- Associated Press - Sunday, October 9, 2011

LONDON (AP) - Dozens of paparazzi crowded the steps of a central London town hall Sunday in anticipation that former Beatle Paul McCartney was getting married to American heiress Nancy Shevell.

Though no public announcement has been made, a tent had also been set up at McCartney’s house nearby in the St. John’s Wood neighborhood, and party decorations and champagne were delivered.

The couple announced their engagement earlier this year. Shevell, 51, would be McCartney’s third wife, and it would be her second marriage.

The 69-year-old McCartney married his first wife, Linda, at the same venue in 1969. She died of cancer in 1998.

His spokesman has not commented on the reported wedding plans. British press reports indicate that McCartney’s daughter Stella, a top fashion designer, has fashioned Shevell’s dress for the big event.

They also say McCartney’s younger brother Mike will serve as best man and his young daughter Beatrice will be flower girl.

Shevell was married for more than 20 years to attorney Bruce Blakeman and serves on the board of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

She also is a vice president of a New Jersey-based trucking company owned by her father.

McCartney married Linda Eastman, a talented photographer, at the height of the hippie era, when the Beatles were at the apex of their global fame.

The marriage of the Beatle known as “the cute one” caused young women and girls to burst into tears outside the registry office, and broke the hearts of uncounted fans throughout the world.

While many rock and roll marriages from that era broke down, the McCartneys enjoyed a long, happy marriage for many years, raising four children and spending virtually every night together except when McCartney was briefly jailed in Japan on marijuana charges.

Linda played and sang in his successful post-Beatles band Wings _ even though critics thought she added little to the ensemble _ and used her marriage to a Beatle to promote vegetarianism and other causes that were also backed by McCartney.

Her life was cut short by breast cancer in 1998, leaving McCartney adrift.

Model Heather Mills then entered the picture. They married in 2002 at a gala affair at an Irish castle, and soon after had a daughter. But the marriage collapsed fairly quickly and ended with a bitter divorce in 2008.

Mills publicly accused McCartney of cruelty and sought a massive $250 million divorce settlement, but the judge sided with McCartney, calling her claims exorbitant.

The British public, enamored of the sunny Sir Paul since his early Beatle days, also sided with the singer.

The case offered a rare glimpse into the magnitude of McCartney’s fortune, which includes songwriting royalties from a raft of classic tunes, many co-written with the late John Lennon, who would have turned 71 Sunday.

Court papers filed by McCartney at the time indicated he had a net worth of approximately $800 million, including a valuable collection of art works including paintings by Picasso and Renoir along with luxury real estate holdings and sound music investments going well beyond his own works.

The impending marriage of one of the most enduring figures in British cultural life sparked Britain’s fevered tabloid headline writers to try to come up with new puns on Sunday based on the Beatles’ memorable song titles.

The best was probably “Ticket To Bride”, a play on the 1965 charttopper “Ticket To Ride.”

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