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Paul McCartney Shares His Struggles With Stage Fright

Jim Dyson, Getty Images
Jim Dyson, Getty Images

The next time you experience stage fright, just remember: you have something in common with Paul McCartney.

The former Beatle shared an uncomfortable chapter from his past during a recent Q&A exchange hosted at his official site, responding to the question of the biggest fears he’s faced by looking back on the days when he had to worry about getting beaten up by local bullies — and disappointing his earliest fans.

“Performing, it was always the idea that the audience didn’t like you and you had to prove yourself. I think that’s why a lot of people get stage fright and get nervous,” mused McCartney. “You think, ‘Oh my God, I’m gonna be terrible, they hate me, and it’s all terrible.’ And so I think that was one of the earliest fears.”

In fact, McCartney admitted, stage fright almost made him look for another line of work. “I remember nearly giving it all up when we were doing a concert in Wembley — which was a Poll-Winners concert — in the really early days of the Beatles,” he added. “And I remember feeling physically sick with a knot in my stomach thinking, ‘I should give this up, this is just too painful, what am I doing?’ I got over it. And as you can see I didn’t give it up! So that’s two different kinds of fears.”

After all these years, it’d be easy to assume that McCartney no longer needs to cope with stage fright, but that isn’t entirely true. Although he described his current jitters as “not too bad,” he revealed the pre-tour ritual he uses to get himself properly worked up to get back on the road.

“What I do is I always say to my promoter when a tour is coming up: ‘Put one show on sale and see how it goes.’ And he’ll ring me back and say, ‘It’s sold out! Twenty minutes!’ So I’ve got to assume that they like me,” said McCartney. “So it gives you a confidence and I think I can probably relax, they probably like me. And it means you can enjoy the show more.”

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