Paul McCartney Remembers Linda on 10th Anniversary of Her Death

Paul McCartney Remembers Linda on 10th Anniversary of Her Death
Paul and Linda McCartney in 1980.
CURT GUNTHER/LFI

04/07/2008 AT 08:00 AM EDT

Just weeks after finalizing his $50 million divorce from Heather Mills, Paul McCartney is making headlines again – this time for an emotional interview about his first wife, Linda, who succumbed to breast cancer 10 years ago.

McCartney tells Britain's Sunday Times Magazine he can still recall their first meeting, "probably 40 years [ago], at the London nightclub Bag O' Nails.

"There was an immediate attraction between us," he said in the article, which coincides with an exhibition of Linda McCartney's photographs at the James Hyman gallery in central London.

His pick-up line? "My name's Paul. What's yours?" McCartney told the paper. "I think she probably recognized me. It was so corny, but I told the kids later that, had it not been for that moment, none of them would be here."

Fond Memories

The 65-year-old former Beatle has recently been spotted on a Caribbean getaway with American businesswoman Nancy Shevell, but it's obvious he still cherishes his memories of Linda, a photographer and cookbook author, who died at age 56.

"When we went for a drive, Linda always wanted to get lost," he reminisced, adding that she was "always very beautiful." "We would go down to the most obscure places, have a great time, find a little tearoom or a riverbank. She taught me little things like that, to relax and be down to earth."

He also seemed to make pointed comparisons between Linda and Mills, whose efforts to court the media often backfired. "She didn't go on TV and say, 'This is who I am – hello' and try to ingratiate herself," he said. "She was just a great person to hang out with: very funny, very smart and very talented ... Her priorities were private rather than public."

On the 10th anniversary of her death, McCartney also recalled Linda's courageous final days. "She didn't know she was dying," he said of his first wife, who had already had chemotherapy. "I talked it over with the doctor and he said, 'I don't think she would want to know. She is such a strong, forward-thinking lady and such a positive girl that I don't think it would do any good.' "

In fact, Linda remained active right up to her death on April 17, 1998. "She was fighting right up to the end," McCartney said. "Even on the day before she dies, she was out on horseback. She loved riding so much. Sometimes she'd get up on her a horse and I'd say, 'You don’t want to get down, do you?' She preferred it up there than on the ground."

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