New sign marks Paul McCartney’s brief stop on Route 66 in Oklahoma

Oklahoma County and several residents of a stretch of original Route 66 on Monday installed a sign that commemorated a brief stop by a former Beatle, Paul McCartney, there in 2008.

Shellee Graham, who lives on that segment of historic road with Route 66 historian Jim Ross, was there to help document the installation with photographs. She also came up with the concept and designed the sign:

McCartney stopped there on Aug. 5, 2008, with his future wife, Nancy Shevell, during a cross-country trip in a 1989 Ford Bronco on the Mother Road shortly after his 66th birthday.

The smaller print on the bottom of the sign describes what happened there:

Their trip began on July 31, 2008, from Paul’s holiday home in The Hamptons, New York. They joined Route 66 in Illinois, hoping to stay incognito, but that lasted only a couple of days. On August 5, their journey brought them here, to this road: Old Highway 66, just east of Arcadia, Oklahoma.
Resident Toby Thompson was working outside when a Ford Bronco stopped and the driver asked him if this was Old 66. After a few seconds he realized who he was talking to. He had no pen, camera or phone with him, so he simply verified that yes, this was Old 66, and he told McCartney he was honored to meet him. They thanked him kindly and went on their way, staying overnight at the Skirvin Hotel downtown. Sightings of Sir Paul and his future bride Nancy Shevell continued throughout their tour, allowing everyone involved to “Get Their Kicks on Route 66!”

Graham also credited Oklahoma County District 3 sign technician Buck Brokaw for his role in getting the sign erected.

The little Old 66 segment away from the main highway can be seen below. It’s the road that contains Godspeed Car Care Ministry and Cannibal V8 Resurrection.

You can read about the McCartney-on-66 saga here and here. It caused quite a hubbub on the Mother Road for about a week. The entire episode also prompted Oklahoma City to sign its segments of Route 66 better.

UPDATE 12/25/2020: KTUL-TV in Tulsa posted a good follow-up story about Thompson, his McCartney sighting and the folks behind the sign’s creation.

(Image of Toby Thompson at the new Paul McCartney Route 66 sign courtesy of Shellee Graham)

6 thoughts on “New sign marks Paul McCartney’s brief stop on Route 66 in Oklahoma

  1. For what it’s worth, on the day that this took place, August 5th 2008, it was my birthday. Seven years earlier, on August 5th 2001, along with my oldest friend, Ron Miles, we set off on Route 66 in Chicago to celebrate my 66th birthday by driving all the way to Santa Monica in my little British registered Fiat Panda. We made friends all along the way. We were using the maps produced by Jim Ross and Jerry McClanahan, although unfortunately we never met them. I took lots of photos and film of our trip and everyone signed my copy of Michael Wallis’ 75th Anniversary edition of his book “Route 66, The Mother Road”. Several of those worthies have since died (Laurel Kane, Tom Teague and Bunny Sies among them).Five years later in 2006, Ron and I repeated the trip, again in the little Panda, but this time I left the car in the U.S.A., giving it to the owner of the Barstow Route 66 Motel. Paul McCartney lives near Rye, not too far from my home here in East Sussex, England. Perhaps if Shelley feels like it, she can commission a sign commemorating Ron and my multiple visits all along the Mother Road, maybe at the Arcadia Round Barn, (where the custodian told us they couldn’t hold square dances, it being a round barn!).

  2. Was certainly a pleasure for Melissa and I meeting you and Ron when you pulled into Arcadia in your ‘Lil Panda on that pleasant summer day, Peter. A wonderful memory embedded in our hearts forever. Cheers Mate!

  3. Earlier this year on February 28, 2020, I retired from working full-time. This gave me the opportunity to explore projects that I had wanted to work on years ago. The PAUL McCARTNEY ROUTE 66 sign is one of many projects that I wanted to make happen. Many thought the PM sign idea would not come to fruition and I was also surprised how quickly it all happened. It helps that I am a graphic designer and photographer. Using the Adobe Creative Suite, I created the “Abbey Road” image for the sign, utilized one of the photos I shot at the July 17, 2017 Paul McCartney concert in Oklahoma City and then fabricated the 1989 Ford Bronco image in front of the Route 66 shield mural in Pontiac, Illinois. The Oklahoma Route 66 shield is also my own creation. Like I said, it helps to be a graphic designer.

  4. Thanks Melissa and Ken.
    I drove a bit of Route 66. in October 2017, while touring from San Francisco. We visited 4 States and spent several days in the State Parks. Monument Valley in Utah was amazing and the First Nation people so friendly. We found Tehachapi a little gem with a wonderful German bakery. Roys on the Mother Road looked very smart.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.