Paul McCartney's musical career
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|Sir Paul McCartney
McCartney performing in England, 2010
|Birth name||James Paul McCartney|
18 June 1942 |
|Genres||Rock, pop, classical, electronica|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, music and film producer, businessman|
|Instruments||Vocals, bass guitar, guitar, keyboards, drums, percussion|
|Labels||Apple, Capitol, Columbia, Decca, Hear Music, Parlophone, Polydor, Swan, Vee-Jay|
|Associated acts||The Quarrymen, the Beatles, Wings, the Fireman|
Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer, multi-instrumentalist, and composer whose musical career began in the late 1950s and continues to this day. He gained fame around the world as a member of the Beatles along with John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. He later formed the band Wings and led a successful solo career.
1957–1960: the Quarrymen
On 6 July 1957, when he was aged fifteen, McCartney met Lennon and the Quarrymen at the Woolton (St. Peter's church hall) fête. At the start of their friendship, Lennon's Aunt Mimi disapproved of McCartney because he was, she said, "working class", and called him "John's little friend". McCartney's father told his son that Lennon would get him "into trouble", although he later allowed The Quarrymen to rehearse in the front room at 20 Forthlin Road.
McCartney formed a close working relationship with Lennon and they collaborated on many songs. He convinced Lennon to allow George Harrison to join the Quarrymen (Lennon thought Harrison was too young) after Lennon heard Harrison play at a rehearsal in March 1958. Harrison joined the group as lead guitarist, followed by Lennon's art school friend, Stuart Sutcliffe, on bass, although McCartney was later dismissive about Sutcliffe's musical ability. By May 1960, they had tried several new names, including 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 for their performances in Hamburg.
1960–1970: the Beatles
Starting in May 1960, the Beatles were managed by Allan Williams, who booked them into Bruno Koschmider's Indra club in Hamburg. The band first played at the Indra club, sleeping in small, "dirty" rooms in the Bambi Kino, and then moved (after the closure of the Indra) to the larger Kaiserkeller. In October 1960, they left Koschmider's club and worked at the "Top Ten Club", which was run by Peter Eckhorn. When McCartney and Pete Best went back to the Bambi Kino to get their belongings they found it in almost total darkness. As a snub to Koschmider, they found a condom, attached it to a nail on the concrete wall of their room, and set fire to it. There was no real damage, but Koschmider reported them for attempted arson. McCartney and Best spent three hours in a local jail and were deported, as was Harrison, for working under the legal age limit.
The group reunited in December 1960, and on 21 March 1961, played their first of many concerts at Liverpool's Cavern club. McCartney realised that other Liverpool bands were playing the same cover songs, which prompted him and Lennon to write more original material. The group returned to Hamburg in April 1961, and recorded "My Bonnie" with Tony Sheridan. Sutcliffe left the band after the end of their contract, so McCartney reluctantly took over bass. He found it difficult to play guitar right-handed, but after noticing a poster advertising a Slim Whitman concert and realising that Whitman also played left-handed, he reversed the order of the strings. After borrowing Sutcliffe's Höfner 500/5 model for a short time, he bought a left-handed 1962 500/1 model Höfner bass. On 1 October 1961, McCartney went with Lennon (who paid for the trip) to Paris for two weeks.
The Beatles were first seen by Brian Epstein at the Cavern club on 9 November 1961, and he later signed them to a management contract. The band's road manager, Neil Aspinall, drove them to London on 31 December 1961, where they auditioned the next day, but were rejected by Decca Records. In April 1962, the Beatles went back to Hamburg to play at the Star-Club, and learned of Stuart Sutcliffe's death a few hours before they arrived. They were ready to sign a record contract on 9 May 1962, with Parlophone Records—after having been rejected by many record companies—but Epstein sacked Pete Best (at the behest of McCartney, Lennon and Harrison; Best's replacement was Richard Starkey, whose stage name was Ringo Starr, from Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, although he had already performed, occasionally, with the Beatles in Hamburg) before they signed the contract. "Love Me Do" was released on 5 October 1962, featuring McCartney singing solo on the chorus line. Over the course of the next two years, McCartney and his bandmates would rise from relative obscurity to international stardom, an unprecedented feat at that time for a rock-music combo.
All Lennon-McCartney songs on the first pressing of the Please Please Me album (recorded in one day on 11 February 1963) as well as the "Please Please Me" single, "From Me to You", and its B-side, "Thank You Girl", are credited to "McCartney-Lennon", but this was later changed to "Lennon-McCartney". They usually needed an hour or two to finish a song, which were written in hotel rooms after a concert, at Wimpole Street, at Cavendish Avenue, or at Kenwood (Lennon's house). McCartney also wrote songs for other artists, such as Billy J. Kramer, Cilla Black, Badfinger, and Mary Hopkin – and most notably he wrote two hit songs for the group Peter & Gordon, launching their career. One song, "World Without Love", became a No. 1 hit in the UK and US (Peter was the brother of Jane Asher, McCartney's girlfriend at the time.)
By 1965, Lennon, Harrison, and Starr had bought large houses in the Surrey 'stockbroker belt', but McCartney continued to live in central London: first in Jane Asher's parents' house, and then at 7 Cavendish Avenue, St John's Wood, near the Abbey Road Studios. It was at Cavendish Avenue that McCartney bought his first Old English Sheepdog, Martha, whose name ostensibly inspired the song "Martha My Dear", but which is actually about the end of McCartney and Asher's relationship.
McCartney often went to nightclubs alone, which offered 'dining and dancing until 4:00 a.m.' and featured cabaret acts. McCartney would get preferential treatment everywhere he went, which he readily accepted. He even once accepted an offer from a policeman to be allowed to park McCartney's car. He later visited gambling clubs after 4:00am, such as 'The Curzon House', and often saw Epstein there. The Ad Lib club (above the Prince Charles Theatre at 7 Leicester Place) was later opened for the emerging 'Rock and Roll' crowd of musicians, and tolerated their unusual lifestyle. After the Ad Lib fell out of favour, McCartney moved on to the Scotch of St James, at 13 Masons Yard. He also frequented The Bag O'Nails club at 8 Kingly Street in Soho, London, where he met Linda Eastman, later to become his wife.
On 31 June 1965, the Beatles were appointed Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE); they received their insignia from Queen Elizabeth II at an investiture at Buckingham Palace on 26 October 1965. They stopped touring after their last concert at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, on 29 August 1966. McCartney was the first to be involved in a project outside of the group, when he composed the score for the film The Family Way in 1966. The soundtrack was later released as an album (also called The Family Way), and won the Ivor Novello Award for Best Instrumental Theme, ahead of acclaimed jazz musician Mike Turner. McCartney wrote songs for and produced other artists, including Mary Hopkin, Badfinger, and the Bonzo Dog Band, and in 1966, he was asked by Kenneth Tynan to write the songs for the National Theatre's production of As You Like It by William Shakespeare (starring Laurence Olivier) but declined. In 1968 he co-produced the song "I'm the Urban Spaceman" by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and was credited as "Apollo C. Vermouth" because of contractual restrictions. In 1969, he recorded with the Steve Miller Band (under the pseudonym Paul Ramon), playing drums and bass and singing backing vocals for two tracks on the album Brave New World.
McCartney later attempted to persuade Lennon and Harrison to return to the stage, and when they had a meeting to sign a new contract with Capitol Records, McCartney suggested "going back to our roots," to which Lennon replied, "I think you're mad!" Although Lennon had quit the group in September 1969, and Harrison and Starr had temporarily left the group at various times, McCartney was the one who publicly announced the Beatles' break-up on 10 April 1970—one week before releasing his first solo album, McCartney which was a global hit and sold over 10 million copies. The album included a press release inside with a self-written interview stating McCartney's hopes about the future. The Beatles' partnership was legally dissolved after McCartney filed a lawsuit on 31 December 1970.
After the break-up of the Beatles, McCartney started to be called "Macca" as a nickname. Since 1970 he has continued to work in popular music, both with solo work and in a number of collaborations, including the group Wings which was active between 1971 and 1981 with numerous successful singles and albums (see discography). McCartney has also had involvement in classical music.
In August 1971, drummer Denny Seiwell and guitarist/singer Denny Laine joined Paul and Linda McCartney to record Paul's third post-Beatles project on Apple Records. The result was Wild Life, released 7 December. It was the first project to credit Wings as the artist, and not McCartney. Following the release of Wild Life, Wings started an unplanned tour of British universities and small European venues in 1972. In February of that year, they released a single called "Give Ireland Back to the Irish", which was banned by the BBC. Wings then embarked on the 26-date Wings Over Europe Tour.
The first of Wings' two 1973 albums Red Rose Speedway spawned the band's first No. 1 in the United States, "My Love" (#2 in Canada). Wings then released the theme song for the James Bond film Live and Let Die, which narrowly missed the top of the Billboard Hot 100. It reunited McCartney with George Martin, who both produced the song and arranged the orchestral break. Their second 1973 album Band on the Run, which won two Grammy Awards is Wings' most lauded work. It became Wings' biggest selling album of the 1970s with sales of over 6 million just in the USA alone. From it were released the singles "Jet" (#7 US), "Band on the Run" (#1 US), "Helen Wheels" (#10 US) In terms of recording activity 1974 was a calm year. McCartney had Wings work on his brother Mike McGear's self-titled album. A trip to Nashville produced "Junior's Farm" (#3 US). In Nashville, he also recorded an instrumental, "Walking in the Park with Eloise", which had been written by his father. The song featured Wings, Floyd Cramer and Chet Atkins. Venus and Mars was released in 1975, which featured "Listen to What the Man Said" (#1 US) and "Rock Show." In September 1975, Wings embarked on the Wings Over the World tour, the American leg of which was documented on the 1976 triple album Wings over America. Wings had the biggest US hit of their career and the No. 1 song of the year 1976 with the 5-week No. 1 hit "Silly Love Songs". Their Wings at the Speed of Sound album (1976) was notable for the fact that all members had a lead vocal. Apart from "Silly Love Songs", the album also spawned the hit "Let 'Em In" (#3 US).
In 1977, Wings released "Maybe I'm Amazed", a live version recorded in 1976, which reached the US Top Ten. Later that year, "Mull of Kintyre" was released. It stayed at No. 1 in the UK for nine weeks (#34 in Canada), and was the highest-selling single in the UK until 1984, when Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" beat its record. 1978 saw Wings score another No. 1 hit with "With a Little Luck", and they saw the Top Five one more time in 1979 with "Goodnight Tonight". Wings toured again in 1979, and McCartney organised the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea. McCartney's "Rockestra" theme won a Grammy award.
Other popular music
As The Beatles were breaking up in 1970, McCartney was working on his debut solo album, McCartney, which was released in April. Backing vocals were provided by his wife, Linda, whom he had married the previous year. McCartney had insisted from the beginning of their marriage that his wife should be involved in his musical projects, so that they did not have to be apart when he was on tour.
In May 1971 a second album, Ram, credited to Paul and Linda McCartney and selling several million copies, was released, spawning the No. 1 US hit single "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey". The album was recorded with the help of outside musicians, including drummer Denny Seiwell, who had to perform in a secret audition for Paul and Linda before being chosen. A jam session – with Lennon and McCartney – was recorded in California, in 1974, and released on the bootleg A Toot and a Snore in '74. In 1977, McCartney supervised the release of Thrillington, an instrumental interpretation of Ram, under the name "Percy 'Thrills' Thrillington". At Christmas 1979, McCartney released a solo Christmas single, "Wonderful Christmastime", his first solo release since he began recording with Wings in 1971. At the end of the 1970s Paul McCartney had become the 5th biggest selling music act on the planet.
McCartney carried on recording after the death of John Lennon in 1980, but did not play any live concerts for some time, saying that he was nervous that he would be the next to be murdered. This led to a disagreement with Denny Laine, who wanted to continue touring and subsequently left Wings, which McCartney disbanded in 1981. Also in 1981, six months after Lennon's death, McCartney sang backup on George Harrison's tribute to Lennon, "All Those Years Ago," along with Ringo Starr.
McCartney played every instrument on the 1980 release McCartney II (as he had on McCartney before it), this time with an emphasis on synthesisers instead of guitars. The single "Coming Up" reached No. 2 in Britain, and a live version of the song recorded by Wings just prior to their break-up reached No. 1 in Canada and the US. "Waterfalls" was another UK Top 10 hit. McCartney's next album, 1982's Tug of War, reunited him with Ringo Starr and Beatles producer George Martin, and the album hit No.1 on both sides of the Atlantic at the same time as its lead single, a duet with Stevie Wonder, "Ebony and Ivory", did likewise. Two further hit duets followed, both with Michael Jackson: "The Girl Is Mine", from Jackson's Thriller album, and "Say Say Say", a single from McCartney's 1983 album, Pipes of Peace. Paul also guest starred with Linda on The Simpsons, in the season seven episode "Lisa the Vegetarian". "Maybe I'm Amazed" is played during the credits.
McCartney wrote and starred in the 1984 film Give My Regards to Broad Street. The film and soundtrack featured the US and UK Top 10 hit "No More Lonely Nights", and the album reached No. 1 in the UK, but the film did not do well commercially or critically. Roger Ebert awarded the film a single star and wrote, "You can safely skip the movie and proceed directly to the sound track". Later that year, McCartney released "We All Stand Together", the title song from the animated film Rupert and the Frog Song, which was the supporting feature to Broad Street in cinemas and which, when released on video cassette would become the year's top-seller. The following year, McCartney released "Spies Like Us," the title song to the Dan Aykroyd/Chevy Chase comedy which hit No. 7 on the Billboard chart (making it his last US Top 20 hit to date) and No. 24 in Canada. On 13 July 1985, McCartney played "Let It Be" at the Live Aid concert in London, but much of his performance was marred by technical difficulties. He was backed on this performance by Bob Geldof, Pete Townshend, David Bowie, and Alison Moyet.
In the second half of the decade McCartney would find new collaborators. Eric Stewart had appeared on McCartney's Pipes of Peace album, and he co-wrote most of McCartney's 1986 album Press to Play. The album and its lead single, "Press", became minor hits. McCartney returned the favour by co-writing two songs for Stewart's band, 10cc: "Don't Break the Promises" (...Meanwhile, 1992), and "Yvonne's the One" (Mirror Mirror, 1995). In 1987, EMI released All the Best! which was the first compilation of McCartney's own songs.
In 1988, he released, initially in the Soviet Union only, Снова в СССР, a collection of McCartney cover-versions of his favourite vintage rock and roll classics which later had a general release in 1991. Around this time, McCartney also began a songwriting partnership with Elvis Costello (Declan MacManus) from which songs would appear on singles and albums by both artists, notably "Veronica" on Costello's album Spike and "My Brave Face" from McCartney's Flowers in the Dirt, (which reached No. 1 in the UK on release in 1989). Further McCartney/MacManus compositions for surfaced on Costello's 1991 album Mighty Like a Rose and McCartney's 1993 album Off the Ground. A 1992 McCartney / Starr collaboration "Angel in Disguise" was intended for Ringo's Time Takes Time album, however was not included and remains unreleased to this day. During late 1989 and 1990, he staged The Paul McCartney World Tour, his first concert tour since Lennon's murder and his first of the US in thirteen years.
In the early 1990s (after another world tour), McCartney, Harrison and Starr worked together on Apple's The Beatles Anthology documentary series. It included three double albums of alternative takes, live recordings, and previously unreleased Beatles songs, as well as a ten-hour video boxed set. Anthology 1 was released in 1995, and featured "Free as a Bird", which was the first Beatles reunion track, while Anthology 2, released in 1996, included "Real Love" (1996), the second and final in the reunion series. Both reunion tracks were co produced by Electric Light Orchestra frontman Jeff Lynne, who had worked with Harrison in The Traveling Wilburys. Both reunion tracks were completed by adding new music and vocal tracks to Lennon's demos from the late 1970s.
In 1997, McCartney released Flaming Pie. The album garnered the best reviews for a McCartney album since Tug of War. It debuted at No. 2 in the UK and the US, and was nominated in the category Album of the Year at the 1998 Grammy Awards. In 1999, McCartney released another album of rock 'n' roll songs, titled Run Devil Run.
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In 2000, McCartney released A Garland for Linda, a choral tribute album with compositions from eight other contemporary composers. The music was performed by "The Joyful Company of Singers" to raise funds for The Garland Appeal, a fund to aid cancer patients. Earlier in the year, McCartney worked on what would become his new album, Driving Rain, released on 12 November. Driving Rain featured many uplifting songs inspired by and written for his soon-to-be wife Heather. Clearly determined to follow the example of Run Devil Run's brisk recording pace, most of the album was recorded in two weeks, starting in February 2001. McCartney also composed and recorded the title track for the film Vanilla Sky, released later that year. The track was nominated for—but did not win—an Oscar for Best Original Song
McCartney, who witnessed the September 11 attacks from the tarmac of JFK airport, took a lead role in organising The Concert for New York City in response. The concert took place on 20 October 2001.
In 2002, McCartney went on another world tour that continued through the following two years. During the tour he contributed to an album titled Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy Of Sun Records—which included a version of the Elvis Presley hit "That's All Right (Mama)"—recorded with Presley band members, Scotty Moore on lead guitar and drummer D.J. Fontana. McCartney performed during the pre-game ceremonies at the NFL's Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, and starred in the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005. In 2003, McCartney went to Russia to play a concert in Red Square. Vladimir Putin gave McCartney a tour of the Square, and McCartney performed a private version of "Let It Be".
In what would be only his second British music festival appearance (after Knebworth 1990), McCartney headlined the Glastonbury Festival in June 2004. McCartney and festival organiser Michael Eavis won the NME Award on behalf of the festival, which won 'Best Live Event' in the 2005 awards. McCartney performed at the main Live 8 concert on 2 July 2005, playing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" with U2 to open the Hyde Park event, although Ringo Starr criticised McCartney for not asking him to play.
McCartney's 2005 album "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard", on which he played most of the instruments himself, gained very positive reviews and was generally regarded as marking a strong creative resurgence, resulting in three Grammy nominations including the nomination for Album of the Year.
On 13 November 2005, McCartney played a live concert at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, CA. Towards the end of the concert, a satellite link-up was made to the International Space Station so McCartney and those at the concert could see NASA Astronaut Bill McArthur and Russian Cosmonaut Valery Tokarev as they were awakening for the 44th day of their six-month mission in space. McCartney proceeded to play the traditional wakeup song played on each space mission, a tradition that began during the moon missions. McCartney also performed "Good Day Sunshine", and "English Tea". Afterwards he and the concert goers talked with McArthur and Tokarev via a projection screen. This was the first time a live concert had been linked to a US spacecraft.
McCartney joined Jay-Z and Linkin Park onstage at the 2006 Grammy Awards in a performance of "Numb/Encore" & "Yesterday" to commemorate the recent passing of Coretta Scott King. McCartney later noted, in between his solo set of "Fine Line" and "Helter Skelter", that it was the first time he had performed at the Grammys and quipped, "I finally passed the audition," which was a reference to the Lennon comment at the end of the Let It Be film: "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition."
On 21 March 2007, McCartney left EMI to become the first artist signed to Starbucks's new record label, Los Angeles-based Hear Music, to be distributed by Concord Music Group. He made an appearance via a video-feed from London at the company's annual meeting. "For me, the great thing is the commitment and the passion and the love of music, which as an artist is good to see. It's a new world now and people are thinking of new ways to reach the people, and that's always been my aim".
McCartney played "secret gigs" in London, New York, and Los Angeles to promote his album. Several live recordings from these shows have been released as B-sides to singles from Memory Almost Full. In New York, the crowd included only a few hundred contest winners and celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg, Elijah Wood, Kate Moss, Aidan Quinn, and Steve Buscemi.
On 13 November 2007, The McCartney Years, a 3-DVD set was released. It contains an exclusive commentary, behind the scenes footage, over 40 music videos and two hours of historic live performances. Discs 1 and 2 contain McCartney's music videos. Disc 3 contains live performances taken from Wings' Rockshow in 1976, Unplugged in 1991, and Glastonbury in 2004. Other footage includes Live Aid, the Super Bowl XXXIX halftime show, interviews with Melvyn Bragg and Michael Parkinson, and the 2005 documentary Creating Chaos at Abbey Road.
On 1 June 2008 McCartney celebrated Liverpool's year as the European capital of culture by playing a concert at Anfield Stadium. It featured special guest Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. Grohl played guitar and sang backing vocals on "Band on the Run" and played drums on "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "I Saw Her Standing There". McCartney also played "A Day in the Life " as a tribute to John Lennon, marking the first time the song has been played live by a Beatle.
In April 2008 it was revealed that McCartney was invited by Ukrainian tycoon Victor Pinchuk to play a free concert in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on 14 June 2008. He played in the city's main square Maidan Nezalezhnosti at a show dubbed the Independence Concert. Over 350,000 concert goers braved adverse weather conditions as Paul McCartney played the biggest concert in Ukraine's history. Furthermore, McCartney opened a personal exhibition of his artistic works at the PinchukArtCentre.
On 18 July 2008, McCartney made a surprise cameo appearance at the Billy Joel concert at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York, which was appropriately titled "The Last Play at Shea", referring to the stadium's scheduled demolition in early 2009. Rumours had been circulating that McCartney might appear at this concert, since the Beatles were the first band to perform at Shea; McCartney arrived and played "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Let It Be" with Joel on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans, closing the stadium as a music venue the way it opened.
McCartney played on the Plains of Abraham on 20 July 2008 as part of the celebrations surrounding Quebec City's 400th anniversary. McCartney delighted the crowd of more than 250,000. He frequently addressed the crowd in French and dedicated the song "Birthday" to this city that he had not had the opportunity to visit before.
McCartney also played a special concert dubbed by him as "Friendship First" at Hayarkon Park, in Tel Aviv, Israel, on 25 September 2008, attracting 50,000 fans. He wished the massive crowd Shana Tova in Hebrew.
Sometime in December 2008, McCartney was asked by a session musician which bands he enjoys in the current music scene. The response was surprising, when he replied his favourite band was the Canadian band, Barenaked Ladies. "Their harmonies are right on. They could outsing us any day of the week. I don't think John and myself ever had the sort of range they do" McCartney said of the band and also commented that he wouldn't mind doing an album with them.
Later that month, Sirius XM launched a limited run channel devoted exclusively to the music of Paul McCartney. Entitled Fireman Radio, an homage to McCartney's alter ego, the program premiered on 14 February 2009 and ended 13 March 2009.
On 4 April 2009, McCartney reunited with Ringo Starr at the David Lynch "Change Begins Within" Benefit Concert at Radio City Music Hall. McCartney performed with his band earlier that evening playing, "Drive My Car", "Jet", "Let It Be", "Lady Madonna", "Can't Buy Me Love", "Band on the Run", "Got to Get You into My Life", "Blackbird", and "Here Today" as a tribute to John Lennon. McCartney then called out "Billy Shears" and Ringo Starr came out and together they performed "With a Little Help From My Friends" and, with all performers, "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Cosmically Conscious".
On 17 April 2009, McCartney performed at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California. The emotional show, which coincided with the 11th anniversary of wife Linda's death, received rave reviews, as Paul showed his stamina by performing for more than 2½ hours. Highlight songs included "Something" accompanied by a ukulele and "Hey Jude," with which the 60,000-strong crowd sung along unanimously. The performance went 53 minutes past the midnight curfew, costing McCartney $1000 per minute.
On 1 June 2009, McCartney appeared onstage with Ringo Starr at the E3 gaming convention after Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison had appeared. They did not perform, but promoted and endorsed The Beatles: Rock Band video game that was being showcased at the convention.
On 11 July 2009, McCartney played for his first time in Halifax, Nova Scotia. On 17, 18 and 21 July 2009, McCartney performed at the new Citi Field in New York City as the first musical performance at the stadium. Along with the Beatles, he performed the first show at the New York Mets old stadium, Shea Stadium in 1965. McCartney also appeared as a surprise guest when Billy Joel performed at the last concert at Shea in July 2008.
The 1990s saw McCartney venture into orchestral music. In 1991 the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society commissioned a musical piece by McCartney to celebrate its sesquicentennial. McCartney collaborated with Carl Davis to release Liverpool Oratorio. The Oratorio was premiered in Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral, and had its North American premiere in Carnegie Hall in New York City on 18 November 1991, with Davis conducting. McCartney's singers and musicians included 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. EMI Classics recorded the premiere of the oratorio and released it on a 2-CD album which topped the classical charts.
His next classical project to be released (in 1995) was A Leaf, a solo-piano piece played by Royal College of Music gold-medal winner Anya Alexeyev. The Prince of Wales later honoured McCartney as a Fellow of The Royal College of Music.
In 1997, McCartney made his second venture into classical music with Standing Stone, which was commissioned by EMI Records to mark their 100th anniversary in autumn. Other forays into classical music included Working Classical (1999).
In March 2006, McCartney finished composing a 'modern classical' musical work named Ecce Cor Meum (Behold My Heart). It was recorded with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, and the boys of King's College Choir, Cambridge, Magdalen College School, Oxford, and was premiered at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 3 November 2006. It was voted Classical Album of the Year in 2007 in the Classical Brit Awards.
Musical awards and recognition
It was announced in the 1997 New Year Honours that McCartney was to be knighted for services to music, and he received the accolade from the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 11 March 1997, becoming Sir Paul McCartney. He dedicated his knighthood to fellow Beatles Lennon, Harrison, and Starr, and to the people of Liverpool.
In May 2000, McCartney was given a Fellowship by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. The chairman of the academy, Guy Fletcher, said McCartney had played a major role in changing the course of British popular music.
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