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Paul McCartney - July 4th, 1990, Washington DC

The Day I Met Paul McCartney

Mention July 4th to any American and they'll immediately think of flags, red, white and blue, back-yard barbecues, fireworks, and America's birthday. I think of those things too...but first I think about the day I met Paul McCartney.

In 1990 I was working for Classic Rock 105.9 WCXR in Washington, DC. McCartney was promoting his Flowers in the Dirt album and was criss-crossing America. July 4th and 6th McCartney and band were scheduled to play RFK Stadium and my station secured the rights to broadcast live from the venue prior to the show. I, along with afternoon jock, Mark Kessler, and other station employees arrived at RFK at noon to set-up. Around 2pm we received word that McCartney was going to hold a press conference and that I was asked to attend. I was led "back stage" to the Red Skins locker room and it was filled with radio personalities, press, and record label folks. Shortly after my arrival McCartney showed up and sat at a small table in the front of the room. Now, at this point in my career I've met many rock stars and celebrities and you could say I was used to meeting "famous people," but Paul McCartney was different. In fact, I really believe I felt my heart skipped a beat when I first laid eyes on the cute Beatle. The only other time I recall getting "star struck" was when I met Frank Zappa and Eric Clapton. Anyway, everyone in the room started yelling questions and it was at that moment that I realized I forgot to bring along a tape recorder and mic! The purpose of me going to the press conference was to record it and play it back on the air. I was nervous. I forgot. He was a Beatle. You'd do the same thing. Be that as it may, I did ask a question,"Paul, will you using this band on your next album?" McCartney, "Yes. Next question." And that was the first time I spoke to Paul McCartney.

It's interesting to note that all the people in the room acted in a professional manner. However, as soon as McCartney stood up to leave most rushed that little table to shake his hand and get items autographed. This is something that is never done and I was amazed to see these "professional" jaded radio and record people as giddy as school girls. I approached the table too and I reached out to shake his and, as I did, I said, "Thank you Paul,for everything." He shook my hand and gave me a wink.

An hour later, after being chastised by my colleagues for note bringing the tape recorder, I was sent to the field to watch McCartney's band rehearse. This time I was prepared. I came with equipment so I could broadcast on the air and my camera. I along with maybe a hundred people watched Paul perform snippets of songs including, "Good Day Sunshine," "Things We Said Today," and "Eleanor Rigby." I also recall he performed a Ray Charles song, "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying," in its entirety.

Finally, it was show time and McCartney rocked the Nation's Capital and played "Birthday" in recognition of it being July 4th. Great show, great time, and a memory I'll always cherish.

Paul McCartney RFK Stadium, July 4, 1990 - sound check
Paul McCartney RFK Stadium, July 4, 1990 - sound check
Paul McCartney RFK Stadium, July 4, 1990 - sound check
Paul McCartney RFK Stadium, July 4, 1990 - sound check

Listen / Download:
Paul McCartney - Brithday (RFK Stadium, July 4, 1990)

Paul Altobelli

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