has "more cock than Smith & Wesson". As he says this, Bach pops up on screen nodding and holding his hands a foot and a half apart, in the universal gesture for "it was this big".
      • Barack Obama threatens to slap Romney with his "stimulus package".
      • Stephen King mentions his "big dick bibliography".
      • Napoleon Bonaparte gets one at the beginning of his second line. note "T'as une tête a faire sauter les plaques d'egouts!" That translates to "You've got a face that could blow off a manhole cover!"
      • Also, Christopher Columbus gets "Arrivederci! Imma leave before this battle begins!"
      • When Putin enters the Season 2 finale, he drops the line ". doing judo moves and schooling every communist сука", which is Russian for bitch. It helps that the word comes off sounding like a heavily-accented "sucka".
      • Joan of Arc gets on too, with "Je suis la fille en feu" meaning "I'm the girl on fire" (right before calling herself Katniss Everdeen).
      • The sign behind Goku says "歴史の壮大なヒップホップの戦い (Rekishi no Sōdaina Hip-Hop no Tatakai)" ("Epic Rap Battles of History" in Japanese).
      • Part of William Wallace's rap is "Alba gu bràth," which means "Scotland forever."
      • When J. R. R. Tolkien accuses George R. R. Martin of stealing his initials, he makes the ASL sign for "R".
      • Ivan the Terrible says "На здоровье" (Russian for "Bless you", or "cheers/bottoms up" when drinking) to Alexander the Great during his I Surrender, Suckers attempt.
      • When the Russian hackers appear on screen during Joe Biden's second verse, one says, "Что ты сделал?" note What did you do? , and the other screams in panic, "Ох ебать!" note Oh fuck!
      • The Easter Bunny, a cute, friendly rabbit who gives candy to children, vs. Genghis Khan, a barbarian who murdered and raped countless people.
      • The dashing, heroic Captain Kirk vs. the slave-owning, genocidal Christopher Columbus.
      • Rick Grimes, deputy sheriff and leader of apocalypse zombie team, vs. Walter White, a criminal drug kingpin.
      • Robocop, a By-the-Book Cop whose highest goal is to serve the public trust, vs. the Terminator, an unstoppable Killer Robot with no concept of love nor honour.
      • Wolverine, a superhero who's saved the world countless times, vs. Freddy Krueger, a literal nightmare creature who takes pride in killing teenagers in their sleep.
      • Each episode begins and ends with the announcer doing a Title Scream.
      • Season two begins and ends with battles involving World War II-era dictators played by Lloyd, facing off against Peter as someone notoriously difficult to kill.
      • "Hitler vs. Vader 3" ends with the same words that began "Hitler vs. Vader 1": "I am Adolf Hitler. "
      • "Edgar Allan Poe vs. Stephen King" begins with the first line of The Raven, "Once upon a midnight dreary. ", and ends with its final line, "Nevermore."
      • Justified via Timey-Wimey Ball in "Doc Brown vs. Doctor Who", which begins and ends with The Doctor saying "Actually, if you don't mind, it's just The Doctor".
      • Strangely enough, this is artistic license - the actual Monroe was very intelligent, though many people overlooked it at the time.
      • Gandhi has raps so hot, he spits yoga fire.
      • Putin spits hot borscht when he's crushing these beats.
      • Doc Brown spits it hot and generates way more power than 1.21 jigawatts.
      • Superman, perhaps the only literal example on this list, threatens to freeze the entire Saiyan race with his Super Breath.
      • Half of Frank Sinatra's rips on Freddie Mercury.
      • Jack the Ripper has molars as messed-up as he is. Somewhat of a double example, as those are Dan Bull's natural teeth.
      • James Bond tells Austin Powers that the many foes he's faced "were not as crooked and rotten as your teeth are."
      • Adolf Hitler. Gets frozen in carbonite, thawed out to battle again, then dropped into the Rancor pit , then avoids the Sarlaac pit only to get sliced in half by Vader's lightsaber As if that wasn't enough, in the season 4 promo, Hitler's ghost gets trapped in the Ghostbusters' trap. . Doubles as a Jerkass Woobie because, well, he's Hitler, and it's hard to say he doesn't deserve it after everything he's done.
      • The Easter Bunny, unsurprisingly, gets destroyed in his rap battle.
      • Ebeneezer Scrooge first gets startled awake by Trump, then yelled at by three rappers - the last of whom is Nightmare Fuel to him - until he nearly starts crying before changing his ways. This was bound to happen since the battle is an abridged version (with new characters) of A Christmas Carol.
      • It's no secret Bill Nye's a bit outclassed, even though he had some good lines. Even his own teammate Neil DeGrasse Tyson is somewhat condescending towards him.
      • The battle between the creators themselves featured cameos from nearly all the characters they've played as before.
      • The rematch with Vader and Hitler begins with Hitler frozen in carbonite, just as he was at the end of their original battle.
      • During Rasputin Vs Stalin, Lenin's arrival and verse is similar to Lincoln's during Obama Vs Romney. He stands between both rappers and criticizes them one after the other, even repeating some movements and shots.
      • "Donald Trump vs Ebenezer Scrooge" has Zach Sherwin play a character who dies in the original timeline but survives in an alternate timeline. The same is true for Doc Brown, who was also portrayed by Sherwin. It's also true, in a way, for Sherlock, who died in the planned final installment for the Sherlock Holmes book series, but when the series became a Franchise Zombie, the first of these new books revealed that Sherlock had been alive all along.
      • "Stephen King vs Edgar Allan Poe" is a three way callback:
        • 1. "Einstein vs Stephen Hawking" had a character portrayed by Zach Sherwin rap against a Stephen -king. Now Sherwin is a Stephen -king.
        • 2. "Dr. Seuss vs Shakespeare" also had George Watsky play a poet.
        • 3. "Doc Brown vs Doctor Who" also had a character portrayed by Sherwin rap against a character portrayed by Watsky.
        • Both battles also feature Italian characters.
        • Ted is also wearing a Mario Brothers shirt, as both Bill and Ted and the Mario Brothers have opponents portrayed by Rhett and Link.
        • It also shares a few traits with "Isaac Newton vs Bill Nye". Not only does Peter give Henson a similar voice to Nye, but at one point, Lee threatens to "leave [Henson] squealing like MEMEMEMEMEMEME", a reference to Beaker, who Newton compared Nye to. And then, of course, there's the Walking Spoiler. However, in "Henson vs Lee", Peter's character and the Walking Spoiler are both deceased, while Peter's primary opponent is living. The opposite is true in "Newton vs Nye".
        • Vlad the Impaler spends most of his first verse bragging about how many people he brutally murdered, and even claims to be the spawn of the devil. Later, he also brags about committing "heinous acts on rats" while imprisoned.
        • Pennywise proudly describes himself as a ruthless demon who haunts nightmares.
        • The Joker, for his part, embraces his nickname as "the Harlequin of Hate" and claims to have committed atrocities to which Pennywise's murders pale in comparison.
        • Gandhi is one, because he doesn't give afuck.
        • So is Mother Teresa, although Freud mocks her, claiming her chastity vow is "redundant".
        • The Doctor, Nikola Tesla, Joan of Arc and Sir Isaac Newton are all accused of being this and none of them denies it.
        • Inverted with characters who have died recently dying in the middle of the rap to be replaced by someone else.
        • Also inverted with Donald Trump (in his first appearance, anyway) while his real self is still alive, In-Universe he's outright stated to be dead and his ghost is haunting Scrooge.
        • John Lennon vs. Bill O'Reilly, while maybe not exactly fitting here, is much more frequent in swearing than the other battles.
        • Compared to the other battles from later seasons, "George R. R. Martin vs J. R. R. Tolkien" also has quite a few cusses dropped by both sides.
        • "Nice Peter vs EpicLLOYD 2" is the most curse-heavy battle in the series, showing how dead serious and angry Peter and Lloyd are going at each other, Peter in particular swears a total of nine times in just his first verse.
        • George Carlin uses all of the Seven Dirty Words (of which he's the Trope Namer) to fill a verse.
        • "Lewis and Clark vs Bill and Ted" has several historical figures on the San Dimas side that appeared in both the movie and past rap battles!
        • "Fredrick Douglass vs Thomas Jefferson" shows several American rap battlers from previous episodes during Jefferson's line:
        • Nikola Tesla's largest issue with Thomas Edison is how Tesla wanted to give electricity to the world for free, but Edison strongarmed him with politics and business practices to turn a profit with it.
        • Mitt Romney essentially begins his battle by saying Screw the Rules, I Have Money!.
        • Donald Trump and Ebeneezer Scrooge. Donald Trump even outright states that he's not known for his heart and Scrooge even got a sub trope named after him.
        • Carl Sagan in Einstein vs Hawking.
          • Reprised in Isaac Newton Vs. Bill Nye.
          • Ironically, Lloyd was the voice for Leonidas, but not the character.
          • Nice Peter also plays John F. Kennedy, his first-ever cameo in the series. He's otherwise rapped in every single battle till then.
          • Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking (German native, British native)
          • Genghis Khan vs. the Easter Bunny (Mongolian, European folklore character)
          • Gandalf vs. Dumbledore (Characters created by British writers)
          • Moses vs. Santa Claus (Middle East, European folklore)
          • Adam vs. Eve (The Bible)
          • Rasputin vs. Stalin (Russia)
          • Zeus vs. Thor (Greek mythology, Scandinavian mythology)
          • Eastern Philosophers vs. Western Philosophers (Chinese and European, to be precise)
          • Shaka Zulu vs. Julius Caesar (representing the Zulu Kingdom and the Roman Empire, respectively)
          • Ivan the Terrible vs. Alexander the Great (Russian vs Macedonian , Prussian and Roman, and also a Russian of Prussian descent)
          • Ash Ketchum vs. Charles Darwin (Japanese anime character, English native)
          • Guy Fawkes vs Che Guevara (English, Argentinean)
          • Jacques Cousteau vs Steve Irwin (French, Australian)
          • Mother Teresa vs Sigmund Freud (Albanian, Austrian)
          • Vlad the Impaler (Romanian) vs Count Dracula (Fictional character from Romania, created by Irish author)
          • Mister Rogers.
          • HAL 9000, naturally.
          • Bob Ross has one similar to Mister Rogers.
          • da Vinci's mellow tones never waver even as he threatens to turn ninja turtles into mincemeat.
          • One aversion is the "Eastern Philosophers vs. Western Philosophers" - both teams were just squabbling with each other to the point where the narrator yells at them so that he can do his ending spiel.
          • Sarah Palin vs. Lady Gaga
          • Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe
          • Joan of Arc vs. Miley Cyrus
          • Ellen DeGeneres vs. Oprah Winfrey
          • He does it again in Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton.
          • The first season finale gives viewers a glimpse of the Super Mario Bros., King Henry VIII, and Master Chief. ERB News also revealed the Wright Brothers, Elvis, and Steve Jobs. Henry VIII did not show up anywhere in Season 2.
          • "Rick Grimes vs. Walter White" briefly shows that Superman and Edgar Allan Poe will be contestants in the "More Battles" section (but obviously not against each other). The battle immediately after that also has another preview showing Isaac Newton.
          • The BTS for the season 3 finale has Walt D in con footage, before they picked him to participate in the first video of season 4.
          • At the very end of Copperfield vs. Houdini, Lao Tzu briefly appears in the "More Battles" window. Similarly, in Lewis and Clark vs. Bill and Ted, of all of B&T's companions shown, only Socrates had never been in a previous rap battle note The Billy The Kid shown was one of the background cowboys from Bruce Lee vs. Clint Eastwood. . Both would later appear in ''Eastern Philosophers vs. Western Philosophers".
          • A brief sneak peek of Steve Irwin was shown at the very end of George Carlin vs Richard Pryor.
          • Most of the early rap battles put characters against each other who seem very randomly picked. In later episodes they have more in common with each other and thus seem more fit to oppose one another: they have the same profession, are similar icons, have similar sounding names, were real life rivals, or are similar characters from a different franchise.
          • The announcer had a different voice for the first few battles.
          • The lyrics for the first battles weren't as refined and contained a lot of cursing. This was rectified in later seasons.
          • Lennon vs. O'Reilly, the first battle, lacks the subtitles and was originally censored.
          • Abe Lincoln vs. Chuck Norris is the only battle the announcer does not kick off by shouting "BEGIN!"
          • Kim Jong-il vs the Mega Powers is the only match where a person who comes in during the middle is announced by the announcer. It also uses a different font for the subtitles than all the other battles.
          • The first season episode featuring Hulk Hogan has Nice Peter playing the character in a rather unconvincing muscle suit. If they were shooting the episode now, with their much higher profile and budgets, now they would be able to cast a convincing look-a-like or might even have gotten Hogan himself to play the role.
          • Donald Trump, the only rapper so far to appear in two different titles, is effectively portrayed as two different characters in Donald Trump vs Ebenezer Scrooge and Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton. This is largely because the 2016 election wildly changed the public's perception of Trump, leading to jokes about his complexion, the size of his hands, and the accusations of racism against him.
          • "Henry VIII vs. Hillary Clinton" was set to release in season 2, immediately after Vader/Hitler 2, but Peter and Lloyd felt the battle didn't live up to their own expectations at the time, so they never officially released it until 2020. While Peter is still the announcer, he sounds like a completely different person altogether. He was already starting to settle on the deep exaggerated announcer voice half-way into season 1.
          • Goku vs. Superman, being based on the Trope Codifier of literal fight threads, ends on a note resembling this trope on a likewise more literal level: both heroes physically fly into each other, with their climactic collision creating an explosion which transitions to the ending screen.
          • Freddy Krueger vs. Wolverine ends with Wolverine having successfully escaped Freddy's overt attempt to kill him by seemingly waking up, but as he delivers his last verse it becomes increasingly apparent that it's a Dream Within a Dream. and then the battle just ends.
          • Robert Hoffman as Deadpool as Elvis. (also voiced by Epic LLOYD)
          • Even Hannibal Lecter, a sociopathic cannibal, thinks that Jack the Ripper saying he's more terrifying than the 7/7 terrorist bombing is going too far. Though Lecter's second verse suggests that what bothers him more about Jack is the fact that he's "sloppy", and the terrorist line is simply part of that.
          • In their third battle, Darth Vader derides Hitler's attempts to convince the world that the Jews are evil. This may be less having standards and more mocking Hitler's failures, but given Vader's final line in the first battle it's probably a mix of both. Vader also shies away from using the word "cunt", unlike Hitler.
          • The Joker may have no problem killing kids (Jason Todd, for example, which he mentions in the battle), but even he is disgusted by sexualizing them he slams the infamous preteen group sex scene in It and says “Even I wouldn’t stoop to that kind of impropriety!”
          • Austin Powers may happily admit to being a swinging Lovable Sex Maniac who engages in unprotected sex with multiple women, but he would never force himself on a woman who rejects his advances, unlike the " a bitrapey" Sean Connery .
          • Che Guevara is a Communist revolutionary who brags about all the people he's killed for the cause, but he's still appalled by the Catholic Church turning a blind eye to rampant child molestation.
          • Rasputin, no angel himself, says that what Stalin did to Russia was a disgrace.
          • The basis of the Hitler vs. Vader matches is who is worse than the other.
          • Played straight by Jack the Ripper, who boasts that his crimes are so gruesome that they would sicken and appall even his opponent, Hannibal Lecter. He also claims to be scarier than the 7/7 bombers.
          • The Joker claims to be this to Pennywise:

          Kanye West Orders Fast Food in London, Stands on a Table to Greet His Fans - Recipes

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          October 5, 2020 – For the first time ever, all five of the Gambler films starring Kenny Rogers are being released in one DVD collection— Kenny Rogers: The Gambler . This 6-film box set (featuring the movie Coward of the County as a bonus) is essential for Kenny Rogers fans and can be found exclusively at your local Walmart starting October 6th from Shout! Factory.

          The Gambler series generated five Emmy Award nominations. Rogers made his acting debut in the original film The Gambler, which was a massive ratings hit that achieved critical success for CBS upon its original release on April 8, 1980. It was nominated for two Emmy Awards.

          The film is an Old West tale inspired by one of Rogers’ most beloved songs of all time. Brady Hawkes (Kenny Rogers) is a gamblin’ man who has seen it all. except for the son he never knew. When Hawkes receives a surprising letter from his child, he sets off on a journey to finally meet the boy. In the course of his travels, Hawkes crosses paths with the impetuous Billy Montana (Bruce Boxleitner - Tron, How The West Was Won ), and the two become fast friends. Billy considers himself to be a professional gambler, but he’s got a lot to learn – and Hawkes has got some very familiar advice for him.

          By popular demand, R ogers returned as Brady Hawkes in The Gambler: The Adventure Continues, which premiered in November 1983 on CBS. The film was an even bigger ratings success than the first and was nominated for an additional two Emmy Awards. The Gambler Part III: The Legend Continues followed in 1987 (also on CBS), and the Emmy-nominated fourth installment of the series, The Gambler Returns: The Luck Of The Draw , starring Rogers and Reba McEntire, aired on NBC in 1991. The series moved back to CBS for the 1994 finale, Gambler V: Playing For Keeps. The first four movies of the series were directed by Dick Lowry and the last was directed by Jack Bender.

          “The Gambler,” written by GRAMMY®-winning Country Music Hall of Fame songwriter Don Schlitz, was Kenny's fourth #1 solo hit and one of five consecutive songs by the music icon to hit No. 1 on the Billboard country music chart. “The Gambler" also went to #3 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the first #1 hit Schlitz had written. The song won a 1978 Grammy for Best Country Song and became CMA’s 1979 Song of the Year. Kenny won a 1979 Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “The Gambler,” and also earned CMA’s 1979 Male Vocalist of the Year. In addition, the album, The Gambler , won CMA honors as 1979 Album of the Year, among other accolades.

          In 2018, “The Gambler” was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.” Following Kenny’s death on March 20, 2020, “The Gambler” hit No. 1 on Billboard ’s Digital Song Sales chart.

          In a career that spanned more than six decades, Kenny Rogers left an indelible mark on the history of American music. His songs have endeared music lovers and touched the lives of millions around the world. Chart-topping hits like “The Gambler,” “Lady,” “Islands In The Stream” (with Dolly Parton), “Lucille,” “She Believes In Me,” and “Through the Years” are just a handful of Kenny’s songs that continue to inspire new generations of artists and fans alike. With twenty-four number-one hits to his credit, Rogers miraculously charted a song within each of the last seven decades. He is a Country Music Hall of Fame member, twenty-one-time American Music Awards winner, eleven-time People’s Choice Awards winner, ten-time ACM Awards winner, six-time CMA Awards winner, three-time GRAMMY® Award winner, recipient of the CMA Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, CMT Artist of a Lifetime Award honoree in 2015 and was voted the “Favorite Singer of All Time” in a joint poll by readers of both USA Today and People .

          Details on all the films in the Kenny Rogers: The Gambler box set can be found here:

          THE GAMBLER (1980)

          The film is an Old West tale inspired by one of Rogers’ most beloved songs of all time. Brady Hawkes (Kenny Rogers) is a gamblin’ man who has seen it all. except for the son he never knew. When Hawkes receives a surprising letter from his child, he sets off on a journey to finally meet the boy. In the course of his travels, Hawkes crosses paths with the impetuous Billy Montana (Bruce Boxleitner - Tron, How The West Was Won ), and the two become fast friends. Billy considers himself to be a professional gambler, but he’s got a lot to learn – and Hawkes has got some very familiar advice for him.

          THE GAMBLER: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES (1983)

          Brady Hawkes is back in this rip-roaring sequel to The Gambler . When Brady's son Jeremiah is kidnapped by a vicious gang, the gambler and his sidekick Billy Montana saddle up to rescue him. With the aid of the quick-drawing Kat Muldoon (Linda Evans - Dynasty ), the stakes couldn't be higher. Will this pair of aces with a queen kicker come out on top?

          THE GAMBLER: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (1987)

          Brady Hawkes and Billy Montana ride again in this thrilling continuation of The Gambler saga. When the Sioux Nation is threatened by corrupt U.S. Calvary and government officials, it's up to the two friends to resolve the conflict. Also starring Linda Gray, Melanie Chartoff, George Kennedy, and Jeffrey Jones.

          THE GAMBLER RETURNS: THE LUCK OF THE DRAW (1991)

          On the eve of a new law banning gambling is passed, Brady Hawkes finds himself struggling with a crisis of confidence…and at the end of a hangman’s rope. Rescued by the vivacious Burgundy Jones (Country superstar Reba McEntire), Hawkes discovers that his benefactor has a deal too good to pass up: the ultimate poker game, matching the greatest gamblers to ever ante up. Hawkes and Jones take to the trail in search of one last winning hand—but can they make it to the table in one piece? Featuring special appearances by some of the West’s greatest legends, including Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors), Bat Masterson (Gene Barry), and Kwai Chang Caine (David Carradine).

          GAMBLER V: PLAYING FOR KEEPS (1994)

          Brady Hawkes has won just about every game of chance there is, but this time he’s risking everything for the biggest stakes of them all: the love—and life—of his son Jeremiah. Estranged from his father for years, the now-grown Jeremiah has joined up with the legendary Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid…and it’s up to Brady to track them down before the law catches up to them. Featuring Mariska Hargitay ( Law & Order: Special Victims Unit ) and guest appearances by Loni Anderson and Bruce Boxleitner, Playing For Keeps wraps up the saga of Brady Hawkes in grand fashion, as The Gambler takes his place among the legends of television Westerns.

          COWARD OF THE COUNTY (1981)

          In the tradition of The Gambler series, Coward of the County takes its inspiration from one of Kenny Rogers' all-time greatest hits. Rogers plays a small-town preacher whose nephew has taken a pledge of pacifism at the request of his dying father. The young man's oath is tested when the Gatlin boys attack his loving wife. Featuring Frederic Lane, Largo Woodruff, and William Schreiner.