It’s been long disputed who actually broke up The Beatles, but Paul McCartney is setting the record straight: it wasn’t him.
While speaking on an upcoming episode of the BBC Radio 4 show This Cultural Life (as reported by The Guardian), McCartney tells host John Wilson, “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?””
He makes it clear that he wanted The Beatles to live on: “This was my band, this was my job, this was my life, so I wanted it to continue.” He also agrees that if Lennon hadn’t left, the band could’ve been around longer.
From what’s been reported on the band’s final days, after tension within the band—with John Lennon and Paul McCartney often clashing—Lennon left the band in 1969, reportedly saying he was breaking up the group. But Lennon kept this hidden until the next year. Meanwhile, McCartney worked on his first solo album, McCartney, and it’s told he called up Lennon saying he too was ready to leave the band.
The Beatles worked on their final album, Let It Be, but McCartney had also made his self-titled debut solo record—as had Ringo Starr. McCartney was set to come out ahead of Let It Be, and that proved to be an issue with The Beatles, so it was decided by the rest of the band that McCartney’s release was going to be moved to a later date. McCartney, seething over the band’s decision, gave a self-interview where he said he was done with The Beatles—declaring this before Lennon had give the public announcement of his departure from the group.
As for why McCartney decided to be the one to carry the burden of announcing the band’s end, he recalls to Wilson that “for a few months we had to pretend [the band was still going strong]. It was weird because we all knew it was the end of the Beatles but we couldn’t just walk away.” But since he felt so deeply unhappy in the situation, he “let the cat out of the bag” because he was “fed up of hiding it.”
If you want to hear more 50-something-year-old Beatles gossip, this episode of This Cultural Life arrives on October 23.