Locals reminisce about ex-Beatle, his family and band winging it on Junior’s Farm
Editor's note: This is the conclusion of a two-part article about the summer 1974 when Paul and Linda McCartney, their children and the band Wings spent six weeks living in the Curly and Bernice Putman residence outside of Lebanon.
By KEN BECKSpecial to The Wilson Post
The Curly Putman family employed a housekeeper from Lebanon, the late Tabitha Turner, whom the McCartneys hired to work three or four days a week to help with some special events on the farm. Turner's daughter, Sally Palmer, assisted on several occasions and that provided her with the opportunity get to know Linda and Paul.
“The day that I went to work there, Paul was writing a song called ‘Sally G,’ and he just laughed and said, ‘What a coincidence. I’m writing a song called ‘Sally G,’ and your name is Sally.’“They were very friendly, Beatles lovers, lend me your ear For those who go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” when asked if they love the Beatles, now hear this. The Fab Four Festival runs Aug. 21-23 in Nashville at the Cannery Ballroom. Musicians will perform works of the Beatles like nobody else. The event features live music, informative panels and an array of Beatles memorabilia. FAB performs Aug. 21. The Long Players perform The Beatles’ White Album Aug. 22 with some surprise guests, and the WannaBeatles play at 2 p.m. Aug. 23.
Tickets are $20 each of the first two days and $10 the final day. Go online to www.fabfourfestival.com for more details.
And if you’ve got the bread and the wheels, spin on down to Atlanta’s Piedmont Park at 4 p.m. Aug. 15 for a Paul McCartney concert. At last report tickets were going for over $100 a popdown-to-earth people. Linda was very domestic and insisted on making the meals and being a full-time wife and mother. She was adamant that her children not be reared by a nanny,” Palmer said.
“Paul was just a fun-loving person. He was always joking around and didn’t seem to take things seriously. It was easy to forget they were famous.
“While I was there, Linda gave me a recipe for carrots and turnips. It was just carrots and turnips and butter and black pepper. Before I tried her recipe, I never considered that combination would be appealing. I’ve used that recipe for 35 years.
“They asked my mama to make them a lemon pie, and she made a lime pie, Paul loved that pie, and he continued to ask her to make it.”
Palmer recalls a few soirees held beside the Putman’s lake, including a barbeque dinner with such Nashville musicians as Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed. “Paul liked his barbeque charred,” Palmer said.
One rare treat she lucked into were free concerts. “They rehearsed for three to four hours in the afternoons, and I really enjoyed watching their rehearsals,” she said.
Before the McCartney’s left the farm they posed with Sally P. for a photograph, one that she treasures. She also obtained an autograph for her daughter Benita. Both Paul and Linda signed it, and each doodled little drawings: Paul drew a smiley face with musical notes floating from its mouth, and Linda drew a butterfly and two hearts pierced by an arrow.
At one point, Paul was rifling through some of his stuff, and he handed Palmer a 33-1/3 master copy of the single “Bluebird.” She also has a handwritten copy of the lyrics to the McCartney song “Maybe I’m Amazed” that may or may not be in Paul’s handwriting. And in 1975, Linda mailed Palmer an autographed appointment book, titled “For the Red Cow Patrons Only,” with photos she took around the farm. Palmer keeps her summer of McCartney souvenirs stored in a lockbox at the bank.
Other Lebanon residents made the acquaintance of the famous musicians when they came into town to make purchases.
In 1974, businessman Gwynn Lanius operated Gwynn’s MusicCenter on West Main in the Nokes Shopping Colony, just across the street from Clayborn’s Bakery. He reminisces how the three guys in Wings came into his store two or three times a week.
“They would come in and buy guitar strings, maybe a drum head and drumsticks or harmonicas,” Lanius said. “They were in and out. Since I had a stand and sold record albums of the day, I pulled out ‘Band on the Run’ and asked them if they would see if Paul would autograph it. They said, ‘Yeah, we’ll take it to him.’ When they brought it back I was surprised. All of them had signed it, including Linda. For years I had it thumb-tacked on a wall in the store on display. Now, I wish I had kept it in mint condition and kept it in a showcase.”
While Lanius received something from the McCartneys, another Lebanon man, Robert Douglas, sold Paul something. He recalled that he got a phone call one night from his father, Charles Douglas, a Tennessee state trooper.
Douglas said, “My dad told me, ‘Guess who I had to stop the other day?’ ‘Who?’ ‘Paul McCartney.’
“‘What’d he do?’ I asked. ‘He was riding an off-road motorcycle on the highway near the flea market at Cedar Forest. I warned him that you got to have a helmet and be riding something street legal. I let him go.’
“I didn’t know anything else, until all of a sudden a day or so later Paul shows up with Linda at the motorcycle shop (Hunt Honda) where I was manager. He’s wanting to talk about motorcycles and decided he wanted a Honda XL125. Later his manager came in and we negotiated a deal. Part of the deal was I had to deliver it to him. I remember taking it out there with my wife, Lynn, and son, Zeb. The women (Linda and Lynn) started talking about having a cookout, but to my deep regret it never developed.
“I had one of their albums, and I never did bug people for autographs, but I asked them, ‘Would you please sign this?’ and they did. Later, somebody lifted it from under the counter at the shop. I was so disappointed,” Douglas said.
Lynn Harris slightly remembers the encounter with the McCartney family.
“I saw them at the motorcycle shop. Our son, Zeb, was a baby, and I was changing him, and Paul came over and said something about the little tyke. I remember them being so dressed down. Their children were barefoot and not wearing fancy dresses. They were just like ordinary people,” Harris said.
A Lebanon teenager’s brief face-to-face with Paul and Linda McCartney was no matter of happenstance, as she and a friend purposefully tracked the duo down.
“We were driving my father’s car, a gold Impala, and just going to see if he was in Lebanon,” said Sandra Bryan, who was 15 at the time. “We went driving around the Lebanon Square, and we saw this little motorcycle parked in front of McClain and Smith. We drove around the Square again, and it was gone.”
Since Bryan and her gal pal knew the McCartneys were staying at the farm of Curly and Bernice Putman, they headed for that stretch of road outside of town. Lo and behold, in a few minutes they found themselves motoring right behind the McCartneys who were riding tandem on a small motorcycle.
“We were on a two-lane road, and my friend, who was driving because I was too young to have a license, pulls over in the left-hand lane beside them, and I’m hanging out the passenger window with a piece of paper and pen saying, ‘Can I have your autograph, please?’
“I could hear him say, “No, this is not a good time’ or something like that. His Linda was hanging on to him.”
Bryan said she later realized they could have run the McCartneys off the road, and what a dangerous move that was. Still, she will always remember that encounter with Paul and Linda, as goofy as it was, and be thankful it didn‘t turn into a true accidental encounter.
Retired entrepreneur Charles Roche operated a popular convenience store named Quik Stop for several years on Main Street. Little did he expect that Paul and Linda would make his place into their snack stop.
“Paul and Linda visited the store twice. They came by the store on their motorcycles, and the first time, they bought slices of watermelon. They sat out on the sidewalk and ate their watermelon for 15 to 20 minutes. Most people who came into the store didn’t pick up on who they were. I didn’t either at first,” Roche said.
“Then a few days later, they came by on their cycles again and bought ice cream this time. We exchanged pleasantries and had small talk at the register. I said something like, ‘Glad you’re here.’ They said, ‘Thank you,’ and I told them, ‘Come back and see us.’ They simply blended in with the town.”
And, so it seems, after their time was up, one of the world’s greatest musicians, his family and band, packed things up and left Lebanon for life back in the British fast lane. The impressions they left make it sound like McCartney was just a regular bloke, and that a good time was had by all down on Junior’s Farm, as the Band on the Run found the time and the place to slow their lives down to a walk.
Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.