By Scott Vanderpool

The greatest single living performer in Rock and Roll History, Sir Paul McCartney comes to The Home of the Mariners, Safeco Field, on Friday July 19th. KZOK has tickets all day on another Free Concert Friday April 12th (Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10 AM, but you can win ’em if you’re the 10th caller at 1-800252-1025 when you hear the stage announcer from Woodstock say “It’s a Free Concert From Now On“.

This marks the 7th time Paul has played for us here in the Puget Sound region. Let’s look at his earlier shows, with videos gleaned from the interwebs…maybe you’ll see yourself!

August 21st, 1964. The Seattle Center Coliseum hosted it’s first major rock concert since being built as the Washington State Pavilion  for the “Century 21 Exposition” World’s Fair two years earlier. It was the third stop on The Beatles first full American tour, and they were excited to see the futuristic Space Needle they’d seen in the Elvis movie It Happened At The World’s Fair. Thousands of fans greeted the band at the airport, and 16,000+ of them got to see, but not hear much over the screaming, the Fab Four, who famously stayed at The Edgewater Inn, innocently fishing from the window of what to this day is still called “The Beatles Suite”, and avoiding the kind of debauchery Led Zeppelin and Vanilla Fudge would bring to the place just 4 years later. The Seattle Times ran a cover article from a psychologist, who called the band’s sway over America’s youth as “Truly Frightening”. On their way back to the Edgewater, fans climbed onto the roof of their limo, caving it in and giving the band “a bit of a scare”.

The Beatles at the Edgewater Inn, 1964. (photo courtesy The Edgewater Inn)

The Beatles at the Edgewater Inn, 1964. (photo courtesy The Edgewater Inn)

August 25th, 1966. The Beatles were back at the Seattle Center Coliseum, and this was the third-from-last show of their last-ever American tour. They were dealing with the aftermath of John Lennon’s taken-out-of-context comment that “the Beatles were more popular than Jesus” in March, and in fear for their lives. Despite John’s backpedaling and profuse apologies in the press, the Memphis city council had voted to cancel their show there 5 days earlier, not wanting “municipal facilities be used as a forum to ridicule anyone’s religion.” The good Christians of the Ku Klux Klan had showed up to protest, nailing a Beatles record to a cross. The show’s promoter had dollar signs in their eyes, and after some cajoling with manager Brian Epstein, the show did go on after all, but when someone threw a firecracker on stage, everyone…including the other 3 Beatles…looked to John thinking he had been shot. This, and  a torrential downpour of rain at the following show in Cincinnati had led them to their decision to never tour again by the time they got here. They played all of 10 songs twice that day, with afternoon and evening shows (the evening show was picketed by more “good” Christians), and somehow a rumor started that Paul would marry his girlfriend Jane Asher here. At the obligatory press conference, Paul said “I just got in today and found out I’m getting married. Does anyone know how it all started?” It appears to have been a prank started by a UW fraternity. Immediately after the show they headed back to the Airport for Los Angeles, where they played Dodger Stadium, one more show at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, and no one, save a few people on the roof of  Apple Records HQ in London in 1969, ever saw all four of them on stage at the same time again.

June 10th, 1976. For the second time, Paul was the focus of the fist major rock concert at a brand-new stadium in Seattle, when the Wings Over America tour stopped at the Kingdome. These were Paul’s first concerts in the U.S. since the last Beatles tour. The concrete multipurpose stadium had terrible acoustics, but the performance by Wings was close-miced and filmed to be used in the concert film Rockshow, and as it turns out they were quite good! To prove that Wings were not just a Paul McCartney showcase, the set list included guitarist Denny Laine’s hit Go Now from his previous band, The Moody Blues. Again, Paul didn’t stay. As wife Linda was playing in Wings, they’d brought their children along, and rented houses in New York, Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles to fly back to after each show.

March 29th, 1990. The Paul McCartney World Tour was his first solo outing in North America, and he was back in The Kingdome 13 years later. While he had a new album out at the time, Flowers In The Dirt, Paul was embracing his past this time and the set list was chock-full of Beatles songs. The acoustics in the Kingdome were still terrible, and none of the Seattle show made it into the concert film that came out of the tour Get Back, directed by the man who had made A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, Richard Lester. Somehow the ceiling tiles wouldn’t fall for another 4 years, before a Mariners game, when the team had to play the rest of their season on the road.

October 19th, 2002. The Kingdome had been blown up two years earlier, so Paul’s Driving USA tour stopped at the Tacoma Dome. It had been another 10 years since his last visit, and in that time both his wife Linda and former bandmate George Harrison had died, so Paul played a good cross-section of Beatles and Wings hits with a backup band of stellar players. He was accompanied by his then-fiance Heather Mills, and again was off by “Jet” to the next show afterward. No footage of this show exists on the interwebs.

November 3rd, 2005. Paul’s “US” tour stopped at the place it had all started in 1964, but it had been remodeled and was now called The Key Arena. By now he had married Heather Mills, and she and their baby Beatrice were in the audience every night. Again no official concert film was made, and as iPhones and Flip Cameras were not yet widespread, no footage of the show exists on the interwebs, but at the Anaheim stop on the tour, he managed to play for a few extra fans: The crew of the International Space Station and the NASA shuttle Discovery.

Sir Paul is 70 now, and seems to enjoy playing live more than ever (He played with the surviving members of Seattle’s Nirvana recently…is it possible they’d join him at Safeco?), though his On The Run tour skipped Seattle, many of us went north of the border to see him at B.C. Place in Vancouver on November 25th of 2012.

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