By Damian Fanelli
Paul McCartney started 2012 strong — and it looks like he's kicking it into high gear as the year comes to a close.
The bassist, vegetarian and former Beatle, who turned 70 in June, is one of several scheduled headliners for the 12-12-12 Concert at Madison Square Garden, joining Roger Waters, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder and others.
The proceeds from the one-night-only event will benefit the Robin Hood Relief Fund, which assists victims of Hurricane Sandy. Tickets go on sale at noon EST December 3 via Ticketmaster.
Later that week, McCartney will be the musical guest on NBC's Saturday Night Live, booked alongside Martin Short. This will mark his fourth SNL appearance; his first one was in 1993 (Chris Farley to McCartney: "Do you remember when you were in The Beatles?")
As luck would have it, these events happen to take place the same week as The Rolling Stones' December 13 show at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, which is right down the road from New York City, home of SNL and Madison Square Garden. So the rumor mill is placing McCartney in the company of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts that night.
His Rolling Stones connection? Besides being British, rich and born in the 1940s, he and John Lennon co-wrote the Stones' first hit, "I Wanna Be Your Man," which happens to be part of the band's 50th-aniversary set list.
And why not McCartney? They've already been joined on stage in London by two former Stones (Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman), plus Jeff Beck, Florence Welch, Mary J Blige and Eric Clapton (Check out the Clapton video here).
In other McCartney news, he just wrapped up a few Canadian shows and released a jazzy cover of the holiday standard "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts roasting, etc.), which sounds a lot like the material on his February 2012 release, Kisses on the Bottom. It's his first Christmas song since 1979's "Wonderful Christmastime."
The song, which is part of a holiday compilation called Holidays Rule, is available on iTunes now, as is Complete Kisses, a new deluxe release that combines Kisses on the Bottom with McCartney's live performance of the album at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles.
Perhaps coolest of all: In the liner notes to his brand-new DVD, Live Kisses (another November release), McCartney reveals that he plays bass on Eric Clapton's next album. He plays the standup bass that once belonged to Elvis Presley's bassist, Bill Black. McCartney has owned it since the '70s; it was a gift from his late wife, Linda. This is McCartney repaying a favor to Clapton, who played guitar on two Kisses on the Bottom tracks.
For more McCartney news (Hey, some people like this stuff), head to paulmccartney.com.
Photo: Bob Gannon