Meet the Beetle: Gilford man's jacket caught the eye of Paul McCartney in 1986

GILFORD — Carl Deprospo was only eight years old when he watched the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964 while sitting in his family's living room in Clifton, N.J.
''I remember my father saying 'they'll never make it' and I remind him of that from time to time'' says Deprospo, who grew up in a home filled with music and was himself taking guitar lessons while in the third grade.
''We heard a lot of the Big Bands and Count Basie. And my mother was a great singer and could play anything on the piano by ear. I always liked playing music and learned to play the bass, drum and piano well enough to carry the tunes but I was never a big fan of playing in organized groups and liked to get together with small groups and do impromptu stuff,'' he recalls.
He says that he more or less stumbled into the radio business when a local radio station in Long Branch, N.J., WMJY was looking for someone to run its sales department and he took the job.
''It was the 80s and we had what was called the Jersey Shore Sound with Springtsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and concerts at Asbury Park.
He says that one day in August of 1986 the phone rang in the office and the the office manager closed her door to talk to caller, which was unusual because there was rarely and secrecy in the office.
''She comes out and tells me it's the rep from Capitol Records and we have to keep this absolutely quiet but that the next Friday I'm going to be at Radio City Music Hall in New York City for a launch party for a Paul McCartney album. I was always a big Beatles fan but I'd never been that close to them in person before so this was a great opportunity for me. ''
He said that the girls in the office wanted him to look a little special for the occasion and went out to an Amy and Navy store where they bought a Navy officer's dinner jacket along with medals and epaulets and had a special black t-shirt printed for him which read ''Pizza and Fairy Tales.''
''They thought it would get McCartney's attention because that's what John Lennon once said were the only kinds of songs McCartney could write,'' recalls Deprospo.
And when Carl arrived at Radio City Music Hall for launch party for ''Press to Play'' attention is exactly what the jacket and t-shirt generated.
''There were 65 to75 people there and I'm feeling very self conscious wearing this ridiculous jacket and sitting with some trade magazine people and I hear a buzz as Paul and Linda start coming down the staircase. He walks past our table and outs his hand on my shoulder and looks at the t-shirt and says 'we'll talk later.'''
After making the rounds of the tables, McCartney came back over and started talking to Deprospo.
''He was approachable and funny and then asked me if I could get him a drink. I went and got it and when I came back I asked him if he would autograph my jacket. He did and I encouraged him to draw a little caricature on it. All that time I'm thinking here's this guy who wrote "Yesterday'' and ''Sgt. Pepper" and I'm standing next to him and we're having a mutual conversation. He's the biggest artist in the field but he's so down to earth and personable.''
He said that McCartney went out of his way to have a conversation with a person in a wheelchair, autographing a handful of albums for him and that he later got to hold a long conversation with Linda McCartney, whom he described as ''gracious, quiet and funny.''
Deprospo says that he got to see a lot of stars back in his days on the Jersey Shore and even got to spend a whole afternoon in a recording studio with Bruce Springsteen,
He eventually moved to Portland, Maine to work in a radio station there before moving to New Hampshire to work for the Sconnix group and WLNH.
He went into auto sales in the mid 90s and is now general sales manager at Cantin Chevrolet on Union Avenue and still keeps up his passion for music, playing his guitar in informal settings like the Duanestock gathering held every August in Gilford.


deprospo 1,2

Carl Deprospo of Gilford holds a copy of Paul McCartney's ''Press to Play'' album which was signed by McCartney and his wife Linda at a launch party at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 1986. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

paul 1,2,3

Paul McCartney signs Carl Deprospo's jacket at a launch party at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 1986 for McCartney's ''Press to Play'' album. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Carl DeProspo and Paul McCartney at a launch party at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 1986 for McCartney's ''Press to Play'' album. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)

A jacket purchased at an Army and Navy store and which was decorated with shoulder boards and insignia was worn by Carl Deprospo at a launch party for a Paul McCartney album in 1986 and was signed and decorated by McCartney for Deprospo. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)