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Sir James Paul McCartney

Thursday, August 01, 2013
Black and white photograph of McCartney standing onstage holding a bass guitar. He is wearing a dark suit.Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE (born 18 June 1942) is an English musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and composer. With John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame as a member of the Beatles, and his songwriting partnership with Lennon is one of the most celebrated of the 20th century. After the band's break-up, he pursued a solo career, later forming Wings with his first wife, Linda, and singer-songwriter Denny Laine.
Guinness World Records described McCartney as the "most successful composer and recording artist of all time", with 60 gold discs and sales of over 100 million albums and 100 million singles, and as the "most successful songwriter" in United Kingdom chart history.[1] More than 2,200 artists have covered his Beatles song "Yesterday", more than any other song in history. Wings' 1977 release "Mull of Kintyre" is one of the all-time best-selling singles in the UK. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in March 1999, McCartney has written, or co-written 32 songs that have reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and as of 2013 he has sold over 15.5 million RIAA-certified units in the United States.
McCartney has released an extensive catalogue of songs as a solo artist and has composed classical and electronic music. He has taken part in projects to promote international charities related to such subjects as animal rights, seal hunting, landmines, vegetarianism, poverty, and music education. McCartney has married three times and is the father of five children.

1960–1970: the Beatles

A black-and-white image of Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr waving to fans after arriving in America in 1964. A crowd is visible behind them on the left.
McCartney (second from left) with Lennon, Harrison and Starr, 1964
Informally represented by Allan Williams, the Beatles' first booking was for a series of performances in Hamburg, starting in 1960.[23][nb 2] In 1961, Sutcliffe left the band and McCartney reluctantly became their bass player.[25] They recorded professionally for the first time while in Hamburg, credited as the Beat Brothers, as the backing band for English singer Tony Sheridan on the single "My Bonnie".[26] This brought them to the attention of Brian Epstein, a key figure in their subsequent development and success. He became their manager in January 1962.[27] Ringo Starr replaced Best in August, and the band had their first hit, "Love Me Do", in October, becoming popular in the UK in 1963, and in the US a year later. Their fans' hysteria became known as "Beatlemania", and the press sometimes referred to McCartney as the "cute Beatle".[28][nb 3][nb 4]
In 1965, the Beatles released the McCartney composition "Yesterday", featuring a string quartet. Included on the Help! LP, the song was the group's first recorded use of classical music elements and their first recording that involved only a single band member.[31] "Yesterday" became the most covered song in popular music history.[32] Later that year, during recording sessions for the album Rubber Soul, McCartney began to supplant Lennon as the dominant musical force in the band. Musicologist Ian MacDonald wrote, "from [1965] ... [McCartney] would be in the ascendant not only as a songwriter, but also as instrumentalist, arranger, producer, and de facto musical director".[33] Critics described Rubber Soul as a significant advance in the refinement and profundity of the band's music and lyrics.[34] Considered a high point in the Beatles catalogue, both Lennon and McCartney claimed lead authorship for the song, "In My Life".[35] McCartney said of the album, "we'd had our cute period, and now it was time to expand."[36] Recording engineer Norman Smith stated that the Rubber Soul sessions exposed indications of increasing contention within the band: "the clash between John and Paul was becoming obvious ... [and] as far as Paul was concerned, George [Harrison] could do no right—Paul was absolutely finicky."[37]
In 1966, the Beatles released the album Revolver. Featuring sophisticated lyrics, studio experimentation, and an expanded repertoire of musical genres ranging from innovative string arrangements to psychedelic rock, the album marked an artistic leap for the Beatles.[38] The first of three consecutive McCartney A-sides, the single "Paperback Writer" preceded the LP's release.[39] The Beatles produced a short promotional film for the song, and another for its B-side, "Rain". The films, described by Harrison as "the forerunner of videos", aired on The Ed Sullivan Show and Top of the Pops in June 1966.[40] Revolver also included McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby", which featured a string octet. According to Gould, the song is "a neoclassical tour de force ... a true hybrid, conforming to no recognizable style or genre of song".[41] With the exception of some backing vocals, the song included only McCartney's lead vocal and the strings arranged by producer George Martin.[42][nb 5]
The Beatles, holding marching band instruments and wearing colourful uniforms, standing near a grave covered with flowers that spell "Beatles". Standing behind the band are several dozen famous people.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, "the most famous cover of any music album", wrote Beatles biographer Bill Harry.[44]
The band gave their final commercial concert at the end of their 1966 US tour.[45] Later that year, McCartney completed his first musical project apart from the group—a film score for the UK production The Family Way. The score was a collaboration with Martin, who used two McCartney themes to write thirteen variations. The soundtrack failed to chart, but it won McCartney an Ivor Novello Award for Best Instrumental Theme.[46]
Upon the end of the Beatles' performing career, McCartney sensed unease in the band and wanted them to maintain creative productivity. He pressed them to start a new project, which became Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, widely regarded as rock's first concept album.[47] Inspired to create a new persona for the group, to serve as a vehicle for experimentation and to demonstrate to their fans that they had musically matured, McCartney invented the fictional band of the album's title track.[48] As McCartney explained, "We were fed up with being the Beatles. We really hated that fucking four little mop-top approach. We were not boys we were men ... and [we] thought of ourselves as artists rather than just performers."[49]
Starting in November 1966, the band adopted an experimental attitude during recording sessions for the album.[50] According to engineer Geoff Emerick, "the Beatles were looking to go out on a limb, both musically and sonically ... we were utilising a lot of tape varispeeding and other manipulation techniques ... limiters and ... effects like flanging and ADT."[51] Their recording of "A Day in the Life" required a forty-piece orchestra, which Martin and McCartney took turns conducting.[52] The sessions produced the double A-side single "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane" in February 1967, and the LP followed in June.[29][nb 6] McCartney's "She's Leaving Home" was an orchestral pop song. MacDonald described the track as "[among] the finest work on Sgt. Pepper — imperishable popular art of its time."[54] Based on an ink drawing by McCartney, the LP's cover included a collage designed by pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, featuring the Beatles in costume as the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, standing with a host of celebrities.[55][nb 7] The heavy moustaches worn by the Beatles reflected the growing influence of hippie style trends on the band, while their clothing "spoofed the vogue in Britain for military fashions", wrote Gould.[57] Scholar David Scott Kastan described Sgt. Pepper as "the most important and influential rock-and-roll album ever recorded".[58]
"After Brian died ... Paul took over and supposedly led us you know ... we went round in circles ... We broke up then. That was the disintegration. I thought, 'we've fuckin' had it.'"[59]
—John Lennon, Rolling Stone magazine, 1970
Epstein's death in August 1967 created a void, which left the Beatles perplexed and concerned about their future.[60] McCartney, stepping in to fill that void, gradually became the de facto leader and business manager of the group Lennon had once led.[61] His first creative suggestion after this change of leadership was to propose that the band move forward on their plans to produce a film for television, which was to become Magical Mystery Tour. The project was "an administrative nightmare throughout", according to Beatles' historian Mark Lewisohn.[62] McCartney largely directed the film, which brought the group their first unfavourable critical response.[63] However, the film's soundtrack was more successful. It was released in the UK as a six-track double extended play disc (EP), and as an identically titled LP in the US, filled out with five songs from the band's recent singles.[29] The only Capitol compilation later included in the group's official canon of studio albums, the Magical Mystery Tour LP achieved $8 million in sales within three weeks of its release, higher initial sales than any other Capitol LP up to that point.[64]
In January 1968, EMI filmed the Beatles for a promotional trailer intended to advertise the animated film Yellow Submarine, loosely based on the imaginary world evoked by McCartney's 1966 composition. Though critics admired the film for its visual style, humour and music, the soundtrack album issued seven months later received a less enthusiastic response.[65] By late 1968, relations within the band were deteriorating. The tension grew while recording The Beatles, commonly known as the White Album.[66][nb 8] Matters worsened the following year during the Let It Be sessions, when a camera crew filmed McCartney lecturing the group: "We've been very negative since Mr. Epstein passed away ... we were always fighting [his] discipline a bit, but it's silly to fight that discipline if it's our own".[68]
In March 1969, McCartney married Linda Eastman, and in August, the couple had their first child, Mary, named after his late mother.[69] For Abbey Road, the band's last recorded album, Martin suggested "a continuously moving piece of music", urging the group to think symphonically.[70] McCartney agreed, but Lennon did not. They eventually compromised, agreeing to McCartney's suggestion: an LP featuring individual songs on side one, and a long medley on side two.[70][nb 9]
On 10 April 1970, in the midst of business disagreements with his bandmates, McCartney announced his departure from the group.[72] He filed suit for the band's formal dissolution on 31 December 1970. More legal disputes followed as McCartney's attorneys, his in-laws John and Lee Eastman, fought Lennon, Harrison, and Starr's business manager, Allen Klein, over royalties and creative control. An English court legally dissolved the Beatles on 9 January 1975, though sporadic lawsuits against their record company EMI, Klein, and each other persisted until 1989.[61][nb 10][nb 11]

2000–2010

Having witnessed the 11 September 2001 attacks from the JFK airport tarmac, McCartney was inspired to take a leading role in organising the Concert for New York City. His studio album release in November that year, Driving Rain, included the song "Freedom", written in response to the attacks.[161][nb 37] The following year, McCartney went out on tour with a band that included guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, accompanied by Paul "Wix" Wickens on keyboards and Abe Laboriel, Jr. on drums.[163] They began the Driving World Tour in April 2002, which included stops in the US, Mexico and Japan. The tour resulted in the double live album Back in the U.S., released internationally in 2003 as Back in the World.[164][nb 38][nb 39] The tour earned a reported $126.2 million, an average of over $2 million per night, and Billboard named it the top tour of the year.[166]
In July 2002, McCartney married Heather Mills. In November, on the first anniversary of George Harrison's death, McCartney performed at the Concert for George.[167] He participated in the National Football League's Super Bowl, performing "Freedom" during the pre-game show for Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 and headlining the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005.[168] The English College of Arms honoured McCartney in 2002 by granting him a coat of arms. His crest, featuring a Liver Bird holding an acoustic guitar in its claw, reflects his background in Liverpool and his musical career. The shield includes four curved emblems which resemble beetles' backs. The arms' motto is Ecce Cor Meum, Latin for "Behold My Heart".[169] In 2003, the McCartneys had a child, Beatrice Milly.[170]
McCartney and Starr standing on a stage facing each other both with microphones help up to their mouths. Both men are wearing dark suits, McCartney is wearing a pink shirt, and Starr a black-and-white print.
Starr and McCartney promoting The Beatles: Rock Band in 2009
In July 2005, he performed at the Live 8 event in Hyde Park, London, opening the show with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (with U2) and closing it with "Drive My Car" (with George Michael), "Helter Skelter", and "The Long and Winding Road".[171][nb 40] In September, he released the rock album Chaos and Creation in the Backyard, for which he provided most of the instrumentation.[173][nb 41][nb 42] In 2006, McCartney released the classical work Ecce Cor Meum.[176][nb 43] The rock album Memory Almost Full followed in 2007.[177][nb 44] In 2008, he released his third Fireman album, Electric Arguments.[179][nb 45] Also in 2008, he performed at a concert in Liverpool to celebrate the city's year as European Capital of Culture. In 2009, after a four-year break, he returned to touring and has since performed over 80 shows.[181] More than forty-five years after the Beatles first appeared on American television during The Ed Sullivan Show, he returned to the same New York theatre to perform on Late Show with David Letterman.[182] On 9 September 2009, EMI reissued the Beatles catalogue following a four-year digital remastering effort, releasing a music video game called The Beatles: Rock Band the same day.[183]
McCartney's enduring fame has made him a popular choice to open new venues. In 2009, he played three sold-out concerts at the newly built Citi Field—a venue constructed to replace Shea Stadium in Queens, New York. These performances yielded the double live album Good Evening New York City later that year.[184] In 2010, McCartney opened the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[185][nb 46]

2011–present

In July 2011, McCartney played two sold-out concerts at the new Yankee Stadium. A New York Times review of the first concert reported that McCartney was "not saying goodbye but touring stadiums and playing marathon concerts."[187] In September 2011, having been commissioned by the New York City Ballet, McCartney released his first score for dance, a collaboration with Peter Martins called Ocean's Kingdom.[188] Also in 2011, McCartney married Nancy Shevell.[189] He released Kisses on the Bottom, a collection of standards, in February 2012; that same month the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences honoured him as the MusiCares Person of the Year, two days prior to his performance at the 54th Grammy Awards.[190]
As of 2013, McCartney remains one of the world's top draws. He played to over 100,000 people total during two performances in Mexico City in May, the shows grossing nearly $6 million.[191][nb 47] In June 2012, McCartney closed Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee Concert held outside Buckingham Palace, performing a set that included "Let It Be" and "Live and Let Die".[193] He closed the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on 27 July, singing "The End" and "Hey Jude" and inviting the audience to join in on the coda.[194] Having donated his time, he received £1 from the Olympic organisers.[195] On 12 December, McCartney performed with three former members of Nirvana: Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl, and Pat Smear during the closing act of 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief, seen by approximately two billion people worldwide.[196]
 
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