Musical Influences at an Early Age
Born in England in 1942, James Paul McCartney was exposed to music early on, receiving a trumpet from his father when he turned 14. Young Paul dabbled with different instruments growing up, ultimately learning to play the guitar left-handed and opted to learn to play piano by ear rather than take lessons like his father had suggested.
1950s - Meets John Lennon and George Harrison
McCartney's friendship with George Harrison began with a chance meeting on the bus to school in 1954. A couple years later in 1957, McCartney met John Lennon while Lennon was a member of the band, The Quarrymen. McCartney was invited into the band to play rhythm guitar, and a year later, Harrison was brought on as lead guitarist and Lennon's friend Stuart Sutcliffe took over bass. By mid-1960, the band officially became known as The Beatles.
Brian Epstein and "Beatlemania"
After undergoing key personnel changes in the early going, The Beatles thrived under manager, Brian Epstein. Original drummer Pete Best was ultimately replaced by Ringo Starr in 1962, while McCartney had taken on bass in the absence of Sutcliffe, who had left the band a year earlier. By the mid-1960s, the group's first hit, "Love Me Do," had reached audiences around the world, leading to the craze known as "Beatlemania."
1970 - Departure from The Beatles
McCartney wasted little time establishing himself as a solo artist, and released his first album in 1970. "McCartney" was met with success, reaching No. 1 in the U.S., and featured McCartney on every aspect of each song, save for some vocals from his wife, Linda.
1971-81 - Wings
Still feeling a desire to collaborate with bandmates, McCartney formed Wings in 1971, which included his wife, drummer Denny Seiwell, and guitarist Denny Laine. The lineup changed frequently over the years, but the band was never short on success, achieving RIAA certifications on every release, including Platinum status for "Band on the Run" (3x), "Venus and Mars," "Wings at the Speed of Sound," "London Town," and "Back to the Egg."
Lasting Solo Success
Post-Beatles and Wings, McCartney continued to make a career writing and playing music for the masses. All of his solo albums have made it into the Billboard Top 200, a rarity for solo artists. Rather than remain in the rock genre, McCartney has continued to break boundaries, venturing into classical music, electronica, and pop. Both “Pipes of Peace” and “Tug of War” went Platinum in the 90s, and subsequent releases like “Memory Almost Full” (2007) and “Kisses on the Bottom” (2012) have spawned massive, worldwide tours.
"For his services to music," McCartney was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on March 11, 1997.
The awards and recognition may never be enough, as the impact McCartney has had on music is priceless. He has been inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, once as a member of The Beatles in 1988, and again in 1999 for his solo career. Additionally, Guinness World Records named him the "Most Successful Composer and Recording Artist of All Time."
McCartney’s roots are geared toward pop and rock, but he experimented with pop ballads, psychedelic rock, and classical elements with The Beatles. His ability to play several different instruments such as piano, guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, and drums has allowed him to explore various facets of genres throughout his solo career.
With over 50 years in the music industry, McCartney is likely running out of room on his mantle for awards. See a sampling of his solo honors below.