Why Paul McCartney Doesn’t Go By His Birth Name

Plenty of celebrities — and, for that matter, plenty of non-celebrities — go by names other than the ones they were given. Stage names are nothing new, and many entertainers simply pick names that are flashier, easier to remember, or more unique than their given names. 

The man born as Krishna Pandit Bhanji wanted a name that didn’t have the (contradictory) religious connotations, and changing his name to Ben Kingsley gave him an immediate boost in Hollywood job opportunities. 

Meanwhile, some actors have to change their names to meet Screen Actors Guild requirements. Only one actor with a given name can be registered with the prestigious group, so Michael Andrew Fox became Michael J. Fox and Emily Stone became Emma Stone to avoid duplications. 

None of these reasons, however, explain why Paul McCartney goes by a name that isn’t the one he was given. 

Paul McCartney is one of the world’s best-known musicians 

RELATED: This 1950s Hit Was the 1st Song Paul McCartney Performed on Stage

McCartney’s meteoric rise to fame is a fascinating combination of luck, hard work, and international forces beyond his control. Born in 1942 in Liverpool, England to a nurse and a cotton salesman, there was nothing in McCartney’s early childhood that would suggest the trapping of greatness that were ahead of him.

He took to music at an early age, though, and he was already penning songs and playing the Spanish guitar, trumpet, and piano by the time he was a teen, as Biography.com reports. 

It was also as a teen that he happened to meet John Lennon at a church banquet in 1957. Soon, the two were the songwriters and leads of Lennon’s band The Quarrymen.

By 1960, they were calling themselves The Beatles, and what happened next has become the stuff of pop-culture legend. The band, which started out playing in nightclubs and pubs, became one of the most popular bands in the entire world.

What’s more, their fame didn’t fade over the years but grew and grew, giving them a tremendous catalog of songs and a cemented spot in cultural history. 

Paul McCartney is a billionaire

RELATED: Is Paul McCartney Still Making Millions Every Time He Performs?

The Beatles disbanded in 1970, much to the chagrin of fans worldwide, but McCartney’s career as a world-class performer was far from over. That same year, he released a solo album, and that was the start of a new leg of his impressive career.

After Lennon’s tragic murder in 1980, McCartney struggled and stopped touring for nearly a decade. When he returned to the stage in 1989, it was to tremendous fanfare and an adoring public who was happy to see him back. 

A steady and impressive career filled with royalties that keep stacking up has made McCartney a legitimate billionaire

Paul McCartney does not go by his given name

Paul McCartney waves to fans in London
Paul McCartney | GORC/GC Images

“Paul McCartney” is a name known around the world, but it’s not the one that McCartney was given at birth. He was born as James Paul McCartney. He didn’t change his name for the stage, however. “Paul” is the name his parents called him. 

As reported on Paul McCartney.com, even McCartney himself is unsure of why his parents named him one thing and called him another. Early on, the explanation was that his father’s name was James, and they didn’t want mail addressed to “James McCartney” to be confusing.

That theory didn’t hold up, however, when McCartney’s younger brother was born.

“[T]hat worked until they called my brother – whose name was Peter Michael McCartney – Michael!? And there was no Peter in the house to confuse him with! So I’ve ended up thinking it was rather Irish! I’ve no idea! My mum was Irish – and I don’t know, maybe there’s just some old thing where they call you by your second name. Nobody ever called me James, it was always Paul!” the musician explained.