To Sir, with love: Fans wanna shake Paul's hand



BY AUSTIN FENNER and JANE RIDLEY
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

Will we still need him when he's 64? You betcha we do!
Beatlemania made an emotional return to Times Square yesterday when Sir Paul McCartney was greeted by hysterical fans clamoring for the chance to hold their idol's hand in his time of trouble.

The superstar musician, who turned 64 in June, was left in no doubt whose side New York City is taking in his increasingly toxic divorce battle with Heather Mills.

Hundreds of well-wishers packed Virgin Megastore to get signed copies of his new classical CD and concert DVD - and express their support as his 38-year-old estranged wife demands an estimated $150 million settlement.

Some broke down in tears after patting McCartney on the back and telling him to stay strong.

"I think she should take some money and disappear," said Sharon Friedman, 54, a secretary from West Brighton, Staten Island. "Today was my dream come true. My heart is beating. I'm all jittery inside."

In scenes reminiscent of the Beatles' 1960s heyday, groups of women waved signs reading: "We love U Paul."

One die-hard follower, Cecilia Noworyta, 53, from Chicago, who rented a $515 room across the street at the swank Marriot Marquis, spent three days camping out on the sidewalk to be first in line.

"My knees are shaking," she gushed.

After meeting her hero, Debbie Levitt, 50, of Rego Park, Queens, wearing Beatles earrings and a Wings necklace, said, "I told him he looks fabulous and just remember that everyone loves you."

Nevertheless, the singer/songwriter appeared weary during his two-hour stint at the store, signing his classical album "Ecce Cor Meum," an ode to his beloved first wife, Linda, and a live-performance DVD called "Paul McCartney: The Space Within Us."

Music from "Ecce Cor Meum" will be played by a variety of artists at a special concert tonight at Carnegie Hall.

Fans were hoping the event would take McCartney's mind off the ugly divorce proceedings back in England, where mud has been slung by both parties through claim and counterclaim.

Whatever the outcome, he can take heart from the huge amount of support in New York, shown by the rapturous applause he received from fellow diners at the city's Il Gattopardo restaurant when a fan shouted, "We are with you all the way, Paul!"


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