When I’m 75… Looking back on the life of Beatles star Sir Paul McCartney as he reaches milestone birthday

Sir Paul McCartney (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
Sir Paul McCartney (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

BACK in 1967, Paul McCartney sang about wondering whether or not he’d still be needed when he was 64.

The track was included on Beatles album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but Paul had written it years before, at the tender age of 16.

Being in his 60s must have seemed a long way off at that point and yet, tomorrow, the Beatles bassist is celebrating his 75th birthday.

With Paul having spent many of those years in the spotlight, we take a look back at his life.

CAVERN DAYS

FANS of a certain age remember the Liverpool days when they were able to nip along to the Cavern Club during their lunch hour.

The Cavern was the place to be for young people in Merseyside.

Although it was based in the cellar of an old warehouse in Mathew Street, regulars loved the venue.

It would be so mobbed with fans and staff — including a certain Cilla Black — the walls would be wet with condensation.

One fan, Bernadette Farrell, said: “During my lunch hour, I’d dash to the Cavern for a cheese roll and a Coke — sometimes served by Cilla Black.

“We’d be on top of the world if one of The Beatles had spoken to us.”

In The Beatles Anthology, Paul himself said: “The Cavern was sweaty, damp, dark, loud and exciting . . . then people began to hear about us. We could always entertain.”

BEATLEMANIA

INEVITABLY, the band’s days at the Cavern were numbered as they were simply becoming too famous for such a small place.

The band recorded 13 studio albums, from A Hard Day’s Night through to Rubber Soul and Abbey Road, but it was in 1963 that the phrase “Beatlemania” was coined.

Fans just couldn’t get enough of the band, and it was more than even Paul had expected.

“In the 60s, my ambition was to get a car,” he said. “And I got one.

“We used to always say when we were kids: ‘Get a guitar, a car and a house.’

“That was the height of our ambition . . . it wasn’t to rule the world.”

The Beatles,  1963 (Keystone/Getty Images)
The Beatles,
1963 (Keystone/Getty Images)

LINDA

PAUL and his first wife Linda were soulmates, and their marriage was only ended by her death, from breast cancer, in 1998.

His song Maybe I’m Amazed was written for and about Linda, and the lyrics say it all — “Maybe I’m amazed at the way you help me sing my song, right me when I’m wrong, maybe I’m amazed at the way I really need you.”

Although he’d had plenty of girlfriends, there was something different about Linda.

“Linda was very down to Earth,” Paul said. “She taught me to relax. Her priorities were private rather than public.

“She didn’t go on television to ingratiate herself. She was just very funny, smart and talented.”

Paul revealed that after her death, he was overcome with grief.

“My world collapsed,” he admitted. “Linda and I had been together for 30 years. Four kids. It was shocking.

“For about a year, I found myself crying. Anyone I met, the minute we talked about Linda, I’d say: ‘I’m sorry about this, I’ve got to cry.’”

Although thinking of Linda was painful, he found a way of keeping her alive by working on her solo record.

He reveals: “As the seasons had gone around once, I started to notice a lightening of my mood. I was coming out of my shell a bit.

“Linda was my only love and it was very unlikely it was ever going to happen again, so I thought I might just pull away and retire, but after a year or so, I thought: ‘Maybe not.’”

Before Paul met current wife Nancy Shevell, he was married to Heather Mills, which resulted in a very bitter and public divorce in 2008.

Eventually, he got together with Nancy, his “comfort blanket”, a woman who had been friendly with Paul and Linda when both she and Linda were undergoing treatment for cancer.

It seems that Paul’s third match is the real deal and the couple are regularly pictured together, looking happy and close.

WINGS

In one episode of I’m Alan Partridge, Steve Coogan’s DJ character said Wings were “the band that The Beatles could have been” yet Paul himself claims that was a long way from being the case!

This is all despite the fact they enjoyed many hits, including Mull of Kintyre and Bond theme tune Live and Let Die, and picked up six Grammy awards.

“We were terrible,” says Paul. “We weren’t a good group. People said: ‘Well, Linda can’t play keyboards.’ And it was true.

“But, you know, John Lennon couldn’t play guitar when we started. We knew Linda couldn’t play, but she learned.”

As it stood, Mull of Kintyre was the bestselling single of the 70s in the UK.

It actually sold more than two million copies — more than any Beatles track.

Even now, it’s amongst the bestselling songs in the history of the UK. So, maybe Alan Partridge was on to something . . .

GOING SOLO

PAUL has the honour of being one of the most-popular solo performers of all time.

He always was the Beatle most keen to perform, so it’s perhaps not surprising that he’s still doing so well when he goes on the road with his band.

However, while The Beatles made decisions together — it was all or nothing — Paul is now very much the front man and, ultimately, decisions lie with him.

“I’m a dictator,” he joked. “And nobody has a problem with that — I don’t think.

“We’ve been together longer than The Beatles or Wings, so something’s happening right.”

ACTING

ALTHOUGH Paul’s heart lies mainly in music, he has at times appeared in films.

The Beatles four movies, and they must have given Paul the acting bug, with no less than 30 acting credits to his name.

In fact, his latest cameo was in the current Pirates of the Caribbean film, Salazar’s Revenge.

Some of his cameos have been better than others — with his appearance in The Simpsons with Linda remembered.

Others haven’t been quite as good — the less said of Give My Regards To Broad Street the better!

However, Pirates star Johnny Depp speaks highly of Macca, saying: “Paul’s a great actor. He was amazing.”

LIPA

In 1990, along with Mark Featherstone-Witty, Paul formed LIPA — the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.

The centre, which offers 10 full-time Honours BA degrees, was set up to teach performance skills and the business side of the entertainment industry, but Paul had initial reservations, having stated: “You can’t teach them to be John Lennon.”

Twenty years on, with the centre regularly ranked in the Top 10 of specialist institutes, Paul said in a graduation ceremony speech: “I just love to come here and see this amount of talent, of hopefulness, the spirit, about to be launched into the world. Just go out there, be wonderful and be yourself.”

JOHN LENNON

WITH Paul and John having lost their mothers at an early age, the pair formed a very special bond.

After years of touring and working together, though, the relationship became strained, and there was a lot of animosity.

Fortunately, before John was killed in 1980, they made up.

“I’m so glad because it would have been the worst thing in the world to have this great relationship that then soured and he gets killed, so there was some solace in the fact that we got back together,” Paul revealed. “We were good friends.”

Paul remembers clearly, like many people, when he heard news of John’s passing.

“I was at home, and I got a phone call,” he said. “It was just so horrific, I couldn’t take it in. For days, I couldn’t think he was gone. It was a huge shock. Very difficult.”

It seems that, for Paul, John is the one male friend with whom he really had a connection.

“I have some very good friends,” he said. “I have relatives, my brother and my wife. But music? No. It’s very difficult. You can’t top John. And John couldn’t top Paul.”

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