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Air Traffic Control, Police Escort Aided Paul McCartney’s Arrival at Billy Joel’s Shea Concert

Following Paul McCartney’s return to Shea Stadium for a guest performance at Billy Joel’s final concert at the New York Mets’ home, the Beatle talked about his last-minute arrival for the show. When Joel took the stage to begin the concert, McCartney was in an airplane from London bound for New York. “Billy had asked me if I could join him a while back when he was planning the show,” Macca said. “The thing is that I already had my own show in Quebec City that weekend. With all the rehearsing and traveling it didn’t look logistically possible.” But McCartney was determined to make it to Shea, the host of the Beatles’ famed 1965 tour opening concert, and made an effort to get there. “It was crazy. I’d been on a plane for hours and had no idea how far into the show Billy was,” McCartney says. “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.”

A police fleet then escorted McCartney from JFK airport to Shea in 11 minutes — a feat that any New Yorker would admit is pretty incredible. At 11:20pm, McCartney walked onto the stage at Shea, much to the surprise of Joel and the audience. “I didn’t have a chance to soundcheck or warm up in any way and Billy had no idea I was there. We had just about enough time to find me a guitar strap as I walked on to the stage. I heard the band count the song in and bang there I was, in front of thousands of people playing away. I just about managed to get to the microphone for the opening line of the song.”

McCartney joined Joel and crew for “I Saw Her Standing There” before closing out the concert with “Let It Be.” “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 round because we didn’t really know what to expect, as no one had ever played a stadium show before. This stadium is such a special place to us. We’ll never forget it and its memory will live on.”


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