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Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE (born 18 June 1942) is an Academy Award and Grammy Award winning English singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who first gained worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles. McCartney and John Lennon formed one of the most influential and successful songwriting partnerships and "wrote some of the most popular music in rock and roll history." On leaving The Beatles, McCartney launched a successful solo career and formed the band Wings with his first wife, Linda McCartney. He has worked on film scores, classical music, and ambient/electronic music; released a large catalogue of songs as a solo artist; and taken part in projects to help international charities.
McCartney is listed in Guinness World Records as the most successful musician and composer in popular-music history, with 60 gold discs and sales of 100 million singles. His song "Yesterday" is listed as the most covered song in history and has been played more than 7,000,000 times on American television and radio. Wings' 1977 single "Mull of Kintyre" became the first single to sell more than two million copies in the UK, and remained the UK's top seller until surpassed, in 1984, by Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" whose participants included McCartney.
His company MPL Communications owns the copyrights to more than three thousand songs, including all of the songs written by Buddy Holly, along with the publishing rights to such musicals as Guys and Dolls, A Chorus Line, and Grease. Aside from his musical work, McCartney is a painter and an advocate for animal rights, vegetarianism, and music education; he is active in campaigns against landmines, seal culls and Third World debt. McCartney was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1965, and was knighted in 1997.