This is why John Lennon claimed “The Beatles are the biggest bastards”
For a man who is seen as being the figurehead of world peace even some 40 years on after his death, and even though he did help spread this image largely during his solo career, it’s fair to say that the reality of the men behind The Beatles was often covered up. The whiter than white picture of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr wasn’t the entire truth according to Lennon who said all four of them were actually “bastards”.
It’s remarkable how The Beatles had managed to retain a clean-cut image throughout much of their varied careers. Even though they quite clearly got up to some extracurricular activities, including substances that weren’t exactly the most legal, the band managed to avoid any huge damnation as predicted for their counterparts The Rolling Stones.
In his final ever TV interview in 1975, while appearing on The Tomorrow Show, Lennon shed some light on why The Beatles got an easier run of the mill than some of their contemporaries: “People have always been trying to stamp out rock ‘n’ roll since it started, I always thought that it’s because it came from black music and the words had a lot of double entendre in the early days,” he said.
Adding: “It was all this ‘our nice white kids are gonna go crazy moving their bodies’, y’now the music got to your body and The Beatles just carried it a bit further, made it a bit more white, even more than Elvis did because we were English.”
One thing that did almost dispel this myth that The Beatles were the Fab Four in every sense of the word was the 1963 biography of the band aptly titled Love Me Do!. Written by Michael Braun, the book recalls the writer spending time on tour with the band across one of their early European adventures. However, despite the book probably being one of the most up-close and personal looks at the band at that point in their careers, it offered a rather murky view of the band and their clean-cut reputations remained unaffected.
John would later praise the book in an interview with Rolling Stone, stating: “That was a true book. He wrote how we were, which was bastards. You can’t be anything else in such a pressurized situation and we took it out on people.”
Lennon would then compare Braun’s work with that of Hunter Davies, who would release an authorised biography of the band a few years later, he disclosed honestly: “Those things are left out by Davies, about what bastards we were. Fuckin’ big bastards, that’s what the Beatles were. You have to be a bastard to make it, that’s a fact, and the Beatles are the biggest bastards on earth.”
Lennon then explained why he thought that their clean image was never in an inch of doubt even if it was perhaps untrue: “Everybody wants the image to carry on…The press around too, because they want the free drinks and the free whores and the fun; everybody wants to keep on the bandwagon.”