In a new interview Paul McCartney debunks the long-held belief that Yoko Ono, wife of John Lennon, was responsible for the breakup of the Beatles. McCartney not only absolves Ono from breaking up what might be considered the all-time greatest musical group, but also credits her with inspiring Lennon to try new things musically.
“She certainly didn’t break up the group,” McCartney told British journalist David Frost, according to the BBC. “I don’t think you can blame her for anything.”
McCartney’s interview will air on Al Jazeera English in November. The Observer reported that the conversation also saw McCartney ruminating on the death of his mother when he was just 14 and Linda McCartney’s death in 1998.
The interview is especially noteworthy because McCartney is notoriously fickle with the press, rarely sitting for an interview for longer than 15 minutes. Next month, Beatles fans will watch Sir Paul sit down with David Frost, famous in his own right in the United Kingdom for a career that spans back to the now famous Frost/Nixon interview series that came when the American president resigned after the Watergate scandal.
“When Yoko came along part of her attraction was her avant-garde side, her view of things,” McCartney, now 70, said. “She showed him another way to be, which was very attractive to him. So it was time for John to leave.”
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McCartney also said that Lennon wouldn’t have written “Imagine” without Ono’s influence and he would have “definitely” left the group regardless.
The rumors that Ono was responsible for the band’s break-up is a convenient scapegoat, but there was clear evidence the Beatles’ days were numbered. The Guardian reports McCartney admitted that Ono’s participation the group’s recording sessions was a point of frustration for him, a major point of contention among Beatles enthusiasts for decades.
The true divisive force in the Beatles’ latter years was new manager Allen Klein, who replaced the beloved Brian Epstein when he died in 1967. Klein came into the picture at a time when the Beatles egos were inflating as fast as their creative differences.
“I was fighting with the other three guys who’d been my lifelong soul buddies,” McCartney said. “I said I wanted to fight Klein.”
The first Beatle to try to walk away was George Harrison in 1968, only to be convinced to return by his band mates. In the time that followed before Lennon’s departure the Beatles released “Abbey Road,” “Let It Be,” and “The White Album,” three masterful yet admittedly fractured pieces of music.