Paul McCartney: A Life in Artefacts

Happy Birthday, Sir Paul! Let's celebrate the legendary songwriter and musician by revisiting some of our favourite pieces of Macca memorabilia at The Beatles Story.

5 min read

The 18th June 2024 marks Sir Paul McCartney’s 82nd birthday! To honour this occasion, let’s explore how our McCartney memorabilia here at The Beatles Story tells the tale of Sir Paul’s journey to stardom – with The Beatles, and beyond.



The Early Years: Love Me Do Misspelling


Our original 45rpm demo record of The Beatles’ debut single, ‘Love Me Do’, is one of only 250 that was sent out to radio stations prior to its release in October 1962. Not only was this the start of The Beatles released music as we know it, but it also marks the inaugural release of the iconic Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership.



‘Love Me Do’ was completely co-written … It was just Lennon and McCartney sitting down without either of us having a particularly original idea. We loved doing it, it was a very interesting thing to try and learn to do, to become songwriters.

– Paul McCartney; Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles (1997)



Unfortunately, though, this demo record of the Fab Four’s debut single featured an unfortunate misspelling of the songwriting partnership. The writing credit on the vinyl credits ‘Love Me Do’s songwriting credit to “Lennon – McArtney”!


‘Love Me Do’ “Demonstration Record” with “McArtney” misspelling.



The Beginnings of Beatlemania


Before Beatlemania took off globally in full force in 1963 and 1964, it all began in The Cavern Club. There, The Beatles played hundreds of shows to adoring fans, signed autographs – and were ‘scouted’ by Brian Epstein.


One of The Beatles’ Cavern regulars was Bernie Byrne, who developed a closer relationship with the band and would eventually create The Beatles Story Museum along with Merseybeat musician and husband, Mike Byrne.


bernie byrne and her memorabilia on display at the beatles story, liverpool

Bernie Byrne and her memorabilia on display at The Beatles Story, including her purse signed by Paul McCartney in 1962.


Before she met Mike, Bernie actually dated both Paul and George! In an interview with The Beatles Story, she claimed that when her and her friends went to The Cavern to see the band, “Paul was our favourite”.


Our ‘Beatlemania’ exhibition features incredible memorabilia collected by Bernie over the years, which offers a glimpse into The Beatles’ lives and careers from Liverpool locals to international icons.


Bernie’s ‘favourite Beatle’ signature can be seen on her handbag from 1962 in our display. Of the handbag, Bernie recalled: “In the Cavern one night… while Pete was still the drummer… fans were asking [The Beatles] for their autographs after their show. I didn’t have any paper on me, so I asked them to sign my handbag which they happily did!”



A Hard Day’s Night


This year marks the 60th anniversary of both the studio album and film of A Hard Day’s Night! The album, which released shortly after The Beatles’ completed their world tour, was greeted with critical acclaim and is often cited as an influence for many other bands like The Byrds.


If you had to explain the Beatles’ impact to a stranger, you’d play them the soundtrack to A Hard Day’s Night.

– Bob Stanley, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé (2014)


A Hard Day’s Night was the only Beatles album to be solely credited to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership, symbolising their strength and progression in this legendary writing alliance.


Our A Hard Day’s Night vinyl is the only know copy of the album that is signed by all four Beatles. The Fab Four signed the laminated front cover of the album in blue ballpoint pen, making it quite difficult for them to sign, and difficult for us to read! This only adds to its uniqueness, though, as The Beatles usually only signed the back of album sleeves.


McCartney’s signature etched onto the laminated cover of A Hard Day’s Night.



Yellow Submarine 


After the A Hard Day’s Night film, The Beatles flipped the script and went in an entirely different direction – one which many say revolutionised the animation genre for all ages. The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine is regarded as a “cult classic” even 56 years on, largely due to its psychedelic, colourful identity by Heinz Edelmann. John Lasseter, former Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, claims that Yellow Submarine helped “pave the way for the fantastically diverse world of animation that we all enjoy today.”


By creating moving images from meticulously hand-painted frames, each frame in the film (or ‘animation cel’), is a small piece of art. McCartney’s animated character features in this cel from scene #5 of the film.

Animation cel of Paul McCartney’s character in Yellow Submarine.


McCartney has said that he originally wanted Yellow Submarine to look and feel like “the greatest Disney movie ever – only with our music”. Although the film’s look ended up going in a more trippy, fantastical direction, it is still adored by fans – and McCartney himself – to this day.  “Looking back on the film, I do like it now. It’s really quite interesting.”


Now that The Beatles’ remastered Get Back and Let It Be documentaries are on Disney+, McCartney is sharing a platform with the Walt Disney classics he was originally inspired by.



Höfner Union Jack Bass


It’s safe to say that the Höfner 500/1 Violin Bass is synonymous with Sir Paul McCartney. He has played the instrument since 1961, when he custom-ordered the first left-handed bass of its kind, and still plays the bass to this day.


In 2012, upon learning Sir Paul McCartney was the leading artist for Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Celebration Concert, Graham Stockley (product manager for Höfner) considered gifting a Union Jack Hofner bass to McCartney to play at the concert. It was a race to get the bass finished on time. There was no time for the bass to be sent to Höfner HQ in Germany to check beforehand, so it had to be sent directly to McCartney’s guitar technician, John Hammel, ahead of the concert. All this hard work paid off when McCartney brought out the Union Flag Jubilee Bass to perform ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ during the big finale of the concert in front of Buckingham Palace!


As Sir Paul decided to keep the Jubilee Bass, a further one was produced for The Beatles Story. It is identical to Paul McCartney’s and is one of two made. It can be seen on display in our Solo Room.


Höfner’s Union Jack Bass on display at The Beatles Story, Liverpool.



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