Born on June 18, 1942, in Liverpool, England; son of James and Mary Patricia (Mohin) McCartney; married Linda Eastman, 1969; children: Heather (stepdaughter), Mary, Stella, and James. Education: Attended Liverpool Institute. Addresses: Office--MPL Communications, Inc., 41 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019.

Paul McCartney cast an indelible imprint on the history of modern music during the 1960s as a member of rock and roll's monumental band the Beatles. McCartney was widely accepted as a major driving force behind the Beatles and was responsible for composing an overwhelming majority of the tunes that brought the Beatles to the attention of serious music critics. In retrospective reviews of the late twentieth century, McCartney and his fellow Beatles were cited repeatedly as a cultural phenomenon. They are revered as the most successful band in the 50-year history of rock and roll, yet the foursome, which began recording in 1962, had effectively ceased all collaborations by 1970, having worked and performed actively for less than ten years. McCartney continued his songwriting and performance career as a solo artist beginning in 1970, repeatedly producing chart-topping songs. In the 1990s, he delved into classical composition, producing an oratorio and a symphony.

McCartney was born James Paul McCartney in Liverpool, England, on June 18, 1942. He was the first of two sons born to James and Mary McCartney. James McCartney was a cotton salesman by profession. Mary McCartney, a nurse, worked as a midwife until her untimely death from cancer in 1956. Paul McCartney was raised in a close-knit family environment and bonded with his parents, sibling, and also with his numerous cousins and relations. The family relocated on several occasions, always around the Liverpool area, and McCartney adapted easily. Energetic and bright, he was charismatic even as a schoolboy, attending the Stockton Woods infants school and later the prestigious Liverpool Institute on scholarship. As a youth, despite his melodic voice and natural sense of harmony, the choir at the Liverpool Cathedral rejected McCartney as a singer. Yet, ironically, in his early twenties as a member of the Beatles and an international superstar, he was distinguished as the Beatle with the sweet voice and cherub-like appearance--the Beatle who looked like a choirboy.

McCartney's parents were fond of music, and his father was a pianist for a local band. McCartney, in fact, taught himself to play his father's piano. The family, including aunts, uncles, and cousins were given to sing-a-longs, and McCartney enjoyed listening to records whenever possible. He also learned to play his cousin's small banjolele. When his father gave him a trumpet, McCartney kept the instrument briefly before trading the horn for a guitar, and after reversing the strings to accommodate his left-handedness, McCartney taught himself to play.

The Beatles

On July 6, 1957, following a skiffle concert at St. Mary's Church in Wooton, McCartney met a precocious 16-year-old performer named John Lennon. Skiffle, in England, was an awkward precursor to rock and roll, and Lennon's skiffle group at the time was called the Quarrymen. McCartney and Lennon bonded instantly. McCartney joined Lennon's group, and the evolution of the Beatles was underway. In 1960, the Quarrymen--including guitarist George Harrison--moved to Hamburg, Germany, where they billed themselves as the Silver Beatles and worked in beer cellars. Ultimately they returned to the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where they added a new drummer, Richard "Ringo Starr" Starkey, and billed themselves as the Beatles.

Popular music by that time had evolved solidly into rock and roll, and the Beatles had changed styles with the times. In 1962 the Beatles cut their first record, a simple and rhythmic song called "Love Me Do" written by McCartney and Lennon. "Love Me Do," met with sufficient success to justify the release of a follow-up single in January of 1963 called "Please Please Me." The song, also an original composition by McCartney and Lennon, became a number one hit in Britain. The popularity of the Beatles had escalated to unprecedented proportion in England by the end of that summer. In October, television personality Ed Sullivan witnessed a mob scene caused by the Beatles' arrival at Heathrow Airport in London. He booked them for an American debut on his Ed Sullivan Showin February of 1964, where they were seen by an estimated 70 million viewers. By the end of that year the Beatles had placed 29 hit records on the United States charts, many of which featured McCartney's smooth lead vocals. Among the most popular was McCartney's solo rendition of Meredith Wilson's classic Music Man ballad "Till There Was You." McCartney's recording of the song sent schoolgirls swooning worldwide.

So great was the combined persona of the four musicians that by 1965, they had starred in two feature length films playing only themselves. Coincidentally, the songwriting efforts of McCartney and Lennon matured, and with the release of two hit albums that year, Helpand Rubber Soul,the Beatles earned the respect of serious critics and musicians. In recognition of the Beatles' popularity, in 1965, McCartney and the other Beatles were made members of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England. As the Beatles amassed millions of fans around the world, screaming battalions of hysterical admirers hounded the four Liverpudlians wherever they performed. Thus, in 1966, the Beatles ceased personal appearances, ending with a final concert in San Francisco. Thereafter they concentrated their musical efforts largely in the Abbey Lane sound studio in England where they experimented continually with new types of music for the duration of the 1960s and proved repeatedly that they were the most popular band in the history of rock and roll. Among the classic recordings released by the Beatles during those years, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Bandappeared in 1967, including a whimsical and much-recorded McCartney and Lennon song, "With a Little Help from My Friends." In 1998, Time cited the Beatles as one of the 100 most influential musical forces of the twentieth century.

As the 1960s drew to a close, the exceptionally cohesive synergy that had served to define the Beatles had worn thin. Each of the four had married, including McCartney, who wed photographer Linda Eastman in London on March 12, 1969. The following year McCartney took the initiative to dissolve the Beatles and release a solo debut album around that same time, called simply McCartney.In 1971, with all legal issues resolved, the Beatles ceased to exist, and the books were closed on one of the epic chapters of modern music. Time's Kurt Loder noted in retrospect that the Beatles were, "the most fabulously successful band of all time," having sold more than 100 million recordings at the time of the breakup. McCartney by then was a multimillionaire and not yet 30 years old.


After the Beatles disbanded, McCartney settled into a countryside retreat in Sussex, England, and devoted himself largely to his new family. Professionally he assembled a band called Wings in 1972, and toured with that group through 1981. After working solo for nearly a decade during the 1980s, he embarked on an international tour in 1989.

McCartney, who cannot read music, diverged nonetheless into composing classical music in the 1990s. He used the advice of his 1967 Sgt. Pepperlyric and enlisted "a little help from his friends" in putting his classical compositions to paper. His Liverpool Oratorioof 1991 was produced by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa singing soprano and Jerry Hadley as tenor. The effort was a critical success, and again in 1997, McCartney composed a four-movement classical symphony called Standing Stone.The London Symphony Orchestra recorded the piece on an album that reached number one on the Billboardclassical chart.

McCartney spent much of the 1980s and 1990s involved in social activism and charitable causes. In the late 1980s he initiated the establishment of the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts in the renovated structure of the Liverpool Institute where he had attended school. After six years of fundraising, restoration, and planning, the new school opened in 1995. In recognition of his exceptional life, on March 11, 1997, the Queen dubbed McCartney a Knight of the British Empire, and thus he became Sir Paul McCartney.

By 1998 McCartney's monetary worth was estimated at $860 million, although the copyrights to the more than 200 songs that he wrote or co-wrote during his years with the Beatles remained in dispute after being sold and resold under questionable circumstances. Among them was the provocative ballad "Yesterday," which McCartney penned in 1965 after hearing the song in a dream. By the late 1990s nearly 2,500 artists had recorded the song, making it the most recorded song in history. The topic of McCartney's songwriting career with Lennon was the focus of a 1997 biography by Barry Miles, Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now.

McCartney was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony held on March 15, 1999. The following month, on April 30, 1999, he displayed 73 canvases at an exhibition at the Kunstforum Lyz in Siegen, Germany. The works were among a reported 600 paintings that he had completed as a hobby since 1982. Also in 1999, he released Run Devil Run,a vintage album in collaboration with popular artists including Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, McCartney retired to a 160-acre farm in Peasmarsh, England, following the tragic death of his wife Linda in 1998 after 29 years of marriage. His activities kept him frequently in the company of the couple's four grown children and a grandchild. He continued to perform at special affairs and benefits.

The year following his wife's death, McCartney produced an album of songs, Wild Prairie, which Linda had written and recorded. McCartney was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March of 1999 as a solo artist. It was the first time he performed live since the death of his wife. Later that year McCartney released the album Run Devil Run which was a collection of McCartney covers of vintage rock songs by Carl Perkins, Larry Williams, and Little Richard. Then in October of 1999 he released Working Classical, which featured three new short orchestral pieces. A Garland for Linda, an album to commemorate the life of his late wife and raise funds for cancer research, was released in January of 2000. The album featured McCartney's original music as well as that of other contemporary composers. McCartney's son James wrote two songs for Driving Rain, which was released in 2001. He also played guitar for the album.

In 2000, McCartney began dating Heather Mills, a former model and active political advocate. A year later, they were engaged and in June 2002, the couple wed at an Irish castle. In October of 2003 McCartney released the album, Maximum. The release was somewhat overshadowed, however by the fact that on October 28, 2003 McCartney and his wife welcomed the birth of their first child together, a baby girl named Beatrice Milly McCartney. It was in October too that McCartney was named the highest-paid entertainer in Britain and that he led the latest Sunday Times list of Britain's most affluent pop stars.

In April of 2004 McCartney, focusing on a much younger market than usual, wrote the music and stories for the DVD Paul McCartney: The Music and Animation Collection, released by Miramax Home Entertainment. And the socially conscious McCartney and his wife announced that they had started an auction to Adopt-A-Minefield with many stars from around the world attending and playing and hosting. The auction was held to give money to a UN charity to help rid the world of landmines.

The year 2005 was a big one for McCartney. In February of 2005 McCartney headlined the Super Bowl XXXIX halftime show. Then in October McCartney published the children's book, High in the Clouds: An Urban Furry Tail, based on the animated film Tropic Island Hum. He had been working on the book for two years and was very excited about its release. It was thought that the book would be a best seller as soon as it was released. In September 2005 McCartney's album, Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard, was released. Billboard magazine said of the album, "Thirty-five years into his solo career, Paul McCartney continues to surprise, opening this set with four of his best songs in ages." And it looked like McCartney would still be going strong in the years to come.

by Gloria Cooksey

Paul McCartney's Career

Member of the Beatles, 1957-71; solo and with Wings, 1970-81; international tour, 1989; classical compositions, 1990s.

Paul McCartney's Awards

Order of the British Empire, 1965; Academy Award, Best Original Song Score (as a member of the Beatles), Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1970; Freedom of the City of Liverpool, 1984; Lifetime Achievement Award, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 1996; Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire, 1997; Ivor Novello awards for International Achievement, 1980; International Hit of the Year (with Stevie Wonder), "Ebony and Ivory," 1982; and outstanding contribution to music, 1989; inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1999; Ivor Novello Fellowship, BACS, 2000; 14 Grammy Awards (including nine as a member of the Beatles, two as a member of Wings, and the Lifetime Achievement Award, 1990).

Famous Works

Recent Updates

May 17, 2006: McCartney and his wife Heather Mills McCartney have amicably seperated after nearly four years of marriage. The couple has a two-year-old daughter, Beatrice. Source: USA Today,, May 17, 2006.

July 2006: McCartney filed for divorce from Heather Mills, his wife of five years. The couple has one daughter together. Source: E! Online,, July 31, 2006.

Further Reading



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