By Benjamin Butterworth
Late Editor and Senior Reporter
Paul McCartney has said it was John Lennon, not him, who split The Beatles up.
The rocker, 79, put to bed a decades-old story that he had walked out on the band in 1970.
“I didn’t instigate the split. That was our Johnny,” he said. “I am not the person who instigated the split.”
It had long been understood that he announced his departure from the world’s biggest band in a press release for his debut solo album, McCartney.
But he told the BBC: “Oh no, no, no. John walked into a room one day and said I am leaving the Beatles. And he said, ‘It’s quite thrilling, it’s rather like a divorce.’ And then we were left to pick up the pieces.”
Asked if the group could have continued if Lennon had not called time, Sir Paul admitted: “It could have”.
He said: “The point of it really was that John was making a new life with Yoko and he wanted… to lie in bed for a week in Amsterdam for peace. You couldn’t argue with that. It was the most difficult period of my life.
“This was my band, this was my job, this was my life. I wanted it to continue. I thought we were doing some pretty good stuff – Abbey Road, Let It Be, not bad – and I thought we could continue.”
The group had known for months they were set to split, but had to keep the decision a secret from the world.
Their new manager, Allen Klein, was not a popular choice with Sir Paul and he went to the High Court to ensure Klein did not get access to their music.
“I had to fight and the only way I could fight was in suing the other Beatles, because they were going with Klein,” he told Wilson. And they thanked me for it years later. But I didn’t instigate the split.”
Sir Paul’s full interview will be aired on BBC Radio 4 series This Cultural Life on 23 October.