The famous Beatles songwriter and musician speaks to Sir David Frost about his life in the spotlight.
Paul McCartney, one of the most famous musicians of all time, rose to prominence 50 years ago as part of the British pop sensation The Beatles.
From humble, working-class beginnings, McCartney, 70, is now one of the richest men in the world. He has even topped the bill at the White House, playing for Barack Obama, the US president.
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He sits down with Sir David for a full hour to tell his own story of the band, and its break up; to discuss some of the highs – and a few lows – of his life; and to provide a glimpse into his world behind the headlines.
The Beatles – John, Paul, George and Ringo – helped to define the 1960s, transforming modern music. They played sell out concerts all over the world, in front of hysterical fans. At the height of “Beatle Mania”, fans screamed so loud that the band said they could not hear their own music.
With more than 20 number one hits through the 1960s, they were seemingly unstoppable.
But the glory days did not last and the group split in 1970. However, the songs written by McCartney and the late John Lennon continue to live on through the generations.
“John and I wrote together something like 300 songs, just short of 300. We would meet up, sit down to write and three hours later we would have a song. And never, never did we have a dry session, we always wrote a song …. It was a great thing. Looking back on it I really feel blessed to be the guy who wrote with John. Because he was pretty hot stuff. And writing with me, I was pretty hot stuff too, so the two of us gelled,” McCartney says.
Recalling the break-up of The Beatles, McCartney says: “I think it was time for John certainly to leave. It was a bit of a shock to all of us, he just announced ‘oh I am leaving the group’. We all said ‘are you sure about this?’ We tried to keep it together but he was definitely going to leave, so that was basically what did it.
“But I think, in a way, then we realised that we had come full circle, we had kind of done everything we wanted to do … So in actual fact it wasn’t that bad a thing.”
On Yoko Ono, Lennon’s then-wife who is often blamed for the break-up of The Beatles, McCartney says: “She certainly didn’t break the group up.”
“The group was breaking up and I think she attracted John so much to another way of life that he then went on to, very successfully, add a sort of second part to his career, writing things like ‘Imagine’ and ‘Give Peace a Chance’. I don’t think he would have done that without Yoko.”
On his own enduring career in music, McCartney says: “I saw something the other day where I was quoted as saying ‘It will be pretty sad to be prancing around on a stage at 40’.
“But no, I am still prancing,” he laughs. “And enjoying it.”
The Frost Interview can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Friday: 2000; Saturday: 1200; Sunday: 0100; Monday: 0600.
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