Beatles legend Paul McCartney received a standing ovation at the NME awards ceremony in London on Wednesday, where he accepted the influential British magazine’s special prize honouring his 50-year-career.

On receiving the magazine’s “songwriters’ songwriter” award at the annual show, the 71-year-old admitted to guests at the O2 Academy in Brixton that he could not explain how he had written some of the most famous pop songs of all time.

“The great thing about songwriting is that you don’t know how you do it, so you can’t talk about it,” he said as he picked up the award from Blur and Gorillaz star Damon Albarn.

The Beatles played at the magazine’s annual show in 1963 and topped the bill in 1964 as Beatlemania swept the world.

Young pretenders Arctic Monkeys picked up where they left off at last week’s Brit Awards, winning five prizes including best album for “AM”.

Pop princess Lily Allen capped her return from “retirement” by winning the best solo artist award, but suggested fellow nominees David Bowie and Jake Bugg were more deserving of the accolade.

Allen was also on stage to present New York rocker Debbie Harry and her band Blondie with the “Godlike genius” award.

Scottish band Belle & Sebastian won the outstanding contribution to music prize before aiming a playful jibe at David Bowie’s plea for Scotland to stay part of the UK.

“England stay with us — at least just for a night,” joked guitarist Stevie Jackson. “And if we do leave you, let’s stay friends.”

Source: AFP