Paul McCartney Says The Beatles Weren’t Happy With John Lennon’s Relationship

by Josh Lanier
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(Photo by Brenda Chase/Newsmakers)

John Lennon met Yoko Ono in November 1966 at a London art gallery as she worked on her exhibit. There was an immediate connection, and they rarely left each other’s sides after that. That meant if The Beatles were in the studio, so was Yoko. Paul McCartney said the rest of the band didn’t like this new dynamic.

McCartney explained to NPR’s Fresh Air earlier this month that, looking back, he realized this was the beginning of the end for The Beatles. John Lennon had a new love in his life, and he wanted to follow that. The rest of the band had to accept it.

“At the time, it was very difficult, because we knew John was infatuated with Yoko, and having known John so long personally, I knew what he liked in a woman, and he liked strong women,” he told host Terry Gross. “… So when he met Yoko, I think he was very attracted to her, and I think it was a great thing for him. I think he needed it. It was time for him to break loose and do some new things. And I knew it was exciting for him. But at first, we were not too keen on it at all because it was like, ‘Who is this? And why is she sitting on my amp?’ …

“I came to realize that that is something you mustn’t stand in the way of — this guy is absolutely 100 percent in love with this woman — and you have to let it be.”

See The Beatles Final Days in New Documentary ‘Get Back’

Fans often paint Yoko Ono as the bogeyman in The Beatles‘ story. They say she was an interloper that poured poison in John Lennon’s ear and created the rift that ended the biggest band ever. But the reality is far more complicated.

Director Peter Jackson explores the band’s final days in his new, three-part documentary called Get Back. Yoko Ono is a constant presence in the documentary, but she’s a side character. She’s not an intrusive force sewing chaos amongst band members. She’s just sewing.

“I have no issues with Yoko in the sense… I can understand from George and Paul and Ringo’s point of view it’s, like, a little strange,” Jackson told 60 Minutes. “But the thing with Yoko, though, that they have to say, is that she doesn’t impose herself. She’s writing letters, she’s reading letters, she’s doing sewing, she’s doing painting, sometimes some artwork off to the side. She never has opinions about the stuff they’re doing. She never says, ‘Oh, I think the previous take was better than that one.’ She’s a very benign presence and she doesn’t interfere in the slightest.”

Paul McCartney blames the band’s split on John Lennon.

“I didn’t instigate the split. That was our Johnny,” McCartney told The Guardian. “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?”

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