Although the Beatles broke up over 50 years ago, the Fab Four's decision to go their four separate ways remains one of the most debated topics in rock history. In a new interview this weekend, Paul McCartney weighed in on the situation again, clarifying that it was John Lennon who instigated the break-up. Although Lennon privately told McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr he planned to leave the group in September 1969, the general public didn't know it was all over until McCartney announced he was no longer recording with the band in April 1970.
"I didn't instigate the split. That was our Johnny," McCartney said in a new interview with John Wilson for BBC Radio 4's This Cultural Life series, reports The Guardian. He called the split the "most difficult period of my life," believing they were still recording "pretty good stuff" in the end. McCartney, 79, noted that he wanted the group to go on. "This was my band, this was my job, this was my life, so I wanted it to continue," he told Wilson.
If Lennon didn't quit, McCartney believes the group would have continued working together. "The point of it really was that John was making a new life with Yoko [Ono]," McCartney recalled. "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."
When The Beatles' break-up was announced in 1970, McCartney shouldered the blame because of several decisions he made that played out in public. He wanted lawyers to settle legal disputes and was the member who told a journalist the Beatles no longer existed. McCartney also refused to release his first solo album, McCartney, which was released a month before Let It Be, the final released Beatles album. To this day, McCartney struggles with the burden of being blamed for the Beatles' break-up. "I had to live with that because that was what people saw. All I could do is say, no," he said.
In the end, the Beatles were managed by Allen Klein, who didn't want them to talk about the split publicly. After Lennon told them about his plans, they had to keep quiet. "So for a few months we had to pretend," McCartney explained. "It was weird because we all knew it was the end of the Beatles but we couldn't just walk away." McCartney grew frustrated and just "let the cat out of the bag," he said. McCartney thought the Beatles' break-up was inevitable. 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," he said. Still, McCartney does not blame Ono. "They were a great couple. There was huge strength there," he said.
The new interview was recorded as McCartney prepares for the release of Lyrics, a collection of lyrics from every era of his career. The book will be released on Nov. 2 in the U.S. The Beatles are also releasing an expanded edition of Let It Be on Oct. 15. Peter Jackson's three-part The Beatles: Get Back, which chronicles the making of Let It Be, will be released on Disney+ on Nov. 25, 26, and 27.