Happy Birthday to Paul McCartney, who turns 71 years old today (June 18th). To date, McCartney is the most successful songwriter in history, having written or co-written 30 U.S. Number One hits. McCartney met his original songwriting partner John Lennon on July 6th, 1957 at a church social where Lennon was performing. After joining Lennon's band, the Quarrymen, McCartney persuaded Lennon to add his friend George Harrison in 1958, and the seeds of the Beatles were born. Ringo Starr joined the group in 1962.
Over 50 years since starting his musical career, and having written some of the most beloved music of the 20th century, McCartney is still unable to read or write a note of music: "I can think songs up, I can think arrangements, I can structure things, but I can't physically write stuff down on a page. I always had a kind of dyslexia when I was a kid. I was taking piano lessons -- I took them at a few points in me life. Whenever I did, it always seemed boring, it always seemed like homework -- I don't wanna put any students off who are learning properly. I always had great difficulties with it."
McCartney is currently working on his first new original album since 2007's Memory Almost Full, and admits that his past figures in quite heavily when working up new material: "Y'know, you reference most things you do either to, 'Would that work with the Beatles? Would this be a good Wings song? Would John (Lennon) like this?' Y'know, 'What would George play on this?' -- and stuff. I think you do that. I often think of John."
Out now is McCartney's deluxe and expanded version of Wings' 1976 triple-album live set, Wings Over America. Also newly released is the album's 1980 accompanying concert film, Rockshow. The reissue follows the 2012 Grammy Award-winning deluxe version of his second solo album 1971's Ram. In 2011, the "McCartney Archive Collection" saw the release of both of McCartney's legendary "one-man-band" solo sets -- 1970's McCartney and 1980's and McCartney II, which followed 2010's inaugural reissue of Wings' 1973 set, Band On The Run. McCartney's last studio album was the 2012 primarily standards set, Kisses On The Bottom, which snagged the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album earlier this year.
McCartney married photographer Linda Eastman in 1969 and they had four children -- Mary, Stella and James -- and McCartney adopted Linda's daughter Heather from her previous marriage.
After the Beatles' breakup in 1971, the pair formed the solo group Wings in 1971, which scored a number of Top Ten hits, including the Number Ones "My Love," "Band On The Run," "Listen To What the Man Said," "Silly Love Songs," "With A Little Luck," and "Coming Up." McCartney disbanded the group in 1981.
After Linda McCartney's death from cancer in 1998, McCartney married Heather Mills in 2002. A daughter, Beatrice Milly followed in 2003. The couple divorced in 2008 with Mills receiving a $48.6 payout from McCartney. On what would have been John Lennon's 71st birthday -- October 9th, 2011 -- McCartney walked down the isle for a third time with his girlfriend of four years, 51-year-old New York socialite, Nancy Shevell.
Last year, McCartney released the pop-jazz collection, Kisses On The Bottom, which peaked at Number Five. McCartney told us that it was nice to work outside the confines of the rock world, which can seem to be pretty cut and dried once you hit the studio: "So it was nice, it was a good way to work. There was no preconceived ideas and I think we all feel like we contributed. And then we'd throw John Pizzarelli or one of the guys the solo; 'Hey John, you wanna take a solo?' -- and y'know, you can do that in the jazz world, 'cause they're used to doing that -- and they just go, 'Yeah, OK' and they take a solo.' And so nobody's ever heard that solo before. It was really, really nice. I think it comes over a bit on the album, the freshness. I hope it does, anyway."
McCartney has often said that his main objective in life is to enjoy himself: "The other thing is, y'know, I do like what I do. It's not really hard work for me. I love to paint. I love to write poetry. I love to make music. I mean, even talking to you is not a pressure (laughs)." )
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