First let me start by saying I’ve been in the music scene/business my whole life from playing bass and guitar as a teen in Worcester, to Berklee College, being a music director, a Rep for a synth company and owning New England’s largest backline company.
In the summer of 2001 I got the heads up that we would be doing band gear for a wedding on Martha’s Vineyard at the Eastman Estate which would include many celebrity guests and to be prepared for potential jamming by them. The groom was the nephew of Linda Eastman McCartney, Paul’s first wife. The guests were to include Paul McCartney, Billy Joel and many more. I designated myself to doing this particular show with the hope of getting a chat with Paul.
On the day of the event September 22, just a few days after 9/11, I drove to Woods Hole to load my gear onto a private 45 passenger ferry and traveled to the private doc of the Eastman compound. Just me, the Captain and one crew member. I met a local crew there, unloaded and got it set-up. As it was still early in the day I strolled around the estate to where the wedding ceremony was to be and came across a woman tuning her guitar rather awkwardly.
As we talked she explained that she was very nervous because she would be playing and singing right in front of some of the world’s biggest stars. She was one of the bridesmaids and was worried about the logistics of getting the guitar, checking the tuning and returning it to the stand after her song. Seeing an opportunity and having some down time I offered to assist by handing off the guitar to her, making sure it was perfectly in tune and taking it from her when she was finished. This allowed me to take a position right next to the front rows of guests.
After a short while guests arrived at for the service and began to take their place. Before you could say shazam there was Paul McCartney and his wife Heather a few seats away from me joking with people and as charming a person I had always seen him to be. The service began and Paul fooled around during it just like in a Beatle cartoon poking people from behind and being silly. When the time came I handed the guitar off to her, she did her song and all went well.
As everyone walked down to the reception tent after the service, I walked with a couple of the trumpet players from the band who had been standing off to the side of the service and they engaged Paul to see if he really could play the trumpet. He took one of the horns, blew a few notes and everyone laughed. Yes, he surely could play as trumpet was his first instrument.
As the reception began, the band which was a “society” big band out of New York fired up and within a few tunes Paul jumped on the stage and called for a Blues in G as he sang an improvised blues about the bride and groom. The day went on with dancing and singing with Paul dancing with at least a dozen ladies who seized the opportunity to have a moment with the Beatle.
On one of the occasions when Paul passed the mixing board where I was located I got the chance to chat with him and say “thank you” for all he has brought to me. I always joked about “what would I say if I got a chance to talk to a Beatle.” Well , here was that time ! He asked me about myself and I told him about playing bass all my life and just had finished working on a CD with Denny Dias from Steely Dan. He genuinely listened and told me how much he liked “the Dan.” Then, having a camera ready, to get the proverbial picture. Those being film days I couldn’t wait to see if it came out!
The night went on and from time to time he popped up on stage and broke into songs like“ I Saw Her Standing There.” After being around for 9 hours or so I saw a tired and sweaty Paul vanish up the main house on the compound and I was off to the Ferry with the gear and back to Woods Hole, then to Boston after a long and wonderful day!
(By Andy Bergsten)
Published on April 1, 2020