3 APRIL 2002
Sir Paul McCartney fought back the tears as he paid an emotional tribute to former bandmates John Lennon and George Harrison, and his late wife Linda, on the first night of his US tour on Tuesday.
Performing in front of 15,000 fans at the Oakland Coliseum, near San Francisco, the former Beatle delivered a stirring version of Harrison’s enduring classic Something on the ukulele. Paul told the audience that Harrison – who died from cancer last year – often liked to entertain friends on his ukulele and was a massive fan of George Formby.
“George was a great ukulele player and whenever you went to his house he’d play it at the end of the night,” said the 59-year-old musician. “I showed him I could play the song on the ukulele and tonight I’d like to do it now as a tribute.”
Sir Paul also played My Love, which he wrote for Linda, who passed away in 1998, when they performed in Wings together.
And for the first time he played Here Today, a song he wrote after the murder of John Lennon in New York in 1980. Paul told the crowd: “When people are around, it’s not always easy to tell them what you feel. After my dear friend John passed on I wrote this song.” As it came to an end, the audience leapt to their feet in a tearful standing ovation.
The concert was the opening gig of Sir Paul’s Driving USA tour – his first north American tour in nine years – which is poised to make the former Beatle at least £37 million. Four hundred thousand fans in 19 cities nationwide have paid up to £178 a ticket, a record for a rock performer.