John Lennon and Paul McCartney were incredible songwriters and their joint powers created some of the best songs in the world. But they also had some pretty nasty things to say about each other, which they certainly didn’t shy from in their songs. But what happened between the pair of them, and did they patch things up?
John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote many of the Beatles biggest hits together.
Lennon and McCartney met at a local church fete in 1957, where Lennon was performing with a skiffle group called the Quarrymen.
After Macca impressed Lennon with his guitar stylings, he was invited to join the Quarrymen, and soon they brought along their friends to listen to their new song performances, inviting mates such as Nigel Walley and future Beatle George Harrison.
Speaking to Playboy in 1980, Lennon spoke fondly of his bond with McCartney and their writing.
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He said: “[Paul McCartney] provided a lightness, an optimism, while I would always go for the sadness, the discords, the bluesy notes.
“There was a period when I thought I didn’t write melodies, that Paul wrote those and I just wrote straight, shouting rock ‘n’ roll.
“But, of course, when I think of some of my own songs—‘In My Life’, or some of the early stuff, ‘This Boy’—I was writing melody with the best of them.”
The pair used this medium to communicate a great deal of their feelings, about the world and, it turns out, about each other.
When the Beatles broke up in 1970, though the band did not formerly split until 1974, all the band members released solo albums.
In 1971, McCartney released his second album, Ram, in the follow up to his debut solo album, and included his wife Linda McCartney in the songs.
In the song Too Many People, McCartney took some very clear digs at Lennon, especially with the lines “too many people preaching practices,” and “you took your lucky break and broke it in two.”
Speaking to Mojo in 2001, Macca said: “It’s nothing, it’s so harmless really, just little digs. But the first line is about ‘too many people preaching practices.’
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Paul McCartney and John Lennon
“I felt John and Yoko [Ono, Lennon’s wife] were telling everyone what to do. And I felt we didn’t need to be told what to do.
“The whole tenor of the Beatles thing had been, like, to each his own. Freedom. Suddenly it was ‘You should do this.’
“It was just a bit the wagging finger, and I was pissed off with it. So that one got to be a thing about them.”
Extra to this, McCartney also was claimed to have mocked Lennon and Ono in a full page advertisement in musical press, where they were shown wearing clown costumes and wrapped in a bag.
Lennon noticed this and wrote a response song, How Do You Sleep? on his 1971 album Imagine.
Yoko Ono and John Lennon
The song is clearly angry and scathing about McCartney, and included some not-so-kind lyrics.
Lennon spoke about the urban legend that Macca died and was replaced with a lookalike, singing: “So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise, you better see right through that mother’s eyes.
“Those freaks was right when they said you was dead, the one mistake you made was in your head.”
The singer also mocked McCartney’s songwriting, singing: “The only thing you done was yesterday, and since you’ve gone you’re just another day.”
He continued to mock McCartney by calling his work “muzak,” saying his fame will not last.
Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Lennon added: “A pretty face may last a year or two, but pretty soon they’ll see what you can do.
“The sound you make is muzak to my ears, you must have learned something in all those years.”
However, despite this bad blood which bubbled up, even leading to Lennon writing an angry letter to Macca and his wife Linda, it is believed the pair eventually patched things up in a surprise jam session in 1974.
It has been reported that while Lennon was separated from Ono, and living with his girlfriend May Pang, McCartney and his wife Linda surprised them at a recording studio in LA.
The pair started jamming, reportedly also with Steve Wonder present, and though it was only a step forward, by 1980, Lennon said of McCartney: “He’s like a brother. I love him.
Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman
“I would do anything for him . I think he would do anything for me.”
After Lennon’s death, there were reports of McCartney attempting to reverse the songwriting credits for a number of Beatles songs from Lennon-McCartney, to McCartney-Lennon.”
He entered into a dispute with Ono, who inherited Lennon’s wealth and certain musical rights, along with his son Sean.
However, in 2003, McCartney declared: “I’m happy with the way it is and always has been.
“Lennon and McCartney is still the rock ‘n’ roll trademark I’m proud to be a part of – in the order it has always been.”