He smoked marijuana on and off for four decades and turned to whisky to cope with the stress of The Beatles breaking up.
But Sir Paul McCartney has revealed his wild days are over as he has transformed his lifestyle and only drinks one glass of wine per week.
Lyrics on Sir Paul's new album, Egypt Station, refer to his bad habits as a Beatle.
A song called Happy With You features the lines, “I used to drink too much/Forget to come home.” Speaking to MOJO magazine, Sir Paul said: “It is candid I did used to get stoned, and wasted.”
Asked if he was not necessarily happy while he was taking drugs and drinking to excess during Beatlemania, he added: “That's right. Also? ?I've got a lot of friends who are sober. 'Cos they have to be.
“Like Ringo [Starr], [former Eagles guitarist] Joe Walsh because they just took it too far. When we were growing up, everyone would be going to the pub and drinking, but mostly it all seemed quite jolly. But when I talk to Ringo about it, he says: ‘No, if you give me vodka, I would have to finish the bottle.’ So that's empathising with Ringo: used to be doing crazy things, but you don't now, 'cos you're happy. And Ringo is he's very content with his life.”
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Asked if the lyrics were autobiographical, Sir Paul said: “I did used to get a little bit more crazy than I do now I've got eight grandchildren. I haven't got the time. Grandad can't just be sitting in his armchair with a great big doobie on and a bottle of tequila.”
In hindsight, Sir Paul feels he had periods when he was self-medicating with drink, and has admitted in his song lyrics that he would lie to his doctor.
He said this was “most particularly in the period right after The Beatles”, adding: “I was bummed out and in the middle of this horrendous s*** where someone was going to take every penny we'd ever made.
“That wasn't easy, and led to a very difficult time in my life. I definitely self-medicated there, and drank more than I ever had and probably more than I ever have since. But you go through it.”
Sir Paul has previously spoken about his dependence on alcohol after The Beatles broke up, and how he would often worry his first wife Linda with his drinking habits.
“I overdid it, basically. I'd drink whisky, of which there was a large supply in Scotland. What happened was The Beatles, towards the end, was very constricting,” he said.
“You were in a corporate world suddenly. It's not what you get into music for, but it's there. It got very heavy, so me and Linda escaped with the kids, but the business hassles were still there.
So I think I was just trying to escape in my own mind. I had the freedom to have just have a drink whenever I fancied it.”