McCartney says he won't retire, even when he's 64. He says he'll play pubs or sidewalks if he has to

By Gary Susman
April 21, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Paul McCartney turns 61 in June, but he has no plans to retire or even slow down. ”I love my job, the public loves me and the band,” he told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag. ”I feel like a boxer — when you’re winning, the punches don’t hurt. Only when you lose is it hard and difficult. My body has learned to cope. I’m used to working hard up on the stage.”

Currently touring Europe, McCartney credits his youthful stamina to the applause of the crowd and to new wife Heather Mills, 27 years his junior, whom he married last summer. ”For her I watch what I put on and what I look like,” he said. ”Love is a wonderful thing. It keeps you young.”

McCartney said he’ll always want to play live, even if his popularity wanes to the point where he’s playing small-town bars. ”And if the day comes when they even throw me out of the pubs, I’ll keep on singing outside the door.” Not that that’s likely. The ex-Beatle’s tour of the U.S. last year grossed $70 million, earning Tour of the Year honors from Billboard magazine.

McCartney is also a headliner on ”Hope,” a benefit album whose proceeds will be collected by the charity War Child to help children in postwar Iraq. McCartney, who joins Avril Lavigne, David Bowie, Michelle Branch, Moby, and Yusuf Islam (the former Cat Stevens) on the disc, told Reuters, ”Whatever the politics, whatever the rights and wrongs of war, children are always the innocent victims. So I am delighted to make this small contribution.”