Paul McCartney & Wings backstage photo from Spectrum Arena, May 12, 1976; photo by roger barone

Paul McCartney (yellow jacket near bulletin board), followed by Linda McCartney (yellow dress) returns to the Spectrum stage after a brief break before the encore. McCartney had just passed the operations office. A Flyers' hockey net hangs from a wall in the foreground. Electric FactoryConcerts stage manager, Eddie Franco, is visible next to the net. © ROGER BARONE 1976


McCartney’s security was extremely tight during the show. The man wearing the striped shirt accompanied McCartney everywhere. After McCartney’s last song,  I ran to the freight elevator located behind Section M. I rode it down one floor to the backstage area.  I quickly slipped behind a wall and climbed  to an upper-level storage area, where I hid until I got this shot. I would have been fired immediately  if caught backstage with a camera, but this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I took the risk. It worked out well. Although it would not be the last time I crossed paths with Paul McCartney.

Drummer, Joe English, approaches the protective canopy, leading toward the stage,  followed by Denny Laine,  a few strides ahead of McCartney. This is a typical view of the backstage area. Large trunks are seen to the right, while up the hallway, behind Linda, are several more black equipment cases. I unloaded McCartney’s trucks and became familiar with the road crew who facilitated my picture taking from the audience. They guided me away from the barricade before McCartney began playing “Live and Let Die,” the theme song from a James Bond movie that featured a lot of fire works. I walked around the arena after that.

After the first show on the 12th, we had to tear everything down and setup for the Flyers’  Stanley Cup Finals game against Montreal. The “Habs” won 3-2, taking a 3-0 lead in the series. After the game, we layed the insulated floor and began setting up McCartney’s stage again. Once the seating was in place and the stage set, the McCartney road crew reappeared, with hammers and screwdrivers at the ready. One of the roadies was a thin blond-haired woman of about 28 years old, “The Bionic Woman,” they called her. She would carry heavy speakers and horns all by herself. It was amazing. We stared in awe. This woman was featured in one of the two tour films: “Wings Over America” or “Rock Show,” I don’t remember exactly, but she’s seen eating a cake in her segment.

 During our break, we invited the McCartney crew to a storage area where all the confiscated liquor was stored (for the annual Spectrum Christmas party). This area was later converted to the Prism Cable offices, but on this night it was the scene of  one of the craziest parties that ever took place at the Spectrum.

We literally sat on a mountain of liquor: all types. Hard liquor-gin, vodka, scotch. Soft liquor- beer, wine,  saki and champagne. Anything you could imagine was there from ripple and colt 45 to Kentucky  bourbon and Jack Daniels; all warm.

We passed each other cans and bottles. Imported beers, domestic beers and Philly beers.The McCartney gang spoke with English accents; we spoke like Rocky. We traded our red Spectrum T-shirts, for their black McCartney & Wings tour shirts–right off our backs. The booze never ended, and never would end. The mountain maintained its height, its breadth and its imposing, but energizing inebriation.  Cans rolled downward like tumbleweeds on the range, bottles were tossed back and forth. Everyone was plastered!

Throughout the night we’d continue to meet for periodic sermons on the mountain, bottle openers in hand. It got us through the night, a tough night of tugging, pushing, hauling setting up McCartney’s equipment. I snuck into McCartney’s dressing room. Nobody was around. I saw opened cardboard  boxes filled with the  “Wings at the Speed of Sound” album; all with holes punched  in the bottom right corner; these were promotional copies I later learned.

Three or four beige Ovation Guitar cases were piled before me, locked. My pulse raced, excited, wondering what I should do. Open a case? Grab a souvenir? Or stare in awe and try to get out before being caught. I carried  a couple of red Spectrum chairs with me as my reason for entering the restricted area. If anyone stopped me, “someone requested a couple of more chairs for the Philadelphia 76ers’ locker room, where a woodcut engraved with the words “Paul and Linda” was hung on the outside door.

I took a couple of albums and headed back to the changeover crew area, and later got my camera and photographed the show from various locations in the audience. What a couple of days.

Link to McCartney & Wings Encore titled: “Soily.”

~ by photosfromphilly on August 15, 2011.

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