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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Did Paul McCartney Just Drive By Lawndale?

This story is odd enough to actually be true, from the Springfield Journal Register: (One thing is for certain, the other guys in the picture are definitely from Central Illinois, perhaps Lawndale if I cipher the tattoo correctly)

Name the last person you would have expected to see last weekend at the Circle K gas station on Clear Lake Avenue. No, it wasn’t him. He’s at the White House packing for his trip to Asia. And, no, it wasn’t him either — he’s still in a cave somewhere on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

It was Paul McCartney. Or a really well-done hoax. You probably find the story hard to believe. So did we. Especially when the witnesses claimed that Sir Paul was driving a 1989 Ford Bronco. But, you know what? It all adds up.

On Saturday afternoon, a group of Springfield guys stopped at the Circle K on their way to St. Louis for the Cardinals-Phillies game. While in the parking lot, they saw someone walk by who looked just like McCartney. “We were getting in the car as he was walking in,” says C.J. Lowder. “I said, ‘Man, that looks like Paul McCartney.’”

The Bronco parked on the side of the gas station, not in the front. The man who looked like Sir Paul didn’t buy anything inside, but used the station, just off Interstate 55, for a “pit stop.” Nobody at the gas station even noticed him, Lowder said.
“Josh (Lowder, C.J.’s brother) said ‘Hey, Paul!’ and he said, ‘What’s up?’ with this real thick English accent, and I knew it was him,” C.J. Lowder said. McCartney said he and his girlfriend, Nancy Shevell, were on their way to St. Louis, but not to the ballgame.

He posed for a picture with the boys — besides Josh and C.J. Lowder, they included Jared Lowder (a cousin), plus Cory Neuhoff and Jeremy Judd. McCartney then spent a couple of minutes talking and left.
“He was definitely trying to stay low-key, for sure,” C.J. Lowder says. “It was just a couple of minutes. He shook all of our hands.” “Another thing that got me,” says Josh Lowder, “was that of all the older people in the place, none of them recognized him. C.J. recognized him, and he’s the youngest one.”

Coincidentally, Decatur Celebration hosted a Paul McCartney tribute band on Saturday. Was this merely the impersonator? No. In an interview, the impersonator, Ron Starr (R. Starr?) admits he looks nothing like Paul and is much younger. Pictures of Ron Starr confirm the lack of resemblance.

But how about that 1989 (or thereabouts) Bronco? Paul McCartney? One of the richest men in show-business history? Come on.
But wait. It had New York license plates. Nancy Shevell lives in New York. The vehicle at the gas station had a yellow access sticker to the Hamptons on the bumper. Both McCartney and Shevell have places in the Hamptons. And then there is the clincher. In November, the Web site Gothamist posted a photograph of Paul and Nancy kissing while sitting in an older-model Ford Bronco.

That is what people in the news business like to call “independent confirmation.”
“It was wild,” says C.J. Lowder about running into a Beatle at a Springfield gas station. “It was one of those things I never would have expected to see. They were super nice. “Nobody got his autograph, it happened so fast. You could tell he didn’t want to draw a huge crowd. We talked for a while, and he said, ‘Well, I’ll let you get going to the game. Go Cardinals!’” It’s not as if Sir Paul was playing a concert in Europe last weekend and couldn’t have been here. McCartney’s Web site shows that his last concert was a week ago in Quebec City, and he is not on tour. The Quebec City show was just a one-off for the city’s 400th birthday.

McCartney’s public relations manager in Britain, Stuart Bell, could not be reached Monday for confirmation of the star’s whereabouts. At the Circle K station, manager Tim Kelley took the news of McCartney’s visit in stride. Kelley’s not the star-struck type. But his clerk, Martie Brandon, flashed a little Beatlemania. “Oh, my god, and I left at 2 o’clock!” she said, slapping her forehead. McCartney was seen just after 4 p.m. “If I’d have just stayed a little longer ... .” Brandon admitted she gets excited when Carl Madonna from WICS-20 stops at the Circle K. Much less an actual Beatle. “I’m not going to do anything special,” Kelley said. He won’t, for example, put up a sign on the men’s room saying “Paul McCartney was here!”

Besides, Kelley said, he met Paul at an Aerosmith concert years ago in St. Louis. McCartney at his station? No biggie. “I’m not one to get too thrilled about things like that,” Kelley said. “I do,” Brandon chipped in breathlessly, “when it comes to Paul McCartney.”


Anonymous said...

This probably trumps the Mel Turpin pickup games at the Grade School. However, the Roger Ebert attendance at St. Pat's sunday mass brought good pub. for Wapella.


Anonymous said...

Note that McCartney ended with, "Go Cardinals"....I've always maintained that while the Beatles had their differences, they always came together for the the Cardinals. Coincidence that the Redbirds and Beatles performed extremely well throughout the same decade - I don't think so.

Very good article by the way. bbd

Anonymous said...

Despite the strong case made by BBD, I'm not convinced The Beatles were STL fans. The Monkees, maybe, but not The Beatles.

The Rutles?

JBP said...

George's sister Louise lived in Benton, Illinois home of Gene Rayburn (Match Game), Doug Collins, John Malkovich (and his brother "Fatty" Malkovich) and many other minor celebrities.

There is a photo shoot of the Beatles driving Go-Karts around a track in Benton in 1964 on an early trip to the USA.

It is entirely plausible that that the Beatles were Cardinal fans.


Anonymous said...

Based on the fact that George's sister lived in Benton? That sure is a strong theory, JBP.

JBP said...

It's not much, but its the only one I've got.


Anonymous said...

To Bad for the Cardinals it was a "Hard Day's Night "

GO PHILLIES !!!!!!!!!!!!!11

Anonymous said...

If the Beatles were Cardinal fans, then "And Your Bird Can Sing" would have been called "And Your Redbird Can Sing".

McCartney and his new girlfriend are doing the Route 66 trip. They were spotted at the Route 66 museum in Joliet too. It's great that they're being so low-key about it...just the two of them in an '89 Bronco.

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