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Flavius Versadus: The Kennedy Center ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Alec Baldwin.("Live and Let Die" playing) You know, whenyou think about it, it's kind of a miracle that Paul McCartney has made it this far. (laughter) A big-time solo career wasn't just handed to him like some lucky America's Got Talent contestant. He had to earn it. All those early years slogging through groups like the Quarrymen, Johnny and the Moondogs, the Silver Beatles, and finally the plain old Beatles. (laughter) I can't begin to tell you how awful those early years were. (laughter) With the Beatles, Paul was forced out of the friendly intimacy of clubs and made to perform in ever larger spaces. No, no, wait, you have to see this to believe it. (laughter) Places normally reserved for baseball games, bullfights, papal masses. And then things turned really, really bad. The Beatles were assaulted by throngs of hostile young female gang members. (laughter) The police had to be called in to protect them. (laughter) The National Institutes of Health called the epidemic "Beatlemania." There was no cure. Finally, The Beatles were reduced to performing on The Ed Sullivan Show, sharing the stage with a mouse named Topo Gigio. But let's move on. Paul McCartney is a genius. (applause) Yeah. Paul married rock and roll to beauty and forever raised the bar for composers, musicians, and fans. Paul, we honor you tonight for your career as a Beatle, the leader of Wings, an incredible solo performer, the creator of our favorite songs, and, yes, as a Moondog, too. (applause) (piano playing early jazz) PAUL McCARTNEY: My dad used to play piano, and he would play Paul Whiteman-- "Stairway to Paradise," "Chicago," and stuff-- so through him I've always loved that kind of music. For my birthday he once bought me a trumpet, and I went back to the shopand traded it in for a guitar. BALDWIN:Rock and roll was on the radio, and Paul knew every song. A boy named Lennon was playing at a church fair. Paul sang his way right into his band. McCARTNEY: John and I used what was the dining room to rehearse and to write songs. We finished off "She Loves You" there and played it to my dad. When he heard "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah," yeah," he said to us, "Son," he said, "there's enough of these Americanisms around. Couldn't you just say, 'Yes, yes, yes'?" BALDWIN: They wrote all day and played all night, working the sound, finding the look, becoming The Beatles. ("I Want to Hold Your Hand" playing) They rocked their way from underground clubs to Buckingham Palace. Then, America. ED SULLIVAN: Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles! ("I Saw Her Standing There" playing) BALDWIN:The magic was in the melodies. ("Yesterday" playing) Musical alchemy. Songs the entire world was singing at the same time. Every album was richer than the one before. It was the great musical adventure of the 20th century. As they were growing, they were growing apart. They had been his mates, his best friends. They had made history together. Who would he be without them? ("Band on the Run" playing) The man who helped creat a revolution had to reinvent himself. Music was his connection to the world. He missed it, and so did we. 50 years on, and his concerts still send a current through the crowd. Paul was born with the gift of song. He gave the songs to us to keep forever. (applause and cheering) Whoo!