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Sir Paul McCartney says post-Beatles feud with John Lennon was ‘pretty hurtful’

Sir Paul McCartney has described his post-Beatles feud with John Lennon as “pretty hurtful”, but denied that the band ever “hated” each other.

The Beatles split in 1970, after a decade of recording pop classics and touring the world, prompted by Sir Paul filing for the dissolution of their contractual partnership.

Speaking to British GQ, Sir Paul said it was natural that the band would argue because they were like a “family” and a “gang”.

He also appeared to blame The Beatles’ then-manager Allen Klein for the band’s demise.

Sir Paul said: “I suppose that when The Beatles broke up, perhaps there was a misconception that we all sort of hated each other.

“What I realise now is that, because it was a family, because it was a gang, families argue. And families have disputes. And some people want to do this and some people want to do that.

“So I think what came about after that… the only way for me to save The Beatles and Apple – and to release Get Back by Peter Jackson and which allowed us to release Anthology and all these great remasters of all the great Beatles records – was to sue the band.

“If I hadn’t done that, it would have all belonged to Allen Klein.

“The only way I was given to get us out of that was to do what I did.

“I said ‘Well, I’ll sue Allen Klein,’ and I was told I couldn’t because he wasn’t party to it. ‘You’ve got to sue the Beatles.’”

Allen Klein (PA)
Allen Klein (PA)

Sir Paul, who was due to headline Glastonbury’s 50 anniversary festival this summer, appears on the cover of the September issue of British GQ, photographed during lockdown by his daughter Mary.

He recalled hearing Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono playing down his involvement in the band’s later albums.

Sir Paul said: “I remember reading an article, an interview with Yoko, who, OK, she was a big John supporter, I get that, but in this article she goes, ‘Paul did nothing. All he ever did was book studio.’

“And I’m going, ‘Err? No…’ And then John does this famous song, How Do You Sleep?, and he’s going, ‘All you ever did was Yesterday…’

“And I’m going, ‘No, man.’

“But then you hear the stories from various angles and apparently people who were in the room when John was writing that, he was getting suggestions for the lyrics off Allen Klein.

“So, you see the atmosphere of ‘Let’s get Paul. Let’s nail him in a song…’ And those things were pretty hurtful.”

John Lennon (PA)
John Lennon (PA)

Sir Paul also dismissed rumours he could do a residency in Las Vegas like Sir Elton John or a show on Broadway like Bruce Springsteen.

He said: “Some people would like me to do it, as they say I’ve got plenty of stories and plenty of songs, but one of the things that’s holding me back at the moment is that Bruce has just done it, you know? It feels a bit like, ‘Oh, suddenly I’ll do it now then!’

“So I think that’s made me a little reluctant to follow in his footsteps or follow a trend.

“The idea is OK, but I think I’d just prefer to play with the band to a bigger audience, or even smaller – I don’t mind little clubs.

“I do a solo segment in the middle of my shows at the moment and to do a whole show like that, I’m not sure I fancy it. It might be a little bit like too much hard work.

“As for playing Vegas, that’s something I’ve been trying to avoid my whole life. Definitely nothing attracts me about the idea.

“Vegas is where you go to die, isn’t it? It’s the elephant’s graveyard.”

Read the full feature in the September issue of British GQ, available on Friday August 7.

Paul McCartney: John Lennon’s How Do You Sleep? was a hurtful aspect of Beatles break-up

Mary McCartney
Mary McCartney

Paul McCartney has revealed it is a misconception that The Beatles hated each other after they broke up – but that some of the in-fighting in the years after was “hurtful”.

Speaking to GQ Magazine, McCartney said he viewed the band as a family, and that “families argue”.

“And families have disputes,” he continued. “And some people want to do this and some people want to do that.”

McCartney said he decided that the “only way” for him to save the band and their label Apple, and to release Peter Jackson’s film Get Back and a number of Beatles remasters, was to “sue the band”.

(Mary McCartney)
(Mary McCartney)

“If I hadn’t done that, it would have all belonged to Allen Klein,” he said. “The only way I was given to get us out of that was to do what I did. I said ‘Well, I’ll sue Allen Klein,’ and I wasn’t told I couldn’t because he wasn’t party to it. ‘You’ve got to sue the Beatles.’”

McCartney went on to share that reading negative coverage about himself was “hurtful”.

“I remember reading an article, an interview with Yoko, who, OK, she was a big John supporter, I get that, but in this article she goes, ‘Paul did nothing. All he ever did was book studio,’” he said.

“And I’m going, ‘Err? No…’ And then John does this famous song, How Do You Sleep?, and he’s going, ‘All you ever did was Yesterday…’ And I’m going, ‘No, man.’”

(Mary McCartney)
(Mary McCartney)

He continued: “But then you hear the stories from various angles and apparently people who were in the room when John was writing that, he was getting suggestions for the lyrics off Allen Klein. So, you see the atmosphere of ‘Let’s get Paul. Let’s nail him in a song…’ And those things were pretty hurtful.”

McCartney also revealed ways in which fame had impacted his mental health, including his self-worth – which he bonded with none other than Lady Gaga over.

“I remember talking to Lady Gaga about something we were doing together… and she was saying ‘Well, there’s the self-loathing,’” he said.

“(She was) at the top of her game, massively popular and everything she was doing was a hit, but she was just talking about self loathing. And I’m saying, ‘I kind of know what you mean, but I’m not allowing that. I’m not having that. It’s not a road I want to go down.’”

John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1963 (Getty Images)
John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1963 (Getty Images)

He continued: “But you do get it. Any time you write a song, you’re going, ‘This is crap. This is terrible. Come on.’ So I kick myself and say, ‘Get it better. If it’s terrible, get it better.’

“And sometimes someone will come along, someone who you respect, and say, ‘No, that’s great. Don’t worry about that,’ and then show you a side to it that you didn’t notice and then you’ll go, ‘Oh yeah.’”

The Peter Jackson-directed documentary Get Back was initially dated for 2020 but has been pushed back to August 2021.

The documentary promises to counter the documentary Let It Be, which documented the band’s breakup, with footage of the four-piece bonding and enjoying each other’s company.

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