Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Paul in New Orleans 1975 (part 2)

Here is the 2nd part of Gina Fontana's story of hanging around the studio where Wings was recording the Venus and Mars album in New Orleans in Jan and Feb 1975.  I can't help but think how neater this story could have ended up if John went down to N.O. and recorded a song with Paul as originally planned. 

For the next three weeks every spare minute I had was spent waiting outside that studio.  I cut so many classes I flunked my math and science courses.  I had to go to summer school because of it (it was worth it).  There was a group of about 12 (including me) of us who were there all the time.  Allen Crowder really got aggravated with us.  He kicked us out of the hotel so many times I think he lost count.  The roadies, Stave and Mike, really hated us too.  Sometimes they were really rough when it wasn’t necessary.

Every once in a while there was something out of the ordinary to amuse the group of regulars.  Like one day this cab drives up and this girl gets out.  All she had on was a dirty white t-shirt.  All of a sudden the girl takes off this t-shirt and she’s standing there naked.  Allen Crowder came outside and got her.  Someone heard that she used to go out with Jimmy and she followed him down to New Orleans.  That was just one of the crazy things that happened while Paul was there.

Every day we’d stare down the same street (we renamed it McCartney drive) just waiting to see that white Delta 98.  You’d be sitting on the ground talking about the Beatles and you’d hear somebody say, “Here comes Denny.”  That meant within the next five minutes, Paul would come zooming down the street.  We always had about a five minute warning before Denny and the others were coming because the two roadies would come outside and wait for them to arrive.  The roadies were so mean.  Paul even told them sometimes to leave us alone.  He was always really nice to the fans.  Paul would go out of this way to be nice.  Linda would usually go straight in.  Almost every day Paul was asked the same question, “Can we kiss you?”  He’d always answer with something like, “You don’t want me wife to get mad at me,” or “Do you want Linda to be jealous?”  But one day Linda was sick so she didn’t come into the studio.  It was their second-to-last-day at the studio.  I had never asked Paul if I could kiss him but I decided this was the best time to ask.  After he got out of the car I said, “Can I please kiss you Paul?”  and to my surprise and delight he answered, “Sure.”  After I kissed him, he was swamped by kisses.  You could tell he loved every minute.  He was bubbling all over.

The last day that Wings came to Sea-Saint was Friday, Feb. 21, 1975.  There were about a hundred fans there that day.  The TV stations did an interview with Paul the day before and they gave all the information out, so there were a lot of people that day.  It was so crowded, you could hardly get near him, but after most of the crowd left; Allen O’Duffy (the engineer Paul had brought with him) came outside.  He told us they weren’t leaving town until Monday night.  He wasn’t sure what time so he told us to give him a ring Monday and he’d let us know.  He was so nice.  Sunday, the TV news said that Paul had left earlier that day so that eliminated a lot of people showing up at the airport.

We talked to O’Duffy Monday and he gave us the flight number and the time the plane was leaving or L.A. We went to the airport not knowing what to expect.  One of the girls that was with me called her father from the airport and he told her to go talk to some man because he might be able to help us get into the room where you could wait for your plane to leave.  Well, this man got us into the room.  We sat there with all the passengers.  We didn’t know what to do.  We decided we’d try and act like we were just normal people but that didn’t’ go off too well.  We were so excited – my mind was gone.  I had two flowers, one for Paul and the other for Allen O’Duffy.  I wanted to thank Allen for being so nice.  After five minutes passed and we were still sitting there scared stiff.  I thought Linda or Allen might kill us when they saw us waiting to attack Paul.  Anyway, they all came in the room and sat down right across from us.  Allen O’Duffy didn’t even sit down – he came straight to u and brought Paul and Lidna over to us!

I was just about to hand Paul the flower I had for him when Linda grabbed it out of my hands (and I mean grabbed!) and said, “Is this for the lady?”  I didn’t know what to do.  I was so shocked I couldn’t believe she actually did it.  She knew the flower was for Paul.  I mean it only had a big card on it that said PAUL.  Paul looked like he was embarrassed when she did that.  My mouth just flew open.  Paul tried to help the situation out by asking me my name and where I went to school.  He was so sweet.  He took the flower from Linda and he told me it was really nice to give them a going away present.  He kept asking us how we got past all the people without a ticket.  I think he thought we were flying on the same plane as they were at first.  We told him we had connections all over the place!  We also said we had a lot of good photos from the studio, and Linda said she’d really like to have a  few.  So Paul told Brian Brolly to give us their address in London and the address of the hotel they would be staying at in L.A.  Then some man from the airline asked if they’d like to go across the hall to a private room while the other passengers boarded the plane.  We waited outside in the hall.  A few minutes later Mike (one of the roadies) came out with the three girls.  He was taking them to the bathroom.  On the way down the hall to the bathrooms there were some candy machines.  Stella started saying she wanted some candy, and then Heather and Mary said they wanted some too.  Mike told them there was no time and they had to hurry up.  Stella started screaming, “I want some candy!”  Mike told her no again but Stella wouldn’t’ take no for an answer.  She hauled off and kicked Mike smack in the shin.  I never laughed so loud in all my life – Mike was so mean to all the fans; he deserved a good swift kick!  He ended up getting the girls candy.

A few minutes later they all came out and started to board the plane.  Paul kept winking at us and making all these cute faces.  I loved it and I loved him.  We kissed Denny, Jimmy and Joe goodbye.  Linda wouldn’t let us touch Paul.  A man from the airline asked us if we’d like to go on the plane and say goodbye again because the plane wasn’t leaving for a few minutes, so we all went on the plane.  I was too scared to go near Paul and Linda so I went and told Denny and Jimmy goodbye.  I talked to them for a little white and kissed them goodbye again.  Allen Crowder looked like he was going to have a nervous breakdown when he saw us walk on the plane.  I asked Allen if I could kiss him goodbye and he said yes (I knew Allen had a heart under all those dirty looks he gave us).  We each kissed him about 4 times.  He kept saying, “Now stop that, you’re holding up our plane.  You have to leave.”  We just laughed at him.

We finally thanked them once more and got off the plane.  As we were leaving the plane Paul winked at us.  I knew that was probably the last time I’d ever get to see that wink.  We left the plane and as it took off all I could do was cry.  The dream was over.  I knew he wouldn’t be back for a very long time.

The months of January and February will always bring back happy memories  I’ll never forget the look on his face the first time I saw him   He was so beautiful.  I know that memory will never fade away.

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