Paul McCartney

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"This isn't false modesty, but I am really just this kid from Liverpool. I was very, very lucky, and I worked very hard, so that's brought money and fame," said Paul McCartney in a 1989 interview for Rolling Stone magazine.

The former Beatle and richest man in showbusiness - he has an estimated fortune of £800 million is more complex than he would have us believe, however.

Born in Liverpool on June 18, 1942, Paul McCartney had music in his blood his father played the trumpet and piano so it was no surprise when, aged 15, he joined a local skiffle combo called The Quarrymen, with his friend John Lennon. The outfit morphed into The Silver Beatles and then into The Beatles, playing the city's now famous Cavern Club.

And it soon became clear that the four moptops would change the face of popular music as it was then known. The efforts of their manager, Brian Epstein, combined with kitsch merchandise and the conquering of America, took Beatlemania global.

Their early music paid more than a nod to American rock'n'roll, but it was when the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership cranked into gear that the band's longevity, not to mention its place in pop history books, was guaranteed.

But even the classic albums, The White Album, Sergeant Pepper, Revolver, and the love of their fans according to John, The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus" could not hold the band together. The lives of John, Paul and fellow bandmembers George Harrison and Ringo Starr were going in increasingly different directions, and all were finding it harder to align their lives with the behemoth that The Beatles had become.

It was Paul who filed the lawsuit dissolving the band, and made the subsequent announcement, on April 10, 1970, that The Beatles were no more. The previous year the singer, who had previously been engaged to vivacious redhead Jane Asher, had married American photographer Linda Eastman.

Many Beatles' fans felt it was Linda's influence along with that of John's second wife, Yoko Ono that drove him to call time on the four-piece, and saw him as the instigator of the group's demise. The disbanding of the group sent Paul into deep depression but, typically, he threw himself into his work and, by the end of the year, had released a solo album. He formed the group Wings, best known for their chart-topping paean to all things Hibernian, Mull Of Kintyre, which enjoyed chart success throughout the Seventies.

Since then - although not inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame until 1999 - he has earned a reputation as one of popular music's elder statesmen. He has scripted a movie, Give My Regards To Broad Street, composed the classical piece, Liverpool Oratorio, and been knighted by the Queen in 1996.

Paul's marriage to fellow vegetarian and animal rights activist Linda lasted almost 30 years, and the two barely spent a night apart until her tragic death from cancer in 1998. The couple had four children textile designer Heather (Linda's daughter from her first marriage), Mary, a photographer, Stella, the celebrated fashion designer, and James, a musician.

Although devastated by the loss of Linda, in 1999 Sir Paul found love again when he was introduced to former model and landmine campaignerHeather Mills at a charity event. Two years on the pair announced they were to wed, tying the knot in a lavish ceremony at Ireland's 17th-century Castle Leslie in June 2002. The following October they welcomed a daughter, Beatrice Milly McCartney.

There were strains appearing in the marriage, however, and in May 2006 the couple issued a joint statement announcing the end of their four-year union, saying intrusion into their private lives had made it "increasingly difficult to maintain a normal relationship".

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