Neighbor: Nancy Shevell


She had a house in East Hampton. He had a little place in Amagansett. They met 20 years ago, and often socialized together, never dreaming that it would lead to anything else. But just this past October 9, they were married. It sounds like a nice little Hamptons romance, until you realize that he is Sir Paul McCartney, the man who shaped the musical consciousness of the world, and she is Nancy Shevell, a nice Jewish girl from New Jersey who grew up to marry a Beatle.

Growing up in Edison, New Jersey, Shevell’s first passion wasn’t music or rock stars, it was trucks. In her room, toy trucks were parked next to her collection of Barbie dolls. Her family had been in the trucking business since the 1920’s, transporting seafood from Jersey fishermen to New York restaurants and markets, and Shevell was planning on a career in the family business. She majored in transportation at Arizona State University and in 1983 began working for her father’s company, New England Motor Freight, one of the largest carriers in the Northeast. Just three years later, she was vice-president, holding her own in an arena dominated by men. Shevell had never been afraid of competition—in high school she played on the girls football team. [expand]

During her time at Arizona State University, Shevell met Bruce Blakeman, an attorney with political aspirations. He would eventually make an unsuccessful bid for the mayor’s office, in a campaign that was noteworthy only for an ad that had his dog endorsing him for the office.

The Blakemans began to spend weekends in the Hamptons where they became acquainted with McCartney and his wife, Linda Eastman, who had a home in Amagansett. Shevell and Eastman actually had a lot in common—they were both independently wealthy women who grew up in the suburbs, both attended school in Arizona, and they would both become victims of breast cancer.

In 1991, Shevell had lost her mother Arlene to breast cancer and would herself be diagnosed. The disease would claim Eastman’s life just a few years later.

It wasn’t until around 2007, when Shevell, now separated from Blakeman, and McCartney, in the process of divorcing from his second wife, Heather Mills, found themselves more or less single at the same time. Playing matchmaker for the legendary musician and the Jersey girl, was Shevell’s second cousin, a legend in her own right—Barbara Walters.

Walters, commenting that her relationship with Shevell is “extremely close,” planned a number of dinner parties to give Shevell and McCartney a chance to get to know each other better. Shevell was already a fan of McCartney’s daughter Stella, whose fashions she frequently wore. Before long, the high-profile couple was spotted at a South Fork sushi restaurant, despite their best efforts to keep their relationship out of the public eye. Their courtship continued on a road trip on Rt. 66, and another trip to Anguilla, which they took after the deaths of Shevell’s older brother and Neil Aspinall, the Beatles’ original road manager, who became a father figure to McCartney. In May, the couple announced their engagement.

It was never Shevell’s style to draw attention to herself or her relationship. At the recent Costume Institute Gala, and a New York City Ballet party, Shevell did her best to keep the inevitable publicity to a minimum. That’s not easy when you’re sporting a 1925 Cartier solitaire diamond engagement ring which might have set your fiancée back around $650,000.

In London on October 9, Shevell married the man The Guinness Book of World Records called “the most successful musician and composer in pop music history,” at Old Marylebone Town Hall. Shevell wore a simple white dress designed by Stella McCartney, and a single white flower in her hair. It was the same location where McCartney had married Linda Eastman, in 1969, leaving countless female fans heartbroken across the world. This time, as Shevell and McCartney emerged, fans showered them with confetti. Although details of the ceremony have remained private, it is believed that McCartney’s younger brother Mike was his best man, and daughter Beatrice served as flower girl.

The wedding party took place at McCartney’s mansion in St. John’s Wood, where guests got to hear the groom sing “Ticket to Ride,” “Let it Be,” and an original song he had written for his bride, “My Valentine.” As the party progressed, the music was cranked up loud enough to prompt neighbors to call the police. The groom promptly turned down the volume, but it wasn’t until 3 a.m., when the last of the guests, Kate Moss and Ronnie Wood, left the usually quiet London street.

The bride and groom then took off for a honeymoon on the Caribbean island of Mustique, at the home of Mick Jagger. After a few days of soaking up the sun, they will continue on to New York to see family and friends. Shevell seems bemused by all the attention. She remarked to The New York Observer. “I’m over 50. I work. That’s it.…There really isn’t much to talk about.”

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