2014 - Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award
Sir James Paul McCartney, born 18 June 1942, is an English musician, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer. With John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, he gained worldwide fame as a member of the Beatles, widely regarded as one of the most popular and influential acts in the history of rock music; his songwriting partnership with Lennon is one of the most celebrated of the 20th century. After the band's break-up, he pursued a solo career and later formed Wings with his first wife, Linda, and Denny Laine.
In 1979, Guinness World Records described McCartney as the "most successful composer and recording artist of all time", with 60 gold discs and sales of over 100 million albums and 100 million singles, and as the "most successful songwriter" in United Kingdom chart history.
Largely a self-taught musician, McCartney's approach was described by musicologist Ian MacDonald as "by nature drawn to music's formal aspects yet wholly untutored ... [he] produced technically 'finished' work almost entirely by instinct, his harmonic judgement based mainly on perfect pitch and an acute pair of ears ... [A] natural melodist—a creator of tunes capable of existing apart from their harmony".McCartney commented, "I prefer to think of my approach to music as ... rather like the primitive cave artists, who drew without training."
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist in March 1999, McCartney has written, or co-written 32 songs that have reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and as of 2014 he has sold more than 15.5 million RIAA-certified units in the United States. McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr received MBEs in 1965, and in 1997, McCartney was knighted for his services to music.
McCartney has written, or co-written 32 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100: twenty with the Beatles; nine solo and/or with Wings; one as a co-writer of "A World Without Love", a number-one single for Peter and Gordon; one as a co-writer on Elton John's cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"; and one as a co-writer with Michael Jackson on "Say Say Say". As of 2013, he has sold 15.5 million RIAA certified units in the United States.
Credited with more number ones in the UK than any other artist, McCartney has participated in twenty-four chart topping singles: seventeen with the Beatles, one solo, and one each with Wings, Stevie Wonder, Ferry Aid, Band Aid, Band Aid 20 and "The Christians et al." He is the only artist to reach the UK number one as a soloist ("Pipes of Peace"), duo ("Ebony and Ivory" with Wonder), trio ("Mull of Kintyre", Wings), quartet ("She Loves You", the Beatles), quintet ("Get Back", the Beatles with Billy Preston) and as part of a musical ensemble for charity (Ferry Aid).
"Yesterday" is the most covered song in history with more than 2,200 recorded versions, and according to the BBC, "the track is the only one by a UK writer to have been aired more than seven million times on American TV and radio and is third in the all-time list ... [and] is the most played song by a British writer [last] century in the US". His 1968 Beatles composition, "Hey Jude", is also a career highlight. It achieved the highest sales in the UK that year, topping the US charts for nine weeks, longer than any other Beatles single. It was also the longest single released by the band, and at seven minutes eleven seconds, the longest ever number one to that point. "Hey Jude" is the best-selling Beatles single, achieving sales of over five million copies soon after its release.
McCartney has released an extensive catalogue of songs as a solo artist and has composed classical and electronic 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. He has married three times and is the parent of five children.