Paul McCartney was wrapping up his touring calendar for the year at London’s O2 Arena on Sunday evening when he introduced a couple of unexpected guests: An old bandmate and an old rival.
“We’ve got a little surprise for you,” McCartney told the crowd of 20,000, according to multiple reports. “It’s a surprise for us, actually – it only happened today.”
An extra drum kit was rolled onstage, and fellow former Beatle Ringo Starr and Rolling Stone Ron Wood joined McCartney and his band for a rollicking “Get Back.”
Starr played the iconic drum fills he originated with the Beatles on the rooftop of Apple Records in London 50 years ago next month, and Wood took over the lead guitar lines made famous by George Harrison.
“I don’t know about you, but that was a thrill for me,” Starr told the crowd. “Peace and love, everybody. Have a Merry Christmas!”
“I’m just going to let that moment sink in,” McCartney added.
McCartney’s daughter Stella McCartney had teased the possibility of a Beatles reunion before the show with an Instagram post featuring her father, Starr, Wood and Emma Thompson. The backstage photo quickly gained tens of thousands of likes and hundreds of comments.
Later, Starr thanked McCartney for “a great time” and “a great night.” Wood said he “really enjoyed” it.
The Beatles didn’t fully reunite after breaking up in 1970, and even partial reunions have been rare. John Lennon was shot to death in 1980, and Harrison died from cancer in 2001.
McCartney and Starr have performed live together less than a dozen times since 1970, most recently in 2015, when McCartney inducted Starr into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. They played “With A Little Help From My Friends” and “I Wanna Be Your Man” with members of Green Day.
McCartney, Starr and Wood are literally rock royalty: McCartney and Starr are knights, and all three have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice over.
The show Sunday was the last 2018 stop of McCartney’s Freshen Up tour. McCartney, Starr and Wood each plan to tour in the United States in 2019 – McCartney and Starr as solo acts, and Wood with the Rolling Stones.
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