He Got Back! Why Fort Worth is a historic part of Paul McCartney’s legendary career

·5 min read

Can you feel it?

Rock royalty is among us. Paul McCartney, the entertainment world’s most famous living legend, brings his “Got Back” tour to a sold out Dickies Arena Tuesday night.

The 14-date tour, which started April 28 in Spokane, Wash., is hitting a mix of arenas and massive stadiums. His most recent show was Friday in front of 50,000 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. The last time McCartney played North Texas, it was at Globe Life Park in June 2019 before more than 30,000.

The contrast between a massive stadium and the more intimate confines of Dickies Arena will be like seeing the former Beatle at the Cavern Club.

And that’s sort of fitting.

The first time McCartney played a show in the United States after The Beatles broke up was May 3, 1976, at the Tarrant County Convention Center. Yeah, that’s right. Our convention center!

The Fort Worth concert kicked off a 21-city, 31-show “Wings Over America” tour that drew about 600,000 fans.

The tour had been delayed almost a month after the March 18 passing of McCartney’s father. The next night they were playing at the Summit in Houston before heading north for two shows in Detroit. The U.S. leg closed with three shows at the Forum in Inglewood, California, June 21-23, 1976.

How long ago was McCartney’s one and only show in Fort Worth? He was 33 and all four Beatles were alive.

More than four decades later, he’ll celebrate his 80th birthday on June 18, two days after the tour ends at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The 1976 tour was huge news and remains a historic moment in rock and roll. The New York Times and Newsweek were among the media outlets in Cowtown to cover the opener. Later that month, McCartney was on the cover of Time magazine with the headline “McCartney Comes Back.”

“Nerve-wracking. This was big-time American media: ‘The Beatle returns. What’s he going to be like?’ You want to throw up,” McCartney later said of the tour opener, Ultimate Classic Rock reported. “But you get on there and you suddenly see, these are your people, this is OK. You’re home.”

That week in 1976, Fort Worth was the 33rd largest city in America (we’re No. 12 now), John Sebastian’s “Welcome Back” topped the Billboard Hot 100, “M*A*S*H” was the top-rated television show, and “All the President’s Men” and “The Bad News Bears” were tops at the box office. Oh, and the average price of gas was 59 cents a gallon. Ooof.

The band was touring in support of its latest album “Wings at the Speed of Sound,” released a little more than a month earlier. But McCartney and his new band were really touring in support of its entire five-record history, plus two McCartney solo albums. He had never played any of those songs in America. And what about all of his Beatles classics? Would he play any of them? No one knew. He last played in front of an American audience during The Beatles final tour in the summer of 1966.

And Fort Worth got the first taste.

The 29 songs performed over two hours that night included five Beatles tunes: “Lady Madonna,” “The Long and Winding Road,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “Blackbird” and “Yesterday.”

Gasps and screams from former bobby soxers could be heard when McCartney started crooning “Yesterday.”

How do I know this? A bootleg of the entire show is available on YouTube. It sounds great, especially for an opening night.

Expect him to play longer and way more Beatles tunes Tuesday night. For the price of tickets, he better. As of early Monday morning, the cheapest tickets on Ticketmaster’s Verified Resale Ticket service, which is supposed to help keep tickets out of the hands of aftermarket ticket sellers, are $500 and behind the stage. Two front row floor seats are listed for more than $4,300 each.

Pro tip: If you’re desperate to attend the show and still don’t have tickets, keep checking ticketmaster.com up until an hour or so before showtime. Prices are likely to come down, at least a little bit, as fans trying to unload tickets drop their demands. Plus, there’s always a chance additional seats will come available and be released the day of the show.

The 1976 tour was not just the return of a Beatle to the States. It was also a cutting edge rock show that included some of the latest sound and staging technology available, including a laser light rig, a Plexiglass stage that could change colors, and speaker monitors hanging above the stage.

“As the tour went on, we were used to it then,” Wings co-founder and multi-instrumentalist Denny Laine said. “But the very first night was an amazing experience.”

Paul McCartney and Wings set list: May 3, 1976, Fort Worth

Venus And Mars/Rock Show/Jet

Let Me Roll It

Spirits Of Ancient Egypt

Medicine Jar

Maybe I’m Amazed

Call Me Back Again

Lady Madonna

The Long And Winding Road

Live And Let Die

Picasso’s Last Words

Richard Cory

Bluebird

I’ve Just Seen A Face

Blackbird

Yesterday

You Gave Me The Answer

Magneto And Titanium Man

Go Now

My Love

Listen To What The Man Said

Let ‘Em In

Time To Hide

Silly Love Songs

Letting Go

Band On The Run

Hi Hi Hi

Soily

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