Crossing paths on Abbey Road
Highland Haven’s Jim Higgins recreated the famous album cover image with Paul McCartney. Here’s his Brush with Fame story:
In April 1973, I was working in London when my friend Joe
came to visit. We decided to skip the museums and pursue a pilgrimage to the famous Abbey Road crosswalk. Beatles fans since high school, we had a simple quest: get photos of each other strutting across like John, Ringo, Paul, and George did on the front cover of the “Abbey Road” album.
We set out one early spring evening and wandered lost until some locals gave us directions to “the crosswalk.” The spot was in front of EMI Recording Studios (now Abbey Road Studios) at 3 Abbey Road in London, where almost all of The Beatles’ albums were recorded.
Like a couple of goofy tourists, we set about the business of photographing each other in between a steady flow of heavy traffic on Abbey Road. I waited for a break in traffic to get a shot of Joe crossing.
Then, it was my turn.
As Joe was setting up for the shot, we noticed a familiar face turning the corner and walking toward us.
Joe uttered — almost disbelieving — “Paul McCartney?”
It was him! And he walked right up to us.
“Yeah, you taking a picture of your friend crossing the road there?” he asked Joe with a playful smile.
“Yes! Is that where you guys crossed?” Joe asked.
“Yeah. Do you want me to be in the picture with him?”
“Sure!” Joe said.
Then, McCartney walked over to where I was standing.
“What a stroke of luck,” Paul said. “The folks back home will never believe this.” (And the intervening 50 years have proved that out.)
I could hardly move a muscle, let alone a foot, as Paul nudged me on.
“You can cross now,” he said.
The two of us scuttled across Abbey Road — Paul McCartney smiling broadly and waving his arms and me in front with an ear-to-ear grin.
We spoke briefly on the other side waiting for traffic to let up. He wanted to know where we were from (Massachusetts) and how we liked London (unforgettable!). We crossed back to the EMI side, but I could tell he was in a hurry to get going, so I asked for a quick photo of him with my pal Joe.
“Yeah, sure,” he said obligingly. “But just one more. I’ve really got to be getting along to work.” (The work he was getting back to was recording with his new group, Wings.)
I got the shot, thanked him, and watched as he walked through the door at EMI and disappeared inside.
Wow! I had just crossed Abbey Road with Paul McCartney!
Then, we realized we had forgotten to ask for an autograph. Joe had been carrying a copy of Melody Maker Magazine with McCartney on the cover. We had a lifelong memory instead.
The photos of Paul McCartney and me crossing Abbey Road together hung in my office for 31 years. I never missed an opportunity to share the story with visitors who could not believe my “stroke of luck” in running into the superstar now known as Sir Paul McCartney, one of the most successful composers and artists of all time.
Jim Higgins recently retired with his wife, Laura, in Highland Haven near Marble Falls after 31 years working in marketing and public relations at College of the Mainland in Texas City, south of Houston. Laura was a preschool teacher and the reason they gave up the big city to make one of their favorite places to visit their permanent home, Jim said. Both have always been Beatles fans.
“She is probably the bigger fan,” Jim said. “She went to a Beatles concert in Houston in 1965.”
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