James Paul McCartney was born to working-class parents in Liverpool, England, on June 18, 1942. His Irish Catholic mother, Mary, was a nurse and midwife, while his British father, Jim, was a cotton salesman and amateur jazz pianist. He had a happy childhood with one younger brother, Michael, until his mother's sudden death from breast cancer when he was 14. Shortly afterward, he wrote his first song, and a few months later he met John Lennon during the latter's performance at a local church fete (festival). McCartney soon joined Lennon's band, The Quarrymen, and with the eventual addition of George Harrison and Pete Best, the band morphed into The Beatles. After a long stint playing in Hamburg, Germany, the band returned to Liverpool and soon became a top local act. They were approached by Brian Epstein, a record-store owner, who became their manager and secured them a record deal with EMI. After replacing drummer Best with Ringo Starr, and under the tutelage of producer George Martin , The Beatles soon became an international hit-making phenomenon, influencing everything from fashion to politics. Yet it wouldn't last: internal strife and disagreement over management issues following Epstein's 1968 death tore the band apart. In April 1970, McCartney announced the band's breakup. He was 27 years old. His first solo album, "McCartney," was a #1 hit and spawned the evergeen ballad "Maybe I'm Amazed", yet critical reaction was mixed. This was a continuing motif in McCartney's career, as he continued to release music, with new band Wings, that was a hit commercially but ignored by critics (the exception being "Band on the Run"). In 1980 McCartney was arrested in Tokyo, Japan, for marijuana possession. After a ten-day stint in jail, he was released to a media firestorm. The jail stint aborted his worldwide tour and put the final nail in the coffin of Wings. He retreated into seclusion after the arrest, and had only recently started recording a new album when his ex-bandmate, John Lennon, was shot dead by a crazed fan in New York City on December 8, 1980. After almost a year of absence from the music scene, McCartney returned in 1982 with the album "Tug of War," which enjoyed great critical acclaim. He was a solo artist from then onward, except for occasional collaborations with wife Linda McCartney and writers such as Elvis Costello. After two successful world tours and the somewhat disappointing album "Off the Ground" (1992), McCartney concentrated on composing the classical work "The Liverpool Oratorio". In 1995 he was working on a new pop album, "Flaming Pie," when his wife Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. The album was eventually released in 1997 to both critical and commerical success, debuting at #2 on both the UK and US pop charts. It was also the year McCartney was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, but caring for his wife during her illness meant only sporadic public appearances during this time. In April 1998, Linda died of breast cancer, and he spent much of the next year away from the public eye, emerging only to campaign on behalf of his late wife for animal rights and vegetarian causes. He eventually returned to the studio, releasing an album of rock n'roll covers in 1999. "Run Devil Run" made both Entertainment Weekly and USA Today's year-end top ten lists. McCartney also slowly returned to the public spotlight, embarking on a romantic relationship with ex-model and disabled rights activist Heather Mills (who lost a leg in a road accident). His new relationship was reflected in the songs on his 2001 album, "Driving Rain," and the couple became engaged that same year. Yet there was also sadness, as George Harrison died of cancer in late November, 2001. The next year, however, brought McCartney an Oscar nomination (for the title song to the movie Vanilla Sky (2001)) and saw him embark on his first tour in ten years. He and Heather married in June, 2000.