Paul McCartney's Brother Says His Brother's Success Gave Him Hope
Paul McCartney has inspired millions of people throughout his 60+ years in the music business. His brother Michael, formerly known as Michael McGear, is one of them. When the McCartneys were young, they were close. They shared their father’s love for music and had happy childhoods until their mother died of breast cancer in 1956. Losing their mother affected the brothers in different ways.
A year later, Paul bonded with John Lennon over losing their mothers at an early age. They started The Beatles, with whom Paul would record a couple of songs about his mother. Michael, on the other hand, carried his grieve a little longer. Only his brother’s success with The Beatles woke him up and gave him hope.
Paul McCartney and his brother had a nice childhood
Paul was born in 1942 and Michael in 1944. It was rough times in Liverpool during World War II, but the McCartneys made things work. Mary McCartney was a nurse and midwife. According to Michael, she was a very forgiving person. They had a special relationship, and Mary knew Michael better than anyone. “She was a strong woman who wanted the best for us,” Michael told the Wall Street Journal in 2019.
The McCartneys moved around a lot when Paul and Michael were kids, each time to a better place. Their father, James, worked as a cotton salesman. He brought music into the home and was a self-taught musician. James and his ragtime jazz group, Jim Mac’s band, which he formed with relatives, played at dances. “If venues didn’t have a piano, he’d play his cornet,” Michael said.
While their father was strict about chores, their mother was equally tough about her son’s education in school. The McCartneys wanted their sons to go to the best school possible because they couldn’t afford private school. After Paul passed a test to go to the Liverpool Institute High School for Boys, so did Michael a couple of years later.
However, in 1956, that happy childhood would come to a somber close, and Paul and Michael found they were no longer boys.
Michael McCartney was very sad about his mother’s death
Michael came into his mother’s room one night to find her holding rosary beads and crying. Michael didn’t know it at the time, but his mother was crying because she realized she was dying from breast cancer. A month later, Mary was in the hospital. The doctors told the family to leave Mary’s room during a visit, and she died shortly after.
“I had to come to terms with life when the most precious thing in my life was gone, ripped from my heart,” Michael told the Wall Street Journal. “At first, I fought with everyone, but after about a year, I got it. I learned I had to appreciate living. My grief became easier once I understood that.”
Paul McCartney’s success with The Beatles made Michael McCartney hope
Once he came to terms with his mother’s death, Michael watched his brother go off and be successful. Instead of feeling jealous, Michael felt hope. Seeing Paul become famous with The Beatles made him believe that he could become something too. This hope was precisely what Michael needed after losing his mother.
“Watching Paul’s success with the Beatles in the early 1960s was amazing. Mum missed it, but dad saw it. I saw it. All of us had no hope at all. Suddenly, my brother proved anything was possible,” Michael said. Feeling like anything was possible allowed Michael to join the Scaffold, a comedy, poetry, and music trio, in 1962.
Michael changed his last name to McGear, so the public wouldn’t think he was riding on his brother’s coattails. “I didn’t want to be a pop star. I was happiest in my world of poetry, song, and mischief in Liverpool,” Michael explained. For a while, he prospered with the Scaffold and in his solo career. In the 1980s, he changed jobs to become a photographer. If Paul hadn’t become a Beatle, maybe Michael wouldn’t have gone into performing either. Thankfully he did, though.
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