SIR Paul McCartney once sang of being washed-up and unlovable When I’m Sixty-Four
But as he reaches the even grander old age of 70 tomorrow, his gloomy teenage predictions seem wider of the mark than ever.
Macca enters his eighth decade knowing he is adored as a music icon and national treasure — and he is one who is still not resting on his laurels.
Rather than put his slippered feet up, Sir Paul is busy touring and recording. He recently headlined the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert and next month he will perform at the glittering opening ceremony of the London Olympics.
From humble beginnings in a Liverpool council house, he has risen to become one of our most cherished living musicians. But the road has been a long and winding one, with many rocky patches.
Macca has been married three times, lost his beloved first wife Linda to cancer, had the joy of fathering five children, known the tragic deaths of three former Beatles and become a knight.
Here The Sun looks back at Sir Paul’s life.
Paul came wailing into the world on June 18, 1942, in Liverpool’s Walton Hospital — where his mum Mary had qualified as a midwife years earlier.
He was close to his little brother Mike, who arrived two years later and who also became a musician, forming the band Scaffold.
Music was at the heart of family life at their home in Speke. Dad Jim, a cotton delivery man, had played trumpet and piano in a jazz band and would take his sons to see local brass bands.
Paul has fond memories of his dad sat at the piano in their front room playing his favourite song, It’s Only A Paper Moon.
In 1954, schoolboy Paul was on a bus heading to the Liverpool Institute when he got chatting to George Harrison, who was also wearing the same boys’ grammar school’s uniform. The pair became lifelong pals.
A year later the McCartneys moved to Forthlin Road, Allerton. But they had only been there 12 months when tragedy struck. Mary died of an embolism following a breast cancer operation. Paul was only 14 and losing his mum affected him deeply.
For his birthday that year he was given a trumpet. But bitten by the rock ’n’ roll bug, he traded it in for a guitar. Being left-handed, he then had to learn how to restring it.
A year later he went to a church fete where skiffle group The Quarrymen were playing. He hit it off with their frontman John Lennon and, in October 1957, Macca played his first gig with the band at a Conservative club.
The following year his schoolmate George Harrison joined too.
The Sixties only really got Swinging when The Beatles formed.
As the decade began John’s art school friend Stuart Sutcliffe had joined The Quarrymen on bass. The band went through several name changes, including Johnny And The Moondogs and The Silver Beetles.
But in August 1960, when they headed to Hamburg after recruiting Pete Best on drums, they were The Beatles. Although it was not until two years later that the Fab Four as we know them came into being, with Sutcliffe having left and Ringo Starr replacing Best.
The next year the band toured America, sparking Beatlemania wherever they went. Talking about playing to thousands of screaming fans, Paul said: “It was like we were just in some mad dream.”
The years from 1963 to 1970 were incredibly productive for the Mop Tops. They released 12 albums, all but one of which (Yellow Submarine) was a No1, and saw 17 singles top the charts. Of the albums, Revolver, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beatles (known as The White Album) are the most influential.
For Paul, 1967 was a year of both deep sadness and great joy.
In May, Macca, who once dated actress Jane Asher, fell in love with photographer Linda Eastman. He said: “There was an immediate attraction between us.”
They got married in March 1969 at London’s Marylebone Register Office and in August their first child Mary, was born. Paul also adopted Linda’s daughter Heather.
But the same month that he became a dad, he was rocked by the death of Beatles manager Brian Epstein of an accidental drugs overdose. Epstein was only 32.
Frustrated by rows within the band while making the Abbey Road album, Paul quit in April 1970. Not long after, he released his debut solo album, McCartney.
But it was only when he formed Wings, with Linda and Denny Laine, that the big hits returned.
With Wings Paul wrote a number of memorable No1s, including Band On The Run and Mull Of Kintyre. But the BBC banned Give Ireland Back To the Irish because of its political content.
He and Linda also had Stella, born in 1971, and James, in 1977.
This decade got off to a bad start for Macca. In January, after Wings flew to Japan for a tour, he was arrested at Tokyo Airport for possession of marijuana. He spent ten days in prison before being deported.
But the year ended on unimaginable tragedy.
John Lennon was shot dead by Mark Chapman on December 8.
Although their relationship had become openly antagonistic, Paul was horrified by the death of his old friend.
It also made him fearful for his own safety, and his reluctance to tour ended with Wings calling it a day in 1981. Yet the Macca musical hits continued, thanks to duets with Stevie Wonder on Ebony And Ivory and Michael Jackson on The Girl Is Mine.
But his foray into film, with the 1984 musical Give My Regards To Broad Street, was widely panned.
Macca branched out into classical music with a piece for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society. And in March 1997 he was knighted for his services to the music industry.
But the decade ended in tragedy when Linda lost her three-year battle with breast cancer. Paul said: “She was fighting right to the end.”
He continued to tour and record, but increasingly it was his personal life which dominated the headlines.
In 2002 he married former topless model Heather Mills. They had a daughter, Beatrice, in October 2003, but there were rumours that his young wife didn’t consider the soon-to-be OAP’s lifestyle exciting enough. They split in 2006 and she won a £24million divorce settlement.
Paul found love and happiness again with American heiress Nancy Shevell, who is 17 years his junior.
The couple got married last October at the same London register office where Paul wed Linda.
Tomorrow, singer Paul Weller releases a cover of The Beatles’ song Birthday to mark Macca turning 70 — with proceeds from the single going to the charity War Child.
It’s a fitting tribute to an inspirational man whose own music has brought joy to so many millions.
From him to you ...
HERE are some of Sir Paul’s thoughts on his life over the years.
1962 (on The Beatles’ first appearance on TV)
“We thought we were going to be nervous. People said, ‘When you see the cameras you realise there are two million people watching’. But we didn’t think about that.”
1964 (on The Beatles success)
“If we flop tomorrow it would be sad but I’d think of something else to do. I’d write songs for other people, maybe retire.”
“Do you really want us to go on for ever? It can’t just go on for ever.”
1967 (on LSD)
“It opened my eyes. It would mean a whole new world if the politicians would take LSD. There wouldn’t be any more war or poverty or famine.”
“I’m glad that most of our songs were about love, peace and understanding.”
1969 (on stories that he had been killed in a car crash and replaced by a lookalike)
“I am alive and well and unconcerned about the rumours of my death. But if I were dead, I would be the last to know.”
1969 (just before break-up of The Beatles)
“John’s in love with Yoko and he’s no longer in love with the other three of us.”
1974 (asked about disputes within The Beatles)
“It’s like a holiday you go on where you moan all the time but you just remember that good night out.”
1980 (death of John Lennon)
“I can’t tell you how much it hurts to lose him. His death is a bitter, cruel blow. I really loved the guy.”
1982 (on Beatles split and John Lennon’s insults)
“You just don’t want to know about your ex-wife or ex-husband. After all the bitchiness you feel the desire for a complete break.”
1989 (when asked his favourite Paul McCartney song)
“The obvious choice is Yesterday because it’s my biggest song ever, but Here, There And Everywhere is another I love. And Hey Jude, Fool On The Hill, Let It Be.”
“She was a really funny lady, very witty. She was happy. So I use that now. I balance every sad moment with a happy moment. It helps me get through.” 1998 (after Linda’s death)
2002 (asked about possibility of a reunion)
“Certainly, for me, if we were ever on stage, the three of us, there’d be someone missing... and that’d be John.”
2004 (at the start of his relationship with Heather Mills)
“They (the public) didn’t like me giving up on Jane Asher. I married a New York divorcee with a child (Linda), and at the time they didn’t like that.”
2005 (on the death of George Harrison)
“Suddenly there’s this little friend of mine, he used to get on the bus, and now he’s passed away