PIONEERTOWN — This tiny community got its own version of Beatlemania when Paul McCartney announced he would play at Pappy & Harriet’s Thursday.
The concert was announced at 10 a.m. on McCartney’s website and Pappy & Harriet’s social media accounts. Within hours, thousands of people were milling around the dirt lot and winding road by Pappy & Harriet’s, hoping to get one of the 300 tickets scheduled to go on sale at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets cost $50 each, cash only.
As people continued to pour into Pioneertown, the venue’s original plan not to allow anyone to line up until 3 p.m. wasn’t working.
Some of the earliest people to arrive started to form their own line, and the first 300 people got markers indicating they would be able to buy their concert tickets when they went on sale.
Some people got agitated when others appeared to be jumping in line, CHP Officer Ryan Swanson said.
Swanson estimated around 2,000 people were waiting outside the saloon by 2 p.m. Trying to prevent worse traffic or disturbances, the CHP made an announcement telling everyone who hadn’t gotten one of the 300 markers to leave.
First in line to see McCartney were Ryan O’Neal and Nate Stickney, co-workers at ESRI in Redlands. Stickney read about the concert in a workplace Slack message board.
“I asked Nate if he wanted to go to lunch and he asked me if I wanted to go to see Paul McCartney instead,” O’Neal said.
The men drove east and became one of the first few people to arrive.
Kelly Reilly, one of the first four in line, had a shorter drive. She steered her golf cart over from her Pioneertown house.
“I found out about it when somebody parked in my driveway,” she said.
She asked what they were doing, and they told her they were there to see Paul McCartney.
For Reilly, it was more than coincidence.
“This is a miracle,” she said. “It’s on my bucket list. I’ll never forget it.”
Next to her was Tim Wilson, of Palm Springs, wearing a vintage Paul McCartney T-shirt.
“I’ve been a fan since 1964,” he said.
His wife found out about the surprise concert on Facebook around 10:30, and Wilson was in the car by 11.
“I couldn’t think of anything more important to do today,” he said. “I called my boss and told him I wouldn’t be in.”
He was especially excited about the venue. “Seeing him is cool. Seeing him in Pappy & Harriet’s is extra special,” Wilson said.
Jim Letourneau, a snowbird from Calgary, Alberta, who is staying in Rancho Mirage was supposed to be on a bus to Arizona for a tour of water canals. He missed the tour bus and started looking for something else to do. “I was feeling bummed,” he said. Then he saw the concert announcement online.
“I feel really lucky, really grateful,” he said.
McCartney is in the area for the Desert Trip music festival at the Empire Polo Club in Indio starring classic rockers like the Who, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. McCartney played Oct. 8 and will return Oct. 15.