Thursday, November 15, 2012

Three Days in September 1975

Last week I posted Graeme's story and photos about meeting Paul and Linda in 1975.  Well Graeme has emailed me again with another story of meeting the McCartney's and seeing them in concert late that same year.  This is great stuff!   Graeme also brings up a good point.   We are Beatle fans, and obviously we love the Fab 4, but there is also a bond that we share and friendships that we form because of the Beatles that have lasted for many fans decades.   I often say that I very rarely have met a Beatle fan I didn't like.   Beatle fans are amazing people and it is so wonderful when I hear of people having important friendships because of the love of the Beatles. 

Graeme's ticket stub for the Newcastle concert

Paul McCartney concert at Newcastle City Hall September 16, 1975

Concert at Newcastle City Hall September 16 1975

Concert at Newcastle city Hall September 16, 1975

Jimmy McCulloch, Graeme Leonard, Joe English at the Westmoreland Hotel, London, 18th September 1975

Joe English, Nicky Pope, Jimmy McCulloch at the Westmoreland Hotel, London, 18th September 1975

Nicky Pope, Graeme Leonard, Paul McCartney at Cavendish Avenue, 18th September 1975

Paul & Linda McCartney, Cavendish Avenue, 18th September 1975 

Jimmy Copeland and Paul McCartney, Cavendish Avenue, September 1975 (all photos belong to Graeme Leonard. Posted by permission)
Three Days In September 1975...
In September 1975, less than a month after meeting Paul & Linda McCartney for the first time, Wings embarked on a 13-date UK tour and I was lucky to have tickets for three of the gigs... on three consecutive nights.  A lot had happened since seeing the band two years previously... Denny Seiwell & Henry McCullough leaving... the ‘Band On The Run’ and ‘Venus and Mars’ album releases... Jimmy McCulloch & Joe English joining.
The first of these concerts was at Newcastle City Hall on 16th September and I waited at the stage door for the band to arrive, but couldn’t get close enough to take any decent photos.  However, my seat in the third row that night more than compensated and I was able to get a few good shots of McCartney in action.  It was a fantastic performance by the whole band, with a much longer set than I’d experienced in 1973... including, to my delight, some Beatles songs.
The next day I travelled down to London for two shows at the Hammersmith Odeon, meeting up with my friend Nicky Pope and us going there together.  Another brilliant evening.
The following day was to become an unforgettable one...
I overheard the Wings tour bus driver, in Newcastle, talking about where the band were scheduled to stay in London.  It was the Westmoreland Hotel in St John’s Wood, NW8... only a few minutes away from the McCartney’s house.  So, on September 18th, Nicky and me decided it was worth a trip to the hotel for the chance to meet one or two of the band.  We arrived at an imposing and posh reception area, breezing through without a care in the world in the direction of the bar.  Incredibly, we got there just at the same time as Jimmy McCulloch was in the middle of a disagreement with the bartender.  The guy was refusing to serve Jimmy a beer as he believed him to be underage.  Jimmy didn’t protest too much although he was obviously unhappy about it.  To his great credit, at no time did he play the “hey, I’m a famous rock star” card.  Instead, he slipped some money into my hand and said, “get me a pint please and a drink for yourselves”.  He sat down near the window and waited for us.  Amazingly, considering we were both much younger than Jimmy, we got served without a problem and took the drinks over to his table.  “Cheers”!!  A few minutes later Joe English appeared and made the party complete.  What an experience!!!  It was surreal... sharing an afternoon with two of the musicians we’d seen on stage with Paul McCartney less than 24 hours earlier and due to repeat that night.  After about an hour in the bar it was time for them to leave for Hammersmith.  Before doing so, they kindly agreed to have some photos taken with us outside the hotel.  We gave them our thanks and went merrily on our way...
That should’ve been enough excitement for one day, but... there was more to come.  We walked the short distance to Cavendish Avenue, fully expecting to find a throng of fans outside the house.  However, there wasn’t a single person in sight.  Our immediate thought was that we were too late and Paul & Linda had already made their way to the venue.  We chose to hang around for a little while... just in case.  It proved to be a wise decision.  We were soon joined by two other people.  A middle-aged lady called Kathleen Copeland had brought her son, Jimmy, over from Northern Ireland to see Wings as a treat for his 16th birthday.  Then suddenly, to our surprise, the gates of Number 7 slowly opened and a bright green Porsche (it was a bright orange Porsche in August!!) emerged.  Wow!!!  Paul & Linda on their way to the gig.  They stopped for a chat with us and to have a few photos taken... such a lovely way for them to treat their admirers.
Afterwards, we got talking to Jimmy Copeland and exchanged addresses.  We’ve remained close friends ever since... often meeting up for McCartney concerts, in various locations, during the past four decades.
So, onwards to Hammersmith Odeon... all of us.  Venus and Mars are alright tonight... for the third night running.
These recollections are not just about my adoration of Paul McCartney & Wings in the 70’s... it’s also a story of lifelong friendships, as a result of chance encounters.
Jimmy & Nicky... so glad we shared those wonderful youthful moments.
So glad we still share the memories.

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