McCartney's first post-Beatles albums, McCartney (1970) and Ram (1971) were essentially solo projects recorded by Paul and wife Linda McCartney. Later in 1971, McCartney hired several studio musicians for his third solo project (Notably ex-Moody Blues guitarist and singer Denny Laine. The result was Wild Life, the first McCartney project to use the "Wings" name. (The band name is said to have come to McCartney as he was praying in the hospital while Linda was giving birth.) In early 1973 McCartney repeated this pattern, adding ex-Spooky Tooth guitarist Henry McCullough and re-christened the band "Paul McCartney and Wings" for the album Red Rose Speedway which yielded the first Wings hit, the romantic ballad "My Love".
Wings was ostensibly a true band, and in fact several members beyond McCartney contributed songs and occasional vocals, but McCartney was clearly the group's leader and star. Following the release of Speedway McCartney brought the band to Ginger Baker's recording studio in Nigeria to record what turned out to be their breakthrough album, Band on the Run. Band went to number 1 and spawned a half-dozen hit singles including the title track, a suite of movements recalling late Beatles albums, the rockers "Jet" and "Helen Wheels", and the acoustic ballad "Bluebird".
Band on the Run was followed by similarly successful albums Venus and Mars (1975) and Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976), both of which also took top chart positions. Also during this period Wings embarked on a hugely successful and theatrical world tour, documented in the triple-live LP set Wings Over America.
After a year's break from recording (with the exception of the odd, unpromoted release of Thrillington, an orchestral re-make of Paul and Linda's Ram album), McCartney released the album London Town in 1978. Though still released as a Wings album, the band was at that point reduced to Paul, Linda, and long-time member Laine along with a host of studio players. The album was a commercial success, reaching number 2 on the Pop Albums chart, but featured a markedly softer-rock, synth-based sound and yielded only minor singles hits in "With a Little Luck" and "Girlfriend". The follow-up album, Back to the Egg, was a critical and commercial failure and was the last McCartney project released under the Wings moniker, as McCartney would return to solo billing on future recordings.
During its heyday, Wings featured numerous personnel changes. In addition to core members Paul, Linda, and Denny Laine, the band included at one time or another Joe English, Jimmy McCulloch (formerly of Stone the Crows), Henry McCullough, Denny Seiwell, and Geoff Britton.