Paul McCartney’s Mad Day Out
9th June 2018
....as told by four Scousers
WTF just happened?
That was the tagline my friend, tour guide Jackie Spencer added to a bunch of photographs she’d just posted on her Facebook page.
Paul McCartney was back in town. The news spread like wildfire through the Liverpool Beatle fans grapevine. Beacons were lit, messages were sent, telephones rang and Facebook groups pretty much collapsed as the word spread.
And so began what became a crazy, fantastic, MAD day out.
Photo by Kerry Roche. 'That'll be ten quid', quipped Paul.
The Pier Head
Jackie Spencer (centre) with the Sandbergs.
Jackie’s story (as told to Graham Mack on Radio Merseyside the following day)
I was finishing a private tour with four people, the Sandberg family, from the West Coast of the United States- Washington, and California, and we’d had a lovely time and we finished at the statues. It’s a nice place to say goodbye.
My tours are tailor made so we can finish anywhere but yesterday that was how it worked out, They were going off to visit Bath. We’d taken our pictures and everything and there was a man with a really serious looking camera and we just went over and said ‘Who’s in town?’, we’d heard rumours and he said ‘Oh I can’t tell you’, so we said ok yeah, whatever, ‘but he’s in the car over there’. Then he said ‘I can tell you it’s James Corden, but he’s got somebody with him’ and we said, oh, James Corden, ok, no big deal...but the next minute James Corden got out of the car and so did Paul. And we didn’t have a clue!
Now, obviously, we’ve seen him around town before but usually, we kind of know he’s there for L.I,P,A. or something.
This was completely out of the blue and he just walked over to the statues and the people on my tour were looking at me, like ‘ha ha’ (implying that she was in on it). I wanted to blag it that I’d organised it for them but even I can’t do that!
Q: You didn’t have the presence of mind to suddenly say “Well this is how we always finish our tour”?
JS: I think everybody might expect it then and they’d be seriously disappointed!
It was all quite a whirlwind really. He just walked over, James Corden with him, and he moved over to the statues and he was looking at his (likeness) and pointing at it and then his security men were doing their job, keeping people away, but then Paul beckoned everybody to go over and take a photo with him so a few people jumped in and they’re the ones you can see in a lot of the photos on line now.
Various photographs taken by Jackie Spencer and the Sandberg family
JS: Then they (the public) moved away and James Corden was doing selfies with Paul and it was just quite magical.
James Paul McCartney and James Corden take a selfie (photo by Kenny Brew)
James Paul McCartney and James Corden take a selfie (photo by Kenny Brew)
Then they walked back again, to the cars and that was it. He was really nice to everybody.
The Sandbergs didn’t get any selfies but they do have some pictures where they are in the background. I can’t see myself on any of them. I’m gutted!
At the time you don’t know, you’ve got your phone and you just can’t press the button, to be honest my hands were shaking afterwards.
Note: We've since found these images on Jackie (extreme right, above) with Paul !
JS: Those statues are usually very, very busy but it was relatively quiet, let me say about 40-50 people, it wasn’t a huge deal. Sometimes you’ve got a whole coachload of people or a big tour group just turn up but it was just regular people milling around, no tours apart from mine.
Q: Is this the most amazing random thing that’s ever happened on one of your tours?
JS: Absolutely! Yeah, it really is. We’ve had encounters with Macca before but like I say, usually we know that they’re going to happen, and I might keep it a surprise for the people on the tour but never just out of the blue like this.
Going by the times on Jackie’s first and last photos the entire encounter lasted 4 minutes! A whirlwind visit indeed but one the people lucky enough to have been at the Pier Head are unlikely to forget.
Just as I was taking in Jackie’s photos and wishing I’d been there I received a text message from another tour guide friend, Stephen Turner: I don’t know if you’re aware but Paul McCartney is filming in Penny Lane right now. He’s by the roundabout chatting and having photos with fans.
Seconds later I got a text from my son telling me his mate had just seen James Corden and Paul McCartney on Allerton Road. See the way the youth of today put Corden’s name first?!
I live ten minutes from Penny Lane. I had to get down there and try and see him. I grabbed my camera and having quickly explained to my wife that despite earlier promises, I wasn't going to be able to pick our daughter up from dancing I raced off in my car.
(the actual one)
We now know that after leaving the statues Paul and James headed south out of the city via Princes Drive (not far from Ringo’s old house). They were filming 'Carpool Karaoke' an insert on CBS TV's The Late Late Show in which the host , James Corden invites famous musical guests to duet with him on their songs as he drives around a planned route (usually in Los Angeles) on the pretence that he's on his way to work. They were spotted driving in a small convoy of vehicles on Ullet Road and Smithdown Road before turning into Greenbank and stopping at the quiet, leafy end of the lane that gave its name to one of his most famous songs.
We’ll have to wait for the TV show to air but I imagine they did a piece to camera talking about the significance of the area, standing alongside the much graffitied street sign, painted on the wall when the council gave up replacing the metal one that was constantly stolen by fans.
And somebody in the TV crew must have handed Paul a pen.....
Yes. Yes HE did!
A short time later the motorcade arrived at Smithdown Place, where tourists make the daily pilgrimage to see for themselves the shelter in the middle of the roundabout, the barber’s shop, and the bank on the corner. Maybe when the show airs we’ll finally get to see which bank Paul was thinking of when he wrote the song. Parking outside the tapas bistro Neon Jamon, Paul popped into a couple of the local shops, including the Penny Lane Flowers shop at the start of Church Road where he had his photo taken with the shop girls and reportedly led them in a chorus of 'Penny Lane'.
(left) Paul and James walking towards the Penny Lane Florists (pic: Patrick Craig) and inside the shop (below)
He then went into the barbers, much to everyone’s surprise, and especially Lance Mancuso, an American Beatles fan visiting Liverpool for the first time.
Lance, 59 from Las Vegas was posing for a picture outside Tony Slavin’s barber shop (formerly Bioletti’s) when Paul walked up behind him and said ‘Hi, I’m Paul’.
Talk about striking it lucky! Understandably Lance was over the moon, shaking hands and exchanging greetings with McCartney.
Lance had been brought to Liverpool by his British cousin Clive Langley who spoke to the Daily Mail Online.
I was standing outside the barber's shop in Penny Lane, I looked around and there was Paul McCartney. He walked into the barber's shop and said hello to everyone in there. There were people having their hair cut and others waiting.
We couldn't believe it. Then Paul McCartney walks out of the barber's shop and says 'Hi, I'm Paul', as if we didn't know who he was! 'One shop-keeper told us it was a million-to-one shot that we had seen him.
Penny Lane shop keepers have lived and worked here for some 40 years without ever seeing the musician who put the street on the map (and visitors will notice how many of these local shops, bars and even a hotel have incorporated the name Penny Lane into the title of their businesses).
Clive told the Mail that Paul was very charming. He noticed that Lance was wearing a veteran's jacket and he thanked him for serving in the armed forces. Lance told him that he was a big fan and that he loved his music.
Lance Mancuso: Paul McCartney was very cool. He was very gracious and had a nice handshake. He looked like he was enjoying himself being back in Liverpool. I came to Liverpool to try to feel some of the Beatles magic and I met Paul McCartney himself, I couldn't believe it!
Paul and James Corden made their way to the ‘shelter in the middle of the roundabout’ followed by the film crew.
Seconds later, Liverpool Beatles tour guide Ian Doyle arrived in his taxi ‘Dear Prudence’ sporting its distinctive John Lennon gypsy caravan inspired paint job. Ian was in the middle of a tour. His guests were Vicky and her family from Chile who had come up from London for the day.
I came from Strawberry fields along Menlove Avenue and I was in the right hand lane as I approached the bus shelter. We had the song ‘Penny Lane’ playing**, and as I looked to the shelter I couldn’t see the camera crew but I spotted James Corden (or whatever is name is) straight away. Then I saw Paul so I just casually said to my guests ‘please remain calm but look to your right’ and of course as soon as they did they immediately started screaming with window down.
Luckily the traffic light was on red so I put my window down and took a couple of pics with my phone.
Paul looked straight at my taxi design. It took him a moment to realise what he was looking at and then he started laughing and gave me thumbs up and waved to me.
'Behind the shelter in the middle of the roundabout...'
As the lights changed I pulled up by the bank on the left and was stopped by Paul's TV crew people who asked me to sign a consent form because my taxi was in their camera shots and they needed my permission to show it on American TV.
Paul and James were now standing at the yellow bus stop behind the shelter chatting. As I got out of the taxi there’s Paul and his body guard walking towards me. Paul looked at me so I said ‘hello’ and asked if he liked the taxi design and he just smiled and said "it's great and a real bonus" then he walked past and walked to the Barber's shop and got lost in the crowd ...... and that was it. I have to say it was the most surreal moment in all my years of doing Beatles’ tours.
I didn't bother following him to his next stop because I knew the crowds would be too much and I had had my unique moment.
(Above) Paul, stunned to discover that the Sgt Pepper Bistro STILL isn't open.
(Below) James Corden greets one of the Neon Jamon staff. (pic. Tony Navarro)
As with the Pier Head, Paul was only on the street for a couple of minutes but he quickly drew a crowd of well-wishers as people came out of the shops to have a look. It’s something he’s probably had to live with for over half a century. As Ian says, ‘can you imagine living like that everywhere you go? It’d drive me nuts’.
Of course, Paul appeared to be taking it all in his stride, comfortable and in good spirits throughout the day.
Ian: My friend on the taxis came up to me shortly after Paul left. He’d missed him by minutes and was gutted. He told me Paul had signed the Penny Lane street sign 10 minutes previously.
I got back in my taxi and drove my guests straight there to see it for myself and get photographed with the signature.
20 Forthlin Road
My Story (2 pm)
I drove to Penny Lane via Beaconsfield Road, just in case he happened to be at the gates to Strawberry Field (I’d decided Paul was doing ‘the tour’ he’s been known to give to various members of his family and celebratory friends, driving them around his old haunts***).
There was only a small group, passengers from the Fab Four Taxi tour parked up alongside.
After what seemed like an age, but in reality about eight minutes I arrived at Smithdown Place and parked on Heathfield Road, as close to the bus shelter roundabout as I could get. I can’t even remember if I saw Ian’s taxi when I arrived. Paul wasn’t there though there did seem to be a larger crowd of people about than usual, rooted to the spot as though stunned by what they’d just witnessed and now trying to shake themselves back into their normal Saturday reality.
I circled the bus shelter, scanned the surrounding shops (just in case) and returned to my car. ‘If Paul’s doing a tour, where’s the obvious place to go next?’ I pondered.
I turned left at the bus shelter and headed towards Mather Avenue, cursing the Saturday traffic on Allerton Road.
Somebody later said they witnessed Paul and James Corden singing as they drove along Allerton Road which makes sense as that is the entire premise of the Carpool Karaoke spot on Corden's Late Late Show. In my head however Paul was in full tour mode – ‘That Tesco’s used to be Woolworths, where John’s girlfriend Cynthia worked’ – and as he approached Mather Avenue ‘On the right used to be the Gaumont where George and I used to go to the pictures, and if you look to your left, there’s THE firestation I mentioned in ‘Penny Lane’...oh no! They’ve closed it down!'
Crossing the junction with Booker Avenue my eyes started looking for the Police station on the opposite side of the dual carriageway. Just past it was Forthlin Road. I slowed down as I drew level and looked down it. There was a substantial crowd in the street. ‘Oh my God, he’s still there!’ I thought as I put my foot down towards the break in the central reservation where I could turn back on myself and turn left into Forthlin.
I left the car at the top of the road behind a trio of tour taxis, grabbed my camera and pegged it down towards number 20. The entire neighbourhood seemed to be outside the house, clutching camera phones and while there were a few security men with ear pieces they were quite low profile and there were no forcible attempts to keep everyone back from the front gate. I managed to get a spot facing the front door and asked the lady nearest to me if she’d seen him. ‘He’s there, waving out of the bedroom window’ she pointed. And he was!
It was all quite unbelievable. Being such a fan and through writing this blog I was fully aware that this was the first time he’d ever set foot inside his former home since 1964. He’d looked at it from the outside on several previous occasions, sat in his car. On one occasion he’d been photographed with the neighbours but he’d never been in.
Asked in 2013 what was stopping him he admitted ‘I don’t know whether I will be a little worried that it’ll be too nostalgic or whether there will be a sadness about it that I don’t associate with it at the moment. But I think I will go one of these days’.
What must he have been feeling? With the house restored by the National Trust to look just as it had when he last lived there the memories must have come flooding back as soon as he walked in. Emotional moments indeed, and this was all happening in front of James Corden and his TV cameras, not to mention a load of fans outside.
Paul took James around the house, showed him the kitchen and his old bedroom, and stopped at the piano in the living room, treating Corden to a bit of ‘When I’m 64’, one of the earliest songs he’d written in the house.
I was thinking how great it would be if I could get one of Paul coming out of the house, standing on the doorstep, an update to the photograph taken by his brother Mike 56 years earlier, the ultimate ‘Then and Now’ photo.
And then the door opened! My view was blocked by the camera crew but I could see Paul and James were chatting at the foot of the stairs.(I do hope loads of this makes the finished show – it would be a brilliant standalone DVD). I tried to zoom in a bit and managed to get a few head shots but couldn’t get any without the TV people. Then the camera crew were ordered back to the front gate to ensure they’d be out of shot for the second camera when Paul came out. Clearly the TV people wanted a long shot of Paul and James coming out of the house and walking to the garden gate.
My photos of Paul inside his old home
Paul stepped out the house, moving too quickly for me to get the ‘Then and Now’ shot but suddenly he stopped by the front window, and mimed playing air guitar. He was directly in line with me and I managed to get a couple of shots before James came out and they both moved up the garden path to the gate, Paul waving at the next door neighbours before stopping momentarily to mime pruning the hedge with an invisible pair of (Billy) shears.
My favourite selfie of the day: Maciej Werk from Poland was visiting Liverpool for the first time.
After Paul obligingly paused for a couple of selfies we all moved back from the gate to enable them to walk to their car but a few older men stood on the house side of the pavement managed to exchange greeting and shake Paul’s hand. I suspect they were the neighbours. Some may have been neighbours when Paul lived there.
When everyone was back in their vehicles the production team drove off up Yorkaster Road (James driving Paul) to cheers and applause from the crowd. ‘Well in James Lad’ shouted one, praising either or both of them simultaneously.
I walked back towards my car, pausing at the junction with Hurstlyn Road as I knew that they’d have to come back through it to enable them to turn left onto Mather Ave. Sure enough, within a minute the cars came through, Paul and James drawing more cheers and waves as they turned out of Forthlin and headed towards town.
I decided not to follow them. Like Ian Doyle I was made up I’d seen him and I’d got some photos for the blog. I went home satisfied.
Paul headed into town. Word started filtering through that his band were rehearsing in the Philharmonic. Naturally we assumed they meant the Hall. In fact they meant the pub, the famous Philharmonic Dining Rooms where John Lennon used to drink. As a busy tour guide Jackie Spencer spends a lot of her working hours on the Liverpool streets. She’s quick to notice when something out of the ordinary is ‘going on’. Certain things she’d noticed earlier in the week were starting to make sense:
I actually did three tours on Saturday. After the first one I was still in a state of shock I think, I don’t know if I got many facts out but the funny thing is that we were finishing the second tour in Hope Street and Paul was in the Phil, so they got to hang around Hope Street for a little bit.
We didn’t know Paul was in the Phil in advance but when we got there we realised with the big crowd outside that he was doing this gig. We’d been asking the crew at the Philharmonic all week ‘what are you setting up for, what’s going on?’. And they’d all been sworn to secrecy and been very good about it as well. They really did well.
I’m not sure if my second tour party saw him because I had to run off and do the third tour. Funnily enough the third one was a coach tour who were having dinner at the Philharmonic - it was a pre-booked dinner- and the Phil had bumped them to a later time because Paul McCartney was in there.
So all three of my tour groups got some kind of impact from Paul’s visit.
The previous day the TV audience company SRO (Standing Room Only) Audiences was looking for local people to be in the audience for an exclusive secret gig with a "global superstar". The lucky few who successfully applied for the free tickets were in for a very pleasant surprise because the "global superstar" was Paul McCartney. He played a gig in front of around 50 fans, one of whom, Marie Darwin has kindly shared her experience:
The Philharmonic Dining Rooms
(by Marie Darwin)
‘The Dream Is Over’ said John Lennon in 1970. Well, it’s not says this 55 year old in 2018, as she goes back to being this gawky shy four year old who, in 1968 took a Beatles book into school and the dream began....
As a fan, you always dream of meeting one of the Fab Four, tell them how they have influenced your life, how they have shaped your dreams.. there’s that word again, dream.
Well let me tell you how my dream came true.....
I have worked with children since 1992, and always brought Beatles music into their lives in some shape of form, even using an excuse for them to learn a different language, by taking in the Beatles singing She loves you, and I Want To Hold Your Hand in German.....
Then in 2015, after discovering that the Beatles, their history and the 60's were on the school curriculum, I decided to write Paul's story in a simple fashion for children.
I encouraged the children in my nursery to be involved. I wrote the story in rhyme, from the moment of Paul's birth in Liverpool, to the breakup of the band in 1970, introducing a tag line, ‘this is the story of Paul Mac, a boy from Liverpool who plays the guitar, come with me and see how he goes far’
The children helped to draw some pictures for the book, they sang Beatle songs and at the book launch they sang When I’m Sixty Four.
Go forward now to 2018, the book is doing ok, copies have been sent to Paul, I go to schools and nurseries telling the story, and I open a market stall with the book’s illustrator Tom Donahue...this way I can put the books out there. So at 12.30 on 9 June 2018 I’m on the market stall when Jackie Spencer's pictures start coming through... OMG...Macca's in town.
By 1.30pm I am meeting friends in town.
By 3.00pm my friend, a mad Beatles fan who owns Cuthberts Bakehouse in Liverpool, but at this point is in Edinburgh waiting to watch the Rolling Stones phones me: Marie, Macca has just been outside the bakehouse.
OMG says Me, we have both missed out.
4.00 pm. I am now outside the Echo Arena, as somebody has said he is doing a secret gig and it may be the convention centre.
Then the phone goes. ‘He’s in the Phil Pub’. There’s a decision to be made. There’s no photographs on line, so is this right?
4.02pm. A taxi driver pulls up to eat his dinner. ‘Hey mate, can you take us to the Phil pub?’
‘Jump in’, says he, finishing off his burger.
4.10pm. OMG, I am outside the Phil, nose pressed against the window. Macca is singing ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ so myself and friends start singing. A camera crew ask us to sing for them, I think this was the defining moment....
4,20pm. Myself and friends are standing to the left of the doorway. Word’s going around they need some more people to go in..... ‘me please’.... ‘no sorry’ says the reply...... and then, ‘yes you three’.... ‘what me?’ and I’m in.
4.30pm. OMG... I am standing in front of Macca. Is this really happening?
4.35pm. Macca pauses in between songs... myself and my friend Glenys.. decide to sing to him, to the tune of ‘Football's coming home’**** , ‘ He’s coming home, he’s coming home. He’s coming, Macca's coming home’ and he actually stands and listens and laughs...
Has that really just happened? I will wake up in a minute.....no but hang on, I have never dreamt this even in my wildest dreams...
Then Macca comes along the line. I have my Granddad Paul book, because I have been the market. ‘Macca’ I say as he holds my hand, ‘have you seen the book?’ He looks briefly and says ‘I have it. I love it’. And then he is gone.
Ladies and gentlemen. The dream is over because it came true. John, Paul, George and Ringo. Thank you for many dreams.
Sir Paul McCartney, Our Macca. Thank you for the biggest dream.
A delighted Marie was later interviewed for BBC Northwest Tonight and admitted still feeling high and excited about being at probably the smallest pub gig Paul’s ever done. So how amazing is that?
Some photos by Spanish tour guide Carmen Villoria, who also managed to get in the Phil.
The setlist was A Hard Days Night, Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Jet, Drive My Car, Come On To Me (new song), I've Just Seen a Face, Love Me Do, I've Got a Feeling, I Wanna Be Your Man, Back in the USSR, Birthday, Lady Madonna and Hey Jude.
During the gig there was a free bar for everyone in attendance, the drinks served by a familiar face.
Joseph Carr, bar supervisor at the Phil also spoke to the BBC: It was different and really exciting, I don’t know how they managed to lock it all down. James Corden was behind the bar and throwing Paul McCartney the odd cheeky pint.
Paul left the Philharmonic through the famous golden gates onto Hope Street and made his way through a substantial crowd to his car, pausing to climb up on it for a moment to punch the air and acknowledge the crowd.
And then he was gone, leaving the crowd to collectively take a deep breath and say Wow!
Almost immediately there were messages on Twitter from fans who, like Marie, had managed to get inside for the gig.
One tweeted ‘Not every day you get to hear Paul McCartney singing all the Beatles songs with James Corden in a pub in Liverpool!!!!!!!! Feeling starstruck’.
Another added, ‘My head has fallen off. Just seen Paul McCartney play a gig to 50 people in the Philharmonic pub in Liverpool. Absolutely made my life. Thank you for the music Paul. The Beatles X X X”
Back in March James Corden had been asked who his dream guest would be to take part in his show and he answered ‘Paul McCartney I think. He would be amazing’. In hindsight that was probably the advance warning that nobody picked up on. After Saturday’s events Corden tweeted: I can’t wait for you all to see this. It was a day that will live with me forever x.
The tweet was accompanied by a photo of Paul and James embracing outside the Titanic Hotel on Stanley Dock where they stayed during filming.
Looking back on the day now some of the things Paul did were actually quite significant. McCartney is a master of PR, always has been, with an innate ability to predict the consequences of his own actions, especially how they might be viewed by others such as those in the media. Yes, cynics will say he’s got a new album coming out and a surprise visit home is always going to generate a lot of publicity, especially in conjunction with a top rated US TV show. But let’s just consider a few of the things he did again.
He posed at Andrew Edward’s Beatles statue at the Pier Head, donated to the city by the Cavern Club.
By allowing himself to be photographed by them he’s giving his tacit approval. He knows this.
He thinks they’re great (and they are) because if he didn’t there’s NO way he’d have put himself in that position. Now that he has, imagine how many more tourists are going to want to visit them.
By acknowledging Ian Doyle and his taxi as ‘a real bonus’. He got pleasure from seeing that. He could see how Ian had gone the extra mile to make his taxi stand out from the others and he knew where Ian had got his inspiration from. Maybe it gave Paul a nice little ‘John moment’ at the Penny Lane bus shelter and he appreciated it.
By autographing the Penny Lane road sign he actually became a Beatle tourist for a few moments. He’s acknowledging that as a consequence of him writing a song about this seemingly ordinary street in south Liverpool thousands of visitors every year want to come and see it.
He’s literally put it on the map in a way he couldn’t possibly have predicted in 1967. Today he understands why, and by adding his signature to the sign alongside the other names and messages he’s not only acknowledging them, he’s probably creating a fresh demand from tourists who’ll now want to see the road sign Paul McCartney signed. Hopefully nobody will damage it.
Driving around the city last Saturday, especially in the south of the city, he can’t fail to have encountered a Magical Mystery Tour bus ferrying tourists around his old haunts, likewise the numerous Fab Four Taxi tours (there were several parked in Forthlin Road when he was there).
It must be reassuring for him to know that people are still interested. They still care about the Beatles enough to want to pay to visit the old places. The tour guides and taxi drivers, museums and exhibitions are all keeping Paul McCartney and the Beatles fresh in people’s minds, especially here in their home city. Through tourism the city reaps the rewards of its association with the Beatles every single day, practically without any of the Fab Four having to lift a finger. The fact that they once existed is enough to generate millions every year. Of course last Saturday Paul McCartney did more than lift a finger.
Without doubt Paul’s visit made dreams come true all over the city. As one of the Fab Four Taxi Tour drivers admitted to me the following day it was quite emotional. If you look at the Youtube videos that are on line now, focus on the ordinary Scousers in the crowd. Look at the sheer delight on their faces to see him. Listen to what they shout in his direction. Praise, appreciation, excitement, love. All positive. He never forgets where he’s from. He never lets us down.
I give the final words to my friend Jean Catharell who I think sums the day up perfectly: I just love that he did that... I think what he's done today goes beyond anything any ‘celebrity’ from this city had ever done. He's never forgotten where he came from. He could have filmed that programme on the US, or anywhere, but he's true to his roots and gets a huge kick out of all of this. What a guy... But we all know that. X
What did the Beatles ever do for Liverpool indeed?
This episode of James Corden’s Late Late Show will be shown in the UK on Sky, Thursday 21 June.
** Beatle taxi tour drivers like to accompany their tours with music. It fills in the quiet times between the stopping off points, and in some cases can enhance the tourists experience, especially when they’re about to visit one of the locations mentioned by name on a Beatles single.
*** Including Bono from U2