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Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame as the bassist of the rock band the Beatles, one of the most popular and influential groups in the history of pop music; his songwriting partnership with Lennon is one of the most celebrated of the 20th century. After the band’s break-up, he pursued a solo career and formed Wings with his first wife, Linda, and Denny Laine.
McCartney has been recognised as one of the most successful composers and performers of all time, with 60 gold discs and sales of over 100 million albums and 100 million singles of his work with the Beatles and as a solo artist. More than 2,200 artists have covered his Beatles song “Yesterday”, more than any other copyrighted song in history. Wings’ 1977 release “Mull of Kintyre” is one of the all-time best-selling singles in the UK. A two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of the Beatles in 1988, and as a solo artist in 1999),and a 21-time Grammy Award winner (having won both individually and with the Beatles), McCartney has written, or co-written 32 songs that have reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and as of 2014 he has sold more than 15.5 million RIAA-certified units in the United States. McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr received MBEs in 1965, and in 1997, McCartney was knighted for his services to music.
McCartney has released anextensive catalogue of songs as a solo artist and has composed classical and electronic music. He has taken part in projects to promote international charities related to such subjects as animal rights, seal hunting, land mines, vegetarianism, poverty, and music education. He has married three times and is the father of five children.
See also: Jim and Mary McCartney
James Paul McCartney was born on 18 June 1942 in Walton Hospital, Liverpool, England, where his mother, Mary Patricia (née Mohin) (1909–1956), had qualified to practise as a nurse. His father, James (“Jim”) McCartney (1902–1976), was absent from his son’s birth due to his work as a volunteer firefighter during World War II Paul has one younger brother, Michael (born 7 January 1944). Though the children were baptised in their mother’s Catholic faith, their father was a former Protestant turned agnostic, and religion was not emphasised in the household.
McCartney had attended Stockton Wood Road Primary School in Speke from 1947 until 1949, when he transferred to Joseph Williams Junior School in Belle Vale due to overcrowding at Stockton.In 1953, he passed the 11-plus exam, with only three others out of ninety examinees, gaining admission to the Liverpool Institute. In 1954, he met schoolmate George Harrison on the bus to the Institute from his suburban home in Speke. Harrison had also passed the exam, meaning he could attend a grammar school rather than a secondary modern school, where most pupils went until becoming eligible for work. The two quickly became friends; McCartney later admitted: “I tended to talk down to him because he was a year younger.”
Exterior of a two-story brick building, with a hedge in front of it. Six windows are visible, three on each level, as are two doorways on the lower level.
McCartney’s former home, 20 Forthlin Road. The McCartney family moved into this address in 1955
McCartney’s mother Mary was a midwife and the family’s primary wage earner, enabling them to move into 20 Forthlin Road in Allerton, where they lived until 1964. She rode a bicycle to her patients; McCartney described an early memory of her leaving at “about three in the morning [the] streets … thick with snow”. On 31 October 1956, when McCartney was fourteen, his mother died of an embolism. McCartney’s loss later became a point of connection with John Lennon, whose mother, Julia, had died when he was seventeen.
McCartney’s father was a trumpet player and pianist who led Jim Mac’s Jazz Band in the 1920s. He kept an upright piano in the front room, encouraged his sons to be musical and advised Paul to take piano lessons, but he preferred to learn by ear.[nb 1] Jim gave Paul a nickel-plated trumpet for his fourteenth birthday, but when rock and roll became popular on Radio Luxembourg, McCartney traded it for a £15 Framus Zenith (model 17) acoustic guitar, rationalising that it would be difficult to sing while playing a trumpet. He found it difficult to play guitar right-handed, but after noticing a poster advertising a Slim Whitman concert and realising that Whitman also played left-handed, he reversed the order of the strings. McCartney wrote his first song, “I Lost My Little Girl”, on the Zenith, and composed another early tune that would become “When I’m Sixty-Four” on the piano. American rhythm and blues influenced him, and Little Richard was his schoolboy idol; “Long Tall Sally” was the first song McCartney performed in public, at a Butlins holiday camp talent competition.
At the age of fifteen, McCartney met Lennon and his band, the Quarrymen, at the St Peter’s Church Hall fête in Woolton on 6 July 1957. The Quarrymen played a mix of rock and roll and skiffle, a type of popular music with jazz, blues and folk influences. The band invited McCartney to join soon afterwards as a rhythm guitarist, and he formed a close working relationship with Lennon. Harrison joined in 1958 as lead guitarist, followed by Lennon’s art school friend Stuart Sutcliffe on bass, in 1960. By May 1960 the band had tried several names, including Beatals, Johnny and the Moondogs and the Silver Beetles.They adopted the name the Beatles in August 1960 and recruited drummer Pete Best shortly before a five-engagement residency in Hamburg.
A black-and-white image of Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr waving to fans after arriving in America in 1964. A crowd is visible behind them on the left.
McCartney (second from left) with Lennon, Harrison and Starr, arrive at Kennedy International Airport in February 1964
Informally represented by Allan Williams, the Beatles’ first booking was for a series of performances in Hamburg, starting in 1960.[nb 2] In 1961, Sutcliffe left the band and McCartney reluctantly became their bass player.They recorded professionally for the first time while in Hamburg, credited as the Beat Brothers, as the backing band for English singer Tony Sheridan on the single “My Bonnie”.This brought them to the attention of Brian Epstein, a key figure in their subsequent development and success. He became their manager in January 1962.Ringo Starr replaced Best in August, and the band had their first hit, “Love Me Do”, in October, becoming popular in the UK in 1963, and in the US a year later. Their fans’ hysteria became known as “Beatlemania”, and the press sometimes referred to McCartney as the “cute Beatle”.[nb 3]
In August 1965, the Beatles released the McCartney composition “Yesterday”, featuring a string quartet. Included on the Help! LP, the song was the group’s first recorded use of classical music elements and their first recording that involved only a single band member. “Yesterday” became the most covered song in popular music history. Later that year, during recording sessions for the album Rubber Soul, McCartney began to supplant Lennon as the dominant musical force in the band. Musicologist Ian MacDonald wrote, “from  … [McCartney] would be in the ascendant not only as a songwriter, but also as instrumentalist, arranger, producer, and de facto musical director of the Beatles.” Critics described Rubber Soul as a significant advance in the refinement and profundity of the band’s music and lyrics. Considered a high point in the Beatles catalogue, both Lennon and McCartney claimed to have written the music for the song “In My Life”.McCartney said of the album, “we’d had our cute period, and now it was time to expand.”Recording engineer Norman Smith stated that the Rubber Soul sessions exposed indications of increasing contention within the band: “the clash between John and Paul was becoming obvious … [and] as far as Paul was concerned, George [Harrison] could do no right—Paul was absolutely finicky.”
In 1966, the Beatles released the album Revolver. Featuring sophisticated lyrics, studio experimentation, and an expanded repertoire of musical genres ranging from innovative string arrangements to psychedelic rock, the album marked an artistic leap for the Beatles. The first of three consecutive McCartney A-sides, the single “Paperback Writer” preceded the LP’s release. The Beatles produced a short promotional film for the song, and another for its B-side, “Rain”. The films, described by Harrison as “the forerunner of videos”, aired on The Ed Sullivan Show and Top of the Pops in June 1966. Revolver also included McCartney’s “Eleanor Rigby”, which featured a string octet. According to Gould, the song is “a neoclassical tour de force … a true hybrid, conforming to no recognizable style or genre of song”. Except for some backing vocals, the song included only McCartney’s lead vocal and the strings arranged by producer George Martin.
An image of the Beatles, holding marching band instruments and wearing colourful uniforms, standing near a grave covered with flowers that spell “Beatles”. Standing behind the band are several dozen famous people.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “the most famous cover of any music album”, wrote Beatles biographer Bill Harry.
The band gave their final commercial concert at the end of their 1966 US tour.Later that year, McCartney completed his first musical project apart from the group—a film score for the UK production The Family Way. The score was a collaboration with Martin, who used two McCartney themes to write thirteen variations. The soundtrack failed to chart, but it won McCartney an Ivor Novello Award for Best Instrumental Theme.
Upon the end of the Beatles’ performing career, McCartney sensed unease in the band and wanted them to maintain creative productivity. He pressed them to start a new project, which became Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, widely regarded as rock’s first concept album. Inspired to create a new persona for the group, to serve as a vehicle for experimentation and to demonstrate to their fans that they had musically matured, McCartney invented the fictional band of the album’s title track. As McCartney explained, “We were fed up with being the Beatles. We really hated that fucking four little mop-top approach. We were not boys we were men … and [we] thought of ourselves as artists rather than just performers.”
Starting in November 1966, the band adopted an experimental attitude during recording sessions for the album. According to engineer Geoff Emerick, “the Beatles were looking to go out on a limb, both musically and sonically … we were utilising a lot of tape varispeeding and other manipulation techniques … limiters and … effects like flanging and ADT.” Their recording of “A Day in the Life” required a forty-piece orchestra, which Martin and McCartney took turns conducting. The sessions produced the double A-side single “Strawberry Fields Forever”/”Penny Lane” in February 1967, and the LP followed in June.[nb 6] McCartney’s “She’s Leaving Home” was an orchestral pop song. MacDonald described the track as “[among] the finest work on Sgt. Pepper – imperishable popular art of its time”. Based on an ink drawing by McCartney, the LP’s cover included a collage designed by pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, featuring the Beatles in costume as the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, standing with a host of celebrities.[nb 7] The heavy moustaches worn by the Beatles reflected the growing influence of hippie style trends on the band, while their clothing “spoofed the vogue in Britain for military fashions”, wrote Gould. Scholar David Scott Kastan described Sgt. Pepper as “the most important and influential.
Stevland Hardaway Morris (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins; May 13, 1950), known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist. A child prodigy, he became one of the most creative and loved musical performers of the late 20th century. Wonder signed with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of and has continued to perform and record for Motown as of the early 2010s. He has been blind since shortly after birth.
Among Wonder’s works are singles such as “Superstition”, “Sir Duke”, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You”; and albums such as Talking Book, Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life. He has recorded more than 30 U.S. top ten hits and received 25 Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist, and has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the top 60 best-selling music artists. Wonder is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2013, Billboard magazine released a list of the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists to celebrate the US singles chart’s 55th anniversary, with Wonder at number six.
Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1950, the third of six children of Calvin Judkins and Lula Mae Hardaway. He was born six weeks premature, which, along with the oxygen-rich atmosphere in the hospital incubator, resulted in retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a condition in which the growth of the eyes is aborted and causes the retinas to detach; so he became blind. When Wonder was four, his mother left his father and moved to Detroit with her children. She changed her name back to Lula Hardaway and later changed her son’s surname to Morris, partly because of relatives. Wonder has retained Morris as his legal surname. Wonder began playing instruments at an early age, including piano, harmonica and drums. He formed a singing partnership with a friend; calling themselves Stevie and John, they played on street corners, and occasionally at parties and dances.
Rehearsing for a performance on Dutch TV in 1967
In 1961, when aged 11, Wonder sang his own composition, “Lonely Boy”, to Ronnie White of the Miracles; White then took Wonder and his mother to an audition at Motown, where CEO Berry Gordy signed Wonder to Motown’s Tamla label. Before signing, producer Clarence Paul gave him the name Little Stevie Wonder. Because of Wonder’s age, the label drew up a rolling five-year contract in which royalties would be held in trust until Wonder was 21. He and his mother would be paid a weekly stipend to cover their expenses: Wonder received $2.50 a week, and a private tutor was provided for when Wonder was on tour.
Wonder was put in the care of producer and songwriter Clarence Paul, and for a year they worked together on two albums. Tribute to Uncle Ray was recorded first, when Wonder was still 11 years old. Mainly covers of Ray Charles’s songs, it included a Wonder and Paul composition, “Sunset”. The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie was recorded next, an instrumental album consisting mainly of Paul’s compositions, two of which, “Wondering” and “Session Number 112”, were co-written with Wonder. Feeling Wonder was now ready, a song, “Mother Thank You”, was recorded for release as a single, but then pulled and replaced by the Berry Gordy song “I Call It Pretty Music, But the Old People Call It the Blues” as his début single; released summer 1962, it almost broke into the Billboard 100, spending one week of August at 101 before dropping out of sight. A follow-up single, “Little Water Boy”, had no success, and the two albums, released in reverse order of recording—The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie in September 1962 and Tribute to Uncle Ray in October 1962—also met with little success.
At the end of 1962, when Wonder was 12 years old, he joined the Motortown Revue, touring the “chitlin’ circuit” of theatres across America that accepted black artists. At the Regal Theater, Chicago, his 20-minute performance was recorded and released in May 1963 as the album Recorded Live: The 12 Year Old Genius. A single, “Fingertips”, from the album was also released in May, and became a major hit. The song, featuring a confident and enthusiastic Wonder returning for a spontaneous encore that catches out the replacement bass player, who is heard to call out “What key? What key?”, was a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 when Wonder was aged 13, making him the youngest artist ever to top the chart.The single was simultaneously No. 1 on the R&B chart, the first time that had occurred. His next few recordings, however, were not successful; his voice was changing as he got older, and some Motown executives were considering cancelling his recording contract. During 1964, Wonder appeared in two films as himself, Muscle Beach Party and Bikini Beach, but these were not successful either.Sylvia Moy persuaded label owner Berry Gordy to give Wonder another chance. Dropping the “Little” from his name, Moy and Wonder worked together to create the hit “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”, and Wonder went on to have a number of other hits during the mid-1960s, including “With a Child’s Heart”, and “Blowin’ in the Wind”, a Bob Dylan cover, co-sung by his mentor, producer Clarence Paul. He also began to work in the Motown songwriting department, composing songs both for himself and his label mates, including “The Tears of a Clown”, a number one hit for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (it was first released in 1967, mostly unnoticed as the last track of their Make It Happen LP, but eventually became a major success when re-released as a single in 1970, which prompted Robinson to reconsider his intention of leaving the band).
In September 1970, at the age of 20, Wonder married Syreeta Wright, a songwriter and former Motown secretary. Wright and Wonder worked together on the next album, Where I’m Coming From; Wonder writing the music, and Wright helping with the lyrics. They wanted to “touch on the social problems of the world”, and for the lyrics “to mean something”. It was released at around the same time as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. As both albums had similar ambitions and themes, they have been compared; in a contemporaneous review by Vince Aletti in Rolling Stone, Gaye’s was seen as successful, while Wonder’s was seen as failing due to “self-indulgent and cluttered” production, “undistinguished” and “pretentious” lyrics, and an overall lack of unity and flow. Reaching his 21st birthday on May 13, 1971, he allowed his Motown contract to expire.
In 1970, Wonder co-wrote, and played numerous instruments on the hit “It’s a Shame” for fellow Motown act the Spinners. His contribution was meant to be a showcase of his talent and thus a weapon in his ongoing negotiations with Gordy about creative autonomy.
During this period, Wonder independently recorded two albums and signed a contract with Motown Records. The 120-page contract was a precedent at Motown and gave Wonder a much higher royalty rate.Wonder returned to Motown in March 1972 with Music of My Mind. Unlike most previous albums on Motown, which usually consisted of a collection of singles, B-sides and covers, Music of My Mind was a full-length artistic statement with songs flowing together thematically. Wonder’s lyrics dealt with social, political, and mystical themes as well as standard romantic ones, while musically he began exploring overdubbing and recording most of the instrumental parts himself. Music of My Mind marked the beginning of a long collaboration with Tonto’s Expanding Head Band (Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil).
from Talking Book by Stevie Wonder, Motown 1972-10-27. Sample from Stevie Wonder Song Review: A Greatest Hits Collection, Motown, 1996-12-10
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Released in late 1972, Talking Book featured the No. 1 hit “Superstition”, which is one of the most distinctive and famous examples of the sound of the Hohner Clavinet keyboard. Talking Book also featured “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”, which also peaked at No. 1. During the same time as the album’s release, Wonder began touring with the Rolling Stones to alleviate the negative effects from pigeonholing as a result of being an R&B artist in America.Wonder’s touring with the Stones was also a factor behind the success of both “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”.Between them, the two songs won three Grammy Awards.On an episode of the children’s television show Sesame Street that aired in April 1973, Wonder and his band performed “Superstition”, as well as an original called “Sesame Street Song”, which demonstrated his abilities with television.
Innervisions, released in 1973, featured “Higher Ground” (No. 4 on the pop charts) as well as the trenchant “Living for the City” (No. 8).Both songs reached No. 1 on the R&B charts. Popular ballads such as “Golden Lady” and “All in Love Is Fair” were also present, in a mixture of moods that nevertheless held together as a unified whole. Innervisions generated three more Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. The album is ranked No. 23 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Wonder had become the most influential and acclaimed black musician of the early 1970s.