- Rancho Santa Fe
More from year 2003
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Official Paul McCartney press office statement:
SUNDAY FEBRUARY 23RD – PAUL McCARTNEY fan Wendy Whitworth got the ultimate birthday present at her party last night (Saturday February 22nd) when her husband hired Macca himself to play at the bash – for a fee of $1 million.
TV executive Wendy was stunned and left in tears of joy when her financier husband Ralph sprang his special surprise at her 50th birthday party – as she and 150 guests were given a private 90-minute rock show by Macca and his band at a party in San Diego, California.
Mr. Whitworth offered Paul McCartney $1 million dollars to play a personal show for his wife. Macca agreed – but then he instantly gave away the massive fee to charity.
Paul played the birthday concert – one of the smallest gigs of his life – only on condition that he could donate the $1 million fee to Adopt A Minefield, the anti-landmines charity backed by him and his wife Heather.
Wendy, the executive producer of CNN’s “The Larry King Show,” had no idea of the surprise in store when she joined family and friends including Larry King and NBC Today show host Katie Couric at the private party in her honour at The Ranch Blues Club, San Diego.
The party began at 7.00 pm; two hours later Ralph Whitworth made an announcement that “now we’re going to play a bit of rock and roll for Wendy” – and to her shock Macca and his band took to the stage.
Paul, for whom the show was also a warm-up gig for his upcoming concert tour of Europe that starts next month, then led his band through a 19-song set that included the songs “Let It Be,” “Yesterday,” “Back In The USSR,” “Lady Madonna,” “We Can Work It Out,” “Hey Jude,” “She’s Leaving Home” and “Maybe I’m Amazed.”
“Wendy Whitworth’s jaw hit the floor when Paul took to the stage”, said one onlooking member of the McCartney crew, “The gig had been arranged in total secrecy and only her husband was in on the secret. She was totally gobsmacked and she was reduced to tears by the shock of it all”.
Paul further surprised Wendy when he called her up onto the stage, presented her with his gift of 50 roses, and then had her dance at his side as he led his band through the Beatles rock song “Birthday.”
After the show, Paul said: “Normally I don’t do this sort of gig, but I was chuffed (delighted) to do it because it was a win-win show. Ralph gets to be the great husband for organising the surprise, his wife gets a rocking party, I get to rehearse the band for the tour and, most important, Adopt-A-Minefield gets $1 million. It was a very human evening and we all had a fabulous time”.
Heather Mills McCartney, who was in the audience at the show, said the $1 Million would help many survivors of landmine attack to rebuild their lives.
Said Heather: “This money will enable Adopt A Minefield to fit new limbs for thousands of landmine survivors so that they can walk again. This birthday party will be a great present for them”.
From ABC 10 News, February 24, 2003:
You say it’s your birthday?
Paul McCartney performed at a private birthday party for about 150 people in Rancho Santa Fe Saturday night, with proceeds going to a charity for victims of land mines.
The command performance was a $1 million birthday present from financier Ralph Whitworth to his wife, who was still walking on air Sunday.
“Paul McCartney walked on stage and I thought somebody was playing a trick on me,” said Wendy Whitworth, who celebrated her 50th birthday on Saturday with a little help from her husband, friends and the legendary former Beatle and his current band.
“It was sooooo exciting,” said Whitworth, an executive producer for CNN’s “Larry King Live” and a huge McCartney fan.
With a voice still hoarse from excitement she added, “How would you feel? You can’t believe it.”
Managing partner of his $1.7 billion Relational Investors fund, Whitworth hired McCartney for a private, 90-minute concert at a Rancho Santa Fe restaurant turned into a birthday party nightclub for the occasion.
Cost: $1 million.
It was the first time ever that the former Beatle had performed at a private party, Whitworth said.
McCartney agreed to perform on condition that the money be donated to Adopt-A-Minefield, a group championed by his wife Heather Mills that seeks to clear mines and aid victims, Whitworth said.
And how does one hire McCartney for such a celebration?
“I knew him before,” Whitworth said. “I just rang him up four, or five, weeks ago and said I had a great win-win idea. I don’t think he would have done this just for the money. This was as much for the wonderful cause championed by him and his wife.”
Said McCartney in a statement issued Sunday: “Normally, I don’t do this sort of gig, but I was chuffed to do it because it was a win-win show.”
“Ralph gets to be the great husband for organizing the surprise, his wife gets a rocking party, I get to rehearse the band for the tour and, most important, Adopt-A-Minefield gets $1 million,” McCartney said.
McCartney has announced he will go on a concert tour of his native England for the first time in 10 years.
Whitworth went to great ends to hide the presence of McCartney’s entourage in laid-back Rancho Santa Fe, one of the priciest locations in the nation with about 2,500 residents living on huge estates about 15 miles northwest of San Diego.
“We even minimized the advance team, limiting the number of people with English accents setting up things,” Whitworth said. “Only 20 people knew this was going to happen.”
So, under deep cover, a Paseo Delicias restaurant was converted into a nightclub.
Larry King and Katie Couric were among the 150 guests who came to Whitworth’s ultimate birthday party, unaware that Sir Paul would be performing live and in person.
“He opened with ‘Hello-Goodbye’ and did ‘Yesterday’ with the same guitar he used on the Ed Sullivan Show,” Ralph Whitworth said.
“Later, he gave Wendy a guitar pick. He got her on the stage and danced with her while playing ‘Birthday.’ That was memorable.”
Other melodies in a 19-song set included “Hey Jude,” it was an audience sing-along, as well as “I Saw Her Standing There,” Whitworth said.
But now Whitworth has quite a challenge for his wife’s next birthday. After all, how do you top a private Paul McCartney concert?
“I wanted to do something special for her 50th birthday,” Whitworth said. “I’ll say I have another 50 years to come up with something else like this.”
Last updated on May 17, 2019
This was the 1st and only concert played at Delicias.