Paul McCartney was born on this date in 1942, so today we can celebrate 68 years of singer, musician, songwriter, actor, artist, and author, Paul McCartney. To be honest, he didn’t start composing hits on the day he was born, though, if anyone could, it would be him. Technically, the earliest the larger world knows of him dates back to 1961, when he was just a back-up musician for little-known singer Tony Sheridan.
He, and some of the other members of that backing band would soon become known as the Beatles. Together, they rocked Hamburg.
Performances like that built up their following enough to become the biggest rock ‘n’ roll act in the UK.
Eventually, the Beatles made it big in America. Many people’s lives changed forever after seeing this performance on TV’s The Ed Sullivan Show.
He is also a prolific songwriter, composing hits for Mary Hopkins, Badfinger, and this No.1 hit for Peter & Gordon, “A World Without Love”.
As part of the biggest band in the world, he made his acting debut in A Hard Day’s Night. The success of that movie led to Help! and a cartoon mostly inspired by the music he co-wrote with bandmate John Lennon, Yellow Submarine.
Not everything he touched was successful, though. He came up with most of the ideas in the zany Magical Mystery Tour film, which was harshly criticized when it was first released. He also starred in and wrote the screenplay for 1985’s Give My Regards to Broadstreet, which remains underrated to this very day.
When the Beatles broke up in 1970, the acclaimed documentary Let It Be left us with their final performance together.
McCartney wasn’t the first former Beatle to release a single, but he was the first to put out a solo album. While McCartney was largely panned by music critics, the public liked it enough that it sold double platinum.
His wife, Linda was a constant source of inspiration and the two frequently recorded together. After their No.1 hit, “Another Day”, the two formed a group with Denny Seiwell, Hugh McCracken, and David Spinozza that would become known as Wings.
Despite many changes to the group’s line-up, Wings prospered. The peak of their critical and commercial success was the Band on the Run album. It was at this point in history that McCartney began touring again, with “Wings Over America” becoming his first of nine live albums.
When Wings broke up, McCartney continued his solo career. His 1980 McCartney II album is full of experimental electronic music, a rarity on pop albums in those days. As recently as 2008, he continued to experiment with techno music under the name of “The Fireman”, alongside music producer Youth.
Some of McCartney’s fans were shocked by the music he released in the 1980’s. During that decade he recorded the hit “Ebony and Ivory”, a duet with Stevie Wonder, and his last No. 1 (for now), “Say Say Say”, with Michael Jackson.
In the 1990’s, McCartney became a published author with the poetry collection Blackbird Singing and Up in the Clouds, a children’s book that’s rumored to soon be turned into an animated movie. He also released a collection of his paintings in book form. He also worked on three classical albums during the decade.
McCartney played the half-time show at Superbowl XXXIX in 2002. The albums he released in that decade, “Driving Rain”, “Chaos & Creation in the Backyard”, and “Memory Almost Full” are considered amongst music critics to be his very best.
This month, McCartney received the Gershwin Prize from the Library of Congress for his songwriting skills. The star-studded ceremony will be aired as a TV special on PBS in July. Meanwhile, McCartney continues to tour, with his most recent concert being in Dublin, Ireland on June 12.
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