6 things you didn’t know about Paul McCartney

Maria Vole 15 February 2022

From being arrested in Germany for lighting a condom on fire to performing for astronauts in space, there's a lot you still might not know about the Beatles legend

Paul McCartney is a living legend. Throughout a long and interesting life, the former Beatle has sold more than 100 million singles as a solo artist, achieved 60 gold albums, and been awarded 18 Grammys.

There’s no doubt that he’s one of the biggest and most successful musicians in the history of rock 'n' roll. Here are six surprising facts you may not know about Paul McCartney.

  1. Paul McCartney was the first musician to broadcast music live into outer space

It seems fitting that one of the most successful musicians in history should have the honour of being the first person to perform live music for an audience in space. On November 12, 2005, part of McCartney’s live concert in Anaheim, California was broadcast to the International Space Station which is located over 200 miles above the Earth.

The 15-minute broadcast was a wake up call for the astronauts on the station, and McCartney treated them to a live performance of the popular Beatles song “Good Day Sunshine”. He made history as the first musician to perform in front of 28632 fans in Anaheim and broadcast to an audience of two astronauts in outer space. 

  1. His mother passed away when he was 14

Paul McCartney tragically lost his mother at a young age. His mother Mary Patricia died from complications during breast cancer surgery when he was at the tender age of 14.

The pain of losing his mother had a huge impact on McCartney and inspired the song “Let It Be”.

Though many believe the lyrics of the song refer to the Virgin Mary or Mary Magdalene, it actually refers to his mother—McCartney wrote the song after having a dream in which his mother came to him with advice ten years after her death. As John Lennon also lost his mother as a teenager, the pair bonded strongly over the emotional turmoil of losing their mothers at a young age. 

  1. Paul McCartney failed auditions to become a choir boy twice 

Though he has long been one of the most popular singers in the world, Paul McCartney’s musical talents weren’t always recognised. At the age of 11, he auditioned to become a choir boy and was rejected twice before finally being accepted to join the choir at St Barnabas Church, Mossley Hill in his native Liverpool

  1. He was arrested and deported in 1960 in Germany after lighting a condom on fire 

It’s no secret that The Beatles would often get a little rowdy during their gigs and while they were on tour. Back in 1960, the band were performing in Hamburg, Germany when they ran into trouble.

As Paul McCartney and Pete Best, the band’s original drummer, were packing their bags to leave the place they were staying in late one night, they lit a condom on fire to get some more light in the dark room. They were arrested by the local police under suspicion of trying to set the building on fire and forced to spend a few hours in jail before being deported from Germany and sent back to England. 

  1. Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s songwriting partnership is one of the most prolific and successful in musical history—though they couldn’t read or write music

John Lennon and Paul McCartney were a hugely successful songwriting duo, writing around 200 songs together. The pair had a dynamic writing partnership that lasted for many years, but A Hard Day’s Night is the only Beatles album where all of the songs were composed by Lennon and McCartney.

To this day, the Beatles’ grand total of 20 Number One singles and 19 Number One albums is unmatched by any other band or artist in history. Interestingly, though McCartney is one of the greatest songwriters of the last century, he doesn’t know how to read or write music.

In fact, both Paul McCartney and John Lennon have revealed in interviews that none of the Beatles band members could read sheet music. 

  1. Paul McCartney witnessed the 9/11 attacks

On September 11, 2001, McCartney happened to be in New York sitting in an airplane on the tarmac at John F Kennedy Airport. He could see the Twin Towers from the airplane window, and watched as the attacks took place.

The horror of that day inspired him to organise a benefit concert in New York, with an all-star lineup including David Bowie, The Who, Jay-Z, Elton John, Destiny’s Child and many more big names.

With the goal of raising funds and honouring those lost in the terror attack and the first responders, the concert raised over 77 million dollars for charity in one night. The 9/11 benefit concert was so successful at bringing people together after the tragedy that Paul McCartney was made an honorary detective by the NYPD afterwards.

Featured Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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