Paul McCartney meets women who inspired Beatles classic Blackbird

McCartney with members of the Little Rock Nine
McCartney with members of the Little Rock Nine

Paul McCartney met two of the women who inspired the Beatles track Blackbird at his gig in Arkansas.

Before his show in Little Rock on Saturday – part of his One On One Tour – McCartney was introduced backstage to Thelma Mothershed Wair and Elizabeth Eckford, members of the Little Rock Nine.

The group of nine black students were at the centre of the civil rights movement in America when they enrolled in the all-white Little Rock Central High School in 1957. After they enrolled, Arkansas governor Orval Faubus objected, sparking the Little Rock Crisis.

After meeting the women on Saturday, McCartney tweeted: “Incredible to meet two of the Little Rock Nine – pioneers of the civil rights movement and inspiration for Blackbird.”

Later onstage, McCartney explained to the crowd the impact the Little Rock Nine’s story had on him as a young man. Blackbird appeared on the Beatles’ 1968 White Album.

McCartney told the crowd (via Rolling Stone): “Way back in the 60s, there was a lot of trouble going on over civil rights, particularly in Little Rock.

“We would notice this on the news back in England, so it’s a really important place for us, because to me, this is where civil rights started.

“We would see what was going on and sympathise with the people going through those troubles, and it made me want to write a song that, if it ever got back to the people going through those troubles, it might just help them a little bit.”

The One On One Tour continues tonight in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Paul McCartney One On One Tour 2016

May 02: Sioux Falls Denny Sanford Premier Center, SD
May 04: Minneapolis Target Center, MN
May 05: Minneapolis Target Center, MN
May 15: Cordoba Alberto Kempes Stadium, Argentina
May 17: Buenos Aires Estadio Unico De La Plata, Argentina
May 19: Buenos Aires Estadio Unico De La Plata, Argentina
May 28: Dusseldorf Esprit Arena, Germany
May 30: Paris Accor Arena, France
Jun 02: Madrid Vicente Calderon Stadium, Spain
Jun 10: Munich Olympic Stadium, Germany
Jun 12: Pinkpop, Netherlands
Jun 14: Berlin Waldbuhne, Germany
Jun 16: Prague O2 Arena, Czech Republic
Jun 24: Bergen Bergenhus Fortress, Norway
Jun 27: Herning Jyske Bank Boxen, Denmark
Jun 30: Rock Werchter, Belgium
Jul 08: Milwaukee SummerFest, WI
Jul 10: Cincinnati US Bank Arena, OH
Jul 12: Philadelphia Citizens Bank Park, PA
Jul 19: Hershey Hersheypark Stadium, PA
Jul 21: Hamilton FirstOntario Centre, ON
Aug 07: East Rutherford MetLife Stadium, NJ
Aug 13: St Louis Busch stadium, MO

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.