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Someone stole my Wings Over America (1976) triple-album way back when triple-albums were still a "thing," and it's been a looooong time since I've been able to play my Paul McCartney and Wings laserdisc edition of Rockshow, the rarely seen 1980 concert film.


And of course the last times anyone saw McCartney play in San Diego was June 16, 1976 (with Wings at the Sports Arena, as seen below) and February 22, 2003 (a private party, also detailed below).

But now the remastered and expanded concert flick is coming to San Diego for several screenings taking place 'round town over the next few weeks, in conjunction with upcoming rereleases of both the movie on DVD/Blu-Ray (dropping June 10) and the live triple-disc (May 27).

Rockshow, filmed during Wings' 1975 and 1976 world tour, will screen May 21, June 13, and August 12 at Digiplex Poway. It can also be seen at Digiplex River Village in Bonsall, Digiplex Hazard Center in Mission Valley, and Digiplex Mission Marketplace in Oceanside on May 22, June 13, and August 12. You can catch it at Digiplex Temecula Tower Cinemas on May 22, June 13, and August 12.

Here's a rundown of a few of the Fab 4's San Diego adventures (with some of the 1965 material courtesy Reader columnist Ken Leighton).


8-28-65: For the Beatles' one and only local appearance, at Balboa Stadium, radio station KCBQ declared that Saturday "Beatle Day" and gave out pins saying so to attendees. Four local teenagers won a contest to present ceremonial keys to the city to the band at an afternoon press conference.

Area DJ "Happy Hare" (aka Harry Martin) recalled for Kicks Magazine that "Joan Baez was going to visit John Lennon [backstage], and she was caught up in the human riptide, because she was on the outside of the fence with all the kids. I literally lifted her up and pushed her over the fence. She eventually got backstage, but she came close to being crushed to death."

Local headlines the next day read "Beatles Quip at a Fast Clip" and "Ecstasy and Emotion: Beatles and Beatlemania Erupt." The band played around 40 minutes, with some of the show surreptitiously recorded by KGTV chief photographer Lee Louis, who smuggled in a 16mm film camera (a portion of his footage is posted on YouTube). Around 28,000 tickets were printed, priced at $3.50 and $5.50, though only about 18,000 were sold. The Beatles were reportedly paid $50,000, while promoters said their cut was around $6000.

The night before the San Diego gig, August 27th, the Beatles met Elvis Presley for the first time, spending around an hour in his Bel Air mansion.

According to Disc Weekly at the time (9-4-65), Elvis jammed with the Beatles to a tune played on his jukebox. A member of Elvis' Memphic Mafia talked the Beatles into signing a piece of Elvis stationary, which was later auctioned for over $50,000.

Then 20 year-old Helen Halmay interviewed the Beatles at the press conference.

"Nobody who interviewed them asked for their autograph.... I had never been to a press conference before. I didn't know I didn't need tickets since I was with the press. After the press conference, we went out and went in through the gates. I thought, 'By God, if I bought tickets, I'm going to use them.' Do you know how much those tickets would be worth if I had saved them?"



What questions did reporters ask the Beatles? "People tended to ask them what they thought of San Diego. That was really dumb. They had never been here before, and they had just gotten off the bus. My one question was 'What's your favorite American TV show?' I think they said The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

Halmay, who was the society editor for the weekly La Mesa Scout, says she "asked my owner/editor/publisher if I could cover it. He said, 'None of our readers are interested in the Beatles.' " Halmay got permission to go (off the job) and bought her own film to take pictures.

"They are not very exciting. It just shows them sitting in a row at a table." She says all four were heavy smokers. "I guess I've forgotten how much people used to smoke in those days."

As it was with Balboa Stadium, Halmay says the La Mesa Scout "...never made it out of the '70s."

6-16-76 – Paul McCartney and Wings at San Diego Sports Arena: McCartney brought his Wings Over America tour to the Sports Arena just as Wings at the Speed of Sound was topping the U.S. charts.

"They flew in on a private jet, [and] people literally wept when McCartney hit the stage," recalls local music historian and Shambles front man Bart Mendoza. "He played a hit-filled show, lasting just over two hours, and included a few Beatles tunes -- 'I've Just Seen a Face,' 'Lady Madonna,' etc. -- but stuck heavily to his solo tunes."

Mendoza says that a high point came with "a pyrotechnic-laden 'Live and Let Die.' But the defining moment was likely those first two seconds as the crowd realized that, yes, he was about to play 'Yesterday.' It was pandemonium."

Several songs from this show appear on the bootleg album Oriental Nightfish, produced in 1977 by Reading Railroad Records (aka Hoffman Avenue Industries, Inc.). A double LP on colored vinyl, San Diego cuts include "Jet," "Magneto and Titanium Man," "My Love," "Soily," and "Beware My Love."

2-22-03 – Paul McCartney plays a private party in Rancho Santa Fe: When Ralph Whitworth threw his wife a 50th birthday party at Delicias restaurant, he forked out a million bucks (for charity) to have McCartney perform for the crowd of around 150. Macca and band (including guitarist Rusty Anderson) did 19 songs, as well as the Beatles' rarely performed "Birthday" (which was later added to the tour's setlist).

In a press release, McCartney said, "Normally I don't do this sort of gig, but I was chuffed to do it because it was a 'win-win' show. Ralph gets to be the great husband for organizing the surprise, his wife gets a rocking party, I get to rehearse the band for the tour, and most important, Adopt-A-Minefield gets one million dollars."

"Crasher" columnist Josh Board knows Rusty Anderson's sister, who lives in San Diego. "The day after the Rancho Santa Fe concert, I called to ask if she was there. She said, 'No, I didn't make it. Rusty left a few messages on my machine, but I got them too late. I can't believe it. For them to be so close like that. And I went all the way to Russia to see them.'"

Less than a year later, the Whitworths filed for divorce.

Fellow Beatle George Harrison may not have ever performed a public solo concert in San Diego, but he has a long history in the area (aside from spending several weeks living in Eric Clapton's yacht at the Marina). Real estate broker Jeff Paiste has squired several famous musicians around San Diego in their search for decent digs to lease or rent, including Bread frontman David Gates and the late Harrison.

Paiste also once drove the late George Harrison around San Diego, in search of another Blue Jay Way for the former Beatle to rest between Golden Slumbers.

“He was actually staying on a yacht, moored in the harbor, I think it was Eric Clapton’s [ship]. He used to come here once in awhile to meditate at Swami’s in Encinitas [aka the Self Realization Fellowship Center, a Hare Krishna concern near Swami’s Beach] and he was thinking about actually buying a house here. He said Swami’s is his favorite place to meditate outside his [UK] home and in India.”

Paiste met with Harrison at the center on K Street in 2001, before driving the former mop-top around site-seeing for houses. “He walked me through this incredible tropical garden, with koi ponds and a view of the ocean where you can look down and actually see dolphins swimming. There were a bunch of people in robes, with the ponytail on their heads, sitting on benches with their eyes closed. They looked dead but they were only meditating.”

“Inside the place, I saw another guy sitting really really still, and I said to George ‘Man, that must take practice, to sit so motionless.’ He told me ‘That’s a wax dummy, he’s not alive.’”

Harrison thought so highly of the Encinitas center that he sometimes lived on the grounds while visiting North County sitar mentor Ravi Shankar and Harrison's family also donated a portion of proceeds from the 2002 re-release of his song “My Sweet Lord” to the organization. “He wanted a house within a few miles of Swami’s, but there was nothing available. We looked a few places in La Jolla but he didn’t like anything.”

Asked if he found Harrison to be the “regular guy” David Gates was, Paiste says “Well, not really. He didn’t say much, except to bitch about this or that, about traffic, about the houses, about the side of the road.”

The side of the road?

“Yeah, he couldn’t believe all the trash people throw out of their cars. We were on the highway and saw a couch on the curb, then a chair and then some busted up furniture. George looked really disgusted and said ‘You should drive the homeless around and pick this stuff up, furnish an apartment for them.’”




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Famous Movie Poster Rejects You've Never Seen Part 1: Private collection of movie poster designs published exclusively on the Reader website for the first time ever: Batman, Witches of Eastwick, Supergirl


Part 2: The Fly, Vamp, Fright Night, Howard the Duck, Stallone: Over the Top, Ladyhawk


Part 3: Horror film Near Dark, horsey drama Phar Lap, the Robert DeNiro/Albert Brooks sleeper Midnight Run (still under its working title Running Scared when these two posters were mocked up), 3D cartoon Starchaser: The Legend of Orin, Airplane-style comedy Bad Medicine (with Steve Gutenberg and Julie Hagerty), and war story Hamburger Hill.


Part 4: Collegiate comedy Campus Man, horror hits Wes Craven's Deadly Friend and Blood Diner, and rock and roll horror flop Trick or Treat, as well as Texas Godfather, Vanishing Act, China Girl, 8 Million Ways to Die, sci-fi biker flick City Limits, and war romance Purple Hearts.


Part 5: Voyage of the Rock Aliens with Pia Zadora, the Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon/Pee Wee Herman surf comedy Back to the Beach, psycho-ex thriller Fatal Attraction, alleged comedy Planes Trains & Automobiles, James Woods in Cop, the Tom Cruise hit All the Right Moves, drive-in horror hit Deadly Blessing, the re-release of Roger Corman's original Little Shop of Horrors, import sex comedy Perfect Timing, historical drama Hanoi Hilton, Stallone sequel Rocky V (under its original title Final Bell), and Nothing But Trouble, back when it was still known as Welcome to Valkenvania.


Part 6: Horror comedy Return of the Living Dead, Force III, Meatballs III, plainclothes cop thriller Off Limits (Willem Dafoe, Gregory Hines), sci-fi McDonald’s commercial Mac & Me, the Diane Lane potboiler Lady Beware, UK comedy Mr. Love, Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle, Walter Bannert’s German-language Austrian film the Inheritors, the Dudley Moore/Eddie Murphy flop Best Defense, Richard Donner’s Inside Moves, William Peter Blatty’s Ninth Configuration, adventure flick Tai-Pan, German musical the Frog Prince with Helen Hunt, and the Rosary Murders.

  • Big Screen alerts


Dave Rice May 14, 2013 @ 7:17 p.m.

Very cool, thanks for sharing...my mom is a McCartney nut and by extension I'm a Beatles guy in the Beatles/Elvis eternal question (she's actually about to hop a plane to a show in Texas), and was in attendance at that Balboa show.


Colonna May 15, 2013 @ 7:02 a.m.

Paiste also once drove the late George Harrison around San Diego, in search of another Blue Jay Way for the former Beatle to rest between Golden Slumbers.

Very clever, Jay. Another great article!


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