For a virtual unknown, being granted the star spot on America’s hugely popular David Letterman Show to launch his debut single was a terrific coup. But though the young singer’s demeanour was a little stiff and shy, his talent shone out.
The powerful voice, the huge vocal range, the accomplished guitar work all commanded attention, as did something familiar about the round, boyish face and mournful, hooded eyes.
At the age of 34, Paul McCartney’s only son had finally, and a little reluctantly, stepped on to the public stage to claim his place as heir apparent to Sir Paul.
But if the eyes and the talent are unmistakable, that is where the resemblance ends. For while Sir Paul has spent a lifetime charming everyone he meets, his son has been withdrawn to the point of being a virtual recluse.
Until now. Suddenly McCartney Junior is everywhere — in the past month alone performing at the Sundance Film Festival, the Viper Room in Los Angeles, Rockwood Music Hall in New York and Asbury Park in New Jersey.
On each occasion, crowds were queuing round the block for tickets to watch a singer-songwriter with a non-existent track record and public profile (such are the colossal benefits of the McCartney name).
Though the music is highly accomplished, James’s delivery is deadpan, emphasising that while he may have high hopes for his debut single, Angel, he is clearly not your average aspiring rock star. The doleful gaze and legendary name may be unmistakable, but the reality is that James has spent his entire life running away from fame.
His older sisters have become fixtures in London society — Mary, 42, as a respected photographer and 40-year-old Stella as a leading fashion designer. His half-sister Heather, 49, is a successful potter.
But James, known as ‘the quiet one’ of the McCartney children, has remained in the shadows.
Painfully shy, for years he struggled to carve out a niche for himself, working as a sculptor and waiting tables at a small restaurant in Brighton.
Last Updated: 03/03/12 09:33