On May 15, 1967, Paul McCartney was out on the town.

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PAUL: The night I met Linda I was in the Bag O’Nails [nightclub] watching Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames play a great set. Speedy was banging away. She was there with the Animals, who she knew from photographing them in New York. They were sitting a couple of alcoves down, near the stage. The band had finished and they got up to either leave or go for a drink or a pee or something, and she passed our table. I was near the edge and stood up just as she was passing, blocking her exit. And so I said, ‘Oh, sorry. Hi. How are you? How’re you doing?’ I introduced myself, and said, ‘We’re going on to another club after this, would you like to join us?’

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That was my big pulling line! Well, I’d never used it before, of course, but it worked this time! It was a fairly slim chance but it worked. She said, ‘Yes, okay, we’ll go on. How shall we do it?’ I forget how we did it, ‘You come in our car’ or whatever, and we all went on, the people I was with, and the Animals, we went on to the Speakeasy.

It was the first evening any of us had ever heard a record called ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ with words about feeling seasick. The lyrics were all very strange and poetic and the theme was a famous Bach theme but we didn’t know that. We just thought, God, what an incredible record! It was a sort of marker record. It was a benchmark. And we were all trying to guess who it was. So we had to go to the booth and ask, ‘What was that one you just played?’ and he said, ‘Oh yes, “Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum.’ ‘Procol what? Is it Latin or something?’ And there were rumors went around about what that meant. So all the mystery of the evening.

LINDA: I first met Paul at the Bag O’Nails. The Animals were old friends because I’d photographed them so much in New York, so when I came to London they took me out; and we went to see Georgie Fame at the Bag O’Nails. And that’s where Paul and I met. We flirted a bit, and then it was time for me to go back with them and Paul said, ‘Well, we’re going to another club. You want to come?’ I remember everybody at the table heard ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ that night for the first time and we all thought, Who is that? Stevie Winwood? We all said Stevie. The minute that record came out, you just knew you loved it. That’s when we actually met. Then we went back to his house. We were in the Mini with I think Lulu and Dudley Edwards, who painted Paul’s piano; Paul was giving him a lift home. I was impressed to see his Magrittes.
They met again four days later at the launch party for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, an exclusive affair for a dozen journalists and a dozen photographers held at manager Brian Epstein’s house at 24 Chapel Street, Belgravia. Linda Eastman was in London to take photographs for a book called Rock and Other Four Letter Words on which she was collaborating with the journalist J. Marks.

LINDA: So we were in London to take pictures for this book. I’d always wanted to photograph Stevie Winwood because I loved Spencer Davis, I loved Stevie Winwood, and the Beatles. I’d pretty much photographed everybody else. But it was up to me, it’s not like Marks rang up people and said, ‘I’m with Bantam Books. We want to take your picture.’ Nothing was organised, so I had to do it. I took my portfolio around to NEMS at Hille House, and Peter Brown looked at it. I’d met Peter when he and Brian Epstein came to New York, we had mutual friends. So I took my portfolio and asked him to show it to Brian. Brian liked it a lot and wanted to buy some of the pictures, which I loved. I gave them to him in the end. He said, ‘Yes, you can photograph the Beatles.’ So I got to go to this press conference at Brian’s house for Sgt. Pepper. I got one good photo that I liked, which is that thumbs-up one. The rest are just like everyone else’s photographs, but for that one I said, ‘Oh, come on, guys! You know?’ and that shows at least they were relating, because if you believe the press you’d never think John and Paul ever related.
(Quotes from Barry Miles’ Many Years From Now). The above photo was taken at the launch party by a press agency photographer and is the very first photo of Paul, then 24, and Linda, 25, together. They would not reconnect until a year later in America (in May 1968) and four months after that, would move in together. They married on March 12, 1969 and remained so until Linda’s untimely death from breast cancer on April 17, 1998.

Four children and 30 years of marriage - and it all started 50 years ago at 9 Kingly Street.

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