Secret History of Paul McCartney, the Jewish Beatle
Sir Paul McCartney recently released “New,” his first album of original rock songs since 2007’s “Memory Almost Full.” Given the 71-year-old McCartney’s love affair with all things Jewish for the past half-century — including collaborators, business associates, girlfriends and wives — the title could well be meant as a transliteration of the all-purpose Jewish word nu.
The nu — I mean, new — album, full of Beatlesque confections in a panoply of styles — is co-produced by Mark Ronson, one of the hottest producers in popular music for the last decade or so, and the scion of a prominent English-Jewish family (the name was originally Aaronson). Ronson got the McCartney gig after DJing his 2011 wedding to Nancy Shevell, which took place on the day after Yom Kippur.
Over the holiday, the bride and groom attended services at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St. John’s Wood, near McCartney’s home and close to Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded most of their songs. Reports from the time of the wedding suggested that McCartney was considering a Jewish conversion in deference to his newlywed, but that apparently hasn’t happened — yet.
But Shevell is not the first Jewish Lady McCartney; that honor belonged to McCartney’s first wife, Linda Eastman. Born in New York City and raised in Scarsdale, N.Y., Linda Eastman was the daughter of Lee Eastman — the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, born Leopold Vail Epstein — and Louise Sara Lindner.
When Linda Eastman and McCartney’s daughter, Stella McCartney, became a fashion designer, she followed family footsteps into the rag trade; her maternal grandfather, Max J. Lindner, was founder of the Lindner Company, the largest women’s clothing store in Cleveland, Ohio. Lindner was a member of the most prominent Reform temple in Cleveland and president of its Men’s Club; active in the Jewish Welfare Fund and in the Jewish country club; and a major philanthropic force in Cleveland’s Jewish community.
McCartney married Linda Eastman in 1969, and the two famously stayed together as one of rock music’s most stable, loving couples until Eastman’s death in 1998 due to complications from breast cancer. They made music together: first, on the album “Ram,” the cover of which pictures McCartney grasping two ram’s horns, and subsequently, in McCartney’s post-Beatles group, Wings.
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