Paul and John were known as a successful song-writing duo when they were both part of The Beatles. While the band grew in fame and popularity, the four musicians – including George Harrison and Ringo Starr – struggled to cope with their new found stardom. Fractures soon began to appear between the bandmates, particularly over artistic differences. Both George and Ringo left the band briefly in 1968, but by 1969 John had had enough too – he announced he wanted a “divorce” from the Beatles. They officially disbanded in 1970 and a particularly bitter feud began between John and Paul as they embarked on their solo careers.
The two of them did eventually begin to reconcile years after the band’s split.
John was then tragically shot by a crazed fan on December 8, 1980 outside his New York apartment – his death shocked fans all around the world and left his former bandmates in disbelief.
Speaking on The Jonathan Ross Show in 2014 – 34 years afters friend’s death – Paul revealed how the first few days after receiving the hideous news were “horrific”.
The former Beatle said: “I was at home, and I got a phone call. It was early in the morning, I was in the country. I just got a phone call. I think it was like that for everyone.
“It was just so horrific that you couldn’t take it in – I couldn’t take it in.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney
McCartney and Lennon were a successful song-writing duo in Sixties
“Just for days, you just couldn’t think that [Lennon] was gone. So, yeah, it was a huge shock and then I had to tell Linda and the kids.
“It was very difficult. It was really difficult for everyone. That was like a really big shock, I think, in most people’s lives.
“A bit like Kennedy, there were certain moments like that.”
The former Beatle was referring to the dramatic events of President John F. Kennedy’s death, who was fatally shot in public in 1963.
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Lennon and his second wife Yoko Ono
The presenter Jonathan Ross then interjected: “It was a shock for us, and we didn’t know [John[.”
Paul continued: “Yeah for me it was just so sad that I was’t going to see him again and we weren’t going to hang out.
“And for me, the biggest thing was that the guy who took his life, the phrase kept coming to my head, ‘Jerk of all jerks.’
“It was just like, ‘This is just a jerk. This is not even a guy politically motivated. It’s just some total random thing, some guy going, ‘Hey.’ bop.”
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The group shot to fame in the Sixties
Paul did receive some criticism in the immediate aftermath of John’s death. He was interviewed by some reporters and filmed looking detached in London.
He told one of the journalists: “It’s terrible news. […] It’s a drag isn’t it?”
However, he later recounted how he was “probably more shattered than most people when John died”.
Paul explained in a 1981 interview: “I had plenty of personal grief, but I’m not very good at public grief.
McCartney is still producing music today
“Someone thrust a microphone into my face the day it happened, and said ‘what’s your comment?’
“All I could muster was: ‘It’s a drag’, and it was like I couldn’t say anything other than that.
“Nor could George, nor could Ringo. Nobody came out with anything it’s too dear to us, too much of a shock.”
The group would go on to honour John several times through their music. George dedicated his song ‘All Those Years Ago’ to John, while Paul’s ‘Here Today’ in 1982 was also written in his former bandmate’s memory.