Monday, May 17, 2010

In person encounters with Paul (part 1)

Sometimes I wish all of you blog readers lived close by and I could invite you over so we could dig into my 100's of Beatles magazines and books to find articles and photos to post on this blog. It would be so much fun finding things in my archives with another fan! I did find something last night while looking for things. The March 1998 issue of "Autograph collector" magazine had a wonderful article about Paul McCartney and has two stories of fans who met Macca. I am posting this one tonight and leaving the 2nd one for another time.

(Written by Daivid Laurell)
Dallas-based collector Charles Heard has had the good fortune to meet McCartney on four separate occasions. Heard, who has gained an international reputation for his eclectic collection of rare books, autographs, Texana and Hollywood memorabilia, made headlines last year when he auctioned off one of his most prized possessions: the bullet-riddled shirt of gangster Clyde Barrow after the latter was gunned down by Texas Rangers in 1934.

Despite his varied collecting interests, Heard says his collection of McCartney and Beatles material ranks on his list of personal favorites. His meetings with McCartney have provided him not only with beautiful autographed memorabilia but, in his words, "the greatest experiences of my life."

Heard's first encounter with McCartney came in 1976 when he sneaked into Fort Worth's Tarrant County Convention Center for a dress rehearsal of the opening concert for the Wings over America Tour.

"At the show's end I planted myself directly by the pathway leading from the stage to McCartney's back-stage vehicle," Heard recalled. "I was completely unnerved knowing that I Was about to meet my idol."

Seeing McCartney coming toward him, and not wanting to sound like a babbling idiot, Heard quickly tried to collect his thoughts. Within moments he found himself face-to-face with Paul and Linda, and asked Paul to autograph an 8x10 glossy. McCartney kindly obliged his request.

"I remember saying, 'Thanks for the music over the years,'" Heard said, "And Paul replied by saying, 'thanks for listening.' It was at that moment I became fully aware of the meaning of the expression 'over the moon!'"

Thirteen years passed before Heard crossed McCartney's path again. While living and working in West Germany, Heard learned that McCartney and his band would be making a live television appearance in Cologne to promote his album Flowers in the Dirt.

Armed with some inside information, Heard made his way to the city's private airport terminal and waited for McCartney's entourage to arrive.

"It was shortly after 11p.m.," Heard recalled. "A long, sleek Mercedes limousine pulled up and deposited Paul, Linda and their traveling party at the terminals entrance."

Heard hoped McCartney would autograph a Royal Doulton Beatle mug and a copy of the sheet music for Michelle.

"I was trilled beyond belief when Paul walked through the door and spotted me holding the mug," Heard said. "He came over, shook my hand and focused on the mug asking, 'Where'd ya get this, mate?'"

McCartney inspected the ceramic piece. Turning it over in his hands, he kept muttering, "Must have it. Must have it." A split-second change in plans surprised even the star-struck collector when he heard himself offering the mug to McCartney as a gift. But the former Beatle graciously declined the offer, signed the mug on the back, and returned it to Heard.

"I'll never forget the sight of Paul standing there holding that mug in his right hand while meticulously signing each letter of his name on the back," Heard recalled with delight. "Paul and Linda were both incredibly gracious. They posed for pictures and signed my memorabilia. They showed a genuine interest in me and asked what I was doing in Germany. I talked to Paul about his Rupert the Bear animated film and Linda asked me about my views on vegetarianism."

As the McCartney's left to board their plane, Paul turned around and waved a friendly goodbye to Heard. "It was just fabtastic," he said, laughing.

The day after that encounter, before HEard's feet again touched terra firma, another incredible experince sent him back into the clouds.

"When I got my pictures developed, I discovered that Linda had picked up my camera while I was talking to Paul and snapped a few shots of us talking to one another!"

A few months after that meeting, McCartney embarked on the European leg of his 89-90 world tour. McCartney's Frankfurt concert gave Heard yet another opportunity to meet his idol.

"It was at his hotel after the concert, and I went up to him, and introduced myself," Heard recalled, "Then, to my surprise he said, 'You're the chap from the airport.'"

Amazed that McCartney would remember him, Heard momentarily forgot to ask Paul to sign a photo and hand over the gift he was bearing -- a Royal Doulton mug just like the one Paul signed at their previous meeting.

"He was visibly pleased when I presented the mug to hm," said Heard, beaming. "I'll never forget the sight of Paul strolling down the long hotel corridor with that Royal Doulton box tucked under his arm."

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