Born 7th of January 1944 at the end of World War Two and brought up in Liverpool, Mike McCartney was educated at the Liverpool Institute High School, tried to get into next door’s Art College, but lack of GCE’s meant that he ended up a ladies hairdresser.
From here he entered ‘showbiz’ in the ‘Liverpool One Fat Lady Non Electric Show’ which eventually became SCAFFOLD. Because of Beatlemania, Mike had to change his name to ‘McGear’, and was an integral part of the 60’s Merseybeat era, but on the more theatrical, poetic side.
Scaffold were mainly a theatre/university, satirical comedy act, but in 1967 Mike got them into the pop world by writing their first top 5 single, the Queen Mother and Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s favourite record!…‘Thank U Very Much’.
`In 1968 their big hit ‘Lily The Pink’ reached the top of the National charts (here and abroad) and stayed number 1 for FIVE weeks.
Mike’s songs were responsible for introducing decimalisation to Britain!, and Scaffold’s last top five single, produced by Paul McCartney with Wings, was ‘Liverpool Lou’.
The eighties saw the release of his autobiography ‘Thank U Very Much’ (a personal favourite of Andy Warhol’s) and his photographic book and exhibition ‘Mike Mac’s White and Black’s’, was staged at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool and the prestigious Photographers Gallery, London, before touring Britain, Japan and America, plus guest appearance in New York on the notorious Howard Stern’s ‘K-Rock’ show, extended to one and a half hours!
In the nineties Scaffold reformed for Chris Tarrants ‘Telethon’ TV, alongside Peter O’Toole, Bill Wyman, 10cc and… Geoffrey Archer! EMI released CD’s entitled ‘The Best of Scaffold EMI Years’ plus ‘Scaffold at Abbey Road’, Rykodisc records (USA) re- released Mike’s 1974 ‘McGear’ album, with UK release on ‘See For Miles’, and the children’s book he’d worked on for six years, ‘Sonny Joe and the Ringdom Rhymes’ was published by Collins Books.
As the result of seeing Mikes photographs , the National Trust restored and opened his old 20 Forthlin Road home, and 1998 saw the transmission of ‘Abbey Road, 65 Years Celebration’ TV show, with Mike alongside Elgar, Pink Floyd, Glen Miller, Beatles, Fred Astaire!, etc.
In 2000, Q Magazine commissioned Mike’s photographs for their ‘Greatest Rock and Roll Photographs of All Time’, and his images were shown on the worldwide MTV ‘Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Pop Songs’ TV programme.
To experiment with his photography Mike started their Silk Screen printing at Liverpool Art College, then to Guadalajara, Mexico and finished the art in New York, where he exhibited at the exclusive Friars Club (president Frank Sinatra) He was then asked by Curwen Press, associated with the Royal Academy, to print images of Little Richard and Gene Vincent Live in Liverpool, for their new Lithographic process, which ended up as a signed, limited edition.
Mike had the honour of having eleven of his photographs bought for the nation and exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery London (with ‘best wishes’ from the Prime Minister) and his ‘Mike McCartney’s Liverpool Life’ exhibition (and MMLL book) was seen in Liverpool, Canada and for a year at the world famous Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, where it was seen by over two and a half million visitors!
On September 5th 2004 Mike’s and his family life changed quite dramatically for the next year and a half…but more of that in A4B.
Also in 2004 Liverpool JMU University awarded Mike an Honorary Fellowship at Liverpool Cathedral, and the Bishop of Birkenhead appointed Mike the ‘Cultural Ambassador for Wirral’ (where his now lives with his wife and sons, having brought up his three daughters)
In 2005 his brother invited him to Live8 in Hyde Park, which resulted, one year later, in ‘Mike McCartney’s Live8 Coolpix’ hard back (to mark such an important occasion) which he and his publisher have donated the first thousand book profits to the Band Aid Trust..to date over £6,000 has been raised. Both covers of Live8 and MMLL were designed by eldest son Josh.
Mike was a strong supporter of Liverpool as European Capital of Culture 2008 and worked on a Liverpool photographic book with Willy Russell.
Jan. 27th 2009 saw the launch of ‘Mike McCartney’s North Highlands’ exhibition at Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, followed by a book with forwards by Prince Charles, Billy Connolly, and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. Mike and son Sonny fly to Dublin’s Leinster Gallery in February to open the Irish exhibition and Genesis book by Lew Allen (and him!) entitled…’ Elvis & the Birth of Rock’ featuring the King, Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers,etc. More in LINKS.
In 2010 Mike was asked for photographs by Martin Scorsese for a film he was working on. In June he dined at the Library of Congress in Washington DC with Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Dave Grohl, Elvis Costello,etc..and next day in the White House had the honour of chatting with President Obama and family at his brothers Gershwin Prize presentation. In October that year he reformed Scaffold for a World Expo Concert in Shanghai, China.
2011 saw his exhibition with E. Chambre Hardman at Liverpool Cathedral and in July his ‘Mike McCartney’s LIVERPOOL’ exhibition opened at the new £72 million Museum of Liverpool. October saw the London B.F.I. premier of Martin Scorsese’s film ‘Living In The Material World’ which contained many of Mikes images, and on October 9th was witness at his brothers world covered wedding at Marylebone Registry Office.
In December he also had the pleasure of showing the Queen of England his exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool.
In March 2012 the Wall Street Journal flew from New York to Liverpool to interview Mike about his photography and the re-release of his McGough McGear album, plus he attended the opening of his ‘Mike McCartney’s North Highlands’ exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art in Ohio. Mike featured in Alan Cumming’s ‘Urban Secrets’ TV series,chatted to President Hollande at brother’s ‘Legion d’Honneur’ award in the Elysee Palace, and talks started with a prestigious publishing company who have expressed interest in a book of Mike’s strongest 60’s images,
2013 February, Mike proudly attended the unveiling of the Hillsborough number 1 single on Mathew Streets ‘Wall of Fame’, then met with London Publishers to plan his coffee table hardback for 2014. Work started on an iBook of Mike’s Twitter photographs with son Josh in New York, and photographing Harry Hill filming in Blackpool he ends up IN ‘Harry Hill the Movie’ ! In October he is planning an unusual exhibition with son Max for Claire House Hospice.Talks of Mike doing a 1 Man Show round Britain next year are becoming a reality with ‘Mike McGear McCartney..SEX, DRUGS, ROCK n ROLL..i wish!” tour reaching YOUR town 2014!!