Few partnerships have been as fruitful as Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s. As part of The Beatles the two musicians crafted some of the world’s most beloved songs and the duo cemented their names, along with George Harrison and Ringo Starr’s, in the annals of musical history as some of the best.
While figuratively it is unquestionable that the band would be in those dusty old history books it’s still nice for the band, and the men behind the music, to see those accolades arrive for real. Unfortunately for some, they never get the chance.
By the time the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame began its inducting of the greatest rock and roll artists of all time, sadly John Lennon had been dead for many years. Gunned down in front of his home in 1980, when he was formally inducted into Rock Hall in 1994 he would have to rely on Yoko Ono and his friend Paul McCartney to speak for him.
Macca and Lennon had a troublesome end to their careers with The Beatles, their more than acrimonious split had been splashed across the newspapers, increasing tension with every day. But luckily, they had reconciled their differences before John passed and, in truth, they would never be able to hate one another for too long—they had shared simply too much.
When Paul McCartney was asked to induct his friend and bandmate into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame he was keen to show the audience that for him and John, this was their dream. “I remember when we first met, at Woolton, at the village fête. It was a beautiful summer day and I walked in there and I saw you on the stage. And you were singing ‘Come Go With Me’ by the Dell Vikings, But you didn’t know the words so you made them up. “Come go with me to the penitentiary.” It’s not in the lyrics.
“I remember writing our first songs together. We used to go to my house, my dad’s house, and we used to smoke Typhoo tea with this pipe my dad kept in a drawer. It didn’t do much for us but it got us on the road.
“We wanted to be famous.”
McCartney goes on to share the ups and downs of being a Beatle as well as how he introduced him to “my mate George, my schoolmate, and him getting into the band by playing Raunchy on the top deck of a bus. You were impressed. And we met Ringo, who’d been working the whole season at Butlin’s camp – he was a seasoned professional – but the beard had to go, and it did.”
Macca also shared some of the stories from their time in the studio: “I remember doing the vocal to Kansas City – well I couldn’t quite get it, because it’s hard to do all that stuff, you know, screaming out the top of your head. John came down from the control room and took me to one side and said “You can do it, you know, you’ve just got to scream, you can do it.” So, thank you. Thank you for that. I did it.
I remember writing ‘A Day In The Life’ with him, and the little look we gave each other as we wrote the line “I’d love to turn you on.” We kinda knew what we were doing, you know. A sneaky little look. Ah boy.”
Then perhaps what many people were a little worried about, McCartney turned to Lennon’s partner: “After that, there was this girl called Yoko. Yoko Ono, who showed up at my house one day. It was John Cage’s birthday and she said she wanted to get hold of a manuscript to give to John Cage of various composers, and she wanted one from me and John. So I said, ‘Well it’s OK by me. but you’ll have to go to John.’ And she did.
“After that I set up a couple of machines. We used to have these Brenell recording machines, and I set up a couple of them. And they stayed up all night and recorded Two Virgins on that. But you took the cover yourselves – nothing to do with me.”
McCartney ended the induction with a simple but poignant message: “John Lennon, you’ve made it. Tonight you are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” You can watch the full speech below as Paul McCartney inducts his friend John Lennon into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.