Paul McCartney Makes A Startling Confession About John Lennon

The Beatles are one of the most successful and popular bands of all time, selling 1.6 billion singles in the United States and 600 million albums worldwide. From their start in 1960, Beatles fans have been unlike any other fanbase. The foursome generated a level of hysteria that even ranks above the frenzy that Elvis Presley’s gyrating hips caused.

For decades, Beatles fans have also speculated about conversations between band members carried on behind closed doors. Even whispers of Beatles conspiracy theories have grown so loud that they’re hard to dismiss. Carrying on in the spotlight since the Beatles’ break-up, Paul McCartney has recently made an attempt to put one of the rumors between him and John Lennon to rest. But did his confession help or hurt fans?

In The Beginning, The Beatles Didn’t Have A Leader

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Marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

When John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison (Ringo Starr joined later) formed the Beatles in Liverpool in 1960, the band didn’t have an official leader. Each of the talented musicians made their creative contribution to the group and all of them took their shot at singing the lead vocals on their tracks.

Naturally, the songs that became hits were those that Lennon and McCartney took the lead on. Still, the group wasn’t aiming to change the dynamic between the equal band members.

Paul McCartney And John Lennon Had The Best Chemistry

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Jeff Hochberg/Getty Images
Jeff Hochberg/Getty Images

From the start, it was clear that Paul McCartney and John Lennon had undeniable musical chemistry together. Their instrumental synchronicity and harmony of their voices paired together proved to be magical.

Beyond that, McCartney and Lennon discovered that when they combined their talents on the creative end, they were able to co-write incredible songs that turned into hits. Together, they wrote 193 songs, including “Help!”, “Yesterday”, “Come Together”, and “I’ve Got A Feeling”.

They Met In Their Hometown Of Liverpool

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Val Wilmer/Redferns
Val Wilmer/Redferns

Both Paul McCartney and John Lennon are from Liverpool, an industrial city in England that has a tough reputation. One day in 1957 Lennon was playing his guitar, performing at a park for a church picnic. McCartney heard his sound and walked over.

They started talking, and McCartney mentioned that he played the guitar and sang too. He ended up joining Lennon’s band, The Quarrymen. Lennon and McCartney became fast friends and bandmates. Both were also keenly aware of the other’s talent.

The Future Looked Bright

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Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images
Mark and Colleen Hayward/Getty Images

George Harrison joined the band and they changed their name to the Beatles. They also recruited Ringo to play the drums. Once the four of them were together, the band’s sound improved and a buzz began to form around them.

Record companies admitted they were good but did the four boys have lasting potential? Many of the executives didn’t think so at the time. Of course, they were probably kicking themselves later, for passing up a chance to sign the Beatles.

Their Fan Base Grew Exponentially

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William Lovelace/Getty Images
William Lovelace/Getty Images

In 1963, the band recorded ten songs all in the same day for their debut LP, Please Please Me. The single “Please Please Me” skyrocketed in popularity and hit number one on every chart in the UK except one.

By 1964, the Beatles were a sensation. Their fans were enthralled with the four young men who became nationally-recognized stars nearly overnight. The media and fans couldn’t get enough of their playful attitude that was unlike any rock band at the time.

They Were Together All The Time

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Central Press/Getty Images
Central Press/Getty Images

John, Paul, George, and Ringo could hardly believe their newfound fame. Soon they were making the front page of the paper and being asked for autographs at every stop. The band became extremely busy and the four bandmates were together around the clock.

From the time they woke up until the time they went to sleep, the Beatles did everything together. They traveled like brothers, and soaked up every minute of the incredible experience.

How Long Could It Last?

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Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Their sound, their look, everything about the band seemed to be in perfect harmony. In the mid-to-late ’60s, fans and critics could hear the developments in their music as they ventured into more complex songs and their appearances became less uniform.

At this point, they had spent years together and the bandmates knew everything about one another. If they could maintain their tight-knit bond and keep creating magic, there would be no stopping the Beatles.

John Lennon Had Other Interests

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Chris Walter/Getty Images
Chris Walter/Getty Images

As each of the band members matured and further grew into their own identities, the band’s tight-knit spirit began to fray. McCartney began stepping forward as a leader of the band which rubbed Lennon the wrong way.

Lennon also began to lend one ear to other things outside of the band and their music. Noticeably, he looked to escape from the fandom of Beatlemania and turned to substances and his new love, Yoko Ono.

The Truth About Yoko Ono’s Role

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Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Yoko Ono has a bad reputation as the woman who broke up the Beatles. But to what extent is that label true? As it turns out, Lennon was becoming increasingly frustrated being a Beatle, and rather than work it out with his band members, he put up walls and refused to talk to McCartney or the others.

While Lennon sorted out his feelings and beliefs, Yoko Ono was the one who communicated what she could back to the band. McCartney was especially surprised and hurt by Lennon’s isolating behavior.

Tensions Were Escalating

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George Stroud/Express/Getty Images
George Stroud/Express/Getty Images

In the late ’60s, it was clear that Lennon was separating himself from the group. When he did meet the band at the recording studio, Yoko Ono was by his side and tensions were high. In the studio, Lennon and McCartney were at each others’ throats, often engaging in yelling matches.

Growing increasingly frustrated with McCartney and Lennon’s feud, Harrison and Ringo would often storm out of the studio, knowing the band wouldn’t be able to get any work done. In 1969, Lennon quietly left the Beatles.

Paul Made A Brash Announcement

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Brad Elterman/FilmMagic
Brad Elterman/FilmMagic

Lennon told the band that he wanted to leave the Beatles and for a while, the only people who knew about his departure were the ones in the room. Bitter and angry, McCartney wasn’t going to let things end smoothly.

Without any warning, McCartney made a brash public announcement that the Beatles had broken up. Almost in the same breath, he declared that he was venturing off on a solo career, and served his former bandmates with a lawsuit that made it clear that none of them would financially benefit from his own personal earnings.

McCartney And Lennon Had A Bone To Pick

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Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Now with their dirty laundry on display for the world to see, McCartney and Lennon’s feud could no longer be denied. Things got ugly in the early ’70s as the two top musicians fired insults back and forth as the media played devil’s advocate.

Individually as solo artists, McCartney and Lennon released singles that were spiked with insults aimed at the other. In his song “Too Many People”, McCartney took aim at Lennon with the lyrics, “You took your lucky break and broke it in two.” To which Lennon replied, “The only thing you done was yesterday.”

It Seemed As Though They Never Made Amends

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Cummings Archives/Redferns
Cummings Archives/Redferns

Of course, Beatles fans were devastated to watch two of their favorite artists, who were once as close as brothers, tear each other apart. The chances of McCartney and Lennon making amends and music again continued dwindling with each nasty comment that made the news.

It seemed as though the two would stay mad forever. Then on December 8, 1980, a crowd gathered outside of Lennon’s apartment in New York City as he readied to leave for the recording studio with Yoko. Lennon graciously stopped and autographed a copy of Lennon and Yoko’s album Double Fantasy for a fan on the way into his car.

Lennon Lost His Life

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Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

After his recording session at Record Plant, Yoko and Lennon returned to their Manhattan apartment. After exiting their limo, Lennon was shot four times in the back at close range just as he reached the threshold of The Dakota apartment building. It was the same man who asked him to autograph the album earlier.

Ten minutes later, Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at Roosevelt Hospital. One of the most famous musicians of the 60s was dead at 40-years-old.

McCartney’s Reaction Wasn’t What People Expected

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Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Hours after Lennon’s death, the media tracked down McCartney to get his reaction of the untimely death of his former bandmate and dear friend. When the British press found him and asked for comment, McCartney appeared unemotional.

“It’s a drag, isn’t?” he remarked. As if someone had asked him about the weather. McCartney’s second solo LP was released the same year and peaked at number one on the UK charts.

McCartney Felt Like “The Villian”

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Mike Marsland/WireImage
Mike Marsland/WireImage

After publishing his response to the news of Lennon’s death, McCartney was upset with the British media, accusing them of portraying him as “the villain” in the story of Lennon’s death. Sure, they no longer worked together, and McCartney didn’t cry when addressing the cameras, but he wasn’t a terrible person.

Decades later in an interview with Rolling Stone, McCartney said when he heard the news, “It was early in the morning… I couldn’t take it in.”

The Feud Still Haunts McCartney

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The Late Show/CBS
The Late Show/CBS

No matter how many fans still loved McCartney and supported his solo career, the feud between him and Lennon continued to haunt him for decades. Many believed that McCartney still had bad feelings for Lennon, and after his death, and McCartney didn’t know how to prove them wrong.

Then in 2019, he appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It was nearly 40 years after Lennon’s death. Colbert pulled out some old photos of the Beatles from the ’60s. Then he showed one of McCartney and Lennon, writing lyrics together.

He Gets Emotional About Their Early Days

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Val Wilmer/Redferns
Val Wilmer/Redferns

Colbert reached behind his desk and pulled out a photo of McCartney and Lennon sitting closely, writing song lyrics together. As soon as he caught a glance of the photo, McCartney began getting emotional. “That’s a really lovely picture of the two writers together,” Colbert says. “Do you remember this moment?”

As McCartney replies, his voice cracks and he confesses his struggle with being called the villain in the situation. “That photo, when I saw that. I was like, ‘Yes, we were friends.’ And it’s a beautiful photo for me because it reminds me of us working together. And how cool it was.”

McCartney Reveals He And Lennon Made Up Before His Death

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Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Finally, taking comfort in knowing that not everyone saw him as “the villain,” McCartney revealed that he and Lennon mended their friendship before his passing. McCartney said that they made up, and “I’m so glad, because it would have been the worst thing in the world to have this great relationship that then soured and he gets killed, so there was some solace in the fact that we got back together.”

It was more than just a quick phone call, too. McCartney says that in the late ’70s, “We were good friends,” and complimented each others’ work. They even jammed together.

They Both Admitted There Were Ups And Downs

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Cummings Archives/Redferns
Cummings Archives/Redferns

As for the way the band broke up? McCartney said, “The story about the break-up, it’s true. But it’s not the main bit. The main bit was the affection.”

In his last interview, Lennon said of his relationship with McCartney, “He’s like a brother. I love him. Families– we certainly have our ups and downs and our quarrels. But at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, I would do anything for him, and I think he would do anything for me.”

A Detriot Disc Jockey Started The Rumor

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John Downing/Getty Images
John Downing/Getty Images

In 1969, a disc jockey in Detroit named Russ Gibb aired a phone call with an anonymous person who called into the station that night. The caller insisted that the real Paul McCartney had died years earlier, and he had been replaced with someone who looks like him.

Although he didn’t believe what the caller was saying, Gibb entertained his theory and let him talk on the program. Little did he know that the story would be picked up.

The Rumor About McCartney’s Death In 1966

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Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns
Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns

As it turned out, there were rumors in place about Paul McCartney’s death before the caller took the air. Back when the Beatles stopped touring and members of the band began changing their look, fans had their suspicions that Paul wasn’t who he said he was.

After news of Russ Gibb’s radio interview spread, tabloids began running stories that “Paul is Dead” with speculation as to who decided to cover up his death and why.

Allegedly, Brian Epstein Decided To Find A Double

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Waters/Mirrorpix/Getty Images
Waters/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Rumor had it that in 1966, McCartney was driving too fast one night on an icy winding road when he lost control of the vehicle. The car then hit a pole, instantly killing McCartney. As the story goes, his band members and managers found out about the accident before the media.

Allegedly, when manager Brian Epstein heard about the accident, he was proclaimed that it would ruin the Beatles, and his death had to be covered up. The show must go on. Rumor has it Epstein suggested they find a look-alike to play McCartney and cover up the death.

The Rumor Says The Band Was Against It

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Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

So supposedly, Brian Epstein made the suggestion that they find a look-alike McCartney and the Beatles carry on like nothing happened. But what about the other band members? The rumor continued that Lennon, Harrison, and Ringo begrudgingly went along with the plan, and acted their part.

That although they were riddled with guilt with McCartney’s passing, there was so much pressure put on them by the record label that they had to cover it up and continue on. However, they tried to tell their fans the truth through their music.

Conspiracy Theorists Believe In A Few Different Clues

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Photo by Max Scheler – K & K/Redferns
Photo by Max Scheler – K & K/Redferns

The conspiracy theorists alleged that McCartney passed away and his death was covered up. The band wanted to tell the world, but they were silenced. So they decided to give hints of the truth through their music.

Theorists go on to say that mention of “Billy Shears” and the line, “here’s another clue for you all/the walrus was Paul” are giveaways that Paul is dead. Putting a photo of young and older Paul side-by-wide, theorists pointed to his facial hair and changing haircuts as proof that he’s been replaced.

Have You Played “I’m So Tired” Backwards?

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David Redfern/Redferns
David Redfern/Redferns

Instead of laying the conspiracy theories to rest, the Beatles did the opposite. The group acknowledged that they oftentimes work hints and secret messages into their music. And one of their admissions hit the nail on the head when it came to the theory that Paul is dead.

The group admitted that when played backward, the song “I’m So Tired” repeats, “Paul is a dead man. Miss him, miss him!”

The Cover Of Abbey Road Looks Like A Funeral Procession

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Apple Records/Abbey Road
Apple Records/Abbey Road

Some conspiracy theorists believe that the album cover of Abbey Road is another acknowledgment that Paul is dead. Theorists say that John Lennon in the front is wearing a white outfit, representing a minister. Following him is Ringo, wearing the black suit of an undertaker.

Behind Ringo is Paul McCartney, wearing no shoes and holding a cigarette, signifying his death. And finally, George Harrison follows wearing all denim, the outfit of a common gravedigger.

Supposedly, He Was At His Farm In Scotland

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Evening Standard/Getty Images
Evening Standard/Getty Images

Then, with the break up of the Beatles in 1970, McCartney disappeared from the public eye. Conspiracy theorists proclaimed that this further proved that Paul was dead. As soon as the Beatles disbanded, he was gone!

Yet, interviews and photos show that he had walked away from the public eye for some quiet time with his wife Linda on their farm in Scotland. A few photos posing with farm animals didn’t stop the rumors, however.

Some People Still Think This McCartney Is An Imposter

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Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Desert Trip
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Desert Trip

Now 78 years old with several solo albums and numerous live performances and tours behind him, some conspiracy theorists still believe that isn’t the original Paul McCartney. Whether they point to his hair, voice, or mannerisms, some just don’t want to believe that Paul never died.

If true, it could be the best-kept secret (or not so secret) in rock and rock history. So how does McCartney feel about rumors of being an imposter?

He Denies Being A Double, But Admits To The Car Wreck

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Rob Verhorst/Redferns
Rob Verhorst/Redferns

For the most part, McCartney laughs off mention of the hoax– at least his name is still spoken! However, once again, fuel is added to the fire as McCartney admits that he was in an accident that didn’t make major news.

McCartney admitted that while being a part of the Beatles, he fell off his moped in an accident and chipped his tooth. He was also left with a scar on his upper lip, which led to his decision to grow a mustache soon after.