Paul McCartney Recalls First, Last Shea Stadium Gig
More than 40 years after the Beatles performed the inaugural concert at Shea Stadium, Paul McCartney says it was "a blast" to take the stage there in New York this month.More than 40 years after the Beatles performed the inaugural concert at Shea Stadium, Paul McCartney says it was "a blast" to take the stage there in New York this month. As previously reported, the famed singer/songwriter helped pal Billy Joel bid the landmark stadium adieu on July 18, when the former flew in from rehearsal overseas for the performance, where the two sang "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Let It Be" on piano -- the last song of the night. Joel sat on top of piano and sang backup.
The Beatles played the first Shea concert ever on Aug. 15, 1965, just a year after the stadium opened. "Standing out there on stage and hearing the crowd, all the memories came flooding back of being there all that time ago with the band when we first toured the U.S. It was mad the first time roungd because we didn't really know what to expect, as no-one had ever played a stadium show before," MccCartney recalls. "We couldn't really hear ourselves when we played as the crowd [was] so loud."
McCartney's return to Shea almost didn't happen as the former Beatle fought logistics flying from London to New York, en route to Quebec for his own show that weekend. The concert began at 9 p.m., but his plane only touched down in John F. Kennedy Airport at 11:20 p.m. It took a team of police, airport security and McCartney's handlers to get him in a motorcade that took only 11 minutes to deliver him to the stadium.
"I'd been on a plane for hours and had no idea how far into the show Billy was. The pilot had been keeping us informed of how we were doing time-wise and we found out later that air traffic control had worked hard to ensure we landed on time, but then there was still going to be the traffic to negotiate in order to make it for the show," McCartney says.
The next day, he took the stage for a free show just north of Quebec, where he played 36 songs from the Beatles' and his own back-catalog to a crowd of more than 270,000 fans. "This was the mother of all weekends," he says.