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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17, 1998

Are you all ready for another exciting trip back through time in the Tuesday Timeline?  I know I am, so let’s get started right away!

Today is April 17, and looking at my list of facts about that date, it was a very memorable date in history over the years.  Let’s take a look back at some of the significant events that took place on the seventeenth day of April.

1397 – Geoffrey Chaucer tells the Canterbury Tales for the first time at the court of Richard II

1492 – Christopher Columbus and Spain sign the Capitulations of Santa Fe for his voyage to Asia to acquire spices

1524 – Giovanni da Verrazzano reaches New York Harbor

1797 – Sir Ralph Abercromby attacks San Juan, Puerto Rico in what would become one of the largest invasions of the Spanish territories in America

1897 – Aurora, Texas UFO incident

1907 – Ellis Island immigration center in New York City processes 11,747 people, the record for most immigrants arriving in America on any given day

1942 – French prisoner of war Henri Giraud escapes from his castle prison in Festung Konigstein

1946 – Syria obtains independence from French occupation

1961 – A group of CIA financed and trained Cuban exiles lands at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba with the intent of overthrowing Fidel Castro

1964 – Jerrie Mock becomes the first female to circumnavigate the world by air

1969 – Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy

1970 – Apollo 13 returns safely to Earth following ill-fated mission

1975 – Cambodian civil war ends

2003 – Dr. Robert Atkins, founder of the Atkins Diet, passes away at age 72

April 17th just also happens to be the date that quite a few famous people celebrate a birthday today.  If you’re celebrating a birthday today, I hope it’s a good one.  You share the day with the following people.  Olivia Hussey, Michael “Maniac” Sembello, Sean Bean, Boomer Esaison, Lela Rochon, Kimberly Elise, Timothy Gibbs, Liz Phair, Redman, Jennifer Garner, Victoria Beckham, Gabriel Soto, Monet Mazur, Lindsay Hartley, Rooney Mara, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, and Paulie Litt are all blowing out candles on their cakes today!

Sadly, the date we’re going to go looking back on happens to be one woman’s last day. 

The date we’re flashing back to is April 17, 1998.

On April 17, 1998, the world said goodbye to Linda Eastman McCartney.

It seems unbelievable that if she was living today, she would be seventy years old.  She was born on September 24, 1941 in New York City, and grew up in the area of Scarsdale, in Westchester County.  She was the second of four children to Lee and Louise Eastman.  Linda’s father was the son of Jewish-Russian immigrants, and his original name was Leopold Vail Epstein, which he changed to Eastman.

TRIVIA:  Eastman was an attorney who worked with songwriter Jack Lawrence, who at Eastman’s request wrote a song called “Linda”, when Linda was just one year old.  It was published in 1946, and recorded by Buddy Clark in 1947.

Linda’s mother, Louise, was tragically killed in a plane crash when Linda was twenty years old, and Linda later revealed that the incident made her very cautious about travelling by air.

Three months after her mother’s death, Linda married her first husband, Joseph Melvin See Jr. (they had met while Linda was taking classes for fine arts at the University of Arizona).  The couple had a daughter, Heather, on the last day of 1962, and their marriage lasted for approximately three years before Linda filed for divorce.  Linda’s first husband would later take his own life in 2000.

Around the time of her divorce, Linda had gotten a job as a receptionist for the offices of “Town & Country Magazine”, and it was through this position that she developed the first of her many careers throughout her lifetime.


Linda was the only unofficial photographer allowed to take photos of the Rolling Stones, at one of their promotional parties.  Over the next few years, Linda would take photographs of some of the most popular artists and bands of the late 1960s.  Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and even John Lennon were early photographic subjects. 

A photo that she had taken of Eric Clapton back in 1968 even made it onto the front cover of Rolling Stone magazine, the first time that a photo taken by a woman photographer made the cover.  Six years later, she herself would be the subject of a Rolling Stone cover, making her the first (and so far only) person to have taken a cover photo AND been the cover subject of the magazine!

But when it came down to Linda’s 1974 photo shoot, she didn’t exactly take all the credit.  She shared the cover with the man who became her second husband.

The love affair began on May 15, 1967.  Linda was at a Georgie Fame concert at the Bag O’ Nails club in London, when she ended up bumping into a man who had already made a name for himself on the music charts just five years earlier.

His name was Paul McCartney, of the Beatles.

After a few meetings (including at the launch party of the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album), Linda and Paul soon fell in love with each other, and after a whirlwind courtship united in marriage on March 12, 1969.  It was Linda’s second marriage, and Paul’s first.  The couple would eventually have three children together...two daughters, Mary (b. 1969) and Stella (b. 1971), and one son, James (b. 1977).

TRIVIA:  Mary McCartney is now a famous photographer, Stella McCartney is a famous fashion designer, and James McCartney has taken up a singing and songwriting career.

It was right around Stella’s birth that the resume of Linda Eastman McCartney grew to include a second career.


After the Beatles had broken up in 1970, Paul had taught Linda how to play the keyboards, and the following year, Paul and Linda released an album together entitled “Ram”.  Shortly thereafter, Paul had asked Linda to join a new project that he had formed.  It was a band that he had called “Wings”.  As far as Paul McCartney was concerned, lightning struck twice as “Wings” became one of the most successful bands of the 1970s, and songs like the one below this paragraph became huge hits on the charts.

ARTIST:   Wings
SONG:  Band On The Run
ALBUM:  Band On The Run
DATE RELEASED:  June 28, 1974

“Wings” would release eight studio albums between 1971 and 1979, and the band was nominated for and won several Grammy Awards during their time together.  However, critics were quick to dismiss the singing skills of Linda McCartney as being off-key and out of allegation that surprisingly enough, Linda owned up to as being true!

At least Linda took it all in stride, and for what it was worth, I believe that her singing improved with each subsequent “Wings” release.  Linda even appeared in the music video that Paul McCartney filmed with Michael Jackson back in 1983 (back in the days in which “Mac & Jack” were still friendly with each other).  Watch it below, I say, say, say...

In later years, Linda would add another hat to her wardrobe of career ambitions.

Vegetarian cookbook author.

Linda McCartney had been a vegetarian for years before marrying Paul McCartney, and she was the one who convinced Paul to become a vegetarian in the mid-1970s.  Since then, Linda and Paul have teamed up to write a selection of cookbooks featuring hundreds of vegetarian friendly appetizers, entrees, and desserts.  In 1991, Linda began her own line of frozen vegetarian meals, which allowed her to amass her own personal fortune, completely independent of her husband’s.  Linda and Paul McCartney even appeared on “The Simpsons” in 1995 on the episode “Lisa the Vegetarian”.  According to Paul McCartney on that episode, if you play the song “Maybe I’m Amazed” backwards, you can hear a recipe for lentil soup.  Has anyone tried this and confirmed that this is true?  Please let me know!  But, vegetarianism and animal rights were platforms that Linda McCartney really believed in, and she really did a great job in her cameo on The Simpsons.

Sadly, “The Simpsons” episode would end up being one of Linda’s final performances.

The same year she appeared on “The Simpsons”, she was given a sobering diagnosis by her doctor.

She had breast cancer.

Over the next three years, Linda McCartney tried to fight the spread of the disease, but it quickly spread to her liver.  By the first few months of 1998, it became clear to everybody that Linda McCartney was dying.

Just before Linda McCartney passed away, Paul’s last words to her were reportedly these. 

“You’re up on your beautiful Appaloosa stallion.  It’s a fine spring day.  We’re riding through the woods.  The bluebells are all out, and the sky is clear-blue.”

On April 17, 1998, at the McCartney family ranch in Tuscon, Arizona, Linda Eastman McCartney passed away at the age of 56.  Her memorial service attracted a congregation of more than 700 people, and was attended by Peter Gabriel, Elton John, and McCartney’s Beatles bandmates George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

It’s been fourteen years since Linda McCartney’s death, and since then, her name still lives on.  A tribute concert was held in April 1999 in Linda’s memory, in which Paul McCartney performed with artists such as George Michael and Elvis Costello.  In 2000, Paul McCartney donated two million dollars for cancer research and that same year, the Linda McCartney Centre opened up at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, dedicated to the treatment of cancer.  And in November 2002, the Linda McCartney Kintyre Memorial Trust opened up a memorial garden complete with a bronze statue of McCartney in memory of her.  The design of the statue came courtesy of Jane Robbins, a cousin of McCartney.

As for Paul, he has moved ahead in his life.  Aside from various musical projects, he has remarried twice since Linda’s death.  He married former model Heather Mills in 2002, but they ended up divorcing six years later in what could be considered one of the ugliest celebrity divorces in recent years.  In October 2011, he married his third wife, Nancy Shevell.

But I think deep down, Paul McCartney will always have a permanent place in his heart for Linda.  They were married for almost thirty years, and shared so much together.  In the entertainment industry, marriages begin and end more often than the average person changes their underwear.  For Paul and Linda to have a marriage that really did last until death did them part, was remarkable and romantic.

That was our look back on April 17, 1998.  In memory of photographer, musician, vegetarian cookbook author, and devoted wife and mother, Linda Eastman McCartney.

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