Paul McCartney is an inspiration in every sense of the word. In terms of music, he has done it all. He was part of the most iconic songwriting duo of all time with John Lennon, and along with the other two Beatles, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, the ‘Fab Four’ as they aptly became known would rewrite the handbook on how to make and how to consume popular music.
With McCartney and Co.’s contributions to the world, music today would not be the same. The Beatles took off from where their rock ‘n’ roll heroes such as Little Richard and Chuck Berry left off, repackaged it and sent the mainstream into a frenzy. With the ensuing craze of ‘Beatlemania’ and spearheading the ‘British Invasion’, the four boys from Liverpool practically invented the notion of popular culture.
The first true musical pop culture phenomenon, along with some of their other contemporaries, explored the medium of the concept album, starting with 1966’s Rubber Soul and culminating in 1967’s masterpiece Sgt. Pepper’s. They redefined the album as a unified body of work – this set music up to the mass consumption we see today.
Furthermore, McCartney and Co. were brilliant songwriters. If you were to list how many people have been inspired, at least in some part by the Beatles, it is almost everyone, either physically or by proxy. The interesting thing about Paul McCartney is that he is a prolific songwriter, and after the Beatles split in 1970, he wasted no time in releasing two solo albums. Whilst, sadly the Beatles would never reform, he would carry on releasing music right up until the very present, with him releasing McCartney III in 2020.
A fascinating man, who has always seemed nothing but decent at heart, in a lengthy 2020 interview with GQ, McCartney revealed some interesting nuggets of information. A dense piece, at one point, McCartney shockingly admits he is an Everton FC and a Liverpool FC fan, sacrilege for someone hailing from that side of the River Mersey, to anyone unaware this is like being a Montague and a Capulet at the same time. At other points, he also speaks about lockdowns, the NHS, the positive impact of BLM, vegetarianism and the Rolling Stones’ guitarist, Keith Richards.
However, the most captivating part of the interview is the way that the former Beatles and Wings man explains that he was massively influenced by one of the most iconic musicians of the 1960s, Jimi Hendrix. To the reader’s delight, it also transpires that Jimi Hendrix inspired McCartney to buy his favourite guitar. Shockingly though, this isn’t a Fender Stratocaster, but quite the opposite. McCartney’s explains that he purchased his classic Epiphone Casino Hollowbody on the back of hearing Jimi Hendrix.
He tells the interviewer, “I have an Epiphone Casino, which is one of my favourites.” He continues, “It’s not the best guitar, but I bought it in the 1960s. I went into a shop on Charing Cross Road and asked the guys if they had a guitar that would feedback, because I was very much into Jimi Hendrix and that kind of thing.”
McCartney explains that: “I loved that kind of stuff, and so I wanted a guitar that was going to give me feedback, as none of the others could. So they showed me the Casino. Because it’s got a hollow body, it feeds back easier. I had a lot of fun with that. That’s the guitar I played the ‘Taxman’ solo on, and it’s also the guitar I played the riff on ‘Paperback Writer’ with.”
To anyone who is pedantic enough or has a keen enough eye to realise that ‘Taxman’ and ‘Paperback Writer’ came out in 1966 and that Hendrix’s debut album Are You Experienced didn’t arrive till the following year, 1967, this may seem like piffle. However, McCartney’s revelations are significant as they demonstrate the game-changing impact Hendrix had on music in his tragically short life and career, even before he laid down his debut album. A master of all things visceral, the fact that the six-stringed virtuoso managed to have a direct influence on the Beatles is a wonderful thought.
Listen to McCartney talk about Hendrix below.