Sir James Paul McCartney is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and record and film producer who gained worldwide fame as co-lead vocalist, co-songwriter, and bassist for the Beatles. One of the most successful composers and performers of all time, he is known for his melodic approach to bass-playing, his versatile and wide tenor vocal range, and his musical eclecticism, having explored styles ranging from pre-rock 'n' roll pop to classical and electronica. His songwriting partnership with John Lennon remains the most successful in history.
Born in Liverpool, McCartney taught himself piano, guitar and songwriting as a teenager, having been influenced by his father, a jazz player, and rock 'n' roll performers such as Little Richard and Buddy Holly. He began his career as a member of the Quarrymen in 1957, which evolved into the Beatles in 1960. Sometimes called "the cute Beatle", McCartney later involved himself with the London avant-garde and spearheaded the incorporation of such experimental aesthetics into the Beatles' studio productions. Starting with the 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, he gradually became the band's de facto leader, providing the creative impetus for most of their music and film projects. Many of his Beatles songs, including "And I Love Her", "Yesterday", "Eleanor Rigby" and "Blackbird", rank among the most covered songs in history.
After the Beatles disbanded, he debuted as a solo artist with the 1970 album McCartney and formed the band Wings with his first wife, Linda, and Denny Laine. Led by McCartney, Wings was one of the most successful bands of the 1970s, with more than a dozen international top 10 singles and albums. He resumed his solo career in 1980 and has toured as a solo artist since 1989. Without Wings, his UK or US number-one hits have included "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey", "Coming Up", "Pipes of Peace", "Ebony and Ivory" and "Say Say Say". Beyond music, he has taken part in projects to promote international charities related to such subjects as animal rights, seal hunting, land mines, vegetarianism, poverty, and music education.
McCartney has written or co-written 32 songs that have topped the Billboard Hot 100, and as of 2009, had sales of 25.5 million RIAA-certified units in the US. His honours include two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of the Beatles in 1988 and as a solo artist in 1999), 18 Grammy Awards, an appointment as a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1965, and a knighthood in 1997 for services to music. As of 2020, he was one of the wealthiest musicians in the world, with an estimated fortune of £800 million.