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Sir Paul McCartney and wife Linda

Linda McCartney farewell celebrates her passions

Web posted on: Monday, June 08, 1998 6:07:21 PM

LONDON (CNN) - The surviving Beatles appeared in public together on Monday for the first time in nearly three decades to attend a memorial service for the late Linda McCartney, wife and soul-mate of former Beatle Paul McCartney.

A 700-strong congregation -- which included a who's-who in pop music -- attended the service at St. Martin in the Fields Church in Trafalgar Square, at one point singing "Let It Be," the poignant ballad McCartney wrote for his own mother Mary, who died of breast cancer when he was 14 years old.

'We will complete your journey'

Linda McCartney, who died of breast cancer in April at age 56, was remembered by friends and family as a loving soul, a talented photographer and proud vegetarian and animal rights activist.

"Lady Linda, we cannot see you but we still hear you," said a fellow animal rights activist, television writer Carla Lane, in her speech to the congregation.

"There was no lowly creature in your eye, no size, no strength, no special beauty, they were all the same," she said.

"We will complete your journey," she pledged. "Before peace and dignity can come to the animals, it must come to man."

Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Sir Elton John and Beatles producer Sir George Martin seen outside the memorial service

Beatles together

Paul McCartney said he wanted the service to be a celebration of Linda. The couple, who played and sang together in the 1970s band Wings after the Beatles broke up, had spent just one night apart in 30 years of marriage.

McCartney was joined by his three children: Mary, fashion designer Stella and rock guitarist James, along with Heather, Linda's daughter from her first marriage.

The guest list included Elton John, Sting, Peter Gabriel and The Who's Pete Townshend.

Ringo Starr and George Harrison also attended, marking the first time the former Beatles have appeared in public together since their split. Band founder John Lennon was shot to death in New York in 1980.

'It was heaven'

The service began with the haunting refrain from Sir Paul McCartney's 1977 hit "Mull of Kintyre."

The church choir sang "Celebration" from McCartney's classical work "Standing Stone," which recently became a top-selling album on both sides of the Atlantic.

Students of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, which McCartney helped found in his home city, sang the gentle refrain from "Blackbird."

Reading one eulogy, actress Joanna Lumley said, "Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away into the next room."

Fashion photographer David Bailey read a poem by comedian Spike Milligan:

"It was heaven. You were seven and I was eight.
"And we watched the stars suspended
"Walking home down an apple lane
"Me and Rosie, a doll, a daisy chain
"On an evening that would never come again."

Candlelight vigil

The ashes of Linda McCartney, who had been battling cancer for two years, were scattered by Paul over the estate of their family home in southern England.

Animal campaigner Dan Mathews said hundreds of animal lovers are expected to attend a candlelight vigil in London to mark a life devoted to the animal cause.

"People from all over Europe, from all over the States are coming," Mathews said before the memorial service. "Linda really has become known as the animals' angel. She used her voice, she used her platform to speak out for those less fortunate."

Reuters contributed to this report.


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