LINDA McCARTNEY (1941  1998)

Linda McCartney, wife of former Beatle Paul, died early on Friday morning (April 17) in California...

Linda McCartney, married to former Beatle PAUL for 29 years, died early on Friday morning (April 17) while the couple were on holiday in California. She was 56.

Her husband (55) and her children were at her bedside as she lost her battle with cancer. Her body was cremated last night (Sunday) in a private ceremony near their Santa Barbara holiday home.

The McCartneys announced in late 1995 that Linda had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing treatment. In March this year, however, doctors discovered the cancer had spread to her liver. A spokesman for the McCartney family ended a statement yesterday with “… the blessing was that the end came quickly and she didn’t suffer.”

Sir Paul – knighted last year – has now arrived back in the UK and is in seclusion with his family at his estate near Rye in Sussex. His publicist made clear the former Beatle’s wish to be given the time and space the family needs to grieve over Lady Linda’s death in private. Sir Paul will make a press statement of his own later this week.

Linda McCartney (born Linda Eastman on September 24, 1942 in Scarsdale, New York) had three children with Sir Paul – Mary (now 27), Stella (25) and James (19). Linda’s daughter Heather from a previous marriage also grew up with them at their deliberately secluded homes in Scotland and England.

The couple met in 1967 when he was at the height of his stardom as one-quarter of the biggest entertainment phenomenon the world had ever known and she was a New York magazine photographer. They married in London in 1969 amid the death throes of The Beatles and Linda immediately became integral to McCartney’s post-Beatles’ career.

In 1970, Paul released the LP ‘McCartney’ with track one tellingly titled ‘The Lovely Linda’ followed, in 1970, by the Paul And Linda McCartney-credited album ‘Ram’. In 1971, Paul formed Wings which would feature Linda’s contributions on keyboards and vocals. Wings achieved huge success throughout the ’70s with massive-selling albums such as ‘Red Rose Speedway’, ‘Band On The Run’, ‘Venus And Mars’, ‘Wings At The Speed Of Sound’ and ‘Wings Over America’ all hitting Number One in the United States.

After Wings folded in 1979, Linda continued to participate in Paul’s recording and tour projects and last year’s McCartney album ‘Flaming Pie’ was dedicated to her. She and her husband campaigned energetically for environmental and animal rights causes and she launched the successful range of frozen vegetarian meal products which bear her name.

Sir Paul’s publicist’s statement says anyone wishing to pay tribute to Linda should not send flowers but instead make donations to cancer research or animal welfare charities, “or – best of all – the tribute that Linda McCartney would like best: Go veggie!”

SIR PAUL McCARTNEY has been named the wealthiest musician in Britain in The Sunday Times‘ Rich List 1998 published yesterday. The paper awards the top music millionaire’s spot to McCartney with an estimated worth of ‘500 million, ranking him 29th= richest man in Britain.

Predictably, other super-rich rock stars in the paper’s UK rankings include David Bowie (‘150m), Elton John (‘150m), Mick Jagger (‘140m), Keith Richards (‘105m), Phil Collins (‘105m). McCartney’s Fab Four bandmates lag a little behind in the monetary stakes, however, with the paper’s financial experts rating George Harrison’s worth at ’87m and Ringo Starr’s at ’78.