Paul McCartney was born in Liverpool on June 18, 1942. He was raised in the city and educated at the Liverpool Institute.
Having changed the world of music forever with The Beatles, McCartney has continued to push boundaries for over 40 years as a solo artist, member of Wings, Brit award-winning classical composer, half of the experimental project The Fireman, and composer for the New York City Ballet with last year’s Ocean’s Kingdom. His newest adventure is Kisses On The Bottom (out February 7 on Hear Music/Concord), a collection of standards beloved to Paul since childhood as well as two new McCartney compositions ‘My Valentine’ and ‘Only Our Hearts.’ Created with the help of Grammy Award-winning producer Tommy LiPuma and Diana Krall and her band—as well as guest appearances from Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder—Kisses On The Bottom is the first record in McCartney’s historic oeuvre to feature him almost exclusively on vocals. With the exception of a bit of acoustic guitar on two tracks, Paul’s sole instrument on Kisses On The Bottom is that unmistakable voice at its most intimate and unadorned.
Kisses On The Bottom is obviously a work born of intense inspiration and affection—and possibly most important of all fun. This is certainly reflected in the album’s title, which confused more than a few Macca obsessives (with many fixating on an anatomical interpretation!), but actually quotes from the album’s opener ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter’. Originally made a big hit by Fats Waller in 1935, the song opens with the lines ‘I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter and make believe it came from you. I’m gonna write words oh so sweet. They’re gonna knock me off of my feet. A lot of kisses on the bottom, I’ll be glad I got ‘em’.
Kisses’ heartfelt interpretations of these classics—many of which were introduced to a young Paul by his father on piano--were recorded along with its two McCartney originals at the legendary Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, and in New York and London over the course of 2011. The album also features stellar guest turns from Eric Clapton (on ‘My Valentine’ and ‘Get Yourself Another Fool’) and Stevie Wonder (‘Only Our Hearts’) and suitably classy cover art featuring a portrait of Paul shot by his daughter Mary McCartney worked into a concept by Jonathan Schofield (Visual Director at Stella McCartney) and design by Matthew Cooper (Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, etc.).
That Kisses’ song choices are equally reverent and adventurous should come as no surprise: Since writing his first song at the age of 14, McCartney has always followed his own unique muse while changing the course of musical history. It’s borderline ludicrous to attempt to describe the past, present and future impact of The Beatles and their legendary albums Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night, Beatles For Sale, Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles (a/k/a The White Album), Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road and Let It Be—so suffice to say that The Beatles’ 1 compilation was the biggest selling album of the first new millennial decade of 2000-2010.
Paul’s output through the ‘70s to the present has been one of unflagging energy and influence, debuting as a solo artist with 1970’s timeless McCartney followed by 1971’s rustic classic RAM by Paul and Linda McCartney, then with Wings efforts including the currently Grammy-nominated Band On The Run, Venus and Mars, Wings at The Speed Of Sound and London Town, and following that as a solo artist again, with highlights including the ahead-of-its-time 1980 reinvention McCartney II, 1982’s Tug Of War, 1989’s Flowers In The Dirt, 1997’s Flaming Pie, 2005’s Chaos And Creation In The Backyard and 2007’s Memory Almost Full. In 2008, The Fireman, his collaborative project with revered producer Youth, released Electric Arguments, which generated rave reviews, yielded a live favorite of the current McCartney set list in ‘Sing The Changes,’ and topped the Billboard Independent Album Charts.
Paul McCartney is also an accomplished classical composer, with works ranging from last year’s aforementioned Ocean’s Kingdom score to 1991’s Liverpool Oratorio, 1997’s Standing Stone, 1999’s Working Classical, and 2006’s Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart), which took Best Album honors at the 2007 Classical Brit Awards.
A 14-time Grammy winner and recipient of The Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement and Trustees Awards, McCartney’s list of accolades reads like no other: 2012 will see Paul adding MusiCares Person of the Year to this unrivalled list, the award recognizing both his incomparable creative achievements and his lifelong commitment to charitable work, which includes decades’ worth of philanthropic activities for PETA, LIPA, One Voice, The Vegetarian Society, Nordoff Robins and Adopt-A-Mine-Field—not to mention his participation in historic benefit concerts including Live Aid in 1985, The Concert for New York City in 2001, and Live 8 in 2005.
In 2010, Paul made two visits to the White House, receiving singular honors on each trip. In June he performed in front of President Barack Obama and his family while becoming the first-ever British recipient of the prestigious Gershwin Prize For Popular Song. Paul returned to the White House in December (where even the President joked about Paul becoming a regular) to receive a Kennedy Center Honor.
McCartney’s many other citations have included the 2008 Brit award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, an honorary doctorate of music from Yale University, his 1999 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and of course being knighted in in 1996 by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to music.
With a reputation for live performance that rivals his songwriting prowess, Paul McCartney has spent much of the last several years performing sold out concerts to literally millions of people the world over to universal rave reviews. Standouts have included 2003’s performance to over half a million people outside the Coliseum in Rome and Paul’s first show in Red Square, Moscow, his 2005 wake-up set for the crew of the International Space Station, and a 2008 punctuated by his Liverpool Sound concert, the Ukraine’s largest ever outdoor music event in Kiev with over 400,000 in attendance, a performance celebrating Quebec’s 400th anniversary that drew 300,000 people to the city’s national park, The Plains Of Abraham, and the Friendship First concert in Tel Aviv--Paul’s first ever visit to Israel.
Paul jumped right into 2009 by teaming up with Dave Grohl to perform ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ at the Grammys. Kicking things up a notch that April, Paul performed in New York at the David Lynch Foundation’s benefit concert, Change Begins Within (where he was joined on stage by Ringo Starr for a special finale), turned in a stunning first ever US festival appearance at the Coachella Festival and opened The New Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, a gig which sold out at a record rate of 600 tickets per second! That July, Paul would perform his first ever concert in Halifax, Nova Scotia--the mayor of the city describing the performance on the Halifax Common as the largest and most exciting concert in its 260-year history.
Paul then embarked on the Summer Live ’09 tour, which commenced with the inaugural run of shows at New York’s Citi Field Stadium--the site of the former Shea Stadium where The Beatles made history with the 1965 concert that set the precedent for the modern day stadium rock show. The New York shows were preceded by Paul’s surprise Late Show with David Letterman performance on the marquee of the Ed Sullivan Theater (inside which The Beatles made TV history decades ago) that drew throngs packing Broadway from Columbus Circle to Times Square. The Citi Field performances were seen by over 100,000 people and hailed by critics and fans alike as the concert experience of a lifetime. The tour hit DC’s FedEx Field, set the record for highest ever two-day concert attendance in the history of Boston’s Fenway Park, and stopped at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park and Tulsa OK’s BOK Arena, before concluding in grand Texas-size fashion at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.
A few months later the Citi Field stand was immortalized on the multi disc CD/DVD special package Good Evening New York City, which was released that November in the US and December in the UK—and earned Paul a solo rock vocal performance Grammy for its version of ‘Helter Skelter.’
That fall Paul unveiled the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award nominated new song ‘(I Want To) Come Home’ (written and recorded for the Miramax feature Everybody’s Fine) as well as the itinerary of the December 2009 Good Evening Europe tour. The eight-date tour began in Hamburg, a city that Paul and The Beatles established as a musical Mecca almost 50 years ago and closed with a climactic and memorable sole UK performance of ‘09 at London’s O2 Arena. As with the Summer Live ’09 US shows, reviews were phenomenal, with The Telegraph exclaiming “Whatever elixir the 67-year-old Macca is running on remains a mystery, but he seems to get a huge charge from performing to an audience, especially one that is bombarding him with waves of adoration.”
McCartney’s next outing, the Up and Coming Tour, kicked off March 2010 in Phoenix AZ and played over three dozen shows to more than 1,000,000 fans, including two sold out Hollywood Bowls, Paul’s first ever trip to Puerto Rico, a record-breaking two-night stand at Mexico’s Foro Sol Stadium, Paul’s first ever concerts in Nashville and Salt Lake City, his first San Francisco performance since The Beatles’ final show at the city’s Candlestick Park in 1966, stops in Miami, Dublin, Glasgow, Cardiff, London, Denver, Kansas City, Charlotte, Montreal, Porto Alegre, and two nights a piece in Toronto, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Buenos Aires and Sao Paolo—all before the end of December 2010.
In addition to overwhelming levels of critical acclaim wherever Up and Coming touched down, 2010 saw many career firsts for Paul, ranging from the aforementioned twin US Presidential honors to his first ever performance at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater and the most intimate club show of his solo career to date at London’s legendary 100 Club.
Paul’s 2011 live agenda began with his first ever show in Peru, and included his first Chilean gig since 1993, and two blockbuster shows at Rio de Janeiro’s Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange, which also resulted in the first ever concert to be broadcast live on the internet throughout Latin America–allowing over 1.5 million fans who were unable to snap up one of the 100,000 tickets to share in the magic. The 38-date Up and Coming Tour would draw to a close the next month with a June 10, 2011 finale at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.
Paul opened his brand new On The Run tour with the New York City music event of 2011: two historic sold out shows July 15 and 16 at Yankee Stadium that kept approximately 90,000 fans singing along for nearly three hours each night and generated possibly the most enthusiastic reviews ever penned by the NYC media:
“At 69, Mr. McCartney is not saying goodbye but touring stadiums and playing marathon concerts. Friday’s set ran two-and-a-half hours, with Mr. McCartney constantly onstage, and it had 35 songs, not counting a few additional excerpts.
His concerts now are a gentle reminder of his survival and vitality…
He perseveres, and entertains, by directly reconnecting to his songs across the decades and still having fun.”–THE NEW YORK TIMES
“McCartney’s continued ability to perform such key material so gracefully makes his shows more than just worthy entertainment. They’re a kind of public service.”
–THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
“The 2½-hour, 35-song set featured five decades worth of hits without a dud in the batch”
–THE NEW YORK POST
“Paul McCartney is many things, a gifted musician, singer and band leader. Mostly, he is an inspiration.
Last night at Yankee Stadium, McCartney played and played, gave and gave, for well over two hours. He never stopped singing, playing, performing and smiling. He loves pleasing crowds.”
–THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Dude is almost twice my age, and that f***er can belt, and in the physical-grace department, my blind guess of his age might have been more like a very agile 50. I could barely stand in front of my center field seat, which proved necessary pretty much the entire time… Changed my life”
–THE VILLAGE VOICE
The 19-date On The Run continued through sold out engagements at Comerica Park in Detroit, two night stands at Montreal’s Bell Centre and Wrigley Field in Chicago, the first ever rock show at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, and shows in Bologna, Milan, Paris, Cologne, London, Stockholm, Helsinki, Moscow and Manchester before its combination homecoming and finale at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.
All of which brings us to 2012 and, as ever, an infinite set of new possibilities for Paul McCartney. If any new musical frontier awaits—be it an entirely new musical medium or genre, a city or song he’s never played before, or something the cleverest among us has yet to imagine--rest assured Paul is already on his way there…
A freeman of The City Of Liverpool and Lead Patron of The Liverpool Institute Of Performing Arts, Paul McCartney was appointed Fellow of The Royal College of Music in 1995 by The Prince Of Wales. In 1996 Paul McCartney was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to music.
Paul McCartney is also committed to a number of charities including PETA, LIPA, One Voice, The Vegetarian Society, Nordoff Robins and Adopt-A-Mine-Field.
(Photo by Mary McCartney © MPL Communications Ltd.)