Happy birthday Paul McCartney! To celebrate the iconic musician’s 80th birthday, we take you through his career, from the Beatles to the Wings, to his solo albums and beyond.
Known for his melodic approach to bass playing, McCartney is one of the most celebrated musicians of all time. His sound has evolved over his more than six decades as a musician, but one thing that remains the same is his ability to captivate his audience with unparalleled songwriting.
Before the Beatles
McCartney was introduced to music at an early age
McCartney, 15, met John Lennon at a fateful performance by Lennon’s skiffle band, The Quarrymen. While preparing their instruments for the evening show, the band’s original bassist introduced the two future writing partners, telling McCartney to join in for a few numbers. Struck by her performance, Lennon asked McCartney to permanently join the outfit.
Later George Harrison joined the band taking lead guitar. Although still performing as Quarrymen, McCartney, Lennon and Harrison created what would become The Beatles.
The band’s name was in flux during this period, with the band performing under several nicknames, including Johnny and the Moon Dogs, The Silver Beatles and The Silver Beats. A friend of Lennon’s, Stuart Sutcliffe, joined the band to play bass and is often credited with coining the Beatles name.
The fabulous four
In the late 1950s, it was hard to imagine a band from the relatively impoverished small town of Liverpool breaking into London’s bustling music scene, let alone the rest of the world. That’s exactly what the Beatles did in the early ’60s, taking their local success to a world eagerly opening up to the burgeoning phenomenon that is rock n’ roll.
After signing manager Brian Epstein, the Beatles went on a relentless upward spiral, recording some of their early tracks like “Love Me Do”, “Ask Me Why” and “PS I Love You”. It was also around the same time that Ringo Starr joined the band, completing the enduring Beatles lineup.
In 1964, it was “Beatlemania” in its own right the world over, as the four mops topped the US and UK pop charts. The band’s first UK single, “Please Please Me”, topped the UK charts – a streak that would continue throughout their career. Their career reached new heights with an iconic appearance on The Ed Sullivan Showwhere they performed “All My Lovin”, “Till There Was You” and “She Loves You”.
They later turned to psychedelia, releasing albums like rubber core and Revolver. At this time in their career, the band took a step back from touring due to widespread backlash thanks to an offhand comment from John Lennon that the band were “more popular than Jesus”. A trip to India took the band to the edge of their trippy new sound on sergeant. Pepper’s Loney Hearts Club Band and yellow submarine.
Their last two albums, Abbey Road and So be it, balanced their new sound with their bluesy rock roots. Producing iconic tracks like “Come Together”, “Oh! Chérie”, “Here Comes The Sun” and “I’ve Got A Feeling”. Both albums ended the band’s recording career, solidifying them as one of the greatest bands of all time.
While pursuing a solo career like the rest of the old Beatles, McCartney also ventured out with a new band, Wings. Following the release of his album RAM, McCartney persuaded his wife Linda as well as some of the session musicians who worked on the record to start a new band. In 1971 Denny Laine, Denny Seiwell, Paul and Linda began working on their first album under the name Wings.
Taking only two weeks to complete, Wildlife was a spontaneous debut album full of one-take recordings and songs that sounded more like jam sessions. The album was not an instant commercial success, falling short of McCartney’s work with the Beatles.
Following the departure of Denny Seiwell and relatively new rookie Henry McCullough, Wings released Runaway group. A critical triumph, the album topped the US charts three times and was the best-selling studio album of 1974. The McCartney’s and Laine later brought in guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Joe English.
Their next two albums continued the band’s hot streak with Venus and Mars, producing the number one single “Listen to What the Man Said” and Wings at the speed of soundfeaturing the iconic tracks “Silly Love Songs” and “Let ‘Em In”.
Their latest studio album, Back to the eggsaw McCartney reunite with the Beatles The white album producer Chris Thomas. Wings’ success was vindication for McCartney. With his early solo adventures considered “light” compared to his work with the Beatles, Wings achieved global success, with a steady recording career and extensive world touring.
Before taking on the world with Wings, McCartney released two solo records, McCartney and RAM. A month before the Beatles swan song, So be ithe shared his self-titled debut album, notable for the fact that he performed all the instruments and vocals himself, except for some reinforcements from Linda.
Rich in experimentation, the LP saw McCartney step back from the often polished nature of the Beatles, opting for a more spatial sound. RAM was equally adventurous, seeing the McCartneys take No. 1 in the UK while remaining in the US top 10 for five months.
In 1980, he released the second album of his eponymous series, McCartney II. Once again at the dawn of new musical trends, it included extensive use of synthesizers and electronic rhythms. Same as McCartneythe new LP was recorded in a small home studio with Paul playing the majority of the album himself.
After Wings’ split and the death of John Lennon, McCartney released the poignant tug of war. He again teamed up with frequent Beatles collaborator George Martin and included two duets with Stevie Wonder, including their piano ballad “Ebony and Ivory”. Elsewhere on the LP, Lennon’s memory was etched in the somber “Here Today”. He sings, And if I tell you that I knew you really well / What would your answer be? / If you were here todaydreaming of talking once again with his friend.
McCartney has released over 20 albums throughout his solo career, his last album being McCartney III Reimagined—a work accompanied by its McCartney III album, with a host of famous musicians reinventing his songs. Throughout the album are artists like Beck, Phoebe Bridgers, St. Vincent, Dev Hynes, Damon Albarn, and many more.
More recently, McCartney wrapped up his Got Back Tour, which saw the iconic musician return to the stage in 13 cities before returning to Europe for a headlining performance at Glastonbury Festival in the UK. On June 25, McCartney will take to the Pyramid Stage for the first time since appearing in 2014.
A reissued box set of his McCartney The trilogy is also set to be released, to celebrate his long solo career and his 80th birthday, which he celebrates today (June 18).
Throughout his time with the Beatles, the Wings and as a solo artist, McCartney has proven time and time again that he is one of the most iconic and innovative artists in the world, with so much more to offer. to the music scene in the years to come.
Photo by MJ Kim/Nasty Little Man PR