August 27, 2008 / 10:03 PM / in 10 years

McCartney to perform in Israel for first time

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Paul McCartney will perform for the first time ever in Israel next month — more than 40 years after the Beatles were blocked from giving a concert in the country, the singer announced on Wednesday.

Paul McCartney performs at the Liverpool Sound concert at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, northern England, June 1, 2008. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

The former Beatle, who along with John Lennon wrote most of the Fab Four’s songs in the 1960s, will perform on September 25 in Tel Aviv, the singer said on his Web site.

McCartney and the Beatles, one of the most popular bands in rock history, had planned to perform in Israel in the mid-1960s, but the concert was scrapped, a non-event that has since taken on almost legendary significance.

For years, it was said that the government blocked the show out of fear that it would corrupt the nation’s youth, a version of the story that was highlighted on McCartney’s website.

But a more recent account given this month in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz blames the show’s cancellation on a rift between two concert promoters.

Earlier this year, Israel’s ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, apologized for the cancellation in a letter to the two surviving Beatles, McCartney and Ringo Starr.

“There is no doubt that it was a great missed opportunity to prevent people like you, who shaped the minds of the generation, to come to Israel and perform,” Prosor wrote.

But McCartney said he looks forward to this second chance to perform in Israel.

“I’ve heard so many great things about Tel Aviv and Israel, but hearing is one thing and experiencing it for yourself is another,” he said in a statement on his Web site.

The show is billed as a “Friendship First” concert, part of a series of shows that have taken McCartney to cities he never visited before.

Last month, McCartney performed in Quebec City, Canada, for the first time and drew 300,000 fans. The show happened on the year of Quebec’ 400th anniversary.

This year is the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding.


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