Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE (born June 18, 1942), much better known simply as Paul McCartney, is a British musician, composer and producer. He was born at Walton Hospital, located in northern Liverpool near his teenage home, where his mother had worked as a nurse. His father was a professional trumpet player and gave the young Paul a vital early grounding in music.
McCartney first rose to fame as the bassist, pianist, guitarist, singer and songwriter for the Beatles. He was initially invited to join John Lennon's band the Quarrymen as a guitarist, but he eventually took over bass guitar duties in the early Sixties, after the group's formative stint at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, replacing original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, who remained in Hamburg when the rest of the group returned to Liverpool. Sutcliffe died tragically from a brain hemorrhage on April 10 1962, only two days before The Beatles returned for their third trip to Hamburg.
McCartney formed a close working relationship with Lennon and they collaborated on many songs, although (excepting some of their very early works) they rarely wrote a complete song together. Typically, one of them would write most or part of a song and the other would finish it, incorporate it into another song or suggest useful changes; their partnership was as much competitive as it was collaborative. Due to an early agreement between the two, all Beatles songs written by either of them are credited to both. On Beatles records, the credit was "Lennon-McCartney", on his own records it was "Paul McCartney and John Lennon".
One of McCartney's greatest songs, covered by a record number of artists, is the poignant ballad "Yesterday". McCartney conceived the melody in a dream, (coupled with the lyric "Scrambled Eggs / Oh my darling you've got lovely legs") and was not sure for some time that it was original.
During the early years of the Beatles' recording career, McCartney developed rapidly as a musician, singer and songwriter. He was heavily influenced by Buddy Holly and Little Richard and famously appropriated of Little Richard's trademark high-pitched 'wooo', which he used prominently as a musical punctuation on early songs like "From Me To You".
The left-handed McCartney also became arguably the most creative and influential rock bassist of his time, elevating the electric bass from back-row obscurity to starring prominence, inspiring countless players to take up the instrument and creating a worldwide demand for the previously little-known German Hofner 'Violin' model semi-acoustic bass. McCartney still owns and uses the original Hofner bass that he purchased in Hamburg in the early Sixties and which features on all their early recordings.
By 1965 McCartney was pressuring the engineers at EMI to get a better bass sound on The Beatles' recordings, frustrated by the relatively weak sound on their earlier records and keen to emulate the powerful, booming bass sounds that he was hearing on recent Motown and Atlantic soul recordings from America. Another step forward was his purchase of a radical new American-made solid body bass, the Rickenbacker 4001; according to Yes bassist Chris Squire, McCartney bought the very first model 4001 bass ever imported into England.
Several other important technical advances aided him in his development as a recording artist. He began to regularly use a new technique known as direct injection or "DI", which allowed him to plug his bass straight into the recording console, resulting in vastly improved presence and fidelity. He also took a keen interest in the engineering, mixing and mastering of the Beatles' records, ensuring that his bass tracks were not subjected to the heavy audio limitation and compression that was commonly applied in those days.
His bass playing and writing during the Beatles' most creative phase in 1965-67 was heavily influenced by the work of American producer-composer Brian Wilson, leader of The Beach Boys, whose classic album Pet Sounds set new standards for recording and featured bass parts that were unprecedented in pop music for their imaginative melodic style. As a result of hearing Wilson's work, McCartney began to pay increasing attention to both the sound and arrangement of his bass lines, often taking advantage of Abbey Road's new multi-track tape decks to re-record more complex parts after the basic tracks had been laid down.
During the years of the Beatles' greatest popularity, Paul was generally regarded as the best-looking and aroused most interest in female audiences. Ironically, he was the last to marry,the only one never to divorce,and probably the last to die. Towards the end of his relationship with actress Jane Asher, McCartney met Linda Eastman, a American photographer. They first met at the June 1, 1967 launch party for Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the relationship blossomed over the next two years. He and Linda married at a small civil ceremony at Marylebone Registry Office in 1969, while he was still a member of the Beatles. He adopted Linda's daughter (from her first marriage), and they went on to have three other children together. They remained happily married and utterly devoted to each other until Linda's death from breast cancer in 1998. The couple reportedly spent less than a week apart during their entire marriage.
In the latter part of the Beatles' reign over pop-culture, Lennon's influence over the band waned and his output lessened but McCartney's continued undimished and he wrote several universal ballads including "Hey Jude", "Let It Be", and "The Long and Winding Road".
It is now generally accepted that McCartney was the main motivator for much of The Beatles' later work. After they retired from touring in mid-1966, Lennon and Harrison retreated to secure country estates in the so-called 'stockbroker belt', well outside London. But McCartney continued to live in the city, first in a mews house in the centre of town, then at a larger property in St John's Wood, a short distance from Abbey Road Studios. He was often seen at major cultural events such as the International Times launch party at The Roundhouse (which he attended in disguise). He also avidly delved into the visual arts, becoming a close friend of leading art dealer and gallery owner Robert Fraser; he also explored experimental film and avant-garde music and regularly attended movie, theatrical and classical music performances.
Although he was not the first in the group to take LSD, McCartney was the first British pop star to openly admit to using it, and his frank revelation during a newspaper interview in early summer 1967 made headlines around the world. In a famous BBC TV interview broadcast nationally on 19 June 1967, McCartney was again asked about his LSD use and his answer was impressive for its clarity:
"I was asked a question by a newspaper, and the decision was whether to tell a lie or tell him the truth. I decided to tell him the truth ... but I really didn't want to say anything, you know, because if I had my way I wouldn't have told anyone. I'm not trying to spread the word about this. But the man from the newspaper is the man from the mass medium. I'll keep it a personal thing if he does too you know ... if he keeps it quiet. But he wanted to spread it so it's his responsibility, you know, for spreading it, not mine."
Interestingly, in spite of his statements then, and later admission that he also used cocaine regularly at that time, McCartney was fortunate to be one of the few leading British pop stars who did not fall foul of the Drug Squad, as did Lennon, Starr and many other friends including The Rolling Stones and Donovan.
On the musical side, Paul was the first Beatle to record an outside project, composing (with George Martin) a fine score for the 1966 feature film The Family Way, for which he won a prestigious Ivor Novello Award. He also wrote and produced several successful recordings for other artists and on some of these outside productions he worked under a pseudonym, reflecting his enduring fascination with disguises and aliases. His non-Beatles credits in the Sixties include Cilla Black's "Step Inside Love", the Mary Hopkin hit "Those Were The Days" (adapted from an old Russian folk song) and production on The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band single "I'm The Urban Spaceman", on which he was credited as "Apollo C. Vermouth".
McCartney devised many of their most important late Sixties projects including the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band concept, the Magical Mystery Tour film and record, and the suite of songs that closes the Abbey Road LP.
In 1969, despite obvious signs that the band was falling apart, he bravely attempted to convince The Beatles to return to the stage, suggesting the Get Back project, which evolved (or, perhaps more accurately, devolved) into their valedictory film and album Let It Be. Although McCartney hoped it might revive them, the film made it obvious that that the band was spent as a creative force and that bickering, jealousy and the immense pressures of being The Beatles had driven the four musicians apart irrevocably.
Although Ringo Starr had briefly quit the band during 1968 and Lennon had pre-empted a final parting with his solo singles of 1969, it was McCartney who formally initiated the dissolution of the band by filing a lawsuit to break up their partnership on 31 December 1969.
By this time, Lennon and McCartney's friendship had been eroded by years of friction and rivalry, and it was only a short time before Lennon's death that they were fully reconciled. In the early Seventies, Lennon was highly critical of his former partner, both in song and in print, and he made a famously scathing attack on McCartney in the song "How Do You Sleep?".
After the Beatles broke up, Paul immediately launched a solo career, recording solo albums with Linda; after recruiting additional players in 1972 the group literally drove around in a van, making impromptu appearances at universities and small Continental venues. The new group Wings went on to produce some of the most successful albums and singles of the decade, including "Band on the Run", "Let 'Em In", "Live and Let Die", "Listen To What The Man Said".
McCartney famously insisted that his wife should be in the band so they did not have to be apart while he toured, in spite of her protests that she was not talented enough. After hearing Linda sing, many seconded her opinion, but Paul's move was clearly a deliberate act, intended to help dispel some of the lingering Beatles mystique and prove his assertion that "anyone can do it". Despite persistent attacks on her ability (including one notorious bootleg concert tape in which her out-of-tune vocals were deliberately mixed to the fore), Linda became a valuable member of the band and an inspiring musician throughout the remainder of her life.
By 1975 Wings had achieved major success, with the album Band On The Run topping the charts in Britain and the United States. A hugely successful world tour followed and in late 1977 McCartney released the biggest single of his career, "Mull Of Kintyre" which is now acknowledged as the fourth highest selling single in UK recording history and the largest selling non-charity single ever released in that country.
Wings' later albums and singles were less successful, and after a final UK tour in late 1979 the band split. All future releases would be under his own name.
Later solo career
In 1980, McCartney made international headlines when he was arrested for possession of marijuana in Japan and he spent nine days in prison there before being deported. Since that time he has reportedly eschewed all drugs, although it it generally believed that he used marijuana consistently throughout the late Sixties and Seventies.
Despite the devastating blow of the murder of John Lennon later that year, McCartney enjoyed continued success in the early Eighties. His 1981 album Tug Of War was a major success and in 1982 he scored two huge hits with duet singles -- "Ebony and Ivory", recorded with soul legend Stevie Wonder, and "The Girl Is Mine", recorded with emerging pop megastar Michael Jackson. Another successful McCartney-Jackson duet, "Say, Say, Say" was released in 1983.
McCartney's friendship with Jackson was shortlived, however. Not long afterwards, Jackson paid a huge sum to acquire the Northern Songs catalogue, which included the publishing rights to all the Beatles' songs. Although McCartney subsequently approached Jackson hoping to negotiate an increase in his royalty rate, he was rebuffed. In an interview in MOJO magazine, McCartney told how he phoned Jackson and argued that, had he been a simple employee, he would surely have been entitled to a raise, considering the great success he had generated for the company. Jackson reportedly answered "Oh Paul, that's just business" and hung up. They have apparently never spoken since then.
McCartney and his wife became outspoken vegetarians and animal-rights activists after owning cattle and watching them outside the window as they cooked and ate meat. In 1991, Linda introduced her own line of vegetarian meals to the general market. After Linda's death in 1998, Paul pledged to continue her line of food and keep it free from genetically modified organisms.
In 1995, McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr reunited to release the first of the Beatles' Anthology albums, consisting of alternate takes and live recordings of Beatles songs; volumes two and three were released the next year. They also created two new Beatles songs by layering new music around unfinished tracks Lennon had made before his death fourteen years earlier. This was the first album of new material released since their last album Let It Be in 1970.
In the 1990s McCartney was involved in a high profile feud with John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono. Their dispute centred around the writing credits for a number of Beatles songs. He had wanted to change the credits for some songs from the traditional 'Lennon/McCartney' to 'Paul McCartney and John Lennon'. Yoko Ono was personally offended by this move which she felt broke an agreement that the two had made while Lennon was still alive to credit songs as a team. The two other Beatles agreed that the credits should remain as they always had been and McCartney withdrew his request.
The feud was reminiscent of the disagreement that had marred McCartney's relationship with Lennon for some years after the break up of the Beatles. Both had written angry references to the other into their songs, and had criticized each other personally. These are part of a long history of such exchanges.
In the mid-1980s, while making a home movie reminiscing about his days as a schoolboy, McCartney discovered the 1825 building which had once been his old school was derelict. He purchased it, and pursued a dream he had always had of helping his home town of Liverpool in some way. January 1996 saw the dedication of The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, of which Paul is the lead patron. On June 7th 1996 Her Majesty the Queen officially opened the building.
On March 11, 1997, McCartney was created a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II, and was subsequently known as Sir Paul McCartney. In 1999 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist (he was inducted with the rest of the Beatles in 1988). In 1997 he also made his first venture into classical music with Standing Stone, a work that received a mixed response.
In June 2002 McCartney married Heather Mills, a former model and anti-landmines campaigner, in a highly elaborate ceremony at a castle in rural Ireland. Under her influence, he has campaigned against landmines himself, and donated substantial sums to the cause. In early 2003, for example, he held a personal concert for the wife of banker Ralph Whitworth and donated one million dollars to Adopt-a-Landmine. Mills and McCartney had their first child, Beatrice Millie, on October 28, 2003.
McCartney continues to release pop albums (Run Devil Run, Wingspan, Driving Rain, Flaming Pie), as well as campaign for the groups Greenpeace and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, among others. Paul and Linda had three children—one, Stella McCartney, is an award-winning fashion designer and animal rights activist.
McCartney, currently 62, also continues to tour throughout the United States and the rest of the world. He says he hopes to keep playing even after he is 64, a reference to the Beatles song, "When I'm Sixty-Four".
Achievements and world records
Post-Beatles hit singles
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