Wings over WMMS – The Paul & Linda McCartney interview, 1976

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When the Wings Over America tour touched down at the Coliseum in Richfield on October 5, 1976,  it was the first time Paul McCartney had visited Greater Cleveland since the Beatles’ Cleveland Stadium concert on August 14, 1966.

It was also the first time in a decade that any Beatle had visited or played Cleveland.

George Harrison was scheduled for the Richfield Coliseum on his first U.S. solo tour in 1974 but that show was cancelled when a major blizzard shut down Greater Cleveland.

McCartney’s Cleveland date was also a homecoming of sorts for Paul’s wife Linda. Her grandparents and other family members lived in Shaker Heights.

We were told in advance that the prospect for an interview was unlikely – and the best we could count on was a remote chance of getting WMMS IDs from Paul and Linda and other members of the band and we’d have to wait until the end of the show to get them.

 To insure a quality recording of anything we’d get, I “borrowed” a pro cassette recorder that was the property of sister station WHK from our shared newsroom.  (I wasn’t going to leave Flash without his!)

After the show, a rep from Capitol Records told me that only one person from WMMS would be permitted backstage after the show to get band IDs – and there was no guarantee that Paul and Linda would even do them.

I’d never met any of the Beatles and had been looking forward to this occasion – except that I had made a few connections earlier in the day that nearly guaranteed an opportunity to have at least a couple of minutes with Paul McCartney.

Just before the show was over, I received word that I’d get an exclusive, brief, “no more than three-minute” interview with McCartney.

Though it would be giving up a rare occasion to meet a former Beatle, I sent Shelley Stile backstage to do the interview with McCartney.  I had a number of nicknames for Shelley WingWang, Funkbutt – but this time she was playing her role as our favorite spy, Honey West.

Shelley went backstage and immediately hit it off with Paul and Linda and instead of the “no more than three minute,” interview, we got close to ten.

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