Tuesday, October 20, 2009


This story was from Ric Burnett and was first published in Beatlefan magazine in the October/November 1981 issue. The photo I included with this photo is when Wings played Atlanta in 1976.
May 19, 1976 will be a day that will be forever embedded in my memory.
I was working at Peaches Records and Tapes in Atlanta at a time when this record chain was still fresh, exciting and healthy. Paul McCartney and Wings were in town to perform two shows in two days at the Omni.
One of the first things a visitor to Atlanta's Peaches will notice nowadays is the display of food and hand prints left by visiting recording artists. On occasion, an artist would stick their hands and/or feet into wet cement in conjunction with an in-store appearance to meet the public and sign autographs. It was not unusual, for security reasons, to handle the making of the prints in the back room of the store and later move them to their permanent position outside the front of the store.
As you can imagine, it did not take long to decide that we wanted to immortalize McCartney's hand prints in cement. This was no easy task and it took day-long negotiation that Wednesday with both Capitol Records and McCartney's management company. I was not a part of any of the phone calls. My job, which I learned form a three-year stint in the construction business, was to prepare and supervise the pouring of the cement into a wooden form.
Those in charge of protecting the members of Wings would not allow them to come to the store for security reasons. The second idea proposed was to haul the cement by truck to the Peachtree Plaza Hotel where the group was staying. This did not prove to be very popular with the bigwigs either. In fact, we were being told all along that McCartney wasn't crazy about this whole idea anyway.
We soon learned that negotiating would have to take the form of begging. We also had to be ready in a moment's notice in case we were lucky enough to get the go-ahead. A truck was rented, the cement mixed and a crew from Peaches lined up to take the truck wherever we had to go.
Finally, someone gave in. We would be allowed to take the wet cement to the Omni, where the group was to perform that night. Five or six of us made the trip and I had the pleasure of driving the truck. Everything was loaded and we departed form the store that night after Wings had already started their concert.
Once we arrived at the Omni, orders were to back the truck up to the big door around back where equipment trucks and limousines arrive and depart. A man came outside to speak to us and I have no idea who he was. He said that he could back the truck inside after the concert and then the group would meet us about a half-hour later.
This man soon became very unhappy. The sliding door on the back of the truck was open so that a couple of guys could smooth over the concrete which had shifted during the trip through town. It was sternly stated to us that only three of us could bring the truck inside when the time came.
The guys in the truck climbed out and the man went back inside. The guys then jumped back in the truck and we slid the door down.
The time came. The big door of the complex slowly opened and I backed the truck inside. There were two other people sitting in the cab with me. The people in charge of looking out for Wings wanted to see the cement-turning-concrete right away. worry set in. I raised the back door and there were the other three guys smoothing over the concrete the best they could with light form matches. Those in authority did not seem too pleased and they walked away to have a talk.
They had told us only three and we had six people inside now. nobody in their right mind would volunteer to stay outside. Everyone figured we'd blown it and that all of us would be told to leave.
It didn't happen. Ten minutes later, here came Paul and Linda, Denny Laine, Joe English and Jimmy McCulloch. They looked happy but also tired from the show. They climbed into the truck and they put their hands into the cement. McCartney, wearing a leather jacket, also left a shoe print and then they signed autographs. Both Paul and Linda signed my copy of the "Speed of Sound" album.
McCartney was very cooperative and extremely nice. I only spoke to him a moment after shaking his hand and don't remember a thing said, I probably said or asked something stupid. But I did not figure on meeting Paul McCartney in the back of a truck.
The group was only in the truck for about five minutes and then they left. We were not allowed to take pictures and only ones taken were by people form MPL communications. It was later learned that McCartney had only heard of the idea after the concert and was all for it. The people running the tour were just being very protective and hesitant.
After McCartney and company left the truck, I climbed into the cab to drive out. The big door opened and I saw about 50 other fans standing outside to get a glimpse of McCartney as he left. All they saw was us. The Peaches people in the crowd, who had just seen the show, cheered loudly because they knew we had succeeded.
We parked the truck outside to give the cement about an hour to set and dry. During this wait, two limousines pulled out and we all waved. It was dark and we could not see inside the cars. The cars sped off.
However, then a smaller door of the building opened up and Jimmy McCulloch walked out. He came to the truck and climbed in to see the results. They had turned out just fine. He chatted for awhile with us and then left. It was over.
What a day it had been! I knew I had really met McCartney and talked to him. It was hard to believe and it took a long time to soak in. I was in heaven that night. It really dind't matter that I had met the members of Wings. What mattered was that I had met one of the Beatles. Nothing else was important.
Unfortunately, Beatlefan online had a very sad footnote to this story:
The first of the now-defunct Peaches chain's superstores, located on famed Peachtree Street, had a display of hand prints and autographs in cement left by visiting performers, and McCartney and Wings did the honors (though the cement was taken to them; they didn't come to the store) on May 19, 1976. The Wings prints occupied the prime place of honor outside the front entrance to the store, which closed six years later. Unfortunately, a dispute between the owners of the property and the last owners of the store resulted in the decision to destroy the collection of stars' prints, which were sledgehammered into little pieces, some of which were carried away by fans.

No comments:

Post a Comment