Since beginning his creative collaboration with John Lennon in the late 1950s, Paul McCartney has established himself as one of music’s most revered figures. He dominated the Billboard charts in the 1960s and 1970s while a member of The Beatles and Wings. Thanks to McCartney’s solo albums and his collaborations with musicians like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, that success continued into the 1980s. He is now regarded as an aging statesman of rock ‘n’ roll, but he still updates and modernizes his style, even doing duets with modern artists like Kanye West, Dominic Fike, Rihanna, and Dave Grohl. Paul McCartney is a well-known artist, but he still has secrets. We’ve compiled five interesting facts about him, from his vegetarian diet to his knighthood.
5. McCartney penned “When I’m Sixty-Four” at the age of 14.
When McCartney composed “When I’m Sixty-Four,” one of his earliest songs, in April 1956 in his childhood home, rock ‘n’ roll was still in its infancy. On the upright piano in his family’s home, he wrote the song, drawing on cabaret and vaudeville music for inspiration. At the time, Jim McCartney, his father, was 54 years old. Jim was 64 when The Beatles started writing songs for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band ten years later. Maybe for that reason McCartney decided to resurrect the song for the upcoming album. After some lyrical changes from John Lennon, The Beatles recorded the final take of “When I’m Sixty-Four” in December 1966.
4. Due to his drug addiction, the United States government for years refused to grant him an American visa.
In August 1964, Bob Dylan made the Beatles famous by introducing them to marijuana. After performing at Forest Hills Stadium in nearby Queens, McCartney and his bandmates were sleeping at a hotel in Manhattan. They consented to smoke the joints Dylan had prepared for them in an effort to unwind a bit. In The Brian Epstein Story, author Deborah Geller quotes McCartney as saying, “We actually all got stoned and we were giggling.” “It was laughter time, and we couldn’t stop ourselves. And Brian was addressing himself in the mirror, “Jew! Jew!” He recognized the humor in it. It was as though he was finally acknowledging the truth. I’m Jewish, I see. I missed it.” McCartney became a vocal supporter of marijuana, penning the song “Got to Get You into My Life” about it, and eventually being arrested for marijuana possession or cultivation in Sweden, America, Scotland, Barbados, and Japan. He was unable to obtain an American visa until December 1973 as a result of these convictions.
3. He founded his own publishing company, MPL Communications, in 1969. He controls the publishing rights to a number of Broadway musicals, including Guys and Dolls. MPL was first established to manage McCartney’s work outside of The Beatles, but it soon expanded into one of the biggest publishing companies in the world after acquiring the distribution rights for performers like Buddy Holly and Frank Sinatra. Somewhere along the line, MPL started supporting the creation of a brand-new musical, which debuted in New England before moving on to Broadway. It was called Annie. The copyrights of more musicals, such as Grease, Guys and Dolls, and A Chorus Line, were acquired by MPL by the early 1980s. Despite being more frequently linked to The Beatles than Broadway, McCartney has a major stake in the theater industry.
2. Since the 1970s, he has been an avowed vegetarian.
McCartney makes an unexpected appearance on The Simpsons in 1995. The Simpsons’ middle child, Lisa, was the subject of the episode, “Lisa the Vegetarian,” which tracked Lisa’s efforts to cut out meat from her diet. The first episode of the series to be written by David X. Cohen, who later co-created Futurama with Matt Groening of The Simpsons, “Lisa the Vegetarian” also made many viewers aware of McCartney’s personal vegetarianism. The producers promised that Lisa would continue to be a vegetarian for the duration of The Simpsons, and the former Beatle agreed to give his voice to the episode. McCartney also continues to be a vegetarian after initially doing so in 1975. He continues to be one of the most well-known plant-eaters in the world and even assisted Linda McCartney, his first wife, in establishing her own vegetarian food company, Linda McCartney Foods, in 1991.
1. He is a recognized knight.
Knights do not always wear chainmail. On March 11, 1997, Paul McCartney received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his longtime contributions to popular music. In the past thirty years, McCartney had only been to Buckingham Palace twice. The Fab Four went to the royal residence in 1965 to get their honorary MBC (Member of the British Empire) medal. In the middle of the 1960s, that first visit to Buckingham Palace caused quite a stir in England, with John Lennon stating that the bandmates had smoked marijuana in the restroom to ease their nerves. Despite The Beatles’ greatest efforts over the ensuing years to refute that assertion, the notion persisted. In their coverage of McCartney’s knighting ceremony, even CNN brought it up. The website reported that Paul McCartney, the Beatle who once made fun of using marijuana in the restrooms at Buckingham Palace, visited Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday to receive a knighthood for his role in revolutionizing pop music.