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Date of Birth: 18/06/1942
Biography: Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE is an English musician, singer-songwriter and composer. Formerly of The Beatles (1960-1970) and Wings (1971-1981), McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100 million singles in the United Kingdom alone.
McCartney gained worldwide fame as a member of The Beatles, alongside 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 songs in the history of rock music. After leaving The Beatles, McCartney launched a successful solo career and formed the band Wings with his first wife, Linda Eastman, and singer-songwriter Denny Laine.
BBC News Online readers named McCartney the "greatest composer of the millennium", and BBC News cites his Beatles song "Yesterday" as the most covered song in the history of recorded music - by over 2,200 artists - and since its 1965 release, has been played more than 7,000,000 times on American television and radio according to the BBC. Wings' 1977 single "Mull of Kintyre" became the first single to sell more than two million copies in the United Kingdom, and remains the UK's top selling non-charity single. Based on the 93 weeks his compositions have spent at the top spot of the UK chart, and 24 number one singles to his credit, McCartney is the most successful songwriter in UK singles chart history. As a performer or songwriter, McCartney was responsible for 31 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, and has sold 15.5 million RIAA certified albums in the United States alone.
McCartney has composed film scores, classical and electronic music, released a large catalogue of songs as a solo artist, and has taken part in projects to help international charities. He is an advocate for animal rights, for vegetarianism, and for music education; he is active in campaigns against landmines, seal hunting, and Third World debt. He is a keen football fan, supporting both Everton and Liverpool football clubs. His company MPL Communications owns the copyrights to more than 3,000 songs, including all of the songs written by Buddy Holly, along with the publishing rights to such musicals as Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, and Grease. McCartney is one of the UK's wealthiest people, with an estimated fortune of £475 million in 2010.
McCartney was born in Walton Hospital in Liverpool, England, where his mother, Mary (nee Mohan), had worked as a nurse in the maternity ward. He has one brother, Michael, born 1944. McCartney was baptised Roman Catholic but was raised non-denominationally: his mother was Roman Catholic and his father James, or "Jim" McCartney, was a Protestant turned agnostic.
In 1947, he began attending Stockton Wood Road Primary School. He then attended the Joseph Williams Junior School and passed the 11-plus exam in 1953 with three others out of the 90 examinees, thus gaining admission to the Liverpool Institute. In 1954, while taking the bus from his home in the suburb of Speke to the Institute, he met George Harrison, who lived nearby. Passing the exam meant that McCartney and Harrison could go to a grammar school rather than a secondary modern school, which the majority of pupils attended until they were eligible to work, but as grammar school pupils, they had to find new friends.
In 1955, the McCartney family moved to 20 Forthlin Road in Allerton. Mary McCartney rode a bicycle to houses where she was needed as a midwife, and an early McCartney memory is of her leaving when it was snowing heavily. On 31 October 1956, Mary McCartney died of an embolism after a mastectomy operation to stop the spread of her breast cancer. The early loss of his mother later connected McCartney with John Lennon, whose mother Julia died after being struck by a car when Lennon was 17.
McCartney's father was a trumpet player and pianist who had led Jim Mac's Jazz Band in the 1920s and encouraged his two sons to be musical. Jim had an upright piano in the front room that he had bought from Epstein's North End Music Stores. McCartney's grandfather, Joe McCartney, played an E-flat tuba. Jim McCartney used to point out the different instruments in songs on the radio, and often took McCartney to local brass band concerts. McCartney's father gave him a nickel-plated trumpet, but when skiffle music became popular, McCartney swapped the trumpet for a £15 Framus Zenith (model 17) acoustic guitar. As he was left-handed, McCartney found right-handed guitars difficult to play, but when he saw a poster advertising a Slim Whitman concert, he realised that Whitman played left-handed with his guitar strung the opposite way to a right-handed player. McCartney wrote his first song ("I Lost My Little Girl") on the Zenith, and also played his father's Framus Spanish guitar when writing early songs with Lennon. He later learned to play the piano and wrote his second song, "When I'm Sixty-Four". On his father's advice, he took music lessons, but since he preferred to learn 'by ear' he never paid much attention to them.
McCartney was heavily influenced by American Rhythm and Blues music. He has stated that Little Richard was his idol when he was in school and that the first song he ever sang in public was "Long Tall Sally", at a Butlins holiday camp talent competition.
At the age of 15, McCartney met John Lennon and The Quarrymen at the St. Peter's Church Hall fete in Woolton on 6 July 1957. He formed a close working relationship with Lennon and they collaborated writing many songs. Harrison joined the group in early 1958 as lead guitarist, followed in early 1960 by Lennon's art school friend, Stuart Sutcliffe on bass. By May 1960, they had tried several new names, including "Johnny and the Moondogs" and "The Silver Beetles", playing a tour of Scotland under that name with Johnny Gentle. They finally changed the name of the group to "The Beatles" in mid-August 1960 and recruited Pete Best at short-notice to become their drummer for an imminent engagement in Hamburg.
From August 1960, The Beatles were booked by Allan Williams, to perform at a club in Hamburg. During extended stays over the next two years, The Beatles performed as a resident group in a number of Hamburg clubs. On returns to Liverpool they played at the Cavern club. Prior to the end of the residency, Sutcliffe left the band, so McCartney, reluctantly, became The Beatles' bass player. The Beatles recorded their first published musical material in Hamburg, performing as the backing group for Tony Sheridan on the single "My Bonnie". This recording later brought the Beatles to the attention of a key figure in their subsequent development and commercial success, Brian Epstein, who became their next manager. Epstein eventually negotiated a record contract for the group with Parlophone in May 1962. After replacing Best with Ringo Starr on drums, The Beatles became popular in the UK in 1963 and in the US in 1964. In 1965, they were each appointed Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). After performing concerts, plays, and tours almost non-stop for a period of nearly four years, and giving more than one thousand four hundred live performances internationally, The Beatles gave their last commercial concert at the end of their 1966 US tour. They continued to work in the recording studio from 1966 until their break-up in 1970. In the eight years from 1962 to 1970, the group had released twenty-four UK singles and twelve studio albums, often released in different configurations in the USA and other countries.
After the break-up of The Beatles, McCartney continued his musical career, in solo work as well as in collaborations with other musicians. After releasing his solo album McCartney in 1970, he worked with Linda McCartney to record the album Ram in 1971. Later the same year, the pair were joined by guitarist Denny Laine and drummer Denny Seiwell to form the group Wings, which was active between 1971 and 1981 and released numerous successful singles and albums.
Loves and wives: McCartney first met the British actress Jane Asher on 18 April 1963, when a photographer asked them to pose together at a Beatles performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The two began a relationship and McCartney took up residence with Asher at her parents' house at 57 Wimpole Street London, where he lived for nearly three years before the couple moved to McCartney's own house in St. John's Wood. McCartney wrote several songs while at the Ashers', including "Yesterday" and several inspired by Asher, among them "And I Love Her", "You Won't See Me", and "I'm Looking Through You". McCartney and Asher had a five-year relationship, and they planned to marry, but Asher broke off the engagement when she discovered McCartney had become involved with another woman, Francie Schwartz. However, Schwartz stated that McCartney and Asher had already broken up before the incident.
While living at the Asher house, McCartney took piano lessons at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which The Beatles' producer Martin had previously attended. McCartney studied composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Luciano Berio. McCartney later wrote and released several pieces of modern classical music and ambient electronica, besides writing poetry and painting. McCartney is lead patron of the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, an arts school in the building formerly occupied by the Liverpool Institute for Boys. The 1837 building, which McCartney attended during his schooldays, had become derelict by the mid-1980s. On 7 June 1996, Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the redeveloped building.
In 1969, McCartney married American photographer Linda Eastman, whom he described as the woman who gave him "the strength and courage to work again" after the break-up of The Beatles. The pair had met previously at a 1967 Georgie Fame concert at The Bag O'Nails club, during her UK assignment to take photographs of "Swinging Sixties" musicians in London. Paul and Linda were both vegetarian and supported the animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They had four children - Linda's daughter Heather (who was adopted by Paul), Mary, Stella and James - and remained married until Linda's death from breast cancer in 1998.
In 2002, McCartney married Heather Mills, a former model and anti-landmines campaigner. The couple had a child, Beatrice, in 2003. They separated in May 2006 and were divorced in May 2008. Widespread animosity towards McCartney's wives was reported in 2004. "They [the British public] didn't like me giving up on Jane Asher", McCartney said. "I married a New York divorcee with a child, and at the time they didn't like that."
McCartney married New Yorker Nancy Shevell in a civil ceremony at Old Marylebone Town Hall, London on 9 October 2011. The wedding was a "low-key affair" attended by group of around 30 family and friends. The couple had been dating since November 2007. A breast cancer survivor, she is a member of the board of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority as well as vice president of a family-owned transportation conglomerate which owns New England Motor Freight.