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Last Updated: Saturday, 17 June 2006, 23:22 GMT 00:22 UK
The seven ages of Paul McCartney
Sir Paul at Live 8
Sir Paul McCartney turns 64 on Sunday
Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney turns 64 on Sunday.

The singer, who wrote When I'm 64 for The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper album, says his children have urged him to disappear for the day, which is sure to trigger a flurry of press attention.

Here is how his life has changed over the last seven decades.

CHILDHOOD: 1942 -1951

James Paul McCartney was born to a working class family on 18 June, 1942, at Walton Hospital in Liverpool.

His mother, Mary, had been a nursing sister at the hospital, and was given a bed in a private room for the birth.

Sir Paul was baptised as a Roman Catholic, his mother's faith, but religion did not play a strong part in his upbringing.

His father, Jim, was a gifted musician who played with a jazz band in the evening while holding down a day job as a cotton salesman.

Both Sir Paul and his younger brother Michael received piano lessons during their early years, but neither kept up the instrument.

TEENAGE YEARS: 1952 - 1961

Sir Paul McCartney's childhood home
Sir Paul's childhood home is now owned by the National Trust
The McCartneys moved several times during Sir Paul's early life, but eventually settled in a terraced house in Liverpool's Forthlin Road in 1955.

Just one year later, the family was struck by tragedy when Sir Paul's mother died of breast cancer, aged 47.

Her death had a huge impact on Sir Paul. He referred to her in the lyrics of Let It Be, singing: "When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me".

Soon after she passed away, Sir Paul asked his father to buy him a guitar, and the young musician learnt to play by imitating American R&B hits he heard on the radio.

In October 1957, Sir Paul auditioned for John Lennon's band, The Quarrymen, at a church fair and was asked to join as the group's third guitarist.

The Beatles
One of the band's earlier names was Johnny and The Moondogs
The pair began writing songs together and several of their earliest hits were composed in the house on Forthlin Road, including Love Me Do and I Saw Her Standing There.

It was also about this time that Sir Paul wrote When I'm 64, and the band are reported to have played it early concerts.

After decamping to West Germany to play a residency in the Indra Club in Hamburg, the band - now rechristened The Beatles - returned to Liverpool in 1960.

It was at a gig in the Cavern nightclub that they were seen by Brian Epstein, who offered to become their manager.

BEATLEMANIA: 1962 - 1971

Epstein secured The Beatles an audition with Decca on New Year's Day 1962, but the record company decided not to offer the band a contract.

The Beatles
The Beatles got their famous "moptop" haircuts in Germany
However, the manager eventually persuaded producer George Martin to sign the group to Parlophone Records in May 1962.

Beatlemania was not long coming. The group's first single, Love Me Do, reached number four in October, and by August 1963 they spent seven weeks on top of the charts with She Loves You.

By then, The Beatles were household names, with Sir Paul as the band's main pin-up.

Around this time, he started to date actress and party cake designer Jane Asher. Several Beatles songs are thought to be about their relationship, including We Can Work It Out and Here, There and Everywhere.

The band conquered America in 1964, after an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show was seen by a reported 73 million people.

When I'm 64 was featured on the band's milestone album, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released in 1967.

Beatles 60s
The Beatles played to 400m people on the first global TV link-up.
The vaudevillian song is atypical of the album, featuring a clarinet trio, rather than the psychedelic rock that characterised the rest of the record.

Many speculated it was a love song to Linda Eastman, who later became Sir Paul's wife, but the couple didn't meet until a launch party for the Sergeant Pepper album.

Sir Paul married Eastman in a low-key register office ceremony in 1969.

The musician claims he nearly forgot to buy a wedding ring after becoming engrossed in a recording session.

The couple had three children together, and Sir Paul adopted a daughter from Eastman's previous marriage.

By the time of their wedding, The Beatles were becoming more and more fractious, with musical and personal differences tearing the band apart.

Sir Paul released his first solo album, McCartney, in 1970 at around the same time as The Beatles' swansong, Let It Be.

Some copies included a self-written interview explaining the break-up of the band.

WINGS: 1972 - 1981

Sir Paul's wife Linda was a member of Wings
In the year that he turned 30, Sir Paul found two of his singles banned by the BBC.

Give Ireland Back To the Irish, released in February, was blacklisted for its political content, while December's Hi, Hi, Hi was thought to contain drugs references.

Both singles were recorded by the musician's new band, Wings, which went through a variety of line-ups during the 1970s.

Sir Paul's songs of this period were often derided by critics for being overly-sentimental, but they found great favour with the public.

Mull of Kintyre, a paean to his Scottish retreat with Linda, stayed at number one for nine weeks in 1977 and for several years held the record for being the highest-selling single in the UK.

Wings' other hits included the James Bond theme Live and Let Die, and Band On The Run.

In 1980, Sir Paul was arrested in Tokyo's Narita airport for possession of marijuana. He spent ten days in prison before being released and deported to the UK.

In December that year, Sir Paul's former bandmate and writing partner, John Lennon, was shot dead on the steps of his New York home.

SOLO: 1982 - 1991

Sir Paul McCartney in the 1970s
In the 1980s, Sir Paul's hits included Pipes Of Peace
After Wings disbanded in 1981, Sir Paul had continued solo success with his albums McCartney II and Tug Of War.

His duets with Stevie Wonder, on Ebony and Ivory, and Michael Jackson, on The Girl Is Mine, were big hits - but critics were becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the saccharine nature of Sir Paul's work.

Even the public turned their backs on the 1984 film Give My Regards to Broad Street, written by and starring Sir Paul - although a single from the film, No More Lonely Nights, was a huge hit.

The artist's reputation for creating groundbreaking music took another blow in December that year when he released We All Stand Together, a waltz for Rupert The Bear credited to Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus.

1989's Flowers In The Dirt, which featured several collaborations with Elvis Costello, was better received, and was followed by Sir Paul's first world tour in a decade.

As he approached 50, Sir Paul made his first foray into classical music, scoring the Liverpool Oratorio with composer Carl Davis.

LEGEND: 1992 - 2001

Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison, George Martin
The remaining Beatles recorded new songs for the Anthology albums
The emergence of Britpop saw many artists citing The Beatles as an influence.

And, as fans of new bands such as Oasis started to investigate Sir Paul's back catalogue, so did he.

He helped to compile the Beatles Anthology albums, which unearthed alternative takes and forgotten recordings, and took part in the accompanying TV series.

Perhaps as a result, Sir Paul's next album, Flaming Pie, saw him go back to the skiffle and R&B songs that inspired The Beatles 30 years earlier.

He also kept up his interest in classical music, and released two albums of dance music under the pseudonym The Fireman.

Sir Paul McCartney in concert
Sir Paul's music has made him one of the UK's wealthiest entertainers
In 1996, Sir Paul opened the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, which was built on the site of his old school.

The following year, he received a knighthood.

However, the honour was overshadowed by the death of his wife, Linda, who succumbed to breast cancer, at the age of 56.

NOW I'M 64: 2002 - Present

Sir Paul's diverse interests came to the fore after his wife's death. He publicly exhibited his paintings for the first time, and released a book of poetry, Blackbird singing.

He has continued to record and tour, and headlined the Glastonbury Festival in 2004.

Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills
Sir Paul and Heather Mills became engaged in 2001
But Sir Paul's music has been overshadowed by his marriage to the model Heather Mills.

The couple tied the knot amid considerable secrecy in Ireland in 2002.

Following their marriage, Mills and Sir Paul devoted much time to charity work, and recently campaigned against the slaughter of seal pups in Canada.

The couple had a daughter, Beatrice, in the autumn of 2003.

However, they separated last month, blaming press intrusion for putting a strain on their relationship.

The Beatle and the model
17 May 06 |  Entertainment
McCartney and Mills to separate
17 May 06 |  Entertainment
McCartney 'defends wife Heather'
16 Feb 04 |  Entertainment
The McCartneys v the Fur Trade
18 Apr 06 |  Real Story
Sir Paul McCartney: Rock royalty
30 Nov 01 |  Entertainment
Sir Paul resents Beatles 'revisionism'
13 Jun 01 |  Entertainment
Sir Paul admits post-Beatles trauma
30 Apr 01 |  Entertainment
Linda McCartney dead
08 May 98 |  Obituaries

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