Back to index of Beatles pages by Donald Sauter.

Paul McCartney's Close Call

A Beatle Significa question that has gotten a few comments was the one about "Paul almost drowned." I think it's pretty amazing how this incident fell through the cracks in the major Beatle books.

If we had a Beatles database, you could just search on a few keywords like "paul" and "drown" if you wanted more information. But we don't (grrr...) so here's a couple of references for you.

The first is the account from The True Story of the Beatles by Beatle Book Monthly writer Billy Shepherd. This book was mostly written in 1963. If you ever read it, you will see that it forms an important basis for later Beatle bios by Hunter Davies, Philip Norman, etc. On page 189 we read:

While "From Me To You" was still at the top, the Beatles managed to take a few days' holiday in the Canary Islands... John had been the only absent Beatle - he'd beetled off to Spain with Brian Epstein.

Though the headlines did not echo around the world, the Beatles came near to tragedy in Teneriffe, Canary Islands. The biggest sensation yet in British pop music was nearly cut off before the greatest triumphs had come along.

They'd met up, in Teneriffe, with Klaus, the German who'd befriended them in the early days in Hamburg. A happy party on the beach, with everybody sharing the odd bottle of Coke or, occasionally, wine.

Then Paul decided to go for a swim. He ploughed happily past the barrier line of reefs and then suddenly got caught up in some swirling, dangerous waves.

Says Paul: "I got washed out further and further away. I yelled for help but those blighters on the beach just didn't seem to hear anything at all. Sure, it seems quite funny now, especially when I tell you that I nearly came to blows with George and Ringo when I did finally get myself back on shore. Truth is, though, I really did feel I'd had my lot out there. It looks pretty scarey when you think you're in serious danger of drowning."

Later, George also went for a swim and got his foot caught in a rock... but he eventually broke free. "Add to this the fact that we had a spell of lousy weather and you'll understand that we were quite glad to get back to a few noisy audiences in Britain."

And in the January 1985 issue of Australian Playboy, Paul describes a near-drowning incident. I have to believe it's the same one as above, and that after 20 years his memory got the place wrong. Off the top of my head, I can't think of Paul visiting Hawaii, at least during the Beatle years. (What's the Beatles database say?) Note the coincidence of "lousy weather" in the two accounts.

Playboy: What's the closest you've been to death?

McCartney: In Hawaii. I used to swim off a rock about 10 feet above water level. The huge Hawaiian waves would roll in without breaking. You'd wait for one and get in the water on the crest of a wave, then you'd wait for another wave to lift you up the 10 feet on to this little rock platform. It was a thing all the local kids do, I like to go native a bit. So I do it and I get it off to perfection. But I forget that if there's been a storm the waves are going to behave differently. And one day I went in after a storm. It looked all right. But when I tried to catch a wave to lift me out, it dumped me, the wave broke. Then the next wave dumped me. I was about 30 feet out struggling to get back. I felt myself getting weak and beginning to accept perhaps that this was it. But eventually I pulled myself together and asked God to please put me out. And he did. I've got the scars to this day. Not very big ones, though.

The end. No big discussion or anything.


Contact Donald Sauter: send an email; view guestbook; sign guestbook.
Back to Donald Sauter's main page.
Rather shop than think? Please visit My Little Shop of Rare and Precious Commodities.
Back to the top of this page.

Helpful keywords not in main text: john lennon; george harrison; ringo starr; klaus voormann; beatle monthly book (I've never been clear on the intended order of those three words); paul mccartney meets davy jones' locker (maybe that will get a hit or two.)

Parents, if you're considering tutoring or supplemental education for your child, you may be interested in my observations on Kumon.