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Discover the Singer Before He Joined The Beatles

Discover the Singer Before He Joined The Beatles
circa 1960: Paul McCartney on stage at the Cavern nightclub in Liverpool during the early days of British beat group The Beatles Keystone/Getty Images

When Paul McCartney was just 24, he sang “When I’m 64” with The Beatles. Now, as he has reached the age of 82, it is almost surreal to think back on his storied career. It’s even harder to fathom that McCartney had a life before meeting John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Exploring Paul McCartney’s youth unveils the early days of his journey, highlighting his childhood in Liverpool, his teenage years, and that fateful meeting with John Lennon which ultimately made history.

James Paul McCartney was born on June 18, 1942, in Liverpool, England, at Walton Hospital. His mother, Mary Patricia, worked as a nurse at the same hospital, while his father Jim was a salesman for A. Hannay and Co. cotton merchants before transitioning to Napier’s Defense Engineering Works during World War II. Paul’s elder brother, Peter Michael McCartney, was born on January 7, 1944.

Paul’s musical talents were inherited from his father, who was a pianist and trumpeter, leading Jim Mac’s Jazz Band in the 1920s.

Paul and his brother Mike were very close, and Mike also pursued a career in music. An old photo depicts a young Paul, almost in tears, which humorously foreshadows the “yeah, yeah, yeah!” that would captivate millions. Another photo shows the McCartney brothers more cheerful, highlighting their lifelong closeness.

Paul was often seen as “The Cute Beatle,” a label that early family photos show was formed in his childhood. Another nostalgic image reveals a six-year-old Paul and his eight-year-old brother Mike in front of their home, foretelling the iconic partnership with the Fab Four.
Keystone/Getty Images

Another memorable snapshot captures Paul and Mike on ponies, echoing a common tradition from the 1940s to the 1960s. School day photos suggest that no matter what Paul studied, his love for music was always paramount. It was at the Liverpool Institute in 1954 that he met George Harrison, the two quickly becoming friends.

Unfortunately, Paul lost his mother to breast cancer when he was just 14 years old. Her passing on October 31, 1956, created a bond between him and John Lennon, who also lost his mother at a young age.

Paul first met John Lennon on July 6, 1957, when he was merely 15. John was leading his band, the Quarrymen, at the St. Peter’s Church Hall fete in Wolton, Liverpool. Their shared passion for American rock music set the foundation for a legendary partnership, with Paul eventually inviting George to join the group.

Captioned as their first performance together, a historic photo documents the band’s show at the New Clubmoor Hall in Liverpool.
Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images

By August 1960, the Quarrymen transformed into The Beatles. The lineup included John, Paul, George, and Pete Best as the drummer. A period in Hamburg, Germany, marked the beginning of a transformative journey.
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

An early band photo shows The Silver Beatles on stage in 1960, with Johnny Hutch as a stand-in drummer. Another snapshot from 1960 places George, John, and Paul standing outside Paul’s home in Liverpool, with Ringo Starr’s entry still two years away.
Keystone Features/Getty Images

Another significant image captures an early version of The Beatles near the Arnhem War Memorial in the eastern Netherlands, taken en route to Hamburg. This poignant photo features key figures around an inscription that reads, “Their Name Liveth For Evermore.”
Ellen Piel – K&K/Redferns

On January 1, 1960, a lively image captures The Beatles performing at the ‘Top Ten Club’ in Hamburg, with Paul at the piano. By February of the following year, they were back in Liverpool, performing at the famed Cavern Club.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

January 1962 saw the advent of Brian Epstein as The Beatles’ manager. Epstein‘s first move was to polish the band’s image, making them more “respectable.” He then replaced Pete Best with Ringo Starr. This decision was a turning point, leading to their first recording contract and the beginning of their unprecedented global success.
The Beatles pose for an early group portrait wearing Pierre Cardin collarless jackets, 1963 Harry Hammond/V&A Images/Getty Images

Reflecting on Paul McCartney’s younger days, the journey is almost dreamlike, surpassing even his wildest aspirations.

Source: Instagram, Getty Images, Hulton Archive, Michael Ochs Archives, Keystone Features, Ellen Piel – K&K/Redferns, V&A Images