By MARC GRONICH, Editor, Publisher, JBizTechValley.com
Adapted for The Jewish World
Paul McCartney arrived in Albany on July 5, 2014, for the first time with all the fanfare and anticipation of 50 years ago when he first arrived in New York City as part of the Fab Four. I suppose it takes time for a talent, such as McCartney, to come to a place like the Capital City.
At the April announcement of the Albany concert date, July 5, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, 45, mentioned the singer-songwriter as Sir Paul McCarthy and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, 50, seized the moment saying, “You see the county executive is just a little bit younger than I am so I don’t know that he really appreciates as much what it is going to be to have Sir Paul McCartney here in the city of Albany. It’s going to be an incredible opportunity to host somebody who is legendary, who has entertained across generations and it is just such a privilege to have him here.”
What makes this stop on the tour a bit unusual is that the Times Union Center only has 12,600 seats for this concert, the smallest venue on the concert tour, while the other venues hold as many as more than 50,000 fans. The 57-venue worldwide concert tour is expected to gross more than $105 million. There are 19 dates remaining in the United States with the Albany concert kicking off the final leg of the tour.
Bob Belber, general manager of the Times Union Center, has been in the entertainment industry since 1983, says to book such a high-profile act it is all about who you know. “Much the same as in any industry, it’s all about relationships,” Belber said on The Jewish View television program.
Ticket prices for the Albany McCartney concert ranged from $250 for floor seats close to the stage to $29, for seats that are in the top rows.
“The McCartney concert in Albany sold out in 28 minutes on April 14. The artist needs x amount of dollars from each date to cover his costs and the money he feels he needs to take out of the tour,” Belber said. “He has to have a certain ticket-pricing concept and a gross that will allow him to take out the net dollars that he needs.”
The Jewish Connections
What makes this visit special for the area Jewish community is that McCartney has a strong affinity with the Jewish community worldwide. McCartney is often touted as having a close circle Jewish friends from collaborators, business associates, girlfriends and wives. If you read articles about McCartney from other Jewish-owned publications, you will see a type of reverence for the 72-year-old from Liverpool, England (not the Liverpool 140 miles west of Albany near Syracuse in Onondaga County.)
While McCartney has not converted to Judaism there have been multiple reports in the Jewish media that he is “thinking about it and going through with conversion classes during his current marriage” to Nancy Shevell, who takes religion rather seriously. I’m not sure how people know what any one is thinking but that’s the impression. The online news outlet, The Gothamist, reported in 2011, “McCartney apparently told his friends he’ll be completing his conversion studies next year.” The Roman Catholic McCartney, was admittedly never very devout, but promised Shevell that he’ll convert to Judaism.
McCartney made the same promise to his first wife but “never got around to it,” according to media reports. So far nothing more has developed to date and there are no plans for a conversion ceremony in Albany. So the big question is, will Paul be getting a trim for his little mop top?
McCartney’s latest album, New, is co-produced by Mark Ronson, one of the hottest producers in popular music for the last decade or so, and the scion of a prominent English-Jewish family (the name was originally Aaronson.)
McCartney’s first wife, Linda Eastman
Here’s the rundown. McCartney’s first wife was the Jewish Linda Eastman, not part of the George Eastman family of Eastman-Kodak fame in Rochester, N.Y. She was born in New York City and grew up in the Scarsdale area of Westchester County. She graduated from Scarsdale High School in 1959.
Her father was born Leopold Vail Epstein, the son of Jewish-Russian immigrants, who later changed his name to Lee Eastman. He was an entertainment lawyer who represented McCartney after the Beatles’ long-time manager, Brian Epstein, died in 1967 of an accidental drug overdose. McCartney’s choice of his father-in-law as manager was famously opposed by fellow Beatle John Lennon, who favored the former Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein (also Jewish). The dispute over management of the Beatles, which pitted a Jewish lawyer against a Jewish accountant, became a major factor in the ultimate dissolution of the Fab Four. Linda Eastman’s brother, John Eastman, later took over from his father and remained McCartney’s manager and attorney for many years.
Her mother, Louise Sara Lindner, was from a German-Jewish family. The daughter of Max J. Lindner, founder of the Lindner Company clothing store in Cleveland, Ohio, the largest women’s clothing store in Cleveland. Lindner was a member of the most prominent Reform temple in Cleveland and president of its men’s club; active in the Jewish Welfare Fund and in the Jewish country club; and a major philanthropic force in Cleveland’s Jewish community.
After knowing each other for three years and seriously dating for six months, the couple married during a civil ceremony in London, England at the Marylebone Registry Office on March 12, 1969, one year prior to the breakup of The Beatles.
The McCartney’s had three children together —Mary Anna, Stella Nina and James Louis. Another daughter, Heather Louise from Eastman’s first marriage was adopted by McCartney. Not exactly Jewish names you say? Well, Stella, following in her maternal grandfather’s footsteps is a fashion designer and self-identifies as being Jewish, although she is said to be a non-practicing Jew, according to one of the research articles about the couple.
The McCartneys made beautiful music together during their 29-year marriage. One of their first albums together was “Ram,” the cover of which pictures McCartney grasping two ram’s horns.
Linda died on April 17, 1998, at the age of 56, after a three year battle with breast cancer.
McCartney’s third wife, Nancy Shevell
Fast forward to 2011 when McCartney was about to be married to Nancy Shevell after a six-year disastrous marriage to Heather Mills. He had one daughter with Mills.
In October 2011, the JTA wire service, reported that the former Beatle spent “the night before his wedding at Yom Kippur services.” The couple reportedly attended Yom Kippur services and a break fast at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in the upmarket neighborhood of St. John’s Wood, near McCartney’s home and close to Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded most of their songs and where Shevell, then-51, received a blessing in honor of her upcoming marriage.
The couple married in a civil ceremony at London’s Marylebone Register Office, (the same location McCartney tied the knot with his first wife) before 30 invited guests and followed by a small reception at McCartney’s north London home.
At the time of the wedding ceremony, the Daily Mirror of London reported, “there were no Jewish rituals performed during the ceremony, even though Shevell is Jewish. McCartney’s fashion-designer daughter Stella made the wedding dress” consisting of a knee-length, long-sleeved white dress, with white decoration in the bride’s hair as she was carrying a small posy of flowers. The groom wore a dark suit and lilac tie. She also helped create the three-course organic vegetarian menu.
Ringo Starr, who performed at the Palace Theatre in Albany last month, the only other surviving member of the Fab Four, and his wife Barbara Bach (also Jewish), were among the wedding guests.
McCartney’s wife is no shlub when it comes to the Jewish social scene. Shevell, an executive with her family’s Elizabeth, N.J., trucking company, New England Motor Freight, was a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the M.T.A. After more than a decade as a board member, she stepped down from her post in January 2012, three months after marrying McCartney. Shevell says she will be splitting her time between New York City and London.
Thirteen months earlier, on December 7, 2010 the couple surprisingly showed up at a 500-person dinner to raise funds for the world’s largest Chabad House, located on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick, N.J.
The dinner raised $3 million toward the $10 million expansion of Chabad House at Rutgers, increasing the size of what is already the world’s largest Chabad facility by 55,000 square feet. Shevell’s father, Myron “Mike” Shevell was one of the night’s honorees — along with Gov. Chris Christie (R – New Jersey) — in recognition of his $500,000 gift to create a Torah studies program for Rutgers students, who will receive a certificate and stipend after completing 60 semester hours of study. Mike Shevell said he made his donation in memory of his son, Jon, who died in 2008 at age 50 and who had been honored by Chabad in 2006.
“My son, Jon, started this and in his honor, I am finishing this,” he said, adding that he wanted to give Jewish students an incentive “to study the Jewish religion and further their Jewish studies.”
“I think we witnessed a Chanukah miracle,” executive director, Rabbi Yosef Carlebach said of the dinner, which fell on the sixth night of the holiday. “Everyone who came thought they were coming to a small dinner, but when they left they didn’t feel that way.”
It was John Lennon who once said, “Show business is an extension of the Jewish religion.” But it is McCartney, one of the few English rock stars to have defied an unofficial boycott by performing in Israel, who has actually lived it.