In a revealing interview, Paul McCartney has reflected on the notorious break-up of The Beatles. The group, which included John Lennon, McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, was unable to reconcile its differences throughout the late 1960s and, in 1970, decided to call it quits for good. The split – further encouraged by a lack of management – was announced in the notorious press release that Paul sent out alongside his debut album McCartney, also released in 1970.
The decision made McCartney very unpopular with his former bandmates and Beatles fans alike. But, in a recent interview for the Radio 4 documentary This Cultural Life, the musician denied that he had anything to do with The Beatles break-up. “I didn’t instigate the split. That was our Johnny,” he said. “This was my band, this was my job, this was my life, so I wanted it to continue.” Paul, speaking to interviewer John Wilson, said that it was in fact John Lennon who “instigated the split”.
“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’. Is that instigating the split, or not?” McCartney claimed. However, the period was also dominated by an anxiety borne out of the monetary losses endured by Apple Corps, and by the divisive management style of Allen Klein – an individual with whom Paul McCartney had a strained personal relationship.
As McCartney recalled, Allen Klein told The Beatles to keep the spilt a secret so that he could conclude a number of self-serving business deals. “So for a few months we had to pretend,” McCartney continued. “It was weird because we all knew it was the end of The Beatles but we couldn’t just walk away.”
He went on to add: “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.” But, according to McCartney, the break-up of The Beatles eventually became an inevitability, largely because Lennon: “wanted to go in a bag and lie in bed for a week in Amsterdam for peace. And you couldn’t argue with that.”
Paul McCartney also insisted that – had the band stuck together – The Beatles may well have recorded more music together “It could have been. The point of it really was that John was making a new life with Yoko,” he said. “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.”
You can listen to Paul McCartney’s This Cultural Life interview on October 23rd. His book The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present will be published the following month on November 2nd.