It’s no Abbey Road or Penny Lane, but the new street leading to the Infinite Energy Center shows how excited local officials are for Paul McCartney’s upcoming visit to the county — and how much they wanted to get him here.
The folks at Explore Gwinnett and the Infinite Energy Center want to make the most of their chance to get the former Beatle to visit as part of his One On One tour, so they offered to name a street for him as part of their bid to get on the tour, according to the center’s Executive Director of Sales, Book and Event Management, Dan Markham.
The music legend had the final say on the road name, but a proclamation issued by county commissioners on Tuesday revealed his pick: Paul McCartney Boulevard.
“It was actually one of the things that we did in the marketing, as far as luring him in, because it’s a smaller venue than he typically plays, so we kind of enhanced it,” Markham said. “We kind of got the idea because the road was getting ready to go in, and we told him we’d actually name a road after him, and he thought that was absolutely fantastic.
“We gave him some suggestions, Abbey Road, Penny Lane, that kind of stuff and then he picked it. He said, ‘If you’re putting a road in, I want Paul McCartney Boulevard,’ so he got the final word.”
The naming of the road is being done ahead of McCartney’s July 13 concert at the Infinite Energy Arena. Infinite Energy Center officials said the not-so-long, but definitely winding road that is being named for McCartney is a new one that snakes its way down to the center property from Meadow Church Road.
Signage with the new road’s name has already been posted at the street’s intersection with Meadow Church.
“It was a little unique,” Markham said. “In each case (with a concert booking), we’ve got to be a little clever because we’ve got so much competition in town.”
This is the first time the center has hosted McCartney, who is often referred to simply as “Macca” by diehard fans. He has won 18 Grammy’s, been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and received France’s Legion of Honour. He is coming to Gwinnett County as part of his One On One Tour, which opened in April.
Tickets to his concert at the center went on sale May 1, and officials said it was one of the fastest selling shows in the center’s history.
“The tickets were actually spoken for literally as it went up for sale,” Markham said.
The British music icon’s career extends far beyond the hits he wrote as a member of The Beatles to include success as both a member of his later band, Wings, and a solo career. His hits include “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude,” “Live and Let Die,” “Band on the Run,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Let ‘Em In,” “Silly Love Songs” and, yes, both “Penny Lane” and “The Long And Winding Road.”
“It is a great honor for the county and Infinite Energy Center to have such a renowned performer visit,” the center’s General Manager, Joey Dennis, said in a statement. “The community is excited to show Paul true southern hospitality.”
McCartney’s links to street names don’t end with those last two song titles, or the road at the Infinite Energy Center though. The Beatle infamous street crossing cover photo for the Abbey Road album fueled rumors that he had died and was replaced with a look-a-like, in part, because he was only member of the band who was barefoot in the picture.
McCartney was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Beatles in 1988, and as a solo artist in 1999. He has also received Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards as both a Beatle and as a solo artist.
He won an Academy Award in 1970 as a member of The Beatles for the “Let It Be” score, as well.
In the proclamation issued on Tuesday, county commissioners highlighted McCartney’s career, but they also said naming the street in his honor symbolizes the center’s ability to get a performer of his caliber.
“I will tell you as a kid in school in Dacula, I could never have imagined having world class talent coming to perform in Gwinnett county,” Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “This was a very different place at that point in time.
“I want to say thanks to the hard work of the folks at the convention and visitor’s bureau, to the folks that have worked so hard with the center and ave sold that as the great venue that it is and have turned it into a place where performers from all aspects of entertainment are excited about coming and performing there.”
While a Paul McCartney Boulevard sign might sound tempting for sticky fingered Beatles fans who might want to steal it for their personal collection of memorabilia, Explore Gwinnett Executive Director Lisa Anders said the tourism group and the center are hopeful that it doesn’t happen.
She had a simple suggestions for fans who might be tempted: “Selfies, not stealing,” referring to the fact that she said fans can take selfies in front of the sign if they want to.
“We hope that people respect the property that’s there, and maybe take a selfie with it,” Anders said. “We’ll encourage selfie taking, but not ‘borrowing.’ We have a backup plan (if the sign is stolen), but we don’t anticipate that happening. We have faith in our citizens.”
And, while Markham said McCartney is aware that the road was named in his honor, he won’t see it for the first time until he arrives for the concert.
“They’re going to route his limo and bring him in that way exclusively because he’s going to want to see it,” Markham said.