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Tuesday, 18 June, 2002, 07:01 GMT 08:01 UK
Sir Paul on life at 60
Sir Paul Mc Cartney, born 18 June 1942
Sir Paul McCartney: Sixty years old and still rocking
Sir Paul McCartney turns 60 on Tuesday. The former Beatle spoke to the BBC World Service about his career and what the birthday means to him.

Back in 1967, on the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album, Paul McCartney sang about getting older and losing his hair.


When I was 20, I couldn't imagine still doing this at 30

Sir Paul McCartney
Despite that song, imagining his 64th year, the milestone of six decades has now arrived.

He celebrates with a sell-out 27-date US tour, singing more Beatles songs than ever.

Regarding himself as "just a rock 'n' roller", he explained how he never thought that he would be world famous for 40 years.

"When I was 20, I couldn't imagine still doing this at 30."

But once 30 had passed, "it seemed OK, but 40 was surely a no-no?"

And at 50, he felt it was "somehow unseemly to still be rocking at this age".

Wingspan

After his "crazy" days as a Beatle, McCartney faced the 1970s with his first early look at retirement - albeit enforced.

Reflecting on the band's bitter wrangles he said: "I felt redundant. I'd lost the best job in the world.

"I was like a worker laid off and I wanted compensation, severance."

Wings
Sir Paul and Linda formed Wings

He knew he should carry on making music and, shortly after, lived out his "get back" desires through his own band, Wings, on which his first wife Linda played keyboards.

"I wanted to put a band together, but didn't know how you did it. I had only ever joined someone else's," he said.

"I was following the hardest act in the world and it was either do it or give up."

Rock on

Band on the Run proved he still had the popular instinct.

The 1973 album was recorded in Nigeria.

"I wanted to go out of the country and I liked the idea of going to a place that had produced records that had great rhythm," he said.

By the mid-1970s Wings were one of the world's biggest stadium bands and they continued to record together until the end of the decade.

Losing Linda

More recently, Sir Paul has had to try to come to terms with Linda's death from cancer in 1998.

"It took me a long time after Linda had died and I had a year of great difficulty where I cried a lot and looked at what my feelings were," he explained.

After about 15 months he began to "realise that life goes on and you have to pick up the pieces".

Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills official engagement picture
Sir Paul married Heather Mills earlier this month

In the last two years he found the confidence to go public with his wider creative talents.

He has found love again with his new wife, Heather Mills, and has released volumes of poetry whilst publicly exhibiting his art for the first time.

Describing his new lease of life he said: "Here we are with a new beginning and the sun is shining."

Retirement

Proud of his achievements in the 32 years since the Beatles split, Sir Paul shows no sign of letting up.

"I don't see any point in standing still," he asserted.

"If I go on a tour I will have to sing Yesterday for the umpteenth time and I don't mind that, but if I couldn't write anything new I would find that a problem."

"There is always a better song to be written."

Admitting that he sometimes "assumes that retirement is near" he added: "I am about to give up, but I do one gig and I love it."

BBC News Online charts Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills' relationship


The courtship

The happy couple

Remembering Linda

PHOTO GALLERY

THE LOCAL HERO
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