When Paul McCartney gave his regards to Broad Street
Miller's Rexall Drugs owner tells the strange tale of how the former Beatle first encountered Run Devil Run
MARCH 2, 2017
For this week's CL cover story, "Mammal Gallery braces for an unwritten future," Richard Miller relived the moment former Beatles singer and bass player Paul McCartney wandered into his South Broad drugstore. Here is his story.
RUN DEVIL RUN: Richard Miller shows of his cassette and CD copies of the Paul McCartney album on which his drugstore appears.
As told to Chad Radford.
"He was here at the Merchandise Mart watching his daughter Stella sell some of her wears. She made dishes and such, and he was here with his son James watching. They got bored and wanted to go check out 'the funky side of town' — Little Five Points. He got into a limousine with his son James, and he must've told the driver, 'Take us to Five Points,' which is just a block from the drugstore. So the limousine driver pulled up in front of the store because the next block is not available for cars. Paul got out of the limousine and saw a display for a product we carry called Run Devil Run in our window and said, 'Oh, that’s a cool thing, let’s go in and see what it’s all about.'
Run Devil Run Salt
Moves out evil and makes the Devil stay away!
We didn’t quite realize who he was when he and James came in. They were dressed all in black — black hat, black sunglasses, black clothes. Paul walked up to the counter and asked Diane, what is this Run Devil Run? And she told him it was aromatherapy for depression. He said, 'My wife recently passed away. I’m going to buy it. If it works, I’ll write a song about you.'
She says, 'Yeah, right.'
We get a lot of people in here saying things like that. We get a lot of artists in here, and people who will buy a mojo bag and say, 'I’m going to win the $10 million lottery and I’m going to give you a million.' But they never show up after they win it! So this fella with a foreign accent — we didn’t know who he was and we didn’t expect anything.
The next week after he was in here another limousine pulls up. A photographer gets out and starts taking pictures of the store. So I go outside and ask him why he's taking pictures. And in a real nasty voice he says, 'It’s my assignment.'
So I said, 'I realize it’s your assignment, but this is my store. Are you with the CIA, the IRS, the FBI, am I in trouble?'
He says, 'It’s my assignment.' He jumps in the limousine and pulls off.
It really ticked me off. So the next day I called the limo company with a little lie. I said a photographer had been in and he’d left his camera here. I wanted to return it. They gave me the phone number of the people who rented the limo. I called it up. It was a travel agency in New York City. I talked to the owner and she was real nice. I explained what happened. She said, 'I’m not supposed to give you the name and all, but let me look it up. When she got back on the phone she said, 'This was really a strange one. We received a wire from overseas with money and instructions to take a professional picture of your store. Spare no expense. So we did it. We don’t know who it was that wanted the photo.'
At that point it was a dead end.
About six months later I get a call from the Journal-Constitution. A reporter asks, 'Richard, is that your store on the front of Paul McCartney’s new CD?
I say, 'Are you on drugs? What’s wrong with you?' He tells me to go to a German website to look at it. So I go to the website and say I see it and say, “Yeah, yeah, that’s my store! … Well it’s basically my store. Paul McCartney put 'Run Devil Run' on the marquee. We never had that there. He added that. And he changed the name from Miller’s Rexall to Earl’s Quickie Drugs. Earl is his nickname. And he made a lot of other changes. The herbal viagra for women sign, he changed to L.I.L.Y. — Linda, I Love You. So he wrote a song called 'Run Devil Run' in honor of us. All of the other songs were covers of Chuck Berry and various artists that Linda liked. So it was her favorite songs. It was really a tribute to Linda. When that hit the market we became world famous. Every other day someone would run in here and say, “Is this where Paul shops? I gotta buy Run Devil Run!”
We got letters from all over the world: Great Britain, Japan, Israel, you name it. We got letters: Please send the stuff here. So we sent Run Devil Run all around the world.
The photographer — when he found out he’d taken a picture for Paul McCartney — sued and settled out of court for $10,000. He'd also used a picture of the product in the CD. He never asked permission to use it so the manufacturer sued and settled out of court for $10,000.
So when it came out all of these grimy newspapers showed up here. 'Are you mad at Paul? He didn’t pay you to use your store. Are you going to sue him?'
I said, 'No! I’m tickled with Paul. We’re world famous now!'
They said, 'We can’t sell that. We need a negative story!'
So I said, 'Ok, I’m miffed at Paul.'
They said, 'What do you want, what do you want?!?!'
I said, 'The next time he’s in town I want him to call my wife and say hello.'
My wife has been sitting by the phone now for 18 years now, waiting for the phone call. It’s never come.
Of course, we didn’t give him the number, and we didn't expect it. But we’ve had fun with it. We’re world famous and I’ve sent two kids to college on Run Devil Run. So it worked out very nicely for us.
McCartney’s inspiration for both the title song “Run Devil Run” the album title occurred when he and his son James stopped by Miller’s Rexall Drugs shop in January of 1999.