June 18th, 2012
11:53 AM ET

Happy 70th birthday, Paul McCartney!

Sir Paul McCartney turns 70 years young today, and remains just as much a fixture of music and pop culture as he was when Beatlemania swept the U.S. more than 40 years ago.

The 12 months since his last birthday have been busy ones for the former Beatle. He performed at the Grammys in February; headlined this month's concert in honor of Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee; received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; put out an album of covers called "Kisses on the Bottom"; and also found time to walk down the aisle for the third time last fall.


Filed under: Celebrities • Music • The Beatles
Paul McCartney engaged to Nancy Shevell
May 6th, 2011
03:02 PM ET

Paul McCartney engaged to Nancy Shevell

Paul McCartney is ready to tie the knot with girlfriend Nancy Shevell. The couple, who have been dating for four years, are now engaged, a rep for McCartney tells CNN.

According to People, McCartney, 68, first began romancing Shevell, 51, during a summer in the Hamptons in 2007. A source tells the magazine that the two are made for each other.

"They have the right chemistry," the source said. "They're both cool, chilled out and optimistic."

This trip down the aisle will be McCartney's third.

Filed under: Celebrities • Music • The Beatles
'Glee' tops Beatles Hot 100 record
October 7th, 2010
10:42 AM ET

'Glee' tops Beatles Hot 100 record

It's official – they're bigger than the Beatles. The cast of "Glee" has surpassed the Fab Four's record as the music group with the most songs on Billboard's Hot 100 music chart.

As of today, the McKinley High gang – who have covered the Beatles's "Hello Goodbye" and, most recently, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" – will have 75 titles on the Billboard chart since they made their debut on the hit Fox series last year. The Beatles, by comparison, had 71 titles on the Hot 100 list between 1964 and 1996.

According to Billboard, the cast's cover of Britney Spears' "Toxic" takes its place on the chart as the Hot 100's highest debut (No. 16), selling 109,000 downloads in its first week.

The "Glee" kids aren't the Hot 100's biggest record-holders, however. That honor goes to solo act Elvis Presley, who had 108 charted titles. Long live the King!

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Filed under: Glee • Music • television • The Beatles
December 10th, 2009
04:55 PM ET

Paul McCartney: Marriage to Heather Mills was a bad decision

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Anyone who followed the nasty divorce between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills shouldn't be surprised that the former Beatle believes his last marriage to be one of his biggest mistakes of the past decade.

No one could look back on how the six-year union ended between the singer-songwriter and the former model last year, with tears, name-calling and a massive divorce settlement and think on it fondly.

But now for the first time, McCartney is telling Q magazine that it indeed was not the best of times. Asked whether the wedding was one of his worst decisions in the last decade, the music legend said it was a "prime contender". FULL POST

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Filed under: Music • The Beatles
December 4th, 2009
01:29 PM ET

What constitutes Best New Artist?

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In her critique of this year's Grammy nominations, colleague Lisa Respers France noted the uproar over Lady GaGa's exclusion in the Best New Artist category because one of her songs, "Just Dance," was nominated for a Grammy last year.

If there's one Grammy category that confuses critics and music fans alike, it's Best New Artist. What artists are eligible for the award, and why?

According to the official Grammy Web site, the Best New Artist award is presented to someone who releases, during the eligibility year, "the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist."  Sounds simple enough, right?

But the language doesn't explain the nominations, and wins, of Lauryn Hill, Jody Watley and Shelby Lynne in that category.  You can easily argue that Hill and Watley established their "public identities" through their work with the Fugees and Shalamar, respectively.  Lynne won her Best New Artist Grammy in 2001,  more than a decade after charting several singles on the country charts.  Did Lynne win because "Best Career Comeback" is not a Grammy category?

Even this year's nominee list is not without controversy.  Silversun Pickups enjoyed modern rock chart and airplay success in 2006 and 2007, so why is the band nominated for Best New Artist, a few months after releasing its second full-length album?

The award is also the one Grammy category where, year in and year out, you can expect an eclectic mix of nominees going at it.  When Hill won in 1999, she beat a boy band (Backstreet Boys), a country trio (Dixie Chicks) and an Italian tenor (Andrea Bocelli).  The Beatles' 1965 Best New Artist win saw the Fab Four defeat two Brazilian bossa nova musicians (Astrud Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim),  jazz-blues artist Morgana King and British songstress Petula Clark.

While the Recording Academy should be honored for recognizing so many genres in one category, perhaps it is time to change the award.  Grammys are awarded in several genres, so why not present Best New Artist awards in a variety of fields?  Let the new country stars battle it out against each other instead of facing off against a comedian, a hip-hop artist or a classical musician.

In the end, it may be time for the Recording Academy to get rid of the Best New Artist Grammy once and for all.  The winners and nominees may make great trivia (A Taste of Honey beat Elvis Costello?), but the award doesn't make sense when those making the nominations can't seem to agree on what constitutes a "new" artist.

Do you think the Best New Artist Grammy has outlived its usefulness?  And what constitutes a "new" artist to you?

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Filed under: Lady Gaga • Music • The Beatles
September 9th, 2009
08:20 AM ET

Beatles fan goes to Abbey Road

I have been an unabashed Beatles fan ever since I discovered my older brother’s "Red" and "Blue" compilation albums and laid on the ground in my parents’ living room, listening to them over and over as I studied the album covers.

abbey road

So when CNN was given a chance to do an interview at Abbey Road in late August and talk to two of the engineers involved in "The Beatles Remasters," I couldn’t wait. A visit to Abbey Road for me is like a walk on the baseball diamond in Yankee stadium for a Yankees fan. It is a moment to cherish.

As we made our way to the Penthouse for the interview we got to walk past tape machines and other equipment stored in the hallways for later use. It is fun to imagine what each piece of technology may have been used on before it got stored in the hall.

CNN talked to Allan Rouse, who was Project Coordinator for The Beatles Remasters, and Sean Magee, who worked on the mono mixes.

Allan and Sean were passionate in talking about the Beatles. We had a very good interview with them.

After we wrapped the interview we were asked if we would like to hear a little of "The Remasters." Like that needs an answer! So they pulled out one of the stereo boxed sets and poured the CDs along the side of the mixing desk. All the albums cascaded down. Stunning.

Then they sat us down behind the mixing desk as they played us a sample CD containing snippets from the 1987 issues and then the same snippet from the new CDs, 14 songs in all, including “Twist and Shout,” “Yesterday,” “Goodnight” and “Come Together.”

I must say when they played the old CD snippet on the very nice Abbey Road speakers it sounded very good. But when they played the next snippet, from the new CD - it was infinitely better.

The vocals really stand out now and the harmonies seem more separate from the main vocal in a good way and more separate from each other. The vocals and breaths and their voices sound clear as if they are in the room with you - which in Abbey Road really took my breath away.

I was particularly thinking, “Paul is just in the next room singing this” when they played “Yesterday” - and then I caught myself and smiled thinking, “No, but this building is WHERE he sang this.”

We asked them questions about how they handled problems on the original tapes. They said they did fix (or smooth over) bad edits, such as pops and crackles that came from recording machinery that were deemed mistakes.

So I asked them how far they could go - could they fix something that was, I think, a glaring error? For example, I asked, did you guys fix the stereo “Eleanor Rigby”? In that song, McCartney’s voice is double-tracked until partway through the word “Eleanor” and then one side is brought down. I said, surely the original mixers didn't INTEND that to happen.

Allan Rouse got this look. It was probably a look that meant he was thinking, “Oh, he's one of those Beatles fans” - one who listens to every little thing, and knows the flaws –- intentional or not –- by heart.

This is the problem the Abbey Road engineers had in doing "The Remasters." They had to not only do a good enough job for the casual fans but also to do a good enough job to satisfy the people who live and breathe this stuff.

So Allan puts on “Eleanor Rigby” and the mistake is still there. Allan patiently told us since this was the way the stereo mix was made originally, this is the way it stays.

I could have talked a lot longer but it was time to go. As we walked out we passed by the doors to Studio One and Studio Two and I said a silent thank you for all the good work that was done there.

I think I will have a hard time ever matching the thrill of listening to "The Beatles Remasters" inside Abbey Road.

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