Paul McCartney is the most commercially successful rock composer of all time, both as a solo performer (with his '70s band Wings) and, most notably, as a member of the Beatles. McCartney's songs have hundreds of millions of copies worldwide; "Yesterday," written for the Beatles in 1965, has been played over six million times on U.S. radio stations, making it the most popular song in history. McCartney also holds the world record for largest paid audience at a concert given by a solo performer, drawing over 184,000 fans at a 1990 concert in Rio de Janeiro.
Born James Paul McCartney in Liverpool, England on June 18, 1942, McCartney showed an early interest in music, no doubt encouraged by his father, who was a part-time jazz musician. At age 14 Paul's mother died of cancer, but despite the trauma McCartney remained an outstanding student and even began playing guitar, learning the instrument before he was 15. While at a church picnic in the summer of 1957, McCartney was introduced by a friend to an older schoolmate, John Lennon, who played in a skiffle band called the Quarrymen. Paul soon joined the group and, along with John, became its principle songwriter. Over the next few years the group evolved into the Beatles, with Paul switching to bass. McCartney and Lennon agreed early on to share all songwriting credits, even though they directly collaborated on only a handful on songs; throughout the Beatles years "McCartney-Lennon" wrote and sang the vast majority of Beatles tunes.
After signing with EMI in 1962 the Beatles began releasing a string of hit singles, mostly McCartney-Lennon originals, and soon became the most popular band in Britain. By 1964 "Beatlemania" had spread to the U.S., and soon the Beatles were the most popular band in the world, producing numerous commercially successful and increasingly artistic albums over the next decade. Unfortunately by 1968 troubles began surfacing in the band, as the superstars began disagreeing over the band's musical direction and pursued increasingly independent personal lives. On March 12, 1969 McCartney married American photographer Linda Eastman. When it came time to select a new business manager for the Beatles several months later, McCartney suggested Linda's father, Lee Eastman. Other members, particularly Lennon, favored the savvy American businessman Allen Klein. McCartney was outvoted and Klein was hired, creating further tensions in the already troubled group and straining the relationship between Paul and his longtime friend Lennon (who was increasingly under the influence of his new wife, Yoko Ono). At the same time, McCartney had to fend off irritating rumors that he had died several years before and that "Paul" was actually a Paul look-alike. Though amusing, this was the last thing McCartney needed at this stressful time in his career.
Things quickly grew worse. Later in the year Klein brought in famed pop producer Phil Spector to prepare the abandoned 1969 Get Back sessions for release as Let It Be. McCartney became angry when Spector began inserting his trademark string arrangements and female backup vocals in several songs, most notably McCartney's own "The Long And Winding Road." Frustrated with the Beatles, McCartney, like the three other members of the group, began working on a solo album. The album, simply titled McCartney, was ready in early 1970, but Klein insisted it be withheld for several months to avoid cutting into sales of Let It Be. For McCartney, this was the last straw. He ignored Klein and released McCartney in April 1970, a full month before the scheduled release of Let It Be. In an April 10, 1970 magazine interview promoting his solo album, McCartney stated that he was no longer with the Beatles, that the group was no more. Though talk of a breakup had been brewing for many months, Paul's announcement angered the other Beatles, especially John, who accused McCartney of using the breakup to boost sales of his solo album when in fact John