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McCartney gained worldwide fame as a member of The Beatles, alongside John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. McCartney and Lennon formed one of the most influential and successful songwriting partnerships and wrote some of the most popular songs in the history of rock music. After leaving The Beatles, McCartney launched a successful solo career and formed the band Wings with his first wife, Linda Eastman, and singer-songwriter Denny Laine. McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the "most successful musician and composer in popular music history", with 60 gold discs and sales of 100 million singles in the UK.
BBC News Online readers named McCartney the "greatest composer of the millennium", and BBC News cites his Beatles song "Yesterday" as the most covered song in the history of recorded music—by over 2,200 artists—and since its 1965 release, has been played more than 7,000,000 times on American television and radio according to the BBC. Wings' 1977 single "Mull of Kintyre" became the first single to sell more than two million copies in the UK, and remains the UK's top selling non-charity single. Based on the 93 weeks his compositions have spent at the top spot of the UK chart, and 24 number one singles to his credit, McCartney is the most successful songwriter in UK singles chart history. As a performer or songwriter, McCartney was responsible for 32 number one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and has sold 15.5 million RIAA certified albums in the US alone.
McCartney has composed film scores, classical and electronic music, released a large catalogue of songs as a solo artist, and has taken part in projects to help international charities. He is an advocate for animal rights, for vegetarianism, and for music education; he is active in campaigns against landmines, seal hunting, and Third World debt. He is a keen football fan, supporting both Everton and Liverpool football clubs. His company MPL Communications owns the copyrights to more than 3,000 songs, including all of the songs written by Buddy Holly, along with the publishing rights to such musicals as Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, and Grease. McCartney is one of the UK's wealthiest people, with an estimated fortune of £475 million in 2010.
At the age of 15, McCartney met John Lennon and The Quarrymen at the St. Peter's Church Hall fête in Woolton on 6 July 1957. He formed a close working relationship with Lennon and they collaborated writing many songs. Harrison joined the group in early 1958 as lead guitarist, followed in early 1960 by Lennon's art school friend, Stuart Sutcliffe on bass. By May 1960, they had tried several new names, including "Johnny and the Moondogs" and "The Silver Beetles", playing a tour of Scotland under that name with Johnny Gentle. They finally changed the name of the group to "The Beatles" in mid-August 1960 and recruited Pete Best at short-notice to become their drummer for an imminent engagement in Hamburg.
McCartney (left) in 1964 with Beatles bandmates George Harrison and John Lennon From May 1960, The Beatles were booked by Allan Williams, to perform at a club in Hamburg.[For the next two years, The Beatles remained in Hamburg for much of the time, performing as a resident group in a number of Hamburg clubs. During their two-year Hamburg residency they returned to Liverpool from time to time, performing at the Cavern club. Prior to the end of the residency, Sutcliffe left the band, so McCartney, reluctantly, became The Beatles' bass player. The Beatles recorded their first published musical material in Hamburg, performing as the backing group for Tony Sheridan on the single "My Bonnie". This recording later brought the Beatles to the attention of a key figure in their subsequent development and commercial success, Brian Epstein, who became their next manager. Epstein eventually negotiated a record contract for the group with Parlophone in May 1962. After replacing Best with Ringo Starr on drums, The Beatles became popular in the UK in 1963 and in the US in 1964. In 1965, they were each appointed Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). After performing concerts, plays, and tours almost non-stop for a period of nearly four years, and giving more than one thousand four hundred live performances internationally, The Beatles gave their last commercial concert at the end of their 1966 US tour. They continued to work in the recording studio from 1966 until their break-up in 1970. In the eight years from 1962 to 1970, the group had released twenty-four UK singles and twelve studio albums, often released in different configurations in the USA and other countries (see discography).
McCartney during a Wings concert, 1976 After the break-up of The Beatles, McCartney continued his musical career, in solo work as well as in collaborations with other musicians. After releasing his solo album McCartney in 1970, he worked with Linda McCartney to record the album Ram in 1971. Later the same year, the pair were joined by guitarist Denny Laine and drummer Denny Seiwell to form the group Wings, which was active between 1971 and 1981 and released numerous successful singles and albums (see discography). McCartney also collaborated with a number of other popular artists including Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Eric Stewart, and Elvis Costello. In 1985, McCartney played "Let It Be" at the Live Aid concert in London, backed by Bob Geldof, Pete Townshend, David Bowie, and Alison Moyet. The 1990s saw McCartney venture into orchestral music, and in 1991 the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society commissioned a musical piece by McCartney to celebrate its sesquicentennial.
He collaborated with Carl Davis to release Liverpool Oratorio; involving the opera singers Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Sally Burgess, Jerry Hadley and Willard White, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the choir of Liverpool Cathedral. The Prince of Wales later honoured McCartney as a Fellow of The Royal College of Music and Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music (2008). Other forays into classical music included Standing Stone (1997), Working Classical (1999), and Ecce Cor Meum (2006). It was announced in the 1997 New Year Honours that McCartney was to be knighted for services to music, becoming Sir Paul McCartney. In 1999, McCartney was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist and in May 2000, he was awarded a Fellowship by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. The 1990s also saw McCartney, Harrison, and Starr working together on Apple's The Beatles Anthology documentary series.
Having witnessed the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks from the JFK airport tarmac, McCartney took a lead role in organising The Concert for New York City. In November 2002, on the first anniversary of George Harrison's death, McCartney performed at the Concert for George. He has also participated in the National Football League's Super Bowl, performing in the pre-game show for Super Bowl XXXVI and headlining the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXIX.  
McCartney performing in England in 2010 McCartney has continued to work in the realms of popular and classical music, touring the world and performing at a large number of concerts and events; on more than one occasion he has performed again with Ringo Starr. In 2008, he received a BRIT award for Outstanding Contribution to Music and an honorary degree, Doctor of Music, from Yale University. The same year, he performed at a concert in Liverpool to celebrate the city's year as European Capital of Culture. In 2009, he received two nominations for the 51st annual Grammy awards, while in October of the same year he was named songwriter of the year at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Awards. On 15 July 2009, more than 45 years after The Beatles first appeared on American television on The Ed Sullivan Show, McCartney returned to the Ed Sullivan Theater and performed atop the marquee of Late Show with David Letterman. McCartney was portrayed in the 2009 film Nowhere Boy, about Lennon's teenage years, by Thomas Sangster.
On 2 June 2010, McCartney was honoured by Barack Obama with the Gershwin Prize for his contributions to popular music in a live show for the White House with performances by Stevie Wonder, Lang Lang and many McCartney (left) in 1964 with Beatles bandmates George Harrison and John Lennon others.
McCartney's enduring popularity has helped him schedule performances in new venues. He played three sold out concerts at newly-built Citi Field in Queens, New York (built to replace the Shea Stadium) in July 2009. On 18 August 2010, McCartney opened the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
McCartney has been touring for the past ten years with guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, Paul "Wix" Wickens on keyboards and drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr. They performed together on 13 July 2010 in Salt Lake City as part of the Up and Coming Tour.