One of the four legendary musicians from Liverpool that changed the world in the 60s, Paul McCartney is one of the few artists who were able to sell more than 100 million records worldwide as a member of a band and as a solo act.
With The Beatles he sold much more than that since they are the best-selling band in history with more than 600 million records sold worldwide. After the end of the band in 1970, he started a successful solo career and with his band The Wings, creating many new hits that made him continue to play to sold out stadiums during the last five decades.
It’s difficult to imagine music with Paul, Ringo, John and George. They are probably the most influential artists in history but as any musician, they were also inspired by others who came before them. Over the decades, Paul talked about many of his heroes and listed the two artists who were some of his biggest influences.
The 2 artists Paul McCartney said were some of his biggest influences
As primarily a bassist, naturally one of Paul McCartney’s biggest influences would be a bass player as he told Reverb in 2018. The first one mentioned was the late legendary American bassist James Jamerson. He became famous for his work with artists from Motown in the 60s and 70s. McCartney is often asked if he was the one who made the musicians look at the bass guitar in another way since he composed many incredible bass lines. However, he doesn’t take all the credit and always mentions James Jamerson as one of the most important ones.
“It became a bit more skillful, yeah. I wouldn’t personally credit myself, but thanks for that. But part of it, I think James Jamerson, him and me. I’d share the credit there. I was nicking a lot off him. Funnily enough, I’d always liked bass.”
“My dad, as I say, was a musician and I remember he would give me little sort of lessons. Not actual sit-down lessons, but when there was something on the radio, he’d say hear that low? That’s the bass. I remember him actually pointing out what a bass was, and he’d do little lessons in harmony,” Paul McCartney said.
During the same conversation, the Beatle said that Jamerson was his hero. Also called him a very melodic player, which was the main reason why he got interested in him. Jamerson played in countless Soul hits during his career. Some of them were: “You Can’t Hurry Love”, “My Girl”, “Dancing In The Street” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There”. He was active until 1983 when he passed away at the age of 47.
The other artist that Paul McCartney mentioned as one of his biggest influences is Brian Wilson. One of the founders of The Beach Boys and the mastermind behind classic albums of the band like “Pet Sounds” (1966). He was also a bassist originally, although he can play many other instruments and also sing.
Like with James Jamerson, Paul McCartney was also influenced by Brian Wilson already in the 60s when The Beatles were still active. The Beach Boys kind of became the American band that rivalized with the Fab Four at the time. There was a healthy competition between the two bands, since they were also good friends.
That influence was direct since The Beatles album “Rubber Soul” (1965) influenced Brian Wilson to compose the groundbreaking album “Pet Sounds”. That record was crucial for The Beatles to take their music to a new level. Because right after that album they decided to make “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967), their most experimental record.
“Brian (is one of my biggest influences) because he went to very unusual places. Brian would use, if you were playing in C, he might stay on the G a lot just to hold it all back. started to realize the power you had within the band.”
“Not actually vengeful power, just that you could actually. Even though the whole band is going in A you could go in E, and they’d go, Let us off the hook! And you’re actually in control then, an amazing thing. So I sussed that and got particularly interested in playing the bass,” Paul McCartney said.
They are both good friends and have praised each other over the decades. They also had the chance to share the stage many times. McCartney often recalls how wonderful it was when they had the chance to play “God Only Knows” together. The Beatle already revealed that it is his favorite track of the American group.