Paul McCartney

James Paul McCartney was born in Liverpool on June 18, 1942. His mother, Mary, was a nurse, and his father, James McCartney, worked as a salesman for one of Liverpool’s oldest established cotton brokers. McCartney Senior was also a keen amateur musician, who in the 1920s played in a big band in his spare time. In 1944, Paul’s brother Mike was born, and for many years the family moved around from house to house, and it was not until 1956 that they managed to find a permanent home. Paul grew up in a close-knit family environment with numerous aunts and uncles, where there was always plenty of singing and dancing at gatherings and parties, and he learned to play the piano from his father so he could accompany the singing at these knees-ups. He did well at school, was quick, albeit with a marked dislike of homework. He easily got into grammar school as an 11-year-old, but an academic career was never on the cards as the young McCartney simply did not have the patience for books.

At home on Forthlin Road, Paul wrote his first songs as a teenager, and at just 14 years old, he wrote the tune for the song which would become "When I’m Sixty Four." It was around this time, in 1956, that he experienced one of the greatest sorrows of his life, when his beloved mother died of breast cancer, at only 47 years old. He later paid tribute to her in the song "Let It Be", which starts with the words "When I find myself in times of trouble / Mother Mary comes to me…"

At that time, the USA was the promised land for English teens, and when American rock 'n' roll took off in 1956 with Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and many others, the music electrified Paul McCartney, and the guitar became his instrument of choice. Left-handed as he was, however, he had to learn to string it the other way around. The historic 1957 meeting with John Lennon proved a defining moment, providing a catalyst for both their songwriting ambitions. McCartney joined Lennon's band the Quarrymen, which evolved into the Beatles, in which they both sang. After various reshuffles, Paul ended up as the group's bassist, an instrument whose possibilities he explored to the utmost and set a new standard for.

The reason the group's popularity exploded in 1963 was largely down to their songs, the vast majority of which were composed by Lennon-McCartney. At the beginning of their careers, they wrote face-to-face, producing such classics as "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand". In the early years, the group toured virtually uninterruptedly around the world, and many of the early songs were written in hotel rooms, but as they got established in and around London, they increasingly began to work individually, but always played their songs to each other to get the other one’s criticism, ideas and input.

It became clearer over the years who had written what, and there was no doubt that McCartney was the one with an ear for unforgettable tunes. Songs like "Things We Said Today", "Yesterday", "Michelle", "Eleanor Rigby", "She's Leaving Home", "Blackbird” and "Let It Be" are all McCartney classics, although he could also produce rockers such as “I Saw Her Standing There”, “Helter Skelter” and “Get Back”.

After the Beatles, he and his wife Linda formed the group Wings, which enjoyed great popularity in the 1970s. Since 1980, he has established himself as one of the world's most beloved entertainers, touring extensively and releasing close to 30 albums in various genres.

Translated by Pete Westbrook