Paul McCartney has been reminiscing about the time when he first met future bandmate John Lennon, discussing the inner details of their songwriting partnership in The Beatles at length as part of a conversation with John’s son, Sean Ono Lennon.
Lennon, who was killed in 1980, would have been celebrating his 80th birthday on October 9th and, ahead of the momentous occasion, his son Sean hosted a two-part programme looking back at his life for BBC Radio 2. In the second part of the programme, which aired on BBC Radio 2 over the weekend, saw Sean speak to his brother Julian as well as Paul McCartney.
In McCartney’s segment, the musician discussed the moment that he realised Lennon was a special talent, one who had a unique quality which he couldn’t quite put his finger on. He recalled first noticing him when he was on the same bus and thought to himself that John was “an interesting looking guy”.
“I think all of us were trying to do a bit of that at that point, you know, so if you ever noticed anyone who was trying to do it, you thought, ‘Oh, yeah, probably get on well with him,’ but I didn’t know anything about him. And I didn’t know who he was except that I’d seen him on the bus and I’d seen him the fish and chip shop. But then my friend Ivan, who I knew at school, was a friend of John’s and took me up to the village fete, introduced me there,” Macca noted.
“So it was like, ‘Oh, that’s that guy who I’ve been seeing.’ And then obviously I knew he was a musician because he was in the little band, The Quarrymen, and I got to sort of hang with them in the interval. I knew nothing about him except that he looked pretty cool. He had long sideboards and greased back hair and everything,” he added.
McCartney then continued to talk about the different attitudes between him and his bandmate, aspects which created a special dynamic in the group. “My attitude would be, ‘This is what I want to do’ and then John would bring another edge to it,” he said. “What was the great thing was the combination of those two attitudes and I look back on it now like a fan.
“I think, ‘Wow, how lucky was I to meet this strange Teddy Boy off the bus who turned out to play music like I did, and we get together and, boy, we complemented each other’. They say with marriages opposites attract and we weren’t madly opposites, but I had some stuff that he didn’t have and he had some stuff I didn’t have so when you put them together it made something extra.”
In the first part of the programme, Macca shared his relief that the pair had patched up their differences before Lennon’s untimely death. The bassist said: “I always say to people, one of the great things for me was that after all The Beatles rubbish and all the arguing and the business, you know, business differences really… that even after all of that, I’m so happy that I got it back together with your dad. It really, really would have been a heartache to me if we hadn’t have reunited.”
Later in the conversation, Macca revealed the huge influence Bob Dylan had on the Fab Four, saying, “We certainly got a lot from Dylan. And I know I had one of his first LPs at home before The Beatles. I used to play that quite a lot so I was steeped in him. And I think your dad was too… but that was just one of the influences, there’s an awful lot more.”
Listen to John Lennon at 80 on BBC Sounds, here.