Gloria Vanderbilt, the inspiration for the Wings’ song “Mrs. Vanderbilt”, died today

Today came the suprise news that the ultra-famous Gloria Vanderbilt died at age 95 at her home in Manhattan. The great-great-grandaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1887), the railroad tycoon and shipping magnate, she hailed from one of the most wealthy and socially prominent families in the United States. She was a model, an actress, fashion designer, artist and heiress. She was married four times, divorced three times, and bore four sons, one of whom is CNN commentator Anderson Cooper.

Those who were around in the 1970’s and 1980’s know that Vanderbilt re-invented herself with a $200 million fashion empire, primarily of designer jeans, but also including blouses, shoes, jewelry and perfume. A insightful obituary, “Gloria Vanderbilt Dies at 95; Built a Fashion Empire”, can be found in the New York Times. The obituary states that the Wings’ song “Mrs. Vanderbilt, from the 1973 Band on the Run album, was both inspired by Gloria Vanderbilt and loosely based on her life.

While “Mrs. Vanderbilt” was well-known to Beatles fans at thew time who bought the Wings album, it was not released as a single in both the U.S. and the UK. However, it was released as single in Australia, New Zealand, and Continental Europe.

Of course, this album was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, with the overdubs done later in London. “Mrs. Vanderbilt”, like all the songs on Band on the Run, featured Paul McCartney on drums due to the fact that Wings drummer Denny Seiwell quit the band only a couple of hours before the departure to record in Nigeria. As is famously known, when the album was released, Paul’s good friend Keith Moon, the drummer extraordinaire of The Who, called him to ask who did the drumming on the album because it was great. Paul was thrilled at Moon’s comments.

Despite being a well-liked song by McCartney fans, Paul never played the song live until his famous free concert in Kiev, Ukraine in 2008, only because it received the most votes in an online poll from people who were planning on attending the concert.