adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $41.99

Buy for $41.99

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Since the age of 21, Paul McCartney has lived one of the ultimate rock 'n' roll lives, played out on the most public of stages. Now Paul's story is told by rock music's foremost biographer, with McCartney's consent and access to family members and close friends who have never spoken on the record before.

Paul McCartney: The Life reveals the complex character behind the façade and sheds new light on his childhood - blighted by his mother's death but redeemed by the father who introduced him to music. This is the first definitive account of Paul's often troubled partnership with John Lennon, his personal trauma after the Beatles' breakup, and his subsequent struggle to get back to the top with Wings - which nearly got him murdered in Africa and brought him nine days in a Tokyo jail.

Listeners will learn about his marriage to Linda, including their much-criticized musical collaboration, and a moving account of her death. Packed with new information and critical insights, Paul McCartney: The Life will be the definitive biography of a musical legend.

©2016 Philip Norman (P)2016 W.F. Howes

Critic Reviews

"If you’re not a fan of Paul McCartney when you start this book, you will be when you’re done. Narrator Jonathan Keeble recounts McCartney's life story... It would have been criminal to have an American read Philip Norman's tell-all book. Keeble's delightful British accent makes it sound real.... Overall, McCartney comes across as a great musician, caring father, and incredible human being." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Paul McCartney

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    326
  • 4 Stars
    91
  • 3 Stars
    20
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    337
  • 4 Stars
    58
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    316
  • 4 Stars
    69
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Better than average McCartney bio

I don't know why reviewers and critics are slamming this book. I just finished the 30-some hour book and was entertained throughout--mostly. Yes, the Beatles portion is a retread. But a biographer whose subject is one member of the Beatles and not the Beatles is going to gloss over the nitty-gritty of that oft-told tale.

Paul McCartney did not authorize the biography but he gave his tacit consent. So Norman had access to family members, friends and business associates who otherwise might not have spoken to him.

The story, for me, picked up when Paul met Linda. That's where Norman seems to find a thread that leads out of the oft-told tale and into the more nebulous realm of Paul's post-Beatles life. I've listened to Peter Ames Carlin's, Howard Sounes' and Paul du Noyer's McCartney bios and this is my favorite so far. Although du Noyer's book did a wonderful job digging into Paul's music, which the other biographies don't do as well.

Norman presents a likeable Paul who has faults and foibles, and a creative streak and inventiveness that carry him through "I Saw Her Standing There", "Eleanor Rigby" and "Hey Jude" up to Chaos and Creation in the Backyard (2005) and New (2013).

Norman doesn't spend a lot of time on any album or song. But he weaves their stories through the history of Paul's life. I thought Paul's arrest for marijuana possession and subsequent time in a Japanese jail was well-told. Other subjects gone over are the various post-Beatles business blahs, Wings lineup changes, Linda's photography and cookbooks, Give My Regards to Broad Street, Paul's relationships with the Beatles' members and the Beatles' wives/widows, Stella McCartney's fashion career, Linda's death, Paul's messy divorce from Heather Mills, his classical works, his role in the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and his marriage to Nancy Shevell.

Thankfully Norman never forgets that Paul is a musician and songwriter, and the Beatles and McCartney music lies at the heart of this book.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good bio but not much music

Paul McCartney didn't come off well in Philip Norman's two previous books about the Beatles (Shout! - about the band as a whole, and a bio of John Lennon). To some extent this one is an act of contrition.

There are strengths and weaknesses to Norman's approach - the biggest weakness being his lack of attention to music. Some might consider that a deal-breaker, but I have my own opinions on the music, and I'm just as happy he focused on other things.

If this is the first book you've read about the group, the history of the Beatles is going to fly by at a breakneck pace: at the point where the Beatles have finally and irreversibly broken up, there are still 14 hours left in the audiobook. At least he's not just recycling material from the previous books.

There were a number of surprises, at least for me. I didn't know that Paul and Linda McCartney were mugged at knifepoint in Nigeria: Paul had gone there for a recording project. Manuscripts of new songs were stolen, but Paul was able to reconstruct them from memory.

He spent a scary time in jail, in Japan, for one of the stupidest weed-packing incidents in history: he himself wonders why he placed his plastic bags of marijuana in his suitcase, with no attempt to conceal them, and with a high probability - given his previous conviction on marijuana charges - that his luggage would be searched.

The bulk of the book, post-Beatles, focuses on Paul and Linda, and it sounds like they had a wonderful relationship and a great family. But there are flashes of the overbearing control-freak Paul who appeared in the documentary "Let It Be". One morning, when he brought his kids to school, he found that the teachers were on strike. "MY teachers never went on strike," he huffed. The various musicians who came and went in Wings were mostly paid a weekly salary, with no dividends from their successes. Paul, in these chapters, seems to want people who will play their instruments exactly the way HE would play them, with no surprises - and not much opportunity for the playful improvisation that marked his partnership with Lennon.

The closest he came to that was a recording session with Elvis Costello - and then he decided to drop most of that material and use his own stuff instead.

Anything you might want to know about Heather Mills and her marriage to Paul is in here as well.

So.... I wouldn't read this as a first book about the Beatles, but that's not what it's designed to be. It's there for people like me (and maybe you) who've read a lot about the band and want to know more about them as individuals. It's definitely the best-researched and best-written book about Paul among the three I've read.

Jonathan Keeble does an excellent job with the narration, as he usually does. His attempts at giving voice to the different people involved are mostly low-key - suggesting the tone, a little of the accent, not trying to be an impressionist.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Critic's View Changed through Research and Writing

Some biographies are hagiographies, full of little more than a fan's praise. Some reveal a negative bias that turns the reader off. Philip Norman's Paul McCartney is neither of these. Having started with the notion that John was the better song writer and the heart of the Beatles, readers can sense his measure of Paul's life and work growing throughout this book. Thorough, balanced, and committed to rendering as true of a picture as one can gain while the subject is still living, Norman delivers on his promise. Outstanding work and a great book to listen to.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Really enjoyable but the narrator is a poor choice

I was REALLY surprised that Paul McCartney cooperated with Philip Norman in the writing of this biography, given Norman’s decided anti-Paul slant in “Shout!” But, I’m glad that Paul reconsidered to assist/cooperate with this book. Lots of interesting stories and players fill the pages.

My only real complaint is with the choice of narrator. The man has a decidedly “posh” accent, more appropriate for someone narrating “The Times“ than a rock n roll bio. And when he at times delves into mimicking a Liverpool accent, well, that is simply awful. Outside of this major distraction in enjoying the book, I’d give it 4 stars mainly because of the subject matter (hey, it’s Paul!).

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Informative even to the Macca Maniac

This book covers Paul’s family history to the marriage to Nancy and ‘Out There’ Tour. Considering the 80 plus years covered , Mr. Norman did a decent job covering most of Paul’s Triumphs and Tragedies.

I don’t know if it’s Norman or Keebler’s narration, but it seems they run through Paul’s achievements quickly with a jealous, adoration-less tone yet hang on Paul’s failures with a sarcastic demeaning pitch.

They portray Paul as a bossy, attention seeking child who has to be the center of attention at all times instead of the diligent ,hardworking, talented artist that enjoys pleasing his audience and polishing his craft.

I learned new information regarding his Japanese imprisonment , Linda’s personality and achievements and Mills Divorce. ( mainly her false accusations and compulsive lying)
Little time is spent on his humanitarian efforts, painting, book writing, philanthropy, and record breaking achievements.

All in all I enjoyed the book, but I just wish the author and narrator would have given him the respect he so richly deserves.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • so
  • 06-21-16

Very interesting book.

It really bring Paul down to earth. At first I thought that about that old saying "never meet your hero's, you'll be disappointed" but thinking Paul was squeaky clean was the real mistake from the start. It was very real and you could empathize with him during Linda's decline and the mess with Heather. Overall, riveting and incredibly informative. If your a Beatles fan and a Paul fan like me, you will love it.

Jeff O

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting And Informative

A great read and the narration is superb! Full of information of Paul McCartney's life!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Don't Deny Yourself The Pleasure Of Reading This.

I love to read memiors but I've been scrounging lately, Think I've plowed through them all worth reading. So being, I moved onto biographies and this author is so witty, satirical and beautifully emotional. Such a master story teller. Listening to his stories is somewhat addictive, like having good company around. I wasn't even interested in Paul McCartney, I bought the book to listen to the writer. By the time I was done, I was a Paul Mcartney fan as well. I realized I was familiar with many of the Wings Band songs, and duets he produced with other people. Had no idea of McCarney's monumental artistic and charitable achievments, which there is no possible way to make less of. Great book written by a great storyteller about a great man. Perfect "feel so good" reading. The story was fascinating to me and the writer and narrater are another lullaby. I saved the book for reading during air travel and looked forward to my flights so I would have an excuse to do nothing else but listen for the entire 30 hours and 39 minutes. So grateful for a writer that leaves me with good memories. That is becoming rather rare these days. I just laughed and laughed at so many of the writer's lines in this book. He is so witty.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

terrific

I am a casual Beatles fan and have never read or listened to any books on them and I enjoyed this immensely. It's a great biography of McCartney and history of the Beatles.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Listened all the way through

I was absorbed by the story. Even having read so much about The Beatles I learned a lot about Sir Paul. the writer, I feel, gives a fair portrayal and the proper English narrator is excellent.