MEETING THE BEATLES
A 1965 Encounter With Paul McCartney
Most female Beatles fans who screamed and waved at the Fab Four during their touring days were completely lost in a chorus of similar screams and waves. Jorie Gracen was a happy exception. She writes of her 1965 encounter with Paul McCartney after a Beatles concert in this article originally published in Beatlefan #11, August 1980.)
It was the summer of 1965, and I had luckily obtained a pair of front-row tickets for The Beatles' 8 p.m. Aug. 20 concert at Chicago's Comiskey Park. The second ticket I had was for my mother, who planned to join me (not as a Beatles fan, but as my bodyguard, since I was only 13 years old at the time).
I was quite excited at the thought of seeing The Beatles in the flesh! I wondered what Paul looked like close up. As the time drew near, I fantasized about how I would act if I met Paul face to face. I told myself I would not scream or faint. (Ho! Ho!) But at that moment, amidst hystrical shrieking, the concert began. The Beatles, of course, were the last group to perform, and I waited impatiently, hoping the supporting acts would finish soon.
At last, the time had come. All 60,000 fans inside Chicago's most famous ballpark let out the most deafening squeals of delight as their heroes bounced onstage. Paul was all smiles and waves. I thought he was more handsome in person than in his pictures. John warmly welcomed the audience, looking very macho. Ringo and George stared in amazement as they were quite taken by the thunderous ovations. George looked much thinner and shorter than I imagined. Ringo had the bluest eyes I had ever seen.
They ran through their numbers sounding so much better live than on their albums. Though the Chicago fans kept up their screaming throughout the concert, The Beatles, remarkably, could be heard above it all. (At least on the front row.)
I remember George bouncing a ball onstage that someone had thrown. John was doing little dances and at one point started talking jibberish over Paul's introduction. Paul, a bit perturbed, hit John lightly in the shoulder. John, of course, hit him back a little harder. Then they both started a hand clapping game between themselves. When that was through, they started "Baby's in Black" and did their familiar waltzing (with their guitars) routine.
All the time, I kept yelling to Paul, hoping he'd acknowledge my existence. He ignored me completely and just kept on with the show. John heard my screams for Paul and a few times came over to the side of the stage. (I was on John's side.) He waved to me a few times, but I had eyes only for Paul. Towards the middle of the show, John took off his jacket. He looked straight at me all the while, trying to see if he could get my undivided attention, but I kept yelling "Paul!" (sorry, John). Then John made a motion to (unzip?) his pants. (Now, I was watching!) The crowd, of course, went wild. At the crucial moment, John gave a tug at his waist, smiling very innocently at the crowd, which by now had lost control. There came shouts for "MORE!" John wasn't going to give it to them.
Not to be outdone by John, Paul got down on one knee and asked the hysterical audience, "Which side loves ME better?" Guess whose side won.
Both George and Paul took great pleasure in doing anything that would excite the audience. (It didn't take much.) In a spur of the moment move, they decided to walk offstage. People started running out after them while the police did the best they could to stop them. After it was all under control, the police went over to the two naughty Beatles who had started the whole thing and proceeded to chase them back onto the stage. Paul did not take kindly to it but decided that it was safer to be onstage.
It was getting toward the end of the concert and I decided to wait for the first lull in the crowd to try and get Paul's attention. I got on top of my chair, wearing a shocking pink and white polka-dot outfit that I had bought especially for this occasion (the things we have to do in these heathen countries) and figured it was now or never! The stadium became quiet as John announced the next song. I leaped out of my chair, higher than I could imagine (they caught the bottom of my feet on the midnight news!). As I hit the peak of my jump, I screamed "PAUL!" as loud as I could and did a spread-eagle (split) in mid-air (my cheerleading days finally paid off). As his name echoed around the stadium, he turned to see me in mid-air and did a double take. (So did my mom.) Then he leaped up in the air, did a spread-eagle also (he almost didn't make it) and waved back to me. Of course, I was overwhelmed.
The concert ended with a fantastic version of "I'm Down". By then, my mother and I were fighting over the binoculars. (And she said she didn't like The Beatles!) When the concert ended, I was sad indeed but right up on Cloud Nine. I watched The Beatles drive off in what looked like a golf cart. They were taken to the empty bleacher section, where they quickly ran up some stairs and disappeared into another section of the ballpark.
We waited around for the crowd to clear out after the show. I ran down one of the stairways alone, looking for an exit, and got myself lost in one of the empty tunnels. It was then that I noticed a barricaded tunnel.
As I stood there staring at it, wondering where it went, someone came up from behind me and grabbed me! As the person grabbed me, a girl who came out of nowhere started screaming "PAUL! PAUL!" She ran excitedly towards us. I turned around to see who was holding me, as whoever it was kept sneaking behind my line of vision. All of a sudden, it seemed like thousands of screaming girls were running towards us. Then I turned and saw Paul! He let go of me (unfortunately) and quickly took off. (Boy, can he run!) Without effort, he leaped over the barrier and ran for his life. He disappeared down the tunnel with the crowd in hot pursuit.
I stood there stunned, not believing what had just happened to me. The police rushed in to control the crowd and I, of course, was the first one they headed for. One cop grabbed me (I guess it was my day for being grabbed) and pulled me away from the charging crowd. He pinned me up against the wall, mainly for my own safety. (Thank goodness!) Everyone was trying to get past the barrier but the police already had formed a solid wall of officers to hold off the crowd. I must say, it got a little out of hand.
When I finally got out of there, my mother wondered what had happened to me since I was quite dazed and shook up, not to mention hard of hearing. I told her she'd never understand, and left it at that. It was one night I'd never forget.