Q-C man gets by with a little email from McCartney

Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012, 3:45 pm
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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com
Tom Vaccaro of Davenport is a huge fan of the Beatles and Paul McCartney. So he was just a bit excited to find an email from Paul himself waiting for him at 4 a.m. when he got home early Monday after seeing the former Beatle perform in St. Louis.

Mr. Vaccaro, who's seen the Beatles once and Mr. McCartney now nine times solo, met the former Beatle, now 70, and his then-fiancee, Nancy Shevell, at a fifth-anniversary gala for the Cirque de Soleil show "LOVE" in 2011 in Las Vegas. On the red carpet, Mr. Vaccaro gave the couple a charcoal drawing he had done of them, and Mr. McCartney autographed a copy for him.

"He put his arm around Nancy and said, 'Nancy, you're a star,'" Mr. Vaccaro said Wednesday. Mr. McCartney and Ms. Shevell, now 52, married in October 2011.

"That was huge," he said. "How many years, 50 years in the making? Since '65, I'd been a big fan. He's this walking time capsule -- from Ed Sullivan, 'A Hard Day's Night,' 'Sgt. Pepper,' there's this whole history standing in front of you. The thing that pleased me the most was meeting him artist to artist. In thatbrief moment, he was complimenting me on my work."

"This was the big fish I've waited many years to catch, and that it be not just a scrap of paper, that it's personal," Mr. Vaccaro said, noting he has 20-plus other autographs from stars he's met. "He has his art; I have my art. That's what is most meaningful about it. Hopefully he has it on a wall somewhere and looks at it occasionally."

Mr. Vaccaro received an autograph from Mr. McCartney once before, at a Des Moines concert in 2010, when he passed a drawing up through the crowd, but he didn't meet him personally then.

The 58-year-old artist -- who works for Davenport-based Independent News Network -- recently did separate charcoal drawings of Paul's older children, Stella, Mary and James, and brought them to St. Louis, hoping he'd get another chance to give them to the legend.

Mr. Vaccaro saw Ms. Shevell in the house at St. Louis' Scottrade Center before the 8 p.m. show, introduced himself, and gave her the drawings. He also made a poster of three copies that he held up from his seat during the three-hour concert.

During the last song (the "Golden Slumbers" medley), Mr. Vaccaro walked down to the front row and held up the poster, and Mr. McCartney looked at him, smiled, and gave a thumbs-up sign, Mr. Vaccaro said. The email the star sent was from Ms. Shevell's business account (her family owns a New York trucking firm), and it was sent just before the show started. It reads: "Just saw the lovely pictures of my kids you drew. Thank you very much. Cheers, Paul."

"I had put my email and home address on the back of the portraits. I didn't really expect I would get anything," Mr. Vaccaro said. "I was very surprised, very pleased."

"Knowing that he took the time, that's what amazed me," Mr. Vaccaro said. "It was minutes before he went on. That's was impressive to me, he would take the time to do that with all the pre-show ritual."

He said he admires the fact that with all his wealth and fame, Mr. McCartney remains "very down-to-earth" and approachable, he said.

"After a lifetime in the stratosphere, he enjoys mixing with people," Mr. Vaccaro said, noting he did the drawings of Paul's kids because he knew it would be important to him, and touch his heart.

"You don't often see images of his family. I thought it'd be something that would strike him; they're obviously very important to him," he said. "I want him to remember these things, and me to a certain extent. I wanted to make an impression with him."

The septuagenarian singer/songwriter -- who also has a 9-year-old daughter from his marriage to Heather Mills -- gave a a stellar, tireless performance at the Sunday sold-out show, said Mr. Vaccaro, who paid $200 for his seat. "He played without a break. He never even had a drink of water. He did everything from 'Helter Skelter' to 'And I Love Her.'"


Local events heading

  Today is Wednesday, Aug. 20, the 232nd day of 2014. There are 133 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Quite a number of Negroes have lately been brought here by abolition offers returning from the army in violation of the laws of the state.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Miss Tillie Denkmann, of Rock Island, was making plans to accompany a Davenport family on a tour of Europe.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The German advance into Belgium was going apparently without serious check. The American ambassador at Berlin published a denial of the charge that Americans had been ill-treated in Germany.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Seventy-two members of Rock Island High School's 1939 graduating class are preparing to enter college — 34 of them at Augustana.
1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the oldest buildings in Milan, which for a number of years has housed the Milan Hotel, will be razed to make way for a modern, two-story office structure.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Some are blaming it on the sudden influx of insects and the extreme humidity. Still others say the invasion was inspired by a recent movie. But whatever the reason, the Quad-Cities is swarming with bats.

(More History)