11. Paul McCartney
June 18th, 1942
Key Tracks "Yesterday," "Hey Jude," "Maybe I'm Amazed"
Influenced Elton John, Rod Stewart, Elvis Costello
"Paul is like an impressionist painter," says James Taylor, who had the privilege of watching the Beatles record the White Album in 1968. "The pieces of his music are so elementary, yet the overall thing is so sophisticated. He's such a precise and controlled singer." On songs from the Beatles' frenzied "I'm Down" to his own "Maybe I'm Amazed," McCartney revealed himself as one of rock's most agile and melodic screamers. But McCartney, who learned vocal harmonies from his musician father, is at least as gifted as a balladeer, drawing on British music-hall sounds from his childhood as much as Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers for songs such as "Yesterday" and "Michelle." "People chose Lennon or McCartney," says Taylor. "I was definitely on the McCartney side. He makes a beautiful sound."