"I definitely did look up to John. We all looked up to John. He was
older and he was very much the leader; he was the quickest wit and the
smartest". -Paul McCartney
Paul McCartney is a multiple Grammy Award-winning English singer-songwriter, poet, composer, multi-instrumentalist, entrepreneur, record producer, film producer, painter, and animal rights activist. He gained worldwide fame as a member of The Beatles, with John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. McCartney and Lennon formed one of the most influential and successful songwriting partnerships and wrote some of the most popular music in rock and roll history.
Paul McCartney's gift for light-pop songwriting has made him the most commercially successful ex-Beatle and one of the most successful songwriters of the century. Paul McCartney is in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for most records sold, most number one songs, and the most covered song, "Yesterday." He is considered one of the most successful entertainers of all time. Sir Paul is the only ex-Beatle to date to have been knighted. The second youngest in the group,
James Paul McCartney was born on June 18, 1942 to Jim McCartney, a cotton salesman, former jazz musician, and volunteer fireman and Mary McCartney, a nurse. For some reason in his family, they went by the kid's middle names. Paul studied music and art, and had a happy childhood with one younger brother. At age 11, he was one of only four students who passed the 11+ exam, known as "the scholarship" in Liverpool, and gained a place at Liverpool Institute for Boys. There he studied from 1953 to 1960, earning A level in English and Art. A few months after his mother, Mary, died of breast cancer in 1956, Paul bought his first guitar and learned to play.
In June 1956 he met John Lennon and asked to join his band, the Quarrymen. McCartney and Lennon collaborated on many songs together, although their families did not approve of the friendship due to class differences. Before long, McCartney's Liverpool Institute schoolmate, George Harrison had joined the group as lead guitarist, soon followed by Stuart Sutcliffe on bass. By May 1960, the group had shortened their new name, the "Silver Beetles", to “The Beatles.” After the departure of Sutcliffe and original drummer, Pete Best; and the addition of drummer, Ringo Starr, the group settled into a fab foursome that would take the world by storm and claim a place in music history.
All four members of The Beatles were charismatic and individually talented artists, they sparked each other from the beginning. Paul McCartney had the privilege of a better musical education, having studied classical piano and guitar in his childhood. He progressed as a lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, as well as a singer-songwriter. Paul McCartney played bass guitar, acoustic and electric guitars, piano and keyboards, as well as over 40 other musical instruments. Having already conquered most of Europe by 1963, The Beatles reached new heights of celebrity in 1964 when they first visited the U.S. and the Ed Sullivan Show. Beatlemania ensued. The Beatles contributed to music, film, literature, art, and fashion, made a continuous impact on entertainment, popular culture and the lifestyle of several generations. Music became their ticket to ride around the world. McCartney wrote more popular hits for the Beatles than other members of the band, although McCartney honored the agreement that was offered by John Lennon in 1957, about the 50/50 authorship of every song written by either one of them. Almost 200 songs by The Beatles are formally credited to both names, regardless of the fact that most of the songs were written individually.
In 1963 Paul McCartney met Jane Asher, to whom he addressed many of his best-known love songs. Although they later announced their engagement, the two never married. In 1965 the Beatles stopped touring in order to concentrate more on their music, and out came some of their best albums and songs. By the late 1960s, the Beatles were growing apart, much to Paul's frustration. Though he was the one who wanted to break up the least, he ended up officially announcing their break-up. Following his marriage to Linda Eastman on March 12, 1969, McCartney began to work on his first solo album at his home studio. McCartney was released in April 1970, spending three weeks at the top of the American charts. The following year, he released Another Day, and later, Ram, another home-made collection featuring contributions by wife, Linda. McCartney was 28 when he started his solo career, and formed his new band, Wings.
Paul McCartney continued to release music with Wings, that eventually became one of the most commercially successful groups of the 70s. "Band on the Run" won two Grammy Awards and remained the Wings' most lauded work. In 1980 McCartney was arrested in Tokyo, Japan, for marijuana possession, and after a ten-day stint in jail, he was released to a media firestorm. He retreated into seclusion after the arrest, and was comforted by his wife Linda. Yet he had another traumatic experience when his ex-band-mate, John Lennon, was shot dead by a crazed fan near his home in New York City on December 8, 1980.
McCartney did not play any live concerts for some time because he was nervous that he would be "the next" to be murdered. Paul 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.
In 1994, the three surviving members of The Beatles, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr, reunited and produced Lennon's previously unknown song "Free as a Bird." It was preserved by Yoko Ono on a tape recording made by Lennon in 1977. The song was re-arranged and re-mixed by George Martin at the Abbey Road Studios with the voices of three surviving members. This was the first album of new material released since their last album Let It Be in 1970. The Anthology certainly came as a surprise when it was released fifteen years after the death of former band mate, John Lennon. On March 11, 1997, Paul, suddenly Sir Paul McCartney, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and 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 April 1998, Linda McCartney, his beloved wife of almost 30 years, mother of their four children, and his steady partner in music, died of breast cancer. McCartney suffered from a severe depression and undergone medical treatment. He spent much of the next year away from the public eye, emerging only to campaign on behalf of his late wife for animal rights and vegetarian causes. On the long and winding road of his life and career, Sir Paul McCartney has been a highly respected entertainer and internationally regarded public figure."Whenever you're going through difficult times, I'm at the moment, it's really cool to be able to escape into music" says Paul McCartney.