Mike McCartney: Being a Beatle brother or a Guinness heir, you relax and enjoy your heritage
The photographer talks to the Róisín Meets podcast about ‘our kid’ Paul McCartney, the swinging 60s and late Guinness heir Tara Browne
Paul Howard Roisin Ingle and Michael McCartney in studio. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
Michael Mc Cartney and Paul Howard. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
“It was one of those things. You take the enormity of being the Beatle brother or the Guinness heir, you face it, you accept it warmly, it is your heritage, it’s who you are,” Mike McCartney said of life in the shadow of his older brother Paul.
“As our kid [Paul McCartney] once said to me, “Mike don’t ever forget, you were there”. And it’s true,” he told Róisín Ingle, presenter of the Róisín Meets podcast.
Another person who was there was Mike McCartney’s friend the Guinness heir Tara Browne. Artists, writers and musicians – including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones – were guests at wild parties at his home, Luggala in Co.Wicklow.
Immortalised in the Beatles song, A Day in the Life, after he was killed in 1966 aged 21 in a car crash in London, Browne is now the subject of the Paul Howard biography, I Read the News Today, Oh Boy.
McCartney is responsible for helping Howard paint a picture of Browne’s life at the centre of the London scene during the swinging 60s. The pair got on well, according to the Liverpudlian, because he and the aristocrat both had big names to live up to.
“We had the same problem. We had the same attitude to life because we saw the enormity of the position that we were in. You’re either going to go under and get paranoid or you can just relax; enjoy; just be what you are,” he said.
McCartney, who had his own music career beginning with The Scaffold, did try to separate himself from the Beatlemania however.
“It was so out of control really that I thought to myself: well I’m just going to get swallowed up in this so to give myself a chance I’ll change my name,” he added.
Mike Dangerfield was one option after the main character in JP Donleavy’s The Gingerman and he nearly became Mike McFab, but that was , “too jokey”. He settled on Mike McGear, ‘gear’ being Liverpool slang on a par with ‘fab’.
McCartney also addressed the ’Paul Is Dead’ rumours which spawned many a conspiracy theory since the heyday of the Beatles. “Of course he’s dead,” McCartney joked about his very much alive big brother.
“Another good lad,” is how McCartney described his brother’s band mate John Lennon, though, “he wouldn’t say two words when one would do.”
You get the measure of a man when he dies, according to McCartney, and the reaction to Lennon’s death shows he was a good man. He hopes people will feel the same about his friend Tara Browne now.
“Tara was a good man ... now you’re going to hear about it in Paul’s book.”
Mike McCartney was in conversation with Róisin Ingle and Paul Howard on the Róisín Meets podcast. To hear the full interview got the iTunes, Stitcher or www.irishtimes.com
I Read the News Today Oh Boy, by Paul Howard, is published by Picador and is out now.