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15 Years Ago: Paul McCartney Makes Emotional Appearance at ‘Concert for Linda’

On April 10, 1999, Paul McCartney made his first public appearance since his wife Linda passed nearly a year earlier – and just his second in the two years she’d battled breast cancer – during a touching farewell concert.

Held before some 5,000 fans at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the “Concert for Linda” was organized by her friend and fellow animal rights activistChrissie Hynde, among others.

“She’s with us,” McCartney said that night. “She’s loving it.”

The all-star lineup on stage included Hynde’s Pretenders, Elvis Costello, Tom Jones, Sinead O’Connor, Johnny Marr of the Smiths, George Michael, Neil Finn of Crowded House (whose ‘She Goes On‘ was particularly moving), Marianne Faithfull and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who’d risen to global fame with Paul Simon. Michael said he was moved to take the stage for the first time in nearly three years because his “mother lost the same fight, the same battle that Linda lost.”

Proceeds for “The Concert for Linda,” hosted by the comedian Eddie Izzard, went toward animal charities, which caused the host to quip, “Some bunny rabbit’s going to go: ‘Hey, those guys rocked for us.’”

McCartney was backed by members of the Pretenders, along with Costello, for his appearance. He dedicated his set to Linda, whom he called “my beautiful baby — and our beautiful children, who are here tonight.” He then joked: “It’s past your bedtime” before launching into Ricky Nelson’s “Lonesome Town” (a favorite of the couple’s as youngsters) amidst a standing ovation.

As he played an energetic version of the Beatles‘ 1963 hit “All My Loving,” many of the evening’s stars began to congregate on stage, joining in for a rousing chorus. Hynde rushed over for an emotional embrace afterward, prompting McCartney to quip: “I’ll warn security about you!” Everyone then joined in for a closing take on “Let It Be,” the title track from the Beatles’ 1970 swansong album.

Next: Top 10 Paul McCartney Songs

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