They love him, yeah, yeah, yeah!
The Sixties gave rise to Beatlemania. The world went gaga over John, Paul, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, with their look-alike haircuts, drainpipe trousers and irreverent chatter.
Paul McCartney and Heather Mills
What makes Sir Paul McCartney special? It couldn't be the 61-year-old musician's personal fortune of $1.3 billion, more than Mick Jagger, Elton John and Madonna combined. Or his championing of rehabilitation for minefield survivors, rights of the disabled, vegetarianism, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Amnesty International, AIDS awareness and breast cancer research.
Why would McCartney, who caused teens to swoon as one of the legendary Beatles of the 1960s, engage with life so totally? Perhaps because his late wife, vegetarian evangelist-photographer Linda Eastman, with whom he formed the musical group Wings (remember the 1977 "Mull of Kintyre"?) died of breast cancer. Or because his current wife Heather Mills carries her disability from a road accident with grace.
From May 25 June 24 this year, the still-popular McCartney will be on a 13-city European tour, including stadiums in St. Petersburg, Lisbon, Prague, Gothenberg, Oslo, even Leipzig (quick, reach for an atlas!). With this trip, over three million fans would have heard him live since his return to the road in April 2002. Isn't that mind-boggling?
This mop-haired guitarist-singer and best-selling lyricist-composer wasn't always a knight. James Paul McCartney was born in Liverpool on June 18, 1942. His mother Mary Patricia was a health worker, while his father Jim was in the cotton industry. At 14, Paul lost his mother to breast cancer.
While schooling at the Liverpool Institute, Paul would often write a good essay while watching TV. His father, who dreamt of a university degree for him, noted, "Paul was always good at Latin, but when I said he'd need the Latin for university, he started slacking up." Does that sound like you?
Bowled over by pop music since he was 12, Paul loved skiffle sounds, Bill Haley's early rock, Little Richard and Elvis Presley was a demigod to him. He hated his early piano lessons, but easily picked out tunes on an old trumpet an uncle gave him.
At 14, Jim bought him a guitar after much pleading. At first, Paul could produce only weird sounds on it because he was left-handed. Once it was altered, he aimed for the moon. His younger brother Michael recalls, "The minute he got the guitar, that was the end. He didn't have time to eat or think about anything else. He played it in the lavatory, in the bath, everywhere."
It was at the Woolton Parish church that Paul met John Lennon, 16, in 1957. He soon joined John's group, The Quarrymen. His first gig was at the Conservative Club on October 18. Often, the two bunked school, so that Paul could teach John new guitar chords over a feast of fried eggs while Jim was at work. Paul even played his new buddy "I Lost My Little Girl", which he wrote in 1956. Within months, they were composing songs together. Remember, John and Paul co-wrote "Yesterday", among the most successful songs of all time? The 1960s gave rise to Beatlemania. The world went gaga over John, Paul, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, with their look-alike haircuts, drainpipe trousers and irreverent chatter. At first, they played at Hamburg, followed by Liverpool's Cavern Club, the Beatles shrine where you can still listen to their music. In1963, "Please please me" topped the British charts. A year on, "I want to hold your hand", sold 10,000 copies an hour in New York alone. Can you believe that? Till the Beatles broke up in 1970, they went from success to success, including "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", "Hey Jude", and "Abbey Road".
With Wings, Paul continued his incredible pop saga, including the chart-topping "Band on the Run" and "Venus and Mars" albums. His smile remains as cool, his talent is incredible. No wonder Europe's all geared up for the Paul McCartney solo tour this summer. Don't you wish you were there?
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