HIS SOLO ALBUM McCARTNEY LET FANS KNOW THE BEATLES REALLY WERE ENDING. BUT FOR PAUL, A NEW LIFE WITH LINDA AND THEIR KIDS WAS JUST BEGINNING
“SORRY GIRLS, HE’S MARRIED.” When the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show back in 1964, producers helpfully put the name of each band member on the screen under a close-up of his face. And along with John Lennon’s name, they included that disappointing bit of news: He was off the market. Five years later Ringo had married, George had wed, John had divorced and would remarry. Now with Paul, the last bachelor Beatle (who also happened to be the one who set the most hearts throbbing), heading to the altar, the band’s press office knew what it had to do and alerted the mournful fandom. As a result, reported The Washington Post, “a wild scene” erupted outside Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman’s March 12, 1969, wedding at the Marylebone Registry in London.
Following a seven-minute civil ceremony, the bride and groom “kissed on the registry steps and then walked to their automobile. Fifty teenage girls, screaming, ‘Paul, we love you,’ burst past police, surrounded the newlyweds and flung themselves on the car.” And with that, McCartney, just 26, was suddenly a man with not only a pregnant wife (Linda was four months along at the ceremony) but also a 6-year-old stepdaughter, Heather, whom he would later adopt.
Mary would arrive on August 29, nine days after the Beatles’s final recording session as a group. She would be followed by Stella in 1971 and James in 1977. If it was a big adjustment for fans and would-be flames who nursed hopes that Paul would maintain his available-bachelor Beatle status, marriage and fatherhood came naturally. “My family had loads of kids,” he once said of the large McCartney clan. “You were always being handed a baby.”
The relationship among the four Beatles, meanwhile, was disintegrating. It was McCartney who rallied the troops through January’s grueling Let It Be recording, but his hopes that the Beatles’s electrifying rooftop concert on Jan. 30 would lead to a return to touring were overruled. He then shepherded the group through the recording of Abbey Road. But as things reached their breaking point soon after, due in large part to McCartney’s efforts to install his father-in-law as the Beatles’s manager, proceedings became too painful to watch. Band meetings at that time, McCartney recalled to Rolling Stone in 2016, were “like seeing the death of your favorite pet.”