Sir James Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, composer, and record and film producer who gained worldwide fame as co-lead vocalist and bassist for the Beatles. His songwriting partnership with John Lennon remains the most successful in history. After the group disbanded in 1970, he pursued a successful solo career and formed the band Wings with his first wife, Linda, and Denny Laine.
A self-taught musician, McCartney is proficient on bass, guitar, keyboards, and drums. He is known for his melodic approach to bass-playing (mainly playing with a plectrum), his versatile and wide tenor vocal range (spanning over four octaves), and his eclecticism (exploring styles ranging from early 20th-century pop to classical and electronica). McCartney began his career as a member of the Quarrymen in 1957, which evolved into the Beatles in 1960. Starting in 1967, he gradually became the Beatles' de facto leader and business manager, providing the creative impetus for their records after Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Of his Beatles songs, more than 2,200 artists have covered "Yesterday" (1965), making it one of the most covered songs in popular music history.
In 1970, he made his solo debut with the album McCartney, which anticipated the lo-fi movement. Along with Ram (1971) and McCartney II (1980), the records have enjoyed a cult following among later generations of musicians. From 1971 to 1981, he led the group Wings, and in 1993, he formed the music duo the Fireman with Youth of Killing Joke. Since 1989, McCartney has toured consistently as a solo artist. Beyond 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.
McCartney is one of the most successful composers and performers of all time. He has written or co-written 32 songs that have reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and as of 2009, had 25.5 million RIAA-certified units in the United States. His honors include two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as a member of the Beatles in 1988 and as a solo artist in 1999), 18 Grammy Awards, an appointment as a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1965, and a knighthood in 1997 for services to music. As of 2015, he is also one of the wealthiest musicians in the world, with an estimated fortune of $730 million.