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Paul McCartney's first visit to Russia - how it was

“In the sixties, we often heard that The Beatles were hugely popular in the Soviet Union, and that there were Levis and Beatles records on the black market!” McCartney told the Guardian. “We were very touched, because when we were children, the very idea of the Iron Curtain seemed to us a mystical land of intrigue ... We are honored that they knew us and obviously loved us ...”

The moment when the legendary "Beatle" Paul McCartney first set foot on Red Square

Russia has always been for The Beatles "mystical land" And only in 2003 year, Paul McCartney was finally able to experience the atmosphere of our homeland ... During his first visit to Russiawhich included concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg, McCartney was told a lot - both ordinary people and celebrities and politicians - about how popular the Beatles were in Russia during the Soviet era. Some have even led British legend to believe that the band was instrumental in bringing down communism! Although this can be seen as an exaggeration, Beatles indeed there were many followers in Russia...

Acquaintance of the British legend with Vladimir Putin

Paul McCartney and Vladimir Putin
Paul McCartney and Vladimir Putin

Warm May morning 2003 years he walked through the corridors Kremlin accompanied by a Russian general and an interpreter. When they went to the room to talk to Vladimir Putin, the Beatle asked his interpreter if they would go to the same place where the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair met with Putin. The answer was negative. However, he was told that they were going to an even more important room - the private quarters of the President of Russia ...

“So we met Putin in front of all the cameras, then he sent out all the press and finally he even asked his interpreter to come out because he speaks English pretty well,” McCartney recalled in a 2003 interview with The Guardian. “And he was great! We had a pretty intimate conversation about his life, which was quite uplifting…”

Paul McCartney and Vladimir Putin...
Paul McCartney and Vladimir Putin...

To great joy Vladimir Vladimirovich, the singer performed an acoustic version "Let it Be" in the Kremlin!

The idea to speak on the other side of the Iron Curtain

The Beatles
The Beatles

Whoever said anything, but the Russians loved to listen Beatles music in the 1960s and 1970s years. Although there was no direct ban on the activities of the group in the country, the records Beatles sold on the black market Soviet Union. The idea to perform on the other side of the Iron Curtain definitely crossed the band's mind, however... it didn't happen. At the very least, in full force.

“In the sixties, we often heard that The Beatles were hugely popular in the Soviet Union, and that there were Levis and Beatles records on the black market!” McCartney told the Guardian. “We were very touched, because when we were children, the very idea of the Iron Curtain seemed to us a mystical land of intrigue ... We are honored that they knew us and obviously loved us ...”

In 1970's, after the collapse Beatles, McCartney and his wife Linda together with a couple of American musicians created a group called Paul McCartney and the Wings. The group seriously thought about the performance in Soviet Union, but ... this did not happen "for one reason or another", as McCartney himself put it. However, the idea to speak on the other side "Iron Curtain" never let the musician go.

"Back in the USSR"

"Back in the USSR" (Paul McCartney)
"Back in the USSR" (Paul McCartney)

The British legend was still determined when, in July, 1987 Paul recorded some of his old favorite songs 1950s years live in his studio… The result was an album that was eventually released in the Soviet Union! Tracks on the album called "Back in the USSR" included covers of songs Duke Ellington, Bo Diddley and Eddie Cochran, as well as other popular musicians of the 50s. McCartney's original plan was to make it look like the album was "smuggled" to the UK from the Soviet Union, but the idea was rejected by the record company. After his manager gave him a batch of Russian-language covers, McCartney came up with the idea to release the album in the USSR.

At that time the label "Melody" was a monopoly in the Soviet Union and released works by other Western bands such as Boney M. The record company agreed to license 400 000 copies exclusively for the Soviet Union. IN 1988 year "Melody" released 50 000 copies of the 11-track album that sold out in a matter of days! News of the album crossed the Iron Curtain and bootleg copies began to sell at exorbitant prices in United States and Great Britain. Some media claimed that a copy of the album was sold in the UK for £500!

Three years later Soviet Union disintegrated, and Western popular culture was officially welcomed in Russia. Concerts by American and British bands are no longer a rarity in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Some influential Beatles fans in Russia even unsuccessfully tried to persuade McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison come and perform in the country. However...only in 1998 year one of the Beatles appeared in Russia: Ringo Starr came to the country with his All Star Band, but this visit, which took place during a major financial crisis, unfortunately did not attract much attention ...

Paul McCartney, performance on Red Square - how it was

Paul McCartney performs for the first time in Moscow, 2003...
Paul McCartney performs for the first time in Moscow, 2003…

In 2003 year McCartney went on tour Back in the World, and a concert in Moscow should have been the climax! The British legend was allowed to perform on Red Square - a rare honor for a visiting musician! 20,000 tickets were sold for the concert... There were large video screens on the stage, which broadcast McCartney's performances with translations into Russian. Paul performed the mix The Beatles, The Wings and their own songs. Especially stormy applause caused "Back in the USSR"!

Among the happy spectators were authorities Russia of that time, including several politicians, musicians and other prominent figures. But an ordinary Muscovite could not be denied the opportunity to take part in a historic evening ... Tens of thousands of fans gathered in the area Red Squareto listen to the legendary Beatle...

When McCartney had met Putin earlier, the Russian president shied away from commitments about whether he would attend the concert, but he eventually showed up. Throughout the show, Vladimir Vladimirovich tried not to smile like a child who had just received all the toys he wanted for Christmas ... True, he was not good at it! secret status Vladimir Putin like a fan Beatles and his support for the concert on Red Square 2003 year (despite protests over 100 Russian deputies) show us that some things, like music, are so versatile that even an iron will can fail...

Finally…

Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney

When asked by reporters on Red Square about his thoughts on Russia McCartney said that as a child he knew little about the country, except for what he had heard about Siberia and military parades on Red Square. And now, all these decades later, he was on Red Square itself ...

“Then it was a mystical country… It’s nice to see the reality!” he said. “I always suspected that people here have big hearts. Now I know it's true!"

In 2005 year McCartney released a film called "Paul McCartney on Red Square". It contains footage from the Moscow concert, as well as his concert on Palace Square in St. Petersburg.

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