This story begins March 13, 1969, on a soggy, pearl-gray Thursday morning in London, when 26-year-old Paul McCartney married 27-year-old Linda Eastman of Tucson. It was a small civil ceremony at the Marylebone Town Hall. Ten years later, the McCartney's bought a secluded 151-acre ranch with a modest tin roof stucco house on Tucson's northeast side. It became their safe place hideout.

Linda had been a student at the University of Arizona and was captivated by the arty cactus-laden landscape and rugged Catalina mountains. It is at the ranch that the family grew to four children. For 29-years, the ranch house proved to be the source of great privacy, profound interpersonal virtue, and intense affection through the simplest pleasures. They withdrew from the madding world of Beatle mania to their peaceful southern Arizona homestead. These were their treasured days of the McCartney family's love affair with Tucson.

And Tucson loved them back by kindly leaving them be and giving the family a wide berth to travel around the Old Pueblo. They trekked in an unassuming SUV and a humble old Ford pickup truck Paul used to haul ranch supplies. The Tanque Verde Hay Feed and Supply was a regular stop for the horses. The clan went to swap meets and occasional visits to the old Zips Record at Kolb and Speedway. They pleasantly graced many local restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations, always offering a gentle greeting to all. They celebrated holidays as a family tradition inviting friends over and folks who helped at the ranch. Little did the prying global media and wailing fans know of the tribe's Tucson sanctuary.

"Today is my birthday!" June 18, 1976, before moving into the Tucson ranch, Paul McCartney celebrated his 34th birthday at the Tucson Convention Center following his band's "Wings Over the World" concert with Linda on the keyboard in the performance. Tucsonans jam-packed the local venue holding large banners wishing Sir Paul a Happy Birthday!

Linda and her mother shared a great passion for the Tucson desert and cherished the land. It was a sanctuary for the McCartney's where they could ride horses, hike, swim, and enjoy life without the snooping eye and clamor of the celebrity world. A neighbor living near the McCartney's said that the community treated them no differently than others despite the superstar family's fame. A simple neighborly wave now and then sufficed.

David Fitzsimmons, the Arizona Daily Star's celebrated cartoonist and distinguished columnist, told me a South Fourth Avenue Mexican restaurant owner expressed to him that the McCartney family came in from time to time. Paul always got an elderly Latina waitress who had no clue who Paul was. According to David, the waitress overhead the Beatle talking to his dinner guest about music. She said, "Oh, you play music? Are you in a band? My granddaughter's Quinceañera is coming up, and the family is looking for a good band. H ow much do you charge?" McCartney was gracious and kind, "flattered" by her inquiry.

The warm sunshiny days and loving years of family life in Tucson passed every so quickly for the McCartney's. In December of 1995, Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. The Arizona Cancer Center treated her during her fight against the disease. On April 17, 1998, she lost her battle. The day after Linda's death, neighbors of the McCartney's Sonoran Desert ranch reported seeing Paul driving his Jeep across the lonely hills of the property. He looked lost in thought, shattered and mournful. The 55-year-old Beatle appeared oh so lonely. Under a serene Tucson, starbright velvet sky, Linda died at their ranch house the prior evening. For nearly three decades of marriage, Paul and Linda were apart only one night.

Reportedly, over the years, there have been sightings of the McCartney's in Tucson. They still own the ranch on the northeast side. James McCartney has played a couple of concerts at the Hotel Congress. He says he still enjoys the Tucson desert, adding, "Mum loved it so. It feels like home."

"Get back, get back to where you once belonged. Get back, Jojo. Go home." --- Paul McCartney

"Get back, get back to where you once belonged. Get back, Jojo. Go home." –Paul McCartney

Award-winning writer Jerry Wilkerson lives in SaddleBrooke. He is a former press secretary for two U.S. Congressmen and a prior WBBM Chicago CBS radio and Chicago Daily News correspondent. He is a retired police commissioner and Navy veteran. Email:

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