As difficult as it is to believe – 1976 is 40 years ago. Yelp – that’s right. It has been four decades since the nightly Bi-Centennial minutes on network tv. It has been 40 years -since the Montreal Olympics. It has been 40 years since I toured Great Britain on Britrail. It has been 40 yeas since the 1976 Presidential election and the Queen’s visit to America – to that naughty colony which behaved so badly. All of these things I remember. All of these things I always will.
I would have to say one of the highlights of that year was the news Paul McCartney and his new group WINGS would be appearing in Houston in April. I was at work – read the news in the paper and within a short time a number of employees designated me to rush downtown and purchase tickets for the show. The cost was $12.50. Certainly a far cry from today’s prices. However the thought of seeing Paul again – the last time was the Beatles concert a decade before made the boring tasks at work go faster.
Many fans had hoped the Beatles would reunite and there was talk of a concert that summer with the offer of 1M as a temptation. We were for the most part more teenager than adult and that could be said of my own excitement. I was 24 but had not yet found a comfortable pace as an adult. The concert was going to happen at the new Summit (now Lakewood Church).
The April show was postponed to May 4th – Tuesday. Apparently lead guitarist Jimmy McCullough had injured his hand so time was needed to heal the wounds. As one might expect rumors were rampart as to the true reason.
The day before the show I stood on my apartment balcony and looked in the direction of the Summit. I would be seeing Paul again – and like any die hard fan – I could hardly wait. I picked up my cat Francine and stroked her dark fur. I decided what to wear, how soon to arrive at the Summit and went back inside my small apartment.
I was working for Hodge Mason Maps in the Greenway Plaza area. It was close to the Summit and a short walk – the concert venue stood before me. Dozens of fans lined outside the west entrance – which was necessary as there were not any reserved seats. I met fans from Ohio who were following the show from city to city. Truck drivers had postponed their cross country trip to see the show. We talked, gossiped, eagerly waited Paul arrival.
We were immature enough to give Paul a lot of rope and viewed him through rose colored glasses. That day was another hallmark – for great music but also to see him as a person with flaws. He provided an opportunity for us to begin to remove our glasses that day.
Jane another fan and I were headed to the next door hotel and the ladies room when we heard the unmistakable siren. I joked Paul had arrived. Sure enough he had. The stretch limo drove directly below the west entrance and the growing number of fans. When Paul who was sitting beside the right passenger window in the back spotted Jane and myself as we rushed toward the limo – the look of disgust on his face was very apparent. The vehicle disappeared and we were left in its dust. We looked at each other and asked if we had just seen what we thought we had? We had but we made excuses for him. Other fans had too and they were puzzled? How could wonderful Paul do something like that? Didn’t he know what we have been through to get to the show? I have to laugh at our naive concepts. Fans 40 years ago were certainly gullible.
When the doors were opened at 8 PM – our west side entrance was stuck for a short time. I was near the front and picked up off my feet and carried into the Summit. I never gave anyone my ticket. For years I had that crumpled relic.
I raced to the front – and discovered no available seats in front of the trademark Hofner bass. I settled for close by – and planted myself in front of Jimmy McCullough’s guitar. The place was filled – the lights dimmed and the sounds of Rock Show created a hypnotic sensation. The band walked on stage and Paul – who was at age 33 still very good looking performed a stellar performance. He had yet to make peace with his Beatles past. In fact his infamous press conference when he announced the Beatles had broken up was just six years before.
Most of the show was dedicated to his solo work and the ban performed the chart topping Silly Love Songs or cuts from the LP At the Speed of Sound. That day – both were sitting at #1 in the USA and Beatles hit Got To Get You Into My Life was #5. Pretty amazing – then and most certainly now. He glided through a two and a half hour show and did so with the ease of a master showman. Any doubts he had about his ability to please a crowd would be dispelled. He walked off the stage and left all of us feeling as if we had witnessed history. We had.
By the time Paul toured again in the USA it would be another 13 years. The loss of John ended any hope of a Beatles reunion. It could never happen. It was never going to. Too many variables. The rose colored glasses I had worn were lost somewhere in the decades since the 1976 show. I have seen Paul a number of times since. He has never failed to perform a great show. He has made peace with his Beatles past and most of his shows are dedicated to those awesome songs. I don’t go to his shows expecting anything other than to see a man who has been blessed with incredible God given musical talents.
I would not wait outside for hours but would spend money on a ticket. I won’t fork out hundreds of dollars any more. Those days are over. He still tours and has shows planned for this summer. If he heads to Houston I will too – just to reflect, remember and maybe to say thanks for the ride mate.