Paul McCartney is born
James Paul McCartney was born on June 18th 1942, at Walton Hospital, Liverpool; the first child of Mary Patricia and Jim McCartney. His father missed his birth due to obligations with work as a volunteer firefighter during World War II. Paul was named after both his grandfather James McCartney and father Jim McCartney. His younger bother Michael was born on January 7th 1944.
"He looked awful. I couldn't get over it. Horrible. He had one eye open, and he just squawked all the time. They held him up and he looked like a piece of red meat. When I got home I cried, the first time for years and years. But the next day, he looked more human. He turned out a lovely baby in the end." - Jim McCartney
Schooling and meeting George Harrison
Between 1947 and 1949 McCartney attended Stockton Wood Road Primary School in Speke. In 1949 he was transferred to Joseph Williams Junior School in Belle Vale. In 1953 McCartney passed the 11-Plus exam which gained him a place in the Liverpool Institute. In 1954 on an unassuming bus ride into school, 11 year old McCartney met George Harrison, who had also passed the exam to get into the Liverpool Institute. The two quickly became good friends.
Mother Mary comes to me
Paul's mother Mary worked as a midwife and earned most of the money for her family; this allowed the McCartneys to move into a bigger house at 20 Forthlin Road in Allerton. Mary McCartney died of an embolism on October 31st 1956, when Paul was just just fourteen. The loss of his mother at such a young age was a pain he would later share with John Lennon, who lost his mother Julia when he was only seventeen.
"My mother's death broke my dad up. That was the worst thing for me, hearing my dad cry. I'd never heard him cry before. It was a terrible blow to the family. You grow up real quick, because you never expect to hear your parents crying. You expect to see women crying, or kids in the playground, or even yourself crying - and you can explain all that. But when it's your dad, then you know something's really wrong and it shakes your faith in everything. But I was determined not to let it affect me. I carried on. I learnt to put a shell around me at that age. There was none of this sitting at home crying - that would be recommended now, but not then.
That became a very big bond between John and me, because he lost his mum early on, too. We both had this emotional turmoil which we had to deal with and, being teenagers, we had to deal with it very quickly. We both understood that something had happened that you couldn't talk about - but we could laugh about it, because each of us had gone through it. It wasn't OK for anyone else. We could both laugh at death - but only on the surface. John went through hell, but young people don't show grief - they'd rather not. Occasionally, once or twice in later years, it would hit in. We'd be sitting around and we'd have a cry together; not often, but it was good." - Paul McCartney
Paul's father Jim was quite musical and an accomplished trumpet player. He led Jim Mac's Jazz Band in the 1920s and encouraged Paul to learn piano. When Paul was fourteen his father bought him a trumpet, hoping this would encourage him to learn to play. But as soon as rock and roll pierced the young ears of teenage Paul, he traded his trumpet in for a £15 Framus Zenith acoustic guitar. Paul found the guitar difficult to play, not releasing initially that this was because he was left handed. He had to switch the strings around. McCartney wrote his first song I Lost My Little Girl on his Zenith guitar.
McCartney was influenced greatly by the burgeoning rock and roll sound of the late 1950s: Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins to name but a few.
Meeting John Lennon
On July 6th 1957, Paul McCartney met John Lennon and his Quarrymen band at the St Peter's Church Hall fete, in Woolton on 6. Lennon invited Paul to join his band as rhythm guitarist.
"I remember coming into the fete and seeing all the sideshows. And also hearing all this great music wafting in from this little Tannoy system. It was John and the band.
I remember I was amazed and thought, 'Oh great', because I was obviously into the music. I remember John singing a song called Come Go With Me. He'd heard it on the radio. He didn't really know the verses, but he knew the chorus. The rest he just made up himself.
I just thought, 'Well, he looks good, he's singing well and he seems like a great lead singer to me.' Of course, he had his glasses off, so he really looked suave. I remember John was good. He was really the only outstanding member, all the rest kind of slipped away." - Paul McCartney
George Harrison joined as lead guitarist in 1958, followed by John's art school friend Stuart Sutcliffe on bass in 1960. The band's name evolved over the coming months to include Johnny and the Moondogs and The Silver Beatles. When Pete Best joined as drummer in August of 1960, they settled on The Beatles.