Paul McCartney at Capitol Records

Paul McCartney at Capitol Records.

MJ Kim

Paul McCartney is returning to Capitol Records, signing a new worldwide recording agreement, the Universal Music Group label announces today. 

What's being billed as a "historic deal" will encompass McCartney's entire catalog of master recordings beginning with the 1970 McCartney album. It also marks a return to the label where he started his solo career. 

Says McCartney in a statement: “This is genuinely exciting for me. Not only was Capitol my first U.S. record label, but the first record I ever bought was Gene Vincent’s 'Be-Bop-A-Lula' on the Capitol label.”

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In announcing the signing, Capitol also revealed that the former Beatle is currently working on a new studio album. Capitol/UMe will service the McCartney catalog -- previously with Concord -- beginning in July 2017. 

Adds Capitol chairman and CEO Steve Barnett: "Paul McCartney’s association with Capitol has long defined so much of our historic legacy, and all of us here are extremely proud and honored that he has chosen to come back home. Paul’s indelible contributions to our culture are second to none, and his constant evolution as an artist and performer continues to inspire and enrich the lives of countless millions of people. We are overjoyed that Paul will be creating new music for years to come, and that Capitol will be helping to present it to the world.”

Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge called McCartney's signing "a homecoming of one of the greatest musical artists of all time to the label that first helped bring his incredible music to the world," adding that "Paul's astonishing career has shown no limits -- in creativity, in commercial longevity, and in its impact on people and cultures in every corner of the globe. We are thrilled at both Capitol and UMG to be able to contribute to the next chapter."

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As a solo artist and with his former band Wings, McCartney charted 39 albums on the Billboard 200 chart, including seven No. 1s. The bulk of those titles were initially released on Capitol Records, and this new signing marks, in a sense, his third return to the label. In 1968, he and the Beatles formed Apple Records, which was essentially a vanity imprint through Capitol, yet McCartney ruffled feathers in 1975 by leaving to re-sign with Capitol proper (Apple folded later that year). He remained with Capitol until 1979, when he signed a deal with Columbia, through which he released five albums -- including 1982's excellent Tug of War -- before jetting back to Capitol for 1986's Press to Play. He remained until 2007, when he inked with the Hear Music label -- a joint venture between Starbucks and Concord Music Group. McCartney released his next three studio albums through Hear/Concord: Memory Almost Full (2007, peaking at No. 3; 636,000 sold in the U.S. according to Nielsen Music), Kisses on the Bottom (2012, No. 5; 280,000 sold) and New (2013, No. 3; 219,000 sold). In total, McCartney -- and Wings -- have sold 10.7 million albums in the U.S. since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in 1991. 

On the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart, McCartney -- again solo and with Wings -- has collected 46 entries, including 23 top 10s and nine No. 1s. 

In 2015, he visited the Hot 100 chart for the first time since 2007, and in a big way: He scored three consecutive top 40 hits thanks to his collaborations with Kanye West. "Only One" (West featuring McCartney) hit No. 35, "FourFiveSeconds" (a collaboration with Rihanna, West and McCartney) peaked at No. 4 -- McCartney's highest charting single since 1983, and "All Day" (West featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom and McCartney) reached No. 15. ("FourFiveSeconds" also hit No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, his first leader there since "The Girl Is Mine," with Michael Jackson, led the list in 1983.)