Paul McCartney is (finally) setting the record straight about who broke up The Beatles. McCartney, who has historically been seen as the one who started the biggest split in rock ‘n’ roll history, told BBC Radio 4 that it was actually John Lennon.
“I didn’t instigate the split,” McCartney says in the interview, which has not yet aired. “That was our Johnny.”
“John walked into a room one day and said, ‘I am leaving the Beatles,'” he added, according to The Guardian. “Is that instigating the split, or not?”
McCartney told John Wilson that Lennon referred to his decision to exit the bad as “quite thrilling” and “rather like a divorce.”
That left him, Ringo Starr and George Harrison “to pick up the pieces,” in McCartney’s words.
“John was making a new life with Yoko,” McCartney 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.”
On the subject of Yoko Ono, who is the other person generally blamed for the band’s breakup, McCartney said: “They were a great couple. There was huge strength there.”
So why was McCartney seen as the villain here? He was the one who delivered the news of the Beatles breakup to the media, and the member who brought lawyers into the split. He also quite quickly settled into a solo career.
But McCartney said he was handcuffed by the group’s manager Allen Klein, who insisted the Fab Four remain quiet about their breakup while he wrapped up some business deals.
“So for a few months we had to pretend,” McCartney told BBC Radio 4. “It was weird because we all knew it was the end of the Beatles but we couldn’t just walk away.”
McCartney said he “let the cat out of the bag” because he “was fed up of hiding it.”
And in the interim, he “had to live with the blame” because “that was what people saw,” McCartney said. “All I could do is say, ‘No.'”