It’s hard to imagine Paul McCartney coming into the office. He has always been casually cool -- first as a mop-topped Beatle, then as the laid-back leader of Wings, and most recently as a stadium-filling solo star. But on a recent sunny London Monday, in the Soho Square townhouse headquarters of his company MPL, there he is, humming to himself and dancing slowly across his cozy office -- imposing desk on one end, comfortable sofa on the other -- as a Wurlitzer jukebox plays “Friendly Persuasion” by Pat Boone. “I like the melody,” he says.
At 77, McCartney is well past the age -- to say nothing of the tax bracket -- at which most men are content to stay home. And it would be hard to argue that he wasn’t entitled to take it easy: The Beatles are officially the No. 1 act on Billboard’s ranking of the top-charting artists of all time, and he’s No. 12 as a solo artist (including his work with Wings). Yet he’s as active as ever. Last fall he released Egypt Station, which became his first No. 1 album in the United States since 1982’s Tug of War, after which he embarked on a Freshen Up tour that grossed $129.2 million, according to Billboard Boxscore. He still comes into the office, though, “maybe a day a week,” he says. “And I’m on the phone and email.”
Long before every pop star considered themselves CEOs, McCartney set up MPL, as The Beatles were breaking up, to run his own business out of a small office in this building (which he bought years later). At the time, music manager Allen Klein had taken control of Apple Records, the group’s company, and the resulting disagreements over financial and other matters were driving the bandmembers apart. “I just thought, ‘I’ve got to do my own little Apple,’ ” remembers McCartney.