Wings over Holland
Written by Henk Hager
Standing in the Hall
Excitement at “Beatles Unlimited” headquarters on Wednesday, March 24: Paul McCartney and Wings were expected from Germany at Schiphol airport near Amsterdam at 17.10 hours.
By car, we (Erik and Henk) went to the airport supplied with photocameras, food, blankets, information sheets, and a pile of Beatles Unlimited issues. At 16.30 hours we arrived at Schiphol and immediately checked when and where Paul and Co would arrive. The monitors showed that Lufthansa flight 090 from Hamburg would indeed arrive at 17.10 hours.
The luggage would be transported on lane 1. We went to the doors near lane 1 and found out they were locked. So it would be possible that Paul would come through customs, walk to the right to get the luggage, and walk back to the middle and come through the middle doors.
We noticed a small group of men standing in the hall, whom we suspected to be people from the record company, but who later turned out to be bodyguards for the group. There were also six or seven drivers dressed in black standing in the arrival hall who seemed to match the black eight-seat Mercedes limousines.
With some attentive listening and some sneaky questions, we found out that they were the drivers of the Wings company, ready to take the group to the Amtel Hotel at Amsterdam. They had not agreed yet as far as the fastest way to the hotel.
What struck us was that there were no other fans to welcome Paul. The Dutch Beatles Fan Club Group had directed its members to the Amstel Hotel as they thought they would get the closest look at the group there.
AT 17.06 hours the monitors stated that flight 090 from Hamburg had landed. It would not take about 15 minutes for Paul and Co to get from the plane, through the customs, to the arrival hall.
At 17.20 we saw a large group of people coming through the customs, steeped in the light of the group we could see Paul, Linda at his side. Paul was wearing jeans, a fur coat, and violet sunglasses and as expected he walked to luggage lane 1 and then walked back to the middle doors. A group excited air-hostess grouped in front of the doors with flowers. Reporters walked to the doors with cameras ready.
That I would be Around to See It All Come True
While Erik went to the right side of the doors, I waited a couple of steps from the doors on the left side. The door opened and the group of people (Paul, Linda, children, Jimmy, Joe other members of the Wings-party, reporters, and people from the record company) came out.
“Smile Joe!” I said and Joe waved toward the camera. “Hey, we got a fan here!” I heard someone say behind me. It was the diminutive Jimmy McCulloch, who had walked in front of Joe, but being so small had walked underneath my camera. “Hi Jimmy!” I said. I took some pictures of Paul and Linda, who suddenly stopped walking and went back through the doors, into the customs hall.
It appeared they had to do a special entry from the film cameras of Veronica, who are doing a special on Paul in May.
While they were doing this Jimmy and Joe were standing lost and forgotten on the side, waiting for the Big Boss to get to the cars. I turned around and took another shot of them.
Paul and Linda slowly walked outside and I was walking right behind them as we walked through the sliding doors. Outside I quickly ran around the party and took a pic of Paul as he got into the car. I tried to get some other shots but didn’t get much of a chance. I had to run to Erik’s car to keep in touch with the large Mercedes Paul and Linda were in.
Band On The Run
Erik drove the car from the parking meters in front of the car the group was in. We suddenly realized Denny Laine was not in that car and neither of us had seen him. We drove from the airport to the motorway to Amsterdam. I opened the sunshine roof of the car and took some shots of the Mercedes driving about 200 metres behind us. When we got to the Motorway our fear that the limousine would appear too fast for Erik’s little Daf seemed to come true, for hardly had we taken the way to Amsterdam when the Mercedes started overtaking us, despite a 100 kilometers speed limit in Holland. Erik quickly opened the window at his side and took a picture of the car as it passed by. To our surprise, this piccy turned out quite nice, for you can see Paul is smiling at us.
The Mercedes was surrounded by some other cars. The Radio Veronica film-team, a car from the Cine-centre, a car with bodyguards, a car with people from the record company, and a second Mercedes with a middle-aged gentleman, probably some high record company executive.
To our relief the cars didn’t drive as fast as they did in the first few kilometers, so we managed to keep in touch with the rest. Erik’s car even managed to get to 125 km, which enabled us to overtake Paul’s car but quickly slowed down again in order to let the black-eight-seater take the lead again. For, the group was going to the Amstel Hotel, and we didn’t know which way they were going to take through Amsterdam, and we didn’t want to take the risk of getting stuck in the middle of the peak hour.
So, when we left the motorway near the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, we were quite close to THE car. The drive through Amsterdam was quite exciting. The driver of Paul’s car didn’t mind the 50 km speed limit, and neither did he take many notions of the red traffic lights. We lost the car twice, but so did some of the other cars following the group, and they seemed to know which way the Mercedes was taking to the hotel. Erik had the greatest trouble keeping up with the speed of the others, but he kept in touch and managed to avoid a collision twice.
Near a road block, the car stopped for traffic lights and Erik said, “Attention, we’re almost there!” And indeed, just past the road block the car took a quick turn to the right where a group of fans was waiting in front of the hotel. Erik stopped the car and I ran out to the hotel.
I am Your Singer
“Hello, how are you,” shouted Paul, waving to the fans. I couldn’t get to his side of the car, so I waited on the other side where Jimmy got out. “Jimmy, one more picture please,” I said and he waved to the camera again. Hardly anybody noticed him for everyone was staring at Paul and Linda. Paul didn’t give any autographs but quickly went into the hotel, leaving the group of about 50 disappointed fans.
After a few minutes, I saw a man with a familiar face pushing a yellow car, just 20 meters from the hotel. It was Denny Laine, who had come in a second car with his wife and the rest of the band. In the consternation of Paul’s arrival, the people of the Cine-centre had left their car in the middle of the street leading to the entrance of the hotel. Therefore, Denny’s car had to stop on the corner, and they all had to walk the last few metres to the hotel. Denny was just fooling around a bit, pushing the car, and when the fans noticed him, he was besieged by fans asking for autographs.
Denny took his time giving autographs unlike Paul and the others. Throughout Wings visit, it would appear that Denny is enjoying his membership with Wings very much while remaining as normal as you can expect. Not the airs of a pop-star, but an ordinary nice singer in a rock n roll band.
I Feel Like Letting Go
We left the hotel at about 18.45 to get something to eat and when we got back at 19.30 the people that had been waiting there since Paul’s arrival told us that Jimmy and Joe had left in the meantime in one of the limousines.
Paul’s bodyguard Koos had told us that Paul was planning to go out for the night, probably to a concert. The nightporter of the hotel told us that Paul would be leaving at about eight. And at 19.50 hours, Paul, Linda, and Heather came out. The small group of fans waited eagerly at the bottom of the stairs. I walked to the side to take a shot of the three of them coming down the stairs, pushed, and….my flashlight didn’t work!!! “Shit!” I said. “Ooooooh, shit, shame on you,” Paul and Linda said. They gave some autographs and left accompanied by Koos. Destination: probably the Rory Gallagher concert at the Jaap Eden Hall in Amsterdam. That is what at least what we thought at the time. It turned out they went to see Neil Young at the Ahoy Sports Palace in Rotterdam, where they were to play the next night.
We went away again to have some coffee at Har van Fulpen’s place discussing some Beatles matters. On the way back we bought some bottles of Bols Old Genever (Dutch Gin) to give to the group (Erik paid).
When we got back to the hotel the nightporter told us Denny Laine had ordered a taxi. A few minutes later Denny and his wife came out. I asked him for an autograph, hoping Erik would take a good photo of the two of us. Alas, only Denny is in the picture, together with my hand. They left by taxi, waving at us.
Who’s that Coming Round That Corner
In the meantime, we were the only people waiting at the hotel. It started raining so we went to sit in the car for a while. At about eleven o’clock, two girls arrived at the hotel. They were carrying rucksacks and handbags and looked very worn out. They turned out to be Sheila from England and Madeleine from the States. They were following Wings on the entire European tour. They had seen the two concerts in Copenhagen on Saturday and Sunday and the Berlin gig on Tuesday. On Friday they would be leaving for Paris to see the last concert on Saturday. They knew most people of the Wings company and were able to tell some things about the other concerts.
We waited for some time keeping ourselves warm with some rum (Erik had cola).
At last at a quarter past one Denny arrived by taxi looking quite happy. I gave him a bottle of Bols saying “We’ve got a present for you Denny.” “Ah, genuine Bols, thank you very much,” he said. Then he signed the Wings ad on the back of Beatles Unlimited issue 1: Thankx Hankx for the Gin, Denny Laine.
Hardly had he finished his autograph when one of the black limousines drove around the corner. I left Denny standing there with my mag, leaving Erik to take the mag over. I rushed to the Daf to get another bottle of Bols. By mistake, I took a bottle with a damaged label, which we had planned to give to Jimmy or Joe (silly, but it’s true).
This damaged label would help me to recognize the bottle later on a picture of Paul on the cover of the Rolling Stone….no sorry, Muziekkrant Oor. Paul and Linda (with Heather) had gotten out of the car and walked to the entrance. I walked up to them and gave Paul the bottle saying, “Hi Paul, we’ve bought you a present.” “Hmmmm Bols, thank you!” “You’ll share with Linda, won’t you?” “Hmmmm….” He said signing the ad on the mag Erik had given to me in the meantime. He handed it over to Linda and started talking to the two girls, “Hi foreign aliens, what are you doing here?”
Linda meanwhile signing the mag said, “Hey that’s from Junior’s Farm, isn’t it?” “Yes,” I said. “It’s from the ad from the Melody Maker.” They went inside with Paul saying “Goodnight.”
They talked in the lobby for a few minutes and then went upstairs to their rooms. It must have been room 14, 15, or 16 (that’s what the staff said), anyway, it was the corner room on the street side, first floor. The reason they came home so late from the concert which must have ended somewhere around eleven, was that they went to dinner at the Dreyselhoek Restaurant at Opmeer, somewhere between Amsterdam and Rotterdam.
Wino Junko Can’t Say No
At about two Brian Brolly (manager) arrived with Henry Audier (Dutch EMI) and they told us Paul was already back (which we knew of course). For the 3rd time that night, we started a discussion with a waiter at the hotel, who couldn’t understand why we waited at the hotel. WE waited when at last Jimmy and Joe arrived at a quarter to three, together with some members of the band and some girls who apparently were not in their company when they left.
Joe walked right up to the door, but I managed to give Jimmy a bottle. “Well, that’s going to come in very handy!” he said looking through his violet sunglasses (at a quarter to three in the morning in the rain). He signed the mag with the message “Best wishes Hank, Jimmy McCulloch” signing it right through Linda’s autograph, but let’s not blame him, he seemed to be in a certain state.
While Shelia and Madeleine talked to Thaddeus Richard we went to the car to our “night accommodations” at Ja van de Bunt’s house. Joe’s bottle of Bols is still standing in our office. “If you want it, here is, come and get it.”