Paul McCartney (b. 1942) was a founding member of The Beatles, the most successful rock and roll band in history. Along with John Lennon, the English singer/songwriter McCartney was one of the two most important figures in driving The Beatles' artistic evolution (bandmates George Harrison and Ringo Starr also contributed to the band's unique sound). Following The Beatles' breakup in 1970, McCartney went on to have a long and successful career as a solo act and in the band Wings.
McCartney and Lennon began playing together in a Liverpool band called The Quarrymen in 1957, when both were teenagers. In 1960, they changed the band's name to The Beatles; in 1962, with the band's four-man lineup finalized, they signed their first record contract. The Beatles almost immediately experienced huge success on the British charts—their second single, "Please Please Me," peaked at #2 late in 1962—and became superstars on this side of the Atlantic by early 1964, as "Beatlemania" swept the nation. Over the course of the 1960s, The Beatles would release dozens of top hits and bestselling albums, their musical style evolving from classic rhythm and blues to experimental psychedelic rock. The group long benefited from a creative tension between McCartney's ear for melody and sentimental lyrics and Lennon's more adventurous sonic experimentation, but eventually the differences between the two men, compounded by the pressures of immense fame and success, tore the band apart. McCartney remains one of the most beloved elder statesmen of the rock world today.