Paul McCartney's journey: From stage fright to musical mastery

Even highly respected musicians and songwriters often have tales of stage fright, and Paul McCartney is no exception.
Paul Mccartney and John Lennon
Paul Mccartney and John Lennon / Avalon/GettyImages

Paul McCartney recently shared a revealing anecdote about a humbling experience early in his musical journey that almost led him to hang up his guitar strings for good. The embarrassing moment was highlighted in a recent installment of his podcast, McCartney: A Life in Lyrics, which is largely inspired by the best selling book, The Lyrics: 1965 to Present. The legendary former Beatles member, now 81, reminisced about a relatable bout of stagefright as a distressing pivotal moment during one of the band’s earliest performances. It left him questioning his musical prowess.

McCartney recounted that, at the first gig he ever played, he was on lead guitar. John Lennon was on rhythm. Things may have been exciting in a good way. However: "I had a solo and I totally froze. Could not move my fingers."

The embarrassment of the situation weighed heavily on him, leading McCartney to doubt his abilities. It was such a mortifying experience he admitted that, in that moment, his aspirations of being a lead guitarist crumbled, and he thought he couldn't do it, that he's not cut out for it. Although McCartney didn't specify the time or place of this unfortunate performance, it marked a turning point in his musical journey. He eventually found his niche as the bass guitarist for the iconic band, though is able to play guitar.

Paul McCartney didn't give up on other instruments

Paul McCartney did get over his initial fears on non-bass guitar, and other instruments. Over the years, McCartney’s musical versatility has only expanded. According to the Huffington Post and IMDB, he has mastered over 40 instruments, ranging from the piano, harmonica and mandolin to the cello and ukulele.

This wide range of proficiency speaks to his resilience and determination to overcome early setbacks in his career. It's a testament to his legacy as one of the greatest and most influential musicians of all time, capable of often pushing his own boundaries and reinventing himself creatively. Paul has also noted how John Lennon made his development easier: “The fact was, it was easier, much easier, because there were two minds at work,” referreing to songwriting and performing with John Lennon.