August 11, 2012
Meet the other McCartney kidBeatle's brother never wanted to cash in on Paul's fame
By THANE BURNETT, QMI Agency
LIVERPOOL - Every time an Olympian gets a gold medal, there’s probably a sibling who knows a great shadow just passed over them.
Beyond being proud, I wonder whether the brothers and sisters of idols ever wonder: “Really? I mean why not me?”
To find someone who may know the answer, I haven’t sought out the families of athletic champions.
I’ve come to what was once one of the mightiest ports on the planet, but is much better known as the birthplace of the Beatles, 50 years ago this month.
I have come to ask Paul McCartney’s brother.
So far I’ve gone through an impressive Beatles tribute museum — rivaling anything Memphis has done and built on the same waterfront where the Titanic was launched.
I have taken the Fab ‘4-D’ Beatles experience ride.
I have bought the Beatles fridge magnets, snapped my picture at the gates leading into Strawberry Field, driven down Penny Lane on a Magical Mystery Tour bus and found I can’t afford a suite inside the swanky and busy Hard Day’s Night Hotel.
In the middle of it all, Mike McCartney is sitting in a quiet gallery, waiting to open a showing of his photography of Liverpool and the famous people who’ve visited here.
For decades, this other McCartney boy has avoided capitalizing on his brother’s fame. When Paul left here in the mid-60s and became colossal, Mike launched a career as a musician, comic and pop poet. But he changed his name, so he wouldn’t be riding his brother’s coattail.
He did appear in the Beatles ‘All You Need Is Love’ video and was Brother Michael in Paul’s ‘Let ‘Em In’.
But Mike found his own comparably more modest fame — though he did guide Queen Elizabeth through his photo exhibit last year.
He kept the stage-name Michael McGear for two decades.
I ask him if he would be standing in the gallery if his brother had taken a different path. He instead says if their mom had lived — she died in 1956 when he was 12-years-old — that would have had a greater impact, because she wouldn’t have allowed Paul to join a rock band or approved of Mike taking up comedy.
“You would have been talking to Father Michael, or civil service Michael or Prime Minister Michael,” says the photographer who looks like his famous brother but with shock grey hair and a different mouth.
He calls Paul “Our Kid”.
Mike doesn’t understand why he should have used “Our Kid’s” fame.
“Why? That’s my brother’s,” he says.
The world is a big place with many paths, he points out, adding no matter how proud he is: “Why would I want to emulate (him)?
“American people find that statement insane.”
They ask him why he would change his name?
“I say it’s bloody obvious.”
But he knows life is hard for some, and we could all use an advantage.
“They think it’s insane why you’re choosing … to go against something that can benefit you and make you lots of money,” he says.
There’s no doubt being Paul McCartney’s brother hasn’t hurt him. He’s had rare access to the famous for his pictures. People listen to him intently, in part, because of who his brother is.
But that’s collateral benefits when your brother’s a Beatle.
I ask him the question you want to know — would he ever want to change places with Paul?
“What for? I’m very happy,” he insists. “I’ve got six kids and three grandsons and happily married for 30 years.
“That’s the dream.”
Finally one last one for the brother and sister of Usain Bolt.
Whether he’s ever gotten tired of people wanting to know about his famous brother, instead of his own work?
“Exactly!” he says. “Now, bugger off.”