Paul McCartney’s brother on how their mother’s death inspired their creative pursuits: “Both of us lost ourselves in art”

“I saw him. He’d just get lost [in music],” Mike McGear said of his older brother Paul.

Paul McCartney and his brother Mike Gear in 1964 / Photo: Potter / Express / Getty

Mike McGear, the younger brother of Paul McCartney, has spoken about how the death of their mother during their childhood played a vital role in the creative pursuits both brothers would undertake.

McGear was speaking to The Telegraph about the Forthlin Sessions, an upcoming initiative by the National Trust that opens up the brothers’ childhood home – where Paul and John Lennon formed their songwriting bond – to four unsigned artists.

In 1956, Mary McCartney passed away from breast cancer, just a year after the family moved into the Forthlin residence. Art would be the catharsis for Paul and Mike, who were just 14 and 12 when they lost their mother.

“Both of us lost ourselves in art,” McGear said. “You’d have to ask my brother if that was the same for him. But I saw him. He’d just get lost [in music]. He was away”.

The younger McCartney has enjoyed success as a photographer and during his tenure in comedy-poetry-music group, The Scaffold, during which he adopted the professional name of Mike McGear, so as to avoid riding the coat-tails of his Beatle brother.

McGear believed that, had their mother lived, the brothers could have been thrown on very different life paths. “If my mum had lived, you wouldn’t be talking to jolly, whack-a-wit Mike McCartney. You’d be talking to Dr McCartney or Father McCartney. Because all our lives she wanted us to better ourselves,” he told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the Forthlin Sessions has picked its four lucky artists to compose and perform in the historic McCartney residence: singer-songwriters Serena Ittoo, Emily Theodora and Dullan, along with folk duo HUMM. Their performances will be broadcast on the National Trust’s YouTube channel.

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