When I first read an email from Charles F. Rosenay!!! about this trip to see Paul, I knew I had to go! I got my ticket to ride and I was on my way to JFK to meet with the group. We were greeted by Charles and his office manager JodieLynn. Danny was already overseas on another tour project. Along with our plane tickets, we were presented with a gift bag, including a Beatles t-shirt, original promotional memorabilia from Capitol Records and other goodies. The trip was off to a good start indeed.
Macca Fans Tour 2003
Tour Report by Batya Selavan
with contributions by Florence "Flo" Eskin
We landed in
Manchester, where we were met by Dave Jones of Cavern City Tours. We took a short journey on the way to our hotel to an area called PortSunlight (where the Lever Brothers soap company got started). In this same neighborhood is the venue where Ringo made his first appearance as a Beatle on August 18, 1962, a place called Hulme Hall, on Bolton Road. The engagement was for a local golf club dance. The Beatles played there four times in 1962.
After this pleasant detour, we "ferried cross the Mersey".
What better way to enter Beatle-land?! After the ferry, we checked into our hotel with the option to nap, freshen up or go do some shopping, or go to the Beatle Story exhibitionat Albert Docks. I have been to Beatle Story a few times, but I still like to
see if there is anything new on display and to check out the gift shop. This museum/attraction of The Beatles is really something for every fan to see at least once. Charles hadn't been there in a few years, and he was pleasantly surprised to see some issues of his old magazine, "Good Day Sunshine", and copies of past convention programs that he produced, on display there.
Our first evening's festivities were fun and spontaneous. We went to the Cavern Pub (across the street from the Cavern Club) to see a local band appropriately named "The
Mersey Beatles." They play mostly early stuff like "All My Lovin'" and "Twist and Shout" (is there a Beatle band that doesn't perform "Twist and Shout!?"), but they throw in a surprise or two, including danceable rocking versions of "Helter Skelter" and "Come Together." They did a powerful rendition of "Wipe Out" because they apparently read in a book once that The Beatles did this instrumental. Dave Jones felt that this band is a bit raw, but so were the Beatles at one time. The crowd enjoyed them very much, and we all danced the night away. A certain Liverpool legend, known as "the man who gave the Beatles away" -- Allan Williams -- was in the crowd.
We started the next day with a proper Beatles/McCartney tour hosted by the wonderful Eddie ("the Walrus") Porter aboard the well-preserved yellow psychedelic Magical Mystery Tour bus. We went to various places relating to the Beatles with an emphasis on Paul. Along the way, Eddie told us some great stories about how John came to stay with his Aunt Mimi. He told us about the pub where Brian asked the Beatles if he could be their manager. We took
photos at the gates of Strawberry Field and we passed St. Peters Church. At John's home on Menlove Avenue, he revealed the reason Aunt Mimi named it "Mendips." He said it was given that name because she liked to vacation in an area of the south coast of England in the region of Somerset where there are hills called Mendips. We went to Penny Lane and saw all the places named in the song. There's a metal Penny Lane sign along with a painted one. Eddie jokingly says that he paints it on every 4 weeks or so, so fans can have something to photograph. Why? Because the metal signs go missing (get stolen).
We returned to the hotel to get ready to go to Sheffield to see Sir Paul. We had a very special guest on our bus, original Beatles promoter Sam Leach. He shared some stories with us and had his book on board for anyone who wanted to buy a signed copy. Charles told some stories too of how he first met Sam and their meeting with Paul McCartney about 13 years prior. Charles also entertained us with a Penny Auction, offering Paul items.
We arrived at the Sheffield arena with our own police escort(!). Once there
we cued up to get in, and local TV news cameras focused in on the crazy Americans who traveled all this way to see McCartney. The news people interviewed some members of our group, including Maxine, Linda and Christina. We were stars! While outside the venue, Hallamfm Arena, we could hear some of the sound check. Once inside, I was pleased to discover that I was seated next to Sam Leach. He shared some interesting thoughts during the concert. He loved the show as much as we did. It's no doubt that Sam is a true fan, and has remained loyal to Paul all these years.
The concert opened with email text messages scrolling up on a big screen. Then there was the circus act for about 15 minutes, followed by the best I've ever heard Paul. The acoustics started out a bit rough but got perfect. From "Hello Goodbye" to the final bow and wave, it was an awesome show!!!! Where we sat, we could hear every guitar lick, every vocal nuance and every note played. Paul and his band were in top form, and the crowd loved every second of it, although they could have showed a little more enthusiasm. When the concert ended, our group didn't want to leave.
Back on board the coach, we shared our exuberance for the concert and settled in our seats to watch some rare McCartney videos. That was a surprise treat. We arrived back in the hotel tired but ecstatic. I'm sure we all slept well, with music still playing in our dreams.
The next day it was on to Menlove Avenue and Forthlin Road. We were probably one of the first tour groups inside Mendips! The house has/had a small kitchen -- nothing fancy. The front room had a writing desk and small breakfront (on loan from the Lennon family). Going upstairs, John's room was soooo small. It had one twin bed with a small wardrobe and nightstand. There are some portraits on the wall of Bridget Bardot and Elvis. Aunt Mimi and her husband George had a larger room with double bed, and vanity with large round mirror. There was a guitar in the front hall, and one of our tour people got caught up in the spirit of things. He grabbed the instrument and he decided to play some tunes, so we had a sampling of "Give Peace a Chance" and "Don't Let Me Down" before he was told he shouldn't be playing it. Others in our group posed with the guitar in front of the house, including Charles.
We'd been to Paul's house before on past trips, but obviously it was a little more special because this
was a McCartney tour. Tour member Flo Eskin noted that seeing the lads' houses was fantastic -- a real step back in time. She loved the nice touch of the Goon Show episode playing on the old style radio at Mendips, and noticed that there was no fridge (what a bummer that must have been). She also loved the great photos by Mike McGear (McCartney - Paul's brother) at 20 Forthlin Road - an insight into the real family McCartney. We soaked in all our time in each room, and stayed as long as we could. We then returned to Albert Docks, where we could go shopping or grab a bit to eat. We could also go to one of the museums there called "Liverpool Life," with a photo exhibit of Mike McCartney's brilliant black & white pictures. They had them in the gift shop area so you could take pics of the pics. If you wanted something a little more special, they were selling a catalogue of the exhibit personally signed by Mike.
In the evening we made our way to LIPA, the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts. A visit to Paul's "Fame" school is a must for such a tour, and we had tickets to see a student production. I am sure that they often put on some great plays there, but this one was, alas, awful. Most of us left early and decided
to take a walk over to Mathew Street. It's a good thing we did -- otherwise we would have missed out on seeing and taking pictures with three of the four members of Paul's band: Brian, Rusty and Abe. We all fell in love with Abe's personality and congeniality. Only Wix (and Paul) didn't come out to meet and greet fans. We also got to see Paul's aide John Hamil and his spokesperson/press agent Geoff Baker. Both were very nice and sociable. So why were they all there you might wonder? It turned out that Paul was having a private party for family, close friends and the tour crew. There was also a band playing
70's funk disco, and we found out that Paul joined in on "We Are Family" and sang "Let it Be" plus one other song. We heard that Paul had a lot to drink and loved every second of the party, evendancing with Heather most of the night. The private party/concert was the best-kept secret in town -- even the Cavern employees thought it was a Barclays Bank event. Back at the hotel, we caught up with one of the
members of the band who told us what an amazing experience it was playing for Paul and sharing the stage with him for a few numbers. No kidding!
We got an inside tip that Paul was going to be at LIPA the next day, so we made are way there again and stood by the entrances we figured Paul would use. But we were wrong. It seems John Hamil dropped him off at the front door while we were at the back vehicle
entry gates, where he normally enters. He was there from 1 to about 4:30. Most of us left before to go on a planned sightseeing tour of Wirral, but some of our group members opted to stay and they were rewarded by seeing Paul leave and he waved to them on the way out.
The rest of us went with Hilary Oxlade for one of her fab "fanatics" tours. This one focused on the lesser-known sites of the Wirral area of Liverpool. Hilary is a gem. She took Charles on his first tour of Liverpool way back when, and is considered the ultimate Liverpool tour guide. We started out by driving through the Mersey Tunnel where we sang "Yellow Submarine," because she said that it's the tune that Paul sings while going through this tunnel.
Next was Victoria Hall;
The Beatles played there August 4, 1962. Then it was off to a pub called Travelers Restaurant where Paul goes with his family. The next stop was a true highlight. We went to Branston Women's Institute (The Beatles played there on March 24, 1962 as part of an all-star bill with the Pasadena Jazzmen). The ladies of the Institute welcomed us inside with homemade goodies (cookies, shortbread and scones!); traditional British tea and orange drink that tasted like Tang. One of our tour members, Mark Eskin, notice a piano and of course started an off-the-cuff sing along. He was joined by tour host Charles and Bob Gaffney (bassist from the band "Firefall" - he was on the tour with his lovely wife) for rousing renditions of "Hey Jude" and "One After 909." We loved it there! Flo points out that the ladies were sure that the piano we played on was the very same one that was there
at the time the Beatles played there. Seeing the "dressing room" and tiny toilet was too cool. The ladies were so gracious to open the place up just for us and to be so kind and hospitable to a bunch of Beatlenuts. They let us cavort on the stage and all over. We tipped them generously for the privilege. Outside the hall, there were sheep [a RAM and an ewe, too] andcows in small pastures.
Then we drove by Paul's home called "Rembrandt" and we stopped to take photos despite the two burly-looking guys standing guard. We snapped a few quick pics before they got antsy and made us move on. For good reason too -- it was just after 4:30 and Paul was due back from LIPA. We wanted to stay and linger but it was impossible (and probably rude). We continued on to West Kirby, a beach area not unlike Coney Island in Brooklyn (but without the amusement park or baseball stadium) or Atlantic City (without the Casinos). There was a boardwalk, shops and some carnival rides. So what is The Beatles connection here? The lads played a Hall here on Feb 1, 1962, which Mark Lewisohn cites as the Thistle Café on Banks Road in his book, "The Complete Beatles Chronicles." We ventured on to Holyoke where Cynthia Lennon grew up. The home address was 18 Trinity Road. We concluded with the area where the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton had been; now it's a grassy park. As Flo pointed out, just about everywhere there's a fantastic photo waiting to be taken. After a truly great sightseeing tour, it was back to the hotel to relax or go shopping or to go and eat some Fish and Chips. I returned to Mathew Street to hit some pubs and mix with the locals.
At our stop at the Grapes Pub, we saw Eddie Porter three sheets to wind. But there was another local legend there: Len Garry who was on the Quarryman. We went into a pub called the Loft and saw a local band called the "Blue Meanies." This was the band that shared the stage with McCartney at the George Harrison tribute concert in Liverpool. Then we moved on to Cavern Club. There was a German band playing some kind of rubbish. After their warm-up set, our friends The Mersey Beatles took the stage and played real well. Two of our tour members joined the band on stage for a number or two, the aforementioned Bob from Firefall and Mark (who's actually in a fairly well-known band from the mid-West band called The New Colony Six). Having members of our tour group perform on the Cavern stage was a special treat for them and for us. They rocked the house!
The next day some of us slept late while others got to Kings Dock early to queue up for Paul's concert. Many of us stopped in to DeCoubertin's Sports Bar for a pre-Macca concert party and reception. They served us all complimentary hors d'ouevres and free champagne or cola. We saw many Macca videos, including "In The World Tonight." Most of us got to King's Dock early enough hear Paul's sound check at the Kings Dock. And WHAT A SOUND CHECK IT WAS! He sang "Valore" and "C-moon." We heard some Black Sabbath riffs and even "Ferry Cross The Mersey." Richard Porter pointed out that we heard "Celebration" from Standing Stone and then Paul ripped into "Matchbox," "Honey Don't" and "Midnight Special." One of our tour members had a good angle of the large screens and she videotaped the whole thing. Others recorded the entire sound-check for posterity. He sang a 'hillbilly' version of "Blackbird" and also did a perfect "Lady Madonna" and "Here, There & Everywhere." The place was already getting packed shoulder to shoulder. The wait to get in was fun
as the excitement was building.
We finally entered the venue, and the first thing that greeted us were the various food stands and a few t-shirt/merchandise concessions. Once seated, we saw the giant screen again with more new text email messages. Some were utterly hilarious. The crowd couldn't have been more psyched. As usual, the show started with the costumed characters, dancing and prancing and tumbling. When Paul appeared, the crowd went berserk, the total opposite of the quiet, reserved Sheffield audience. This was THE concert of the tour. Everyone gave their native son the warm welcome he deserved. Paul was on stage, and everything in the world was aligned just right. Local stars were everywhere in the in the crowd as area DJs and media celebrities sat alongside fans. We spotted our Beatle friends and dignitaries Sam Leach, Len Garry, Allan Williams, Richard Porter, Eddie Porter, Lee Curtis, Ian (from legendary Mersey band Ian and The Zodiaks) and original Mesrey promoter Joe Flannery.
Of course, Paul opened with "Hello Goodbye" and didn't let up for one second. The real highlights were
the songs he saved just for Liverpool: "Hi Ho Silver," an extended version of "Maggie May" with scenes of Liverpool and all its landmarks. He almost forgot the words to the first song he ever wrote (it wasn't a fake like in "Golden Slumber"), but remembered them just in time to deliver the short "I Lost My Little Girl." When he sang "Two Of Us," the lyrics "on our way home" and "we're going home" really hit home! The crowd had signs that were handed out to them by the security staff, with large red hearts and the words "Home is Where the Heart is: Liverpool June 1 2003."
Look for those selling at high prices on Ebay! The crowd was chanting, "Macca is Back!" He did all the encores, but it was obvious he was enjoying himself more here than any other
show on the tour. He didn't want this one to end. And neither did the thousands upon thousands at King's Dock. But there comes a time when he must go home, and we must go home. The show ended with a fireworks display that lit up the entire Mersey sky! Before he left, Paul took time to thank the band and the crew and the fans, and said he would be back!
We walked over to the Cavern for more music and fun with hundreds of fellow Macca fans at the post-concert party. We finally got to bed eventually, but who knows if any of us got any sleep - we may have been just too excited from one of the most historic concerts in Macca history. What a beautiful night.
I had a fabulous time! It was nothing short of Maccanificent! I made some new friends and connected again with some old friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in years. The tour to Mecca was at its end, but I'll be back in August for the annual Magical History Tour! As Paul loved to remind us, there comes a time when we must all go home
MACCA TOUR COMMENTS:
Hi Charles -
Susan Cohen here from the Paul tour. I just wanted to apologize for running off after we landed and not saying goodbye. I needed to get home asap because and get back to reality. Besides, I think it would have been too emotional having to say goodbye to such a really fantastic group of people.
I just wanted to thank you for the incredible tour and the concert experiences. Those are memories I will cherish forever. You did a really wonderful job on the tour and I just wanted to tell you that. I had a fantastic time, met some really great people and am really glad I was able to go on this trip.
Thanks again for a fantastic time.
Susan Cohen, New York
Hey There Charles! Absolutely WONDERFUL TRIP and thanks so much!!! I've never seen anyone work as hard as you do, Charles, to make sure everyone has a good time--given whatever comes down the pike! It was a really fabulous group of people, two UNFORGETTABLE MACCA concerts and just great side tours and tour guides. Even the penny auction was loads of fun! Loved the rooms (...the toilet is another story...) and those buffet breakfasts! LOL. It was a wonderful MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR!! If Paul tours in 2004 (as I've heard) and you do another tour (and if I'm still kicking), I'll go again!!!
Karen Ormes, Virginia
I just wanted to tell you what a fun time I had on the trip and to thank you again for waiting on me when I was late at the airport. (Glad I did not become the second person in 20 years to miss the plane!) Best wishes,
Cyrone Overton, Pheonix City, AL
Thank you, thank you for organizing such a great trip!
I had a fantastic time on the trip. Thanks for organizing a wonderful addition to my previous Liverpool memories.
Julie Jacobs, Ontario Canada
Thanks for the memories, Charles.
Sandy Hessel, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
I'd like to thank you once again for a great tour in England.
wonderful Macca tour
Rodolfo Espinoza, Hermosillo, Mexico
fond memories - thanks for the fun and getting to meet all the group.
Donna Green, Tyler, TX
You mean a lot to us
I'm doing a report for "Daytrippin'" Magazine and your tour will get a big mention. We had a great time. Here are some basic comments:
"Seeing the lad's houses was fantastic. A real step back in time. Great photos by Mike McGear at 20 Forthlin Road - an insight into the real family McCartney. His exhibit at the Liverpool cultural center was cool, too.
Our Wirral Peninsula tour guide, Hillary, pointed out several places the Beatles played on our route, we stopped at Cyn Lennon's childhood home, outside Paul's Wirral get-away - Remington, Barnston's Woman's Institute, and more, as we wound our way through seaside towns for a view of the Irish Sea. It was cool seeing Albert Docks 'cross the Mersey from the original sight of the Tower Ballroom in New Brighton, now a grassy, hilly park.
Barnston was a real treat with the ladies of the Women's Institute putting on a grand tea for us, complete with home made scones and shortbread. Best tea I had over there - musta been the country water. An added plus was when the hubby commandeered the piano for rousing choruses of Hey Jude and One After 909. Joining in with the rest of us was our tour director, CharlesF. Rosenay!!! and Bob Gaffney, Firefall bassist from Florida.. Terrific scenery on the way let us see a bit o'the true old sod - rolling hills with green pastures framed by stone and hedged walls. You almost expect to see an episode of All Creatures Great and Small flash before your eyes.
A few other great things about our brief stay at the 'pool: spending a few hours with our friend, Len Garry, at the Grapes and the Cavern; seeing, hearing, and photographing the hubby play both stages at the Cavern on 2 nights with the Mersey Beatles; photographing Brian coming out of the Cavern and seeing the respect he has for John Hamil [sp.?] was great. Brian called him one of the greatest guys around! The shops at the Albert Docks are great, too I loved the woolen mill store where I bought a tartan shawl and even used it on the chilly Wirral tour. Just about everywhere there's a fantastic photo waiting to be taken.
I thank my lucky stars that I was able get over recent physical problems enough to travel and be a part of the entire experience.
We're looking forward to the next tour!"
~~Flo (Florence Eskin), Chicago, IL
I just had to drop you a line to say what a great time I had! You really did a great job in putting this all together. I looked so forward to it and it turned out even better than I could have imagined. It was the best present I could give myself for paying off my mortgage. Believe me, the memories will always be with me. Ii'll bring my film in for developing and will forward some of the best to you. Below is the e-mail I sent to some of by Beatle friends about the trip. If they weren't sure before, this has to convince them to do one of your MMTours at some point in the future. Thanks for everything again!
Santina Catapano, Staten Island NY
well today is the first time i've woken up to reality. this last week was so incredible, it seemed like a dream even while it was happening. paul in sheffield was excellent. we traveled there by coach with sam leach, who has a new book out and told some great stories on the way. he sat next to me at the show and was delightful. i bought him a drink and we had a great chat.
the liverpool show was . . . imagine being on the albert/king's dock at the bank of the river mersey and paul is singing. at the end of the show, every member of the audience got a poster that says "Home Is Where The Heart Is -- Liverpool -- 1 June 2003" inside a big red heart. i am getting it mounted and framed because i actually did feel like i was home. then after the encore and everybody was filing out of the concert area, he came out and thanked everybody again and said how good it was to be home and then he put on the most magnificent fireworks show. you cannot believe how emotional it was. i just stood there crying from the whole experience.
every day in england was magical for me, but being inside mendips was practically a religious experience. after we all went inside, johnny halliday (a national trust employee who lives at forthlin road in paul's house by the way!) gives you a quick overview of the layout and gives a short talk, but then everyone is permitted to just wander around at their leisure and take it all in. he suggested we break into smaller groups so as not to get in each other's way. well, of course, i ran straight upstairs right away to john's room. i had it all to myself and the wave of feelings that came over me i could never put into words. i had a good amount of time before anybody else climbed the stairs. i touched the window cranks that john must have turned hundreds of times. i looked out the window through the same stained glass and at the same scene that john's eyes looked at every day. i just stood there crying because john's presence there is so overwhelming. several minutes later when others starting coming up, i went into mimi's bedroom where john wrote the lyrics to please please me. visitors are encouraged to sign guest books scattered in a couple of rooms, which I did. there are photos to look through of different phases of john's life there. the gardens have been restored to the same way they looked back then. some of the trees have been there for decades. oh, and then back inside into the front porch room where mimi used to banish john so his guitar playing wouldn't disturb the neighbors. he loved the acoustics in there and a guitar was just standing in the corner. i shut the door and just stood in there my myself drinking it all in. all together we were there about 45 minutes and each room had something special about it.
then on to forthlin road. all the things we read and heard about and saw pictures of ... the drainpipe that paul used to climb when he got home late, the room where john and paul used to write and play in, the back garden where paul would sit and strum his guitar. it was incredible. in each room, there are pictures on the walls that mike took, that take place in that particular room. one of my favorites was paul with a guitar sitting in the garden with the laundry on the clothes lines around him. pictures of aunties and uncles and jim washing the "smalls" in a pot in the sink. which are original by the way -- the sink and the pot inside. they had been left out in the garden for years by the previous owner and when the house was being restored, back in they came. could you just die? the police training academy is still there right outside the back of the house. mike's room has a view of the land with the horses and stuff. paul's looks at the front. i just stood there and looked out the window imagining john and george coming up the road. !!!!
bear in mind that i was with major paul fans and the funny thing is mostly everybody said the same thing later: we all enjoyed going to forthlin road and being inside, but mendips had a warmth and a life of its own. it was as if a part of john never left there. i didn't feel that same spiritual sense at paul's house, but loved being there anyway.
went to the beatles story. it was even better than i remember it. among all the cool exhibits, the one that affected me most was this one room. inside a glass cylinder are john's glasses, the ones he wore in the early seventies. they are placed in such a way that you could look through them at the stuff on the wall. well of course, i was beside myself. i couldn't drag myself away from seeing through them, but honestly -- i had to or have a breakdown right there. all i could think about was john's eyes seeing through the same lenses that i was looking through. sorry to be so gushy, but it was beyond anything i could describe.
the rest of the trip was great too. straight from the airport, our coach took us to the other side of the river and we took a ferry 'cross the mersey, which was on my to-do list. i did some stuff on my own and some stuff with others from the group. went to see mike's exhibit at the museum of liverpool life. took a bus to John Lennon Airport. went into the medieval towns of Chester and York. danced to live beatles music at night at the cavern. saw a play at lipa.
hung out on matthew street the night that paul and the band were inside the cavern having a private do. allan williams was strolling down the street and came over to say hi to charles and chat. he was also in the cavern pub the first night we were there and was well into pub mode! some of the people who were there from our group posed for pix with the members of paul's band, got their autographs, chatted and maybe kissed one or two. sir macca of course was smuggled in through a back alley inside a car with blackened windows. oh and also, some of the gang hung out at lipa when paul was slated to show up. i stayed a little while, but left with some of the others for a tour we were taking. those who stayed behind saw paul come and go, and got a wave from him.
i think i slept between 2 and 4 hours a night because we'd be partying til late and then i was up and out as early as i could the next day to squeeze in all of england that i possibly could. i lost 8 pounds from all the walking and activity. everywhere i went i met the greatest people. they felt like family or something, isn't that weird? thank god my roommate was a peach and we co-existed quite nicely. it was funny, we just happened to get seats together on the plane and got the chance to know each other. we had no idea until later that we had been pre-assigned to room together, so it worked out great.
well i know this was long, but i still didn't even touch on everything. i just had to let you know some of the highlights.
love to you all, The Lennon Camp"