Born on June 18, 1942, in Liverpool, England; son of James and Mary Patricia (Mohin) McCartney; married Linda Eastman, 1969 (died, 1998); married Heather Mills, 2002 (divorced, 2006); children: Heather (stepdaughter), Mary, Stella, James, and Beatrice Milly. Education: Attended Liverpool Institute. Addresses: Office--MPL Communications, Inc., 41 West 54th St., New York, NY 10019. Record company--Capitol, 1750 N. Vine St., Los Angeles, CA, 90028. Website--Paul McCartney Official Website:

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 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 as a solo artist and with the band Wings. Out of all the Beatles, McCartney had the most successful solo career.

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 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.

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. 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 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. 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.

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, Help and 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. 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.

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. At his new home, McCartney recorded his second solo album with the help of Linda. Ram was released in 1971 and later that year, McCartney gathered a group of musicians and he and Linda formed the band Wings. The new outfit released their first album, Wild Life, in late 1971. In 1972, traveling in a van, McCartney and Wings went on a small tour of the United Kingdom to play small venues and universities. McCartney and Wings released Red Rose Speedway in the spring of 1973, which launched international success with the ballad "My Love," and the band's first large tour of the United Kingdom. That same year, Wings recorded the title song for the James Bond film Live and Let Die, which became a top ten hit on both sides of the Atlantic. In late 1973, Wings finally got unanimously positive press when they scored a hit with the album Band on the Run. The title song and singles like "Jet" and "Bluebird" put the record at the top of the charts.

Wings Kept Him on Top of the Charts

Wings albums that followed, such as 1976's At the Speed of Sound and 1978's London Town, kept McCartney's songwriting at the top of the charts worldwide in the 1970s, just as he had in the 1960s with the Beatles. At the beginning of a Wings' Japanese tour for London Town, McCartney was arrested for marijuana possession and spent 10 days in jail before being released without any formal charges. After numerous line-up changes, and the release of McCartney's 1980 solo album McCartney II (on which he played every single instrument himself), Wings disbanded. Though McCartney had been part of two successful bands, he wanted to return to being a solo artist.

In 1982, McCartney had two hit singles on the radio: first was "Ebony and Ivory," a duet with Stevie Wonder from McCartney's George Martin-produced album Tug of War; the second was another duet, "The Girl is Mine" with Michael Jackson off Jackson's Thriller album. The next year, he had yet another popular duet with Jackson on the radio, the song "Say Say Say" from McCartney's 1983 record Pipes of Peace.

No stranger to the film world, in 1984, McCartney wrote and appeared in Give My Regards to Broad Street; Ringo Starr and Linda McCartney also appeared. While the movie went nowhere, its soundtrack spawned the hit song "No More Lonely Nights." McCartney wrote yet another movie theme song the next year, this time for the Dan Akroyd/Chevy Chase comedy Spies Like Us.

McCartney consistently continued to release solo albums in the 1980s like Press to Play (1986) and Flowers in the Dirt (1989). Many of the songs on Flowers in the Dirt were co-written with singer-songwriter Elvis Costello. The team also penned a few songs for Costello's Spike album that same year, including the hit "Veronica." The tour for Flowers resulted in the live album Tripping the Live Fantastic, the beginning of a string of live solo albums including an infamous MTV Unplugged album in 1991. McCartney soon delved into a career making classical music. His Liverpool Oratorio of 1991 was produced by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa singing soprano and Jerry Hadley as tenor. Curiously, in 1994, McCartney made a an ambient dance record under the name the Fireman.

McCartney and his wife spent much of the 1980s and 1990s involved in social activism and charitable causes; adamant vegetarians, they were most well-known for animal rights, speaking for PETA and other organizations. 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. In the same year, he released Flaming Pie, which echoed back to classic McCartney pop. Time magazine's Christopher John Farley called Flaming Pie "a relaxed, easygoing album."

On April 17, 1998, McCartney's life changed forever when his wife Linda died from breast cancer. He stayed out of the spotlight for some time following her death. In 1999, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony. After a period, McCartney returned to what he does best: recording. In 1999 he released the pop album Run Devil Run and the classical album Working Classical. The next year he put out the unusual electronica album Liverpool Sound Collage, around the same time the first official Beatles biography, The Beatles Anthology, was published. He soon returned to the studio to record his first album of all new songs since Flaming Pie. Just before he released the new record, Driving Rain, McCartney released Blackbird Singing, a book of poetry and song lyrics.

In June of 2002, McCartney married anti-landmines activist Heather Mills. On October 28, 2003 the couple welcomed their first child together, Beatrice Milly. McCartney and Mills later divorced in 2006. In February of 2005, McCartney performed during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXIX. Seven months later, he released the new album, Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. Produced by longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich, the album was a return to form for McCartney, who played almost every single instrument on the record. Time magazine's Josh Tyrangiel called the album, "... adventurous, melodic and emotionally complicated--the first album in his post-Fab Four catalog that really matters."

Chaos gave McCartney some of his best reviews in over a decade; many critics compared the new songs to some of the best Beatles tunes, or early solo McCartney albums. People noted that McCartney's voice sounded better than ever, "unscarred by time, yet more resonant than ever, that is the standout instrument." Shortly after Chaos, McCartney released the children's book High in the Clouds. In February of 2006, McCartney performed at the Grammy Awards where he was nominated for three awards. He played two songs with his band and then returned toward the end of the show to perform with hip-hop star Jay-Z and rock band Linkin Park for an unforgettable collaboration.

by Gloria Cooksey and Shannon McCarthy

Paul McCartney's Career

Joined group the Quarrymen, founded by John Lennon, in June, 1956; name changed to the Beatles, 1962; group performed in Liverpool area and in Hamburg, Germany, 1960-62; signed with Capitol/EMI Records, 1962; released first single, "Love Me Do," 1962; had first number one hit, "Please Please Me," 1963; group subsequently sold more than 100 million singles and 100 million albums and toured worldwide; group disbanded, 1970; released first solo album, McCartney, 1970; with wife Linda and others (principally studio musicians) formed Wings, 1971; had first number one hit with Wings, "Band on the Run," 1973; subsequently produced numerous platinum singles and albums, including Band on the Run, Live and Let Die, Wings at the Speed of Sound, and Pipes of Peace; wrote classical compositions, 1990s; owner of MPL Communications, Ltd., a music publishing firm; released Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, 2005.

Paul McCartney's Awards

Order of the British Empire, 1965; Academy Award, Best Original Song Score (as a member of the Beatles), 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; 13 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

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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