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Jim McCartney

Jim McCartney was the father of Beatles member Paul McCartney. He was born in 7 July, 1902 at 8 Fishguard Street, Everton to Joseph and Florence McCartney. He had five sisters - Edith, Ann, Millie, Annie and Jin and two brothers, Jack and Joseph. Another brother Joe had died and a sister Alice had passed away at the age of eighteen months the year before James's birth.

In his early years he was reared in Solva Street in Everton, a tiny cobbled street of terraced houses.

He attended Steer Street School in Everton and while still at school was given employment at a local music hall, the Everton Theatre Royal, as a lampboy.

Paul was to say, 'He actually burned bits of lime for the limelights.'

Jim was hired to sell programmes before each performance. He would then collect discarded programmes at the end of the show and rush home so that his sister Millie could iron them out in time for the second show, then he'd sell them again, but this time pocketing the money.

The family had an old second-hand piano, originally from NEMS (the Epstein family store, North End Music Stores), which they had been given. It was installed in the McCartney's parlour and Jim taught himself to play, pounding out tunes he'd heard the night before at the music hall.

The family even had what they called 'pound nights' when friends or relatives would arrive for a singsong bringing along a pound of something or other such as sugar or tea.

At the age of ten Jim had broken his right eardrum falling off a wall, . but he continued with his love of music and taught himself to play chords.

He left school at the age of fourteen in 1916 for full-time employment at A Hannay & Company, Cotton Merchants, in Chapel Street, where he earned six shillings a week as a sample boy. At the age of 28 he was promoted to cotton salesman at the Cotton Exchange, earning £5 a week.

It was towards the end of the First World War that Jim started a swing band with his brother Jack on trombone to play at local functions. They called themselves the Masked Melody Makers and had a gimmick of wearing black harlequin masks. At one engagement the high temperature made the black dye trickle slowly down their faces, so they abandoned the masks and the name. They became Jim Mac's Jazz Band and wore dinner jackets with paper shirtfronts and cuffs. They were playing at dances, socials and occasionally in cinemas, and provided music at one cinema for the silent movie The Queen Of Sheba.

Tunes that Jim selected to play for the movie included 'Thanks For The Buggy Ride', played during the chariot scene and 'Horsey Keep Your Tail Up' for the Queen's deathbed sequence.

The band's repertoire included 'Birth Of The Blues', 'Some Of These Days', 'Chicago', 'Stairway To Paradise' and Jim's own composition 'Walking In The Park With Eloise'.

In addition to being pianist, Jim also began to play trumpet, but when his teeth gave out, he just performed on piano.

Jim loved a flutter and gambling once got him into trouble. When the family were now living in West Derby, he wanted to raise some money to send his mother on holiday, but had a dreadful losing streak and found himself heavily in debt.

When his boss Mr Hannay heard of it, instead of sacking him he loaned him enough money to pay off his debts and send his mother on a holiday to Devon. Jim then repaid the cash, saving the money by walking the five miles to work and back every working day for a full year.

World War Two saw the end of the band's engagements. The Cotton Exchange also closed down for the duration of the war and Jim went to work as a lathe operator at Napier's, the munitions factory that specialised in building the Sabre aircraft engine. Jim was 37 years old at the time, basically too old to be called up for military service, and he'd also been exempt from National Service due to his hearing disability.

One night he met Mary Mohin, a nursing sister at Walton Hospital, at his sister Jin's house and on 15 April 1941 the pair were married at St Swithin's Roman Catholic Chapel, Gill Moss, although Jim was agnostic. Jim was 38 while Mary was 31.

While working at Napier's he felt he should participate in some further work to help the war effort and became a volunteer fireman at night.

The couple's first son James Paul McCartney was born in Walton Hospital. To Jim's initial horror, 'he looked awful ... like a horrible piece of red meat,' he said, and went home where he broke down and cried.

They lived in furnished rooms at the time and when Mary put her baby son in a pram in the warm weather that summer, she was horrified to find his face coated with flecks of dust and insisted that they move house. Since Jim's work at Napier's was classified as work for the Air Ministry they were eligible to move into a government sponsored house and moved into 92 Broadway Avenue in Wallasey Village.

The job at Napier's came to an end and Jim began to work at the Liverpool Corporation cleansing department. The pay was notoriously low, so Mary had to return to work.

She stopped work again temporarily when the couple's second son Michael was born, but by that time they had moved to a prefab house in Roach Avenue on the Knowsley Estate.

Due to Mary's work, they were able to move again to 72 Western Avenue, Speke.

Since the war had ended Jim had left the cleansing department for his old job at the Cotton Exchange, although the pay remained poor at £6 a week.

The family then moved to 12 Ardwick Road and later settled down at 20 Forthlin Road.

Paul confirms that his father was a major influence on his life. 'Never overdo it. Have a drink, but don't be an alcoholic. Have a cigarette, but don't be a cancer case,' he told him.

He was also to say, 'My Dad was a pianist by ear and then a trumpeter until his teeth gave out. He was a good pianist, you know, but he would never teach me, because he felt that you should learn properly. It was a bit of a drag, because a lot of people have said that I do chords a lot like he used to do. I'm sure I picked it up over the years.'

At another time he commented, 'Dad used to play the cornet a lot, just for fun, at home. This was my earliest musical influence at, say, the age of five. This and the radio, listening to Luxembourg under the bedclothes, the Top Twenty Show on a Sunday night.'

Naturally, Jim was devastated when Mary died. 'I missed my wife -it knocked me for six when she died,' he said. 'The biggest headache was what sort of parent I was going to be.'

Milly and Jinny, two of his sisters, regularly came around the house to help out with the cleaning and his younger son Mike was to remark,

'He had to decide to be a father or a mother to his two growing lads. Luckily, he chose to be both, a very hard decision when you've got used to being the man around the house.'

When the Silver Beetles were given the opportunity to tour Scotland backing Johnny Gentle, Paul lied to his father.

On his return from Germany, Jim insisted that Paul get a job and he signed on at the labour exchange. He found work at a local firm, but soon gave it up.

Jim didn't think much of the Cavern and told Paul, 'You should have been paid danger money to go down there.' He was also suspicious of Brian Epstein at first, referring to him as 'a Jew boy'.

Early in the Beatles' career, Paul was to say, 'Dad always encouraged me to take up music. He likes our sound, I think - but sometimes says we're away from home a bit too much. He put up with my practice sessions for years which shows he's a brave man.'

Commenting on his father, Mike McCartney said, 'My dad taught me a lot of things; we both owe him a lot. He's a very good man, and he's a very stubborn man. He looks more like Paul than me, but I've got him inside me.

'Of course, it would have been easy for him to have gone off with other birds when Mum died, or to have gone out getting drunk every night. But he didn't. He stayed at home and looked after us.

'He's a brilliant salesman with a very fine business brain and he could have gone right to the top in business if he had played the rules like they are now, if he had wanted to kill. He knew that to be a good businessman you have to have that killer streak, and he just wasn't prepared to be like that. And it would have meant neglecting us, and he wasn't prepared to do that, either. He told us that you have to be prepared to kill if you are to get to the top, and if he'd been prepared to pay that price he could have got there. But he was not prepared to do that - and that is the big lesson he taught us. It has rubbed off on to both of us; neither of us has really got that killer streak.'

On 6 July 1964, following the premiere of A Hard Day's Night in London, it was the eve of Jim's birthday. While they attended the after-show party at the Dorchester Hotel, Jim was introduced to Princess Margaret. At midnight Paul said, 'Happy Birthday, Dad' and handed him a painting of a horse.

'Thank you, son, very nice,' Jim said, thinking, 'It's very nice, but couldn't he have done better than that,' when Paul revealed that the painting was of a £1,050 racehorse called Drake's Drum which he'd bought as his father's present.

Jim was delighted, 'You silly bugger,' he said.

Also in 1964, when Jim was 61 years old, Paul asked his father if he wanted to retire from his £10 a week job at the Cotton Exchange. He said he'd maintain him for the rest of his life and buy him a nice house in Heswall, 'across the water' from Liverpool. Jim was delighted.

1964 was also the year that Jim remarried. His bride was Angela Lucia Williams, a widow of Northwood, Kirby, who was 28 years younger than him and mother of a five-year-old daughter, Ruth.

They married on 24 November at St Bridget's Church in Carrog, North Wales. At the time Jim owned a house, 'Afon Rho' in Carrog and the vicar of the church was the Reverend D J Bevan, a former chap-Iain of Walton Hospital, Liverpool, where Paul and his brother Mike had been born and where Mary McCartney had worked.


Jim had been affected by arthritis for some time and for eight years before his death the attacks were crippling. He had to move into a bungalow and Paul bought 'Rembrandt', his house, back from him. Jim died at his home in Heswall on 18 March 1976. His final words were, 'I'll be with Mary soon.'

Jim was 73 years old. John Lennon, in New York, was one of the first people to hear of Jim's death and he was the one who actually phoned Paul to tell him the sad news.

The funeral took place on 22 March and Jim was cremated at Landican Cemetery.

Paul didn't attend his father's funeral. His brother Mike said, 'It was no coincidence that Paul was on the Continent at the time. Paul would never face that sort of thing."

Harry, Bill. "McCartney, James (father)",The Paul McCartney Encyclopedia. Virgin Books, Copyright 2003

Paul with his dad and brother

Jim McCartney with his sons Paul (L) and Mike (R)

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