Paul McCartney Says John Lennon ‘Instigated’ the Beatles’ Breakup in New Interview

Image Courtesy: NME

In an upcoming episode of the new BBC Radio 4 interview series This Cultural Life, Paul McCartney has set the record straight on who initiated the break-up of The Beatles. He claimed that it was actually John Lennon. For almost 50 years, Sir Paul McCartney has shouldered the blame for breaking up the Beatles.

The supposed evidence was a press release for his 1970 solo album, McCartney, where he revealed he was on a “break” from rock’s biggest band. In his self-interview, Sir Paul said he could not “foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again”.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney
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“I didn’t instigate the split. That was our Johnny,” he told the interviewer from BBC Radio 4, John Wilson. “I am not the person who instigated the split.

“Oh no, no, no. John walked into a room one day and said I am leaving the Beatles. And he said, ‘It’s quite thrilling, it’s rather like a divorce.’ And then we were left to pick up the pieces.”

Wilson asked whether The Beatles would have continued if Lennon hadn’t called it quits.

“It could have,” Sir Paul replied.

“The point of it really was that John was making a new life with Yoko and he wanted… to lie in bed for a week in Amsterdam for peace. You couldn’t argue with that. It was the most difficult period of my life. John had always wanted to sort of break loose from society because, you know, he was brought up by his Aunt Mimi, who was quite repressive, so he was always looking to break loose “

“This was my band, this was my job, this was my life,” he added. “I wanted it to continue. I thought we were doing some pretty good stuff – Abbey Road, Let It Be, not bad – and I thought we could continue.”

Image Courtesy: USA Today

The bassist goes on to explain that, confusion about who actually caused the break-up festered because the band’s new manager, Allen Klein, had told the band to keep quiet about the split because he needed time to tie up some loose ends with their business.

“So, for a few months we had to pretend,” he told Wilson. “It was weird because we all knew it was the end of the Beatles but we couldn’t just walk away.”

Eventually, McCartney, who became unhappy with the secrecy, let the cat out of the bag because he was fed up of hiding it. Reminiscing the unpleasant atmosphere at the time, McCartney says: “Around about that time we were having little meetings and it was horrible. It was the opposite of what we were. We were musicians not meeting people.”

Sir Paul ended up suing the rest of the band in the high court, seeking the dissolution of their contractual relationship in order to keep their music out of Klein’s reach.

“I had to fight and the only way I could fight was in suing the other Beatles, because they were going with Klein,” he told Wilson.

“And they thanked me for it years later. But I didn’t instigate the split.”

He has previously said that archival projects like The Beatles Anthology and Peter Jackson’s forthcoming documentary, Get Back, would never have been possible without his legal action. McCartney’s full interview will be heard on the new BBC Radio 4 series This Cultural Life, which will be broadcast on 23rd October.

The band’s final public performance on London’s Savile Row rooftop
Image Courtesy: uDiscover Music

—Silviya Yohannan