Readers’ Star Sightings

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Our cover story on famous people dining at local restaurants inspired a few recollections from readers at metropulse.com and via e-mail:

• July, 1974: After a six-week working vacation in the Nashville area (June-July 1974), Paul McCartney, his wife Linda and their three children traveled to New York City in a rented car. They had a trailer hitched to the back, which carried a motorcycle, musical equipment and over 30 pieces of luggage. They left Nashville on a Thursday afternoon (July 18) and a few hours later were pulling off at Knoxville’s West Hills exit for gas, but Paul had trouble restarting the vehicle. It turns out that the seat belts had to be fastened before the ignition would work. Unaware of this newfangled safety feature, the McCartneys asked to have the car inspected and hastily booked a room at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge (it’s still there but has since been renamed the Ramada Inn). The McCartneys dined in the hotel restaurant that Thursday evening and set out for NYC the next morning. The Friday evening edition of the News Sentinel dated July 19th, ran a front page story “Car Trouble Stalls Singer” but by that time, The Band On The Run were surely halfway through Virginia. (Name withheld by request.)

• April, 2004: Following his April 22 concert at Thompson Bowling Arena, Prince (flanked by a couple bodyguards) entered Gus’s Good Times Deli on 17th Street where, at around 2 a.m., he selected a cold potato salad from the cooler. (Name withheld by request.)

• A good many years back, it was late and I had just finished playing in an open mic at the Downtown Grill & Brewery. As I headed for the door, a gentleman approached with some comments on my music. He seemed pleasant enough and something was familiar about his face. I offered him my usual reply when someone compliments my music or voice... “Much obliged” and shook his hand. While our hands were still clasped, he introduced himself. None other than Dickey Betts himself. I hadn’t recognized the man without his guitar and ever present cowboy hat. As recognition spread across my face, he offered me a seat with him at the bar. We talked for about an hour and I found him to be a seriously interesting and pleasant guy. Nothing pretentious about him. Not wanting to over stay my welcome, I wished him well, told him what an honor it was to meet him and headed for the door again, only to be mobbed by friends who had recognized him and wanted to know if I had given him one of my CDs... what did we talk about... blah, blah, blah. I didn’t give him a CD... told my friends the man was there to have some dinner and a beer... not to discover anyone. We actually talked about football and taxes with a tiny bit of music business peppered in here and there. I’m glad, to this day, that I didn’t pass along a CD... nor monopolize our conversation with the music business or his stardom. I hope he remembers my music, but prefer that he remembers an enjoyable conversation with a chick singer in Knoxville who saw him as a person and not just a celebrity. (ChickSinger at metropulse.com)

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