On Aug. 19, 1966, at 8:30 p.m. the Beatles were at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tenn. I was not. Mama wouldn't take me. I was in the 10th grade at Leland High School, and a group of my friends and I wanted to go. Not a mama from the bunch would take us. We all pitched such a fit that when Herman's Hermits rolled around months later, the mamas loaded us up in Eleanor Fielder's station wagon, the two-tone kind with the wood-grain sides, and hauled us all to Memphis. Since this was my first concert experience, I deemed Herman's Hermits fab, but they were not the Beatles. I promised myself that someday I would see the Beatles perform. Ten days after that Memphis concert, in San Francisco's Candlestick Park, the Beatles performed what would be their last concert. Who knew?
My hopes always remained high that the Beatles would reunite and give one more concert, and I would be there, but on Dec. 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman ended any remaining hope I may have had when he killed John Lennon.
On Wednesday, July 17, 2002, at 11:41 a.m., Paul McCartney announced he would perform a second leg of his "Back in the USA" tour starting in September. After some research I learned that he would be at the New Orleans Arena on Oct.12, 2002, and that tickets would go on sale Aug. 3. I was first in line for tickets that day, only because I set the alarm for 2 a.m. and arrived at Be-Bop Record Shop at 3 a.m. with my take-it-with-you chair, my thermos of coffee and my morning newspaper. Four hours later, a businessman from Atlanta, also a huge McCartney fan, showed up. He told me that he and a friend had attended several McCartney concerts and they always held up the same sign that read, "Fan on the Run." Paul always recognized them and their sign and would point, wave or acknowledge them in some way. He also told me to make a cool sign, and being that we figured I would have great seats, Paul should see the sign and would acknowledge me.
For weeks leading up to the concert, I was under great pressure to create the perfect sign. I researched old Beatle songs and memorabilia looking for just the right idea and catchy wording for my sign. On the Internet I ran across a picture of a ticket to that August 1966 Beatles' concert in Memphis, the one I did not go to. I printed the ticket and enlarged it. Then I enlarged it again and again, cut it in half, enlarged the two halves and put it back together. With the help of Laura Shanley, art teacher at Madison Middle School, I glued the now very large ticket to the bottom of a piece of poster board, and she wrote across the top in large, read-from the-stage–size letters, "Waited 36 Years." And I had.
The day of the concert finally arrived. My friend, Linda, and I had stuffed 800-speed disposable cameras into our pants with the hopes of getting a no-cameras-of-any-type-admitted picture. The plan was if I was seen taking pictures and asked to give up my camera, I would switch cameras and give up the one with no pictures. Once in the arena, we made our way to our fourth-row seats and settled in. I got my sign and camera ready. Soon I was watching Paul McCartney sing. Then the third song into the set, he sang a Beatles' song, "All My Loving." Everyone in the baby-boomer audience was standing and screaming and singing along. Black-and-white clips of the Beatles stepping of the plane at Kennedy Airport, on the Ed Sullivan show and of their concerts flashed on the huge screens high above and to the sides of the stage. It was pretty dang close to being at a Beatles' concert.
Early into that third song, the house lights came on and Paul was able to see into the audience. I stood tall with my sign held high over my head. As Paul was glancing out over the crowd, he spotted my sign and still singing, he paused and looked straight at the sign and straight at me, pointed, nodded and continued to sing. Paul McCartney was singing to me. The fans on the first three rows turned around to see to whom he was singing. Me! For a few moments I was one of those crying, screaming girls we all laugh at now when we see old Beatles' clips. Then, Linda nudged me and pointed to the giant screens. There, on those screens, for the entire world to see was Judy Jacobs holding her sign. After the concert, people stopped me to comment on my sign and to say they had seen me on the big screen.
If Mama had taken me to see the Beatles back in August of '66, I probably would have never had that evening with Paul. It was a night she would have been proud of.
Great story. I was at the Memphis concert and can assure you, other than the pure excitement of being at a Beatles concert, that Ms Jacob's experience, while 36 yrs later was better. You absolutely could not hear the Beatles because everyone was screaming so loudly (except for the opening act, the Cyrcle) Glad you were able to have such a good time.
- Fenton DeWeese