The Beatles: Guitar Heroes 11 – Paul McCartney

Share My Guitar is pleased to announce a new series of guest posts by John F. Crowley about guitars owned by members of the Beatles. Each week we will unleash another article covering the history and impact of these fab guitars.

Although primarily known for his bass playing, Sir Paul McCartney started his rock and roll career on a six-string guitar.

When he met John Lennon at the St. Peter’s Parish Fete on 6 July 1957, he impressed the leader of The Quarry Men by knocking out a dead-on version of “Twenty Flight Rock.” McCartney was soon offered a job with the band and after a few practices debuted at the New Clubmoor Hall, Norris Green, Liverpool on 18 October 1957.

“I kind of went in first of all as lead guitarist really,” McCartney says in the Tony Bacon interview from The Bass Book, “because I wasn’t bad on guitar. And when I wasn’t on stage I was even better. But when I got up on stage at the very first gig I totally blew it — I had never experienced these things called nerves before.”

After cocking up his solo on “Guitar Boogie Shuffle,” he decided to “lean back” and play rhythm.  Significantly, in an effort to impress Lennon after this disastrous outing, McCartney showed him a song he’d written, “I Lost My Little Girl,” which promped Lennon to show McCartney a few songs he’d written — launching a formidable songwriting partnership.

Before long McCartney nominated his mate George Harrison for lead duties, and continued playing rhythm through the second Hamburg trip in early 1961, when he was called upon to replace bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. From that point he would provide innovative, highly musical bass accompaniment for The Beatles throughout their career.

From his first solo album McCartney has stepped out from behind the bass and displayed his considerable talent playing six-string guitar, but few fans realized during the Beatles’ recording years that McCartney was providing some of the tastiest guitar playing to be heard on those records, rivaling Lennon in spirit and Harrison in technique. His solos can be heard on, among other songs, “Taxman,” “Drive My Car,” “The End,” “Good Morning, Good Morning” and “Helter Skelter.” Now this musician, who brought a new spirit and prestige to bass guitar, is being appreciated belatedly for his six-string work.

  • Mickey Richardson

    I was just watching that new paul mccartney concert, live in NY, and mac goes into a short impromptu jam of foxy lady at one point, playing lead guitar on his crazy looking les paul and doing some hendrix type licks… cool. He can play. If you watch the gig, he plays, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, ukulele, mandolin, piano… geez! Wondering if he was gonna jump on the drums as well?!

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