John Dann, whose onstage proposal to fianceé Claudia Rodgers at Paul McCartney's concert last weekend in Albany, N.Y. made news all over the country, told Beatles Examiner they had wanted to do this for a long time. He said the couple first came up with the idea to get McCartney's attention three years ago.
“We first got the idea in Cincinnati in 2011 when we saw Paul in concert in the Cincinnati Reds ballpark (the Great American Ballpark). A couple sitting in front of us had clever signs that caught his attention 'Please sign my wife' and 'Please sign me.' He called them up at the end, signed her shoulder blade in marker, and hugged them both. They told us she was going to have his signature and "Let It Be" tattooed on that spot. I was very envious!!!”
He said the sign was her idea. “Claudia came up with the initial idea for a sign that said, 'He won't marry me until he meets you, Paul.' I added a sign which said, 'I have the ring, and I'm 64.' Of course we were hoping he'd be intrigued enough with the promise of a proposal that he'd allow us to do it onstage.”
“I really, really wanted to do what I could to make it happen for John, especially since he had just turned 64 a few weeks ago in June,” Claudia said. “The concert tickets were my 60th birthday present from John in May. I knew the signs had to stand out, be easy to read, heartfelt, and not be obnoxious!”
Dann says McCartney saw the signs early in the show. “We both believe he first saw our sign after a few opening numbers. He looked directly at us and chuckled. At the end, we both swear he looked directly at us as he walked offstage and subtly motioned for us to come up.”
Shortly thereafter, they learned McCartney had chosen them to come onstage. “A security guard came down the aisle and fellow fans said, 'They want you!' We tripped and stumbled our way into the aisle, and the guard explained we were going onstage with Paul. My God, the dream of a lifetime was coming true!!!!”
Dann says they were both very nervous. “Our hearts were pounding, probably louder than the driving drumbeat. As we walked the steps to the stage, I remember the bright lights shining through wisps of his famous locks and the most famous rock and roller of all time welcoming us to his stage after singing 'Yesterday.' The entire thing was, as they say, surreal.”
Next, McCartney explained the signs to the audience and kindly shook Claudia's hand, hugged her, and allowed her the mike where she told all our names and where we were from. “Then he offered me the mike and he said, 'We're all eyes and ears,'” Dann said. “I assured him that I'd come this far; I wasn't going to back out now! All laughed.
“I began singing, 'When I'm 64.' The crowd immediately picked up on it and sang along. Paul, quickly found the proper key and he and the band began to accompany me, one of the great and fun ironies of rock 'n' roll: Paul McCartney accompanies a nobody with a mediocre voice.
“He told me to take a knee, and I kiddingly said, 'I can get down on one knee, but I might not be able to get back up.' He told me not to worry, that he'd help. 'Sweetheart, will you marry me?' Claudia said, 'Yes,' and our moment with Paul was over.” McCartney said, “Congratulations. And they've booked us for the wedding!”
Dann says he wasn't nervous. “As incredibly stage as it sounds, I was utterly calm onstage. It was as if it were all meant to be. I now believe in fate.” He also says Claudia invited him to the wedding. The suggestion caused McCartney to laugh.
“We have been dating for almost 8 years, so we knew we were heading in the direction of marriage, but with each of us having divorced, we were taking it slow,” Claudia says. “It's almost like it was meant to work out this way, with John's long, long love of the Beatles, especially McCartney, since he is the basis for the songwriting. John isn't your standard fan who knows all about the Beatles themselves; he also knows so, so much about their music itself.”
“My No. 1 bucket list item has now been checked off!!!! Where do I go from here?,” says Dann.
The couple has not set a wedding date. “ I have family living all over the world (including China and Rome), and I want them all to be a part of it,” Claudia said.
The story did become big news. It was picked up by newspapers in the U.S. McCartney's press office also issued a press release congratulating the couple. But that wasn't all. “My sister in China emailed me yesterday to say she was grocery shopping and picked up the daily Chinese paper, and there was our story!!!,” Claudia said.