Most people thought I was due to marry Jane Asher — I rather thought
I was too. But I just kept remembering Linda, this nice blonde American
girl. I twisted her arm and finally she agreed to marry me. Linda was
ahraid it wouldn 't work out. And I kept telling her, "Aw come on, it will
be fine." I'm still telling her that.
— Paul McCartney, 1985 —
I consider myself a peasant. I guess I rebelled against the privilege I
was born into. To tell you the truth, I never had a friend in my life until I
moved to Arizona, except one person. I always got along very nicely
with animals. My kids are my best friends.
— Linda McCartney, 1985 —
HANDS ACROSS THE WATER
Paul and Linda
If Linda Eastman started out as just another silver-spoon groupie from Westchester County, she ended up an integral and important part of Paul McCartney's lifelong search for security and love. Without her, one suspects, he would never have done so well for so long, or been quite as able to bear up under the incredible pressure of being the popular icon he has become.
As Linda McCartney, this eldest child of a successful show business attorney and a wealthy Cleveland heiress, she is to-day a mature, creative, socially concerned woman with no illusions about either her complicated place in pop history or her role as a responsible, caring citizen of Spaceship Earth.
Unlike the snaky, condescending Yoko Ono, these days Linda is generally exceptionally kind and polite and routinely affords even the most spaced-out McCartney freaks a friendly smile, a quick word, and a moment or two of reflected glory for those poor, fragile creatures so inextricably tied up in someone else's fabulous life.
On the family farm near Peasmarsh, Sussex, the McCartneys' down-to-earth rural residence is very much her domain. Aggressive fans intent on an afternoon of up-close McCartney-watching inevitably have to get through her first, a maneuver worthy of only the most skilled and clever rock 'n' roll commandoes. Once, in 1985, when Julia Baird was trying to get in touch with Paul after nearly a thirty-year gap and asked one of the McCartneys' neighbors to please amble over and give him a message, Linda came to the door literally screaming at the poor woman. "I don't care who wants him!" she cried. "How dare you come here uninvited for any reason. Get out, now!" Later, the totally mortified young mum insisted to Julia that the whole time she "felt" Paul was cowering just inside the only partially opened front door.
On another occasion, however, a couple of diehard English fans experienced just the reverse, when, after they turned up at the former Beatle's front gate, Linda came barreling out, motioning them to hurry up and get into her car.
"It's a good thing for you Paul's gone out for a bit," she told the two boys. "He gets really upset about people hanging around down here. It's not so bad in London; he's used to it. But this is our home. Can you understand that?"
Driving the unwelcome admirers directly to the train station in nearby Rye, the pretty, gently aging McCartney softened up as the two disappointed and embarrassed teens collected together the pile of albums and 45's they had lugged down from London in the hopes of getting signed. "Listen, guys," she said. "I know Paul appreciates the fact that so many people love him. He's very grateful to his fans; you know that. It's just that we really value our privacy, what little we have. So anyway ... I guess we'll see you up in London sometime, okay?"
Born Linda Louise Eastman on September 24, 1941, Paul's photographer wife was raised against the affluent backdrop of Scarsdale, New York and the family's other opulent homes in East Hampton and Manhattan. Her father Lee, was a Harvard graduate who officially changed his name from Epstein to Eastman following the completion of his decidedly upper-crust education. "My family was very close," Linda confided to Britain's Women's Own magazine in the early seventies. "My father's parents — they're dead now — were Russian immigrants, very warm, down-to-earth, working-class people. My dad just happened to be born intelligent and worked his way through Harvard Law School." One of four children (three girls and a boy), Linda was always especially close to her mother, formerly Louise Linder, daughter of the founder and CEO of the famous Linder department store chain.
With her father working closely with so many of the big-name artists of the day, young Linda often came down to dinner to find the likes of such celebrities as Hopalong Cassidy, Hoagy Carmichael, Howard Arlen, Tommy Dorsey, and even abstract artist Robert Rauschenberg tucking into one of her mother's sumptuous gourmet meals. In 1947, while still only six years old, she had the honor of being the inspiration behind the Jack Lawrence tune, "Linda," the copyright of which he had traded to Mr. Eastman in exchange for some legal work. First recorded by Buddy Clark, the catchy, upbeat melody was turned into a certified American classic in 1963 by surf music stars Jan and Dean.
Linda admits to having been perpetually restless as a child, and curious about life outside the perimeters of her parents' isolated world of prestige and wealth, remembering that she often felt like "the black sheep" of her large, loving family. "I was forced to learn piano," she complained in an interview several years ago. "And like a lot of children forced to do something against their will, I rebelled against that, learnt nothing — and finally got my way."
Although Linda wasn't really keen to take the time to try to learn a musical instrument that is not to say she wasn't interested in music. Like most red-blooded American teens in the late fifties, Linda felt a close covenant with both the music and the artists of that pop-cultural renaissance. "I was into R&B in high school," she is quoted in her husband's slick 1990 world tour program.
At home in Scarsdale, New York — which was out in the countryside then, although it's a suburb now — I listened to the Alan Freed rock 'n' roll show on the radio every night of the week, 7 to 10. He never played a bad record. The Dells, The Doves, The Moonglows, I was into them all. I wasn't in a band but me and some of the girls used to sing doo wop together for fun up in our school's Music Tower.
Graduating from Scarsdale High School and then moving on to both the exclusive Sarah Lawrence and then Princeton, studying history and art, the young woman's life was suddenly shattered when her beloved mother was killed in a plane crash.
Shortly after the tragedy, Linda met and married fellow student Melvin See, an aspiring geophysicist, and together they moved to Colorado to continue their studies. Early in 1963 Linda became pregnant and gave birth to their only child together, Heather, on December 31. The couple were incompatible, however, and when, after his graduation, Melvin wanted them to move to Africa so that he could undertake some field work, Linda informed him that there was little point in continuing the relationship and that she wanted a divorce. Altogether, the marriage lasted less than a year.
Moving on to Arizona with little Heather, Linda, at odds about what to do next, enrolled in a photography course given by wheelchair-bound instructor Hazel Archer at the Tucson Art Center. It was to be the beginning of a whole new way of viewing the world for the young mother, and her first halting steps towards an eventful career. "When my marriage broke up, I decided to get away from everything I had ever known before," Linda has recalled. "I moved down to Tucson, staying with friends, studying photography at a local college, and spending much of my time riding on the edge of the desert... For the first time I started going round with artists, actors and writers, and all that helped me to discover who I am. It changed my life, meeting so many interesting, intelligent people."
Eventually moving back home to New York, Linda landed a job as a receptionist at the upmarket Town & Country magazine, where in 1966 she intercepted an invitation to a party for the Rolling Stones aboard a yacht on the Hudson. Grabbing her trusty Pentax, she hopped into a cab and the rest, as they say, is rock 'n' roll history.... "I stood there on the quay with my long blonde hair and, I guess, a mini-skirt," Linda remembers.
I must have caught the band's eye because a woman came down the gangway and said I was the only photographer they would allow on board. I got well into it, using black and white. Then back on the quay all the journalists came up and gave me their cards because they needed the pictures. I got them back from the lab and, lo!, they were wonderful. After that I started to get a lot of work with bands like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Lovin' Spoonful, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and The Beatles. One reason is, I was the cheapest photographer in town! Give me a credit and pay for the film and I'd do it!
Linda's next big score was being named informal house photographer at the famous Fillmore East. There she met and mixed with virtually every big-name group of the day, establishing herself as one of rock's hippest and prettiest photographers. She was linked romantically with such luminaries as Steve Winwood, Tim Buckley, Warren Beatty, Eric Burdon, Stephen Stills, Mike Bloomfield, and Al Kooper. According to Linda, the first time she met her future husband was backstage at Shea Stadium in 1966: "It was John who interested me at the start," she recalls. "He was my Beatle hero. But when I met him the fascination faded fast and I found it was Paul I liked."
At the invitation of author J. Marks she flew to London in the hope of photographing some big-name groups for his intended book, Rock and Other Four-Letter Words. In a meeting with Island Record publicists a few days later, Linda was granted a private session with the supergroup Traffic, one of the few times the camera-shy musicians acquiesced to such a request. Following the session, Linda decided to hang out for a few days visiting some clubs and generally soaking up the high-energy atmosphere of swinging London, circa 1967.
One evening, she accepted an invitation from ex-Animals bassist Chas Chandler to accompany him down to the Bag 0' Nails, a celebrated superstar watering hole on Kingley Street. Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames were playing that night, a particularly popular crowd pleaser which brought out more than the usual number of London's glitterati. Paul McCartney too, had dropped by for the show, little suspecting that within hours he would meet his future bride: "Paul was at a table almost next to us. You know it's the old story. A little flash from him, a little flash from me. Yeah, love at first sight. It was something at first sight, I don't know if it was love."
For the flirtatious McCartney, eyeing yet another pretty young lady at yet another crowded club was an almost-nightly occurrence, and certainly nothing to get too excited about. Still, jaded as he might have been to his almost uncontrollable attraction to the opposite sex, this time it was somehow different. "We were both with other friends," says Paul. "I saw this blonde across the room and I fancied her. So when she passed my table, I said something stupid like, 'Hello, how are you? Let me take you away from all this.' Linda happened to know one of the friends I was with. So after chatting for a bit, we left and went to some other club."
The "other" club was the Speakeasy, perhaps the quintessential hippie gentry hideaway, high over Leicester Square in the heart of Central London. Once there, Linda found herself rubbing elbows with such royal rockers as Pete Townshend, Brian Jones, Keith Moon, Eric Clapton, and Roger Daltrey. And to think that the single greatest catch of all, Beatle Paul was her date! Although she went home alone that night, for super-groupie Linda, it was a memorable night's work.
The next afternoon, Linda rang NEMS and asked Peter Brown if she might come by and show him her portfolio in the hope of winning a spot as a photographer at the upcoming Sgt. Pepper press party to be held at Brian Epstein's ultra-fashionable Chapel Street townhouse in Belgravia. Ever the gentleman, Brown agreed and, frankly, very much liked what he saw. Eastman's pictures had, by this time, developed a basic integrity and simplicity that belied her sometimes overly aggressive, all-too-American veneer. Upon leaving, Linda presented peter with a large blow-up of Brian Jones as a gift. Brown had a little surprise for her as well. "So I'll see you at Brian's then in a couple of days," he mentioned casually as she was zipping up her portfolio. "And don't forget your camera."
Here at last, was Linda's big chance. Not quite the private, exclusive session she had hoped for, but a prestigious gig all the same. Besides, she knew that this was the kind of plum assignment that would inevitably lead to a lot of other work. Important work. Work that could further her reputation as an up-and-coming artist.
In a 1990 interview, Barrie Wentzell, photographer-in-residence from 1965 to 1975 tor Melody Maker, Britain's most prestigious and authoritative rock magazine of that era, remembers that despite all the hoopla, he and his colleagues were granted only a scant half hour in which to get their precious shots. Derek Taylor, he says, was directing the carefully orchestrated proceedings, making sure that each of the twenty or so Fleet Street shooters got a fair shake at zeroing in on the Beatles, who were reportedly in quite a jolly mood throughout the party.
Peter Brown remembers the grand occasion in his 1983 Work, The Love You Make:
The girl that turned up at Chapel Street that May nineteenth wasn't the same sloppily dressed girl I had seen in my office a few days before.... She wore impeccably applied makeup, including long, fluttering false eyelashes. ... It wasn't long before she zeroed in on Paul. ... He watched as Linda sank to her knees in front of his chair and began snapping photos of him. Although she tried to manage otherwise, she left with all the other photographers.
Later, Linda tried unsuccessfully to phone Paul at a private number given to her by one of Fleet Street's finest. Unfortunately, the number actually rang through to the home of Harry Pinster, financial adviser to Apple Corp., who, for what Brown calls "security reasons," had all of the Beatles' home phones billed to his account. Several times the diplomatic Pinster patiently explained to Linda that there was no Mr. McCartney at that exchange, but the determined Ms Eastman would typically not take no for an answer. In the end, the disgruntled executive had to unplug his telephone. A few days later, Linda Eastman packed up her gear and reluctantly caught an early morning flight back to Manhattan.
Friends say that from the moment she arrived home the lovesick Linda did little more than hang around her apartment, pining for McCartney. Lilian Roxon, a New York writer and friend of Eastman's, somehow ran across a photo of Linda and Paul taken at the Pepper press launch and posted it to her as a keepsake. Linda responded by blowing it up to half the size of a roadside billboard and then plastering it proudly across her livingroom wall. Linda Eastman was out to get her man. Back in London bachelor Paul's carefree days were clearly numbered.
The next great installment of this transatlantic cat-and-mouse saga came almost exactly one year later when John and Paul flew to America to formally announce the formation of the Beatle's Apple Corp., and thus, the rock band's gallant Utopian struggle for what Lennon termed "Western communism." Suffice to say, there was still apparently quite a lot of high-potency hemp in the air.
Talking her way into the strictly invitation-only press conference on May 15,1968, Linda surreptitiously slipped Paul her phone number, which McCartney dutifully rang later that afternoon with plans for them to meet that evening after the two Beatles had finished taping an appearance on the popular Tonight Show, with guest host Joe Garagiola. Paranoid to have the preppy-looking blonde meet him at his suite at the opulent St. Regis Hotel for fear one of the ubiquitous paparazzi might photograph them together, thereby alerting Jane of his philandering, McCartney "borrowed" Beatle associate Nat Weiss' flat where the two secret lovers happily hid out together for the next few days. So intertwined were they that Linda even accompanied John and Paul to the airport upon their departure from New York so that she and McCartney could savor every last possible second they could have together.
Returning home to St. John's Wood, McCartney sat pensively on the cold, stone steps leading into his weedy and tangled back garden and found his thoughts returning to America. That he genuinely loved and cared for Jane was never in question, but there was something truly wonderful about Linda, a sort of indefinable wildness that he found compelling, forbidden, and very, very sexy. Within days a courier arrived at the tall iron gate with a package from New York. Inside was a poster-size blowup of Paul with his arms tangled around Linda's little four-year-old daughter. That was another plus about Linda versus Jane. Not only would the solitary Beatle get a girlfriend, he would inherit a ready-made family as well.
Several weeks later, towards the end of June, Paul was once again back in the U.S., this time as key speaker at Capitol Records' annual convention in L.A., a decidedly unBeatlesque endeavor that only PR man Paul would even consider. Tony Bramwell remembers the highly unlikely event in the NEMS-approved Beatles Monthly Book:
Other than the heads of Capitol, not a soul knew a Beatle was coming to Los Angeles.... Eventually, as the convention drew to a close, came the special announcement from the stage and Paul was brought on.... Everyone went berserk and gave him a fine welcome. And the Apple promotional film was screened showing the Beatles at work in the Apple offices, in the recording studio and so forth.... On Saturday night we went to the home of Capitol's president for cocktails and then to the record company's barbecue in the open air beside Century Plaza fountains.
This obviously G-rated version of the trip differs significantly from rumors that, holed up with him in his cozy bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel was a black Hollywood superhooker, as well as an unnamed white young actress he was also squiring.
On Sunday, June 22, the relentless Linda had at last tracked down her elusive lover and rang up, announcing that she was at that moment not five hundred yards away, in the lobby of the posh hotel. "Come on over, then," said Paul. The fact that he currently had two only partially clad young women in the room apparently never for a moment phased him. "It'll be great to see you."
After Linda arrived, McCartney quietly got up and knocked at the bedroom door, offhandedly instructing his two lady friends to get dressed and hit the road. Ten minutes later, they both stormed out in tears as Paul and Linda sat chatting on the overstuffed leather sofa in the lounge of the luxury hotel cottage.
After a hot romantic night and a fine day of sailing on Warner Brothers executive John Calley's yacht the next day, Paul, Linda, Ivan Vaughan, and Apple label director Ron Kass caught a late-afternoon flight to New York and on the way almost landed themselves in deep trouble with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Peter Brown recalls the near catastrophe:
Marijuana, it turned out, was one of Linda's favorite vices. Ron Kass became aware of this while the four of them were waiting in the VIP Ambassador Lounge at Los Angeles International Airport. It was announced over the public address system that because of a bomb threat all carry-on luggage would have to be searched.
Kass immediately turned to Paul and said, "Do you have anything in your bag that would embarrass us?" Paul shook his head. Then Kass turned to Linda Eastman. She seemed surprisingly complacent as she informed him that she had "a couple of kilos" in a Gucci bag sitting at her feet.
Infuriated at Eastman's blase attitude about something so potentially damaging to someone she claimed to care about, Kass quickly kicked the damning evidence under a row of chairs and then led the tiny entourage through the FBI search. Adding insult to injury, after the awkward inquisition, Linda somehow managed to slip back through the dragnet and scarf up her precious reefer, sauntering casually on board the plane as if she were carrying baked goods for the church bazaar.
Upon McCartney's return to London, Linda attempted to maintain her grip on the often impressionable Beatle through a veritable barrage of late-night phone calls and steamy love letters. In the end, however, the sex-mad McCartney resumed his old ways, pairing off with both Francie Schwartz and London dolly bird Molly Migivern for yet more off-the-record close encounters.
As the St. John's Wood summer faded into fall, thoughts of the lovely Linda again consumed the fickle McCartney. Now that his five-year liaison with Jane had effectively fizzled out forever, it was clear to him that the only-too-willing Linda must now truly be the one. "I persuaded Linda to come to London for a visit," Paul recalls, a visit Linda remembers her father, Lee, wasn't all that keen on her making. "It's a pity you can't go," he told her. "You've got to take the child to school." "I thought, 'What do you mean I won't be able to go?' Any- way, I came over and we lived together for awhile. Neither of us talked about marriage. We just loved each other and lived together."
One of the unkindest scraps of gossip concerning Linda is the outrageous allegation that shortly after coming to England on Paul's invitation she sent a postcard to one of her girlfriends in New York saying only, "I bagged a Beatle!!!" Interestingly, the story comes via someone currently involved in working on one of Linda's more commercially successful projects. The source goes on to say that above and beyond all the many other artists she has dealt with in the course of her career, Linda McCartney is far and away the most unpleasant, pushy, and overbearing.
After a time, both Linda and Paul began to miss having Heather around, culminating early one morning in McCartney phoning his little daughter-to-be. "I rang Heather in New York and said, 'Heather, will you marry me?' She was five. 'No, don't be silly,' she said. 'I'm too young.' 'Well I can't wait,' I said. So we went to New York and brought her back to London to live with us."
For five months Paul and Linda stayed together at Cavendish Avenue. Being an almost-married man felt good to McCartney who approached his role of husband and daddy with the same sense of enthusiasm and commitment he applied to everything he undertook.
Unfortunately, according to at least one reliable source, Linda might not have been always the tender, loving mum she went out of her way to appear. In an interview with George's mother, Louise Harrison, journalist Alana Nash recalls her intimating that, to her mind anyway, Linda was a stuck-up bitch who could on occasion brutalize her daughter. Mrs Harrison reflected:
We were up to see Jim for dinner one night and Paul and Linda were there, and they'd brought Heather, Linda's little girl. Linda barely spoke to us. We arrived quite a long time before dinner, and Heather was begging for something to eat, but Linda just ignored her.
Finally, she gave her something, and Heather spilled it or dropped it or something, and Linda grabbed her up, screaming and cursing at her. She upset the child terribly. When the meal was finally on the table, Linda told Heather she couldn't have anything to eat because she'd been naughty. Paul had to take over and give her some food. Shocking!
I always liked Cynthia [Lennon] very much. Yes, she was lovely. And so was Jane. I don't know what Paul wants with Linda.
Towards the end of his Jane Asher days, McCartney visited a clairvoyant in Brighton who told him that he would soon marry a blonde and have four children. By February of 1969 doctors confirmed that Linda was indeed pregnant. This convinced McCartney that he should cease playing house and make Linda his wife. To his utter amazement, the headstrong Ms Eastman at first declined. "I had been pressured by men all my life," recalls Linda. "I rather liked being on my own, making my own decisions. I had actually sworn to myself that I would never get married again."
McCartney kept on pitching, and on March 11, 1969, the Apple press office announced the forthcoming nuptials. Fifteen years later, Paul remembered the general anti-marriage mood that seemed to prevail at the time:
People started to say that family life was finished, that the family as a unit was gone. We saw all that talk come and go: "People don't want to get married anymore; women are asserting themselves." We just didn't go for it. We knew that was supposed to be the fashion.
Many of our friends were not getting married but were having common-law marriages and calling their kids funny names like Zowie or Wow or Moondust. Can you imagine a kid at ten with a name like Zowie? All the other kids in school would make fun of him.
It was a media trip. Maybe some journalists or some artist friends of mine in London weren't getting married, but everyone I know in Liverpool was. And I'm sure Philadelphia steel workers were still getting married. They didn't listen to all that rubbish.
As soon as word hit the street about the Beatle's impending, next-afternoon wedding, it seemed as though every young would-be Mrs. McCartney within a fifty-mile radius of St. John's Wood was on Cavendish Avenue. By early evening just slightly over three dozen sobbing females had turned up to mark the solemn occasion, standing like statues in the rain in front of the dark brick wall which protected their idol during this, his final night as a free and available entity. Every few minutes or so, the wailing women would fall silent until one of the spurned, teenage spinsters recalled a particularly tender memory of her beloved Paul and her agonized sobbing would set off the others. "God, it was awful," remembers Margot Stevens. "Just awful. We went to his house and Rosie [his housekeeper] told us he got upset because he could hear the girls outside his gate, crying. He went out and told the girls 'You knew I had to get married sometime!' He was on the verge of tears himself." Many years later, Paul revealed that the night before the wedding he and Linda had a whopping great row and almost canceled the whole thing right then and there, but has never said why. Sources close to the couple speculate it may have had something to do with Linda's reaction to all the girls outside. "She has always been extremely jealous of anyone outside the family getting too close to Paul," says a lifelong friend of the pair. "I hate to be unkind, but in the beginning she and Yoko both had the reputation of treating the fans like dirt." Linda offers her perspective:
The girls went to war when I married Paul. Looking back I think I took on a battle when I should just have said that I understood, and tried to talk to them. But it was difficult. I had been a free woman in New York. When I married Paul I suddenly felt fenced in. We would go home at night and find about twenty girls outside who had been standing there for five years! They each felt as though they were Paul's wife. They would say "I hate you. You're horrible. Why didn't he marry Jane Asher, at least we knew her!" They painted nasty things all over our walls and played their radios real loud at night outside our house.
On March 11, 1969, Mike McCartney was in Birmingham performing with the Scaffold at not less than two area nightclubs. Back in his hotel room after the exhausting shows he poured himself a small scotch and proceeded to tuck himself in for the night when the phone rang. It was Paul. "Hey, Gaf!" he said, obviously in high spirits. "Lin and I are getting married tomorrow. How about coming down to be best man? And for fuck's sake, don't dare tell anyone, okay?"
The next morning at precisely 9:45, McCartney and his rather frumpily attired bride-to-be arrived at Marylebone Registry office along with Mai Evans. There to greet them were hundreds of teenybopper fans and reporters, all clamoring to squeeze that much closer to the happy couple. Once safely inside it was hurry up and wait as Michael was a full one hour late due to his train breaking down at Birmingham's Newstreet Station.
"Where the bloody hell have you been, then?" asked Paul under his breath to his panting little brother.
"Never mind that now. Am I too late?"
"We waited for you, didn't we?"
"Hope you got the ring?"
"Not yet, lad."
Within ten minutes the "private" civil ceremony was over and after a round of hearty hugs and handshakes the wedding party braced itself for the rugged return trip to the car. That night McCartney was neither out celebrating nor at home honeymooning with his new missus; rather, he was just down the road at EMI producing a session for Apple crooner Jackie Lomax and Billy Kinsley. McCartney has commented on some of the stresses put upon him and his new bride:
To the world, of course, she was a divorcee, which didn't seem right. People preferred Jane Asher. Jane Asher fitted. She was a better Fergie. Linda wasn't a very good Fergie for me and people generally tended to disapprove of me marrying a divorcee and an American. That wasn't too clever. None of that made a blind bit of difference; I actually just liked her, I still do, and that's all it's to do with.
I mean, we got married in the craziest clothes when I look back on it. We didn't even bother to buy her a decent outfit.
All things considered this was a particularly stressful time for everyone in the Beatles' camp. Only hours after Paul and Linda tied the knot, Sgt. Norman Pilcher and a squadron of his Scot- land Yard goons mounted a particularly aggressive assault on George and Pattie's Esher home, Kinfauns, intent upon un- covering the Beatles' secret drug stash. After thoroughly turning the place inside out they found a quantity of hashish.
Both of the Harrisons were arrested and arraigned later that evening, nipping home just in time to change clothes and barrel into London to party with Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden. "Pretty shitty to do it on Paul's wedding day, anyway," George told me in 1983. "Ripe bastards!"
Eight days after the McCartney/Eastman wedding, John and Yoko followed suit and were married on the British-held island of Gibraltar. It was the first time in Paul's recent memory that he had actually managed to pull something off before his old mate got the drop on him, and it felt great.
Mary McCartney, Paul and Linda's first child together, was born at 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 29,1969, at the Avenue Clinic in St. John's Wood. Weighing six pounds, eight ounces, the beautiful baby quickly became daddy's little girl with her proud papa showing her off to the world on the cover of his now-classic McCartney album. Grandad Jim, needless to say, was delighted, as was Linda's father, who first saw his granddaughter some three months later in New York during a family visit home.
Deeply in need of a little relief from all the media hype and nonstop lunacy of Apple and the Beatles, late in 1969, Paul took off with the family up north to Scotland for a little isolated R&R. After being so very visible for so long he needed a break, a chance to collect himself and plan for the future. It was at this time that the reprehensible "Paul Is Dead" notion was born, providing virtually unlimited fodder for a legion of pot-smoking idlers around the globe to further squander their limited lifetimes from that day to this.
The contention was made that a young McCartney lookalike by the name of William Campbell had secretly taken over for the fallen Beatle (allegedly decapitated in a fiery car crash in the autumn of 1966) at the behest of the other three. Soon, frantic fans everywhere were studying the group's covers in an effort to force the imposter and his three Beatle accomplices to fess up. On Magical Mystery Tour, for instance, the configuration of stars that spell out the word BEATLES on the front cover was imagined to be a London telephone exchange, 537-1438, somehow printed upside down. Later, American dee jay Russ Gibbs rang the mysterious number on the air with the intention of confronting the imposter. The phone was answered by an extremely perplexed British journalist who, following a fervent denial of having an alter ego, wisely had the number disconnected the next day.
Another variation on this theme had the Beatles slyly hinting at their departed comrade's untimely demise by forcing the pseudo "new" McCartney to turn his back to the camera on the back cover of Sgt. Pepper while the other three stared squarely into the camera. The reason? McCartney double Campbell's extensive facial plastic surgery was not yet completed. In addition, it was thought that a patch on the right arm of "McCartney's" Pepper jacket included the letters OPD, which was said to stand for "Officially Pronounced Dead." In actual fact the letters were "OPP," representing the decidedly less dramatic Ontario Provincial Police, a souvenir given to McCartney by a Canadian cop.
The whole stupid mess soon became a phenomenon that even McCartney could no longer comfortably ignore. Tracked down in Scotland by Life magazine London correspondent Dorothy Bacon and a staff photographer early in November, Paul at first warned them off, screaming at them to turn around and go back, but within a couple of minutes thought better of it and reluctantly invited them in for a chat. On the condition that Linda provide any and all pictures for the story, McCartney cozied up to a cup of strong Earl Grey and once and for all sought to lay the story to rest:
Perhaps the rumor started because I haven't been much in the press lately. I have done enough press for a lifetime and I don't have anything to say these days. I am happy to be with my family and I will work when I work. I was switched on for ten years and I never switched off. Now I am switching off whenever I can. I would rather be a little less famous these days....
What I have to say is all in the music. If I want to say anything I write a song. Can you spread it around that I am just an ordinary person and want to live in peace? We have to go now, we have two children to look after.
Despite the Beatles' "all you need is love" politics, privately, the fierce rivalry between John and Paul was rapidly reaching catastrophic proportions. Apple insider Ritchie Yorke remembers that in those days if you valued your position there was no way to be friendly with both men. "It was bitter. Very bitter," he says. "John wouldn't go near Paul. He always sent Ringo to do any dirty work with McCartney."
There were exceptions, unfortunately, perhaps the least known and most potentially horrific of which was the time Lennon actually physically attacked Linda McCartney during a particularly volatile Apple meeting towards the end of 1969. Witnessed by several Apple Scruffs, the violent "assault" took place around 5:30 in the afternoon in Lennon's all-white ground-floor office facing the street. "We couldn't hear what she actually said that upset him so," says one of the Scruffs. "But whatever it was must have been brutal. John leapt to his feet like a madman, waving his clenched fists over his head like an angry gorilla. Paul threw himself in the middle of the fracas just at the nick of time. Seconds later and Linda definitely would have been out cold."
This wasn't the only time Lennon had lashed out so violently either. During the recording of Abbey Road Paul on one occasion chose not to attend an early-evening session as it was apparently the first anniversary of his initial meeting with Linda. John, reasonably enough, felt this a rather lame excuse to inconvenience so many people, and after hanging about a couple of hours for the delinquent Beatle, finally raced around the corner for a confrontation.
Screeching to a halt out front, Lennon didn't even bother ringing the bell, opting instead to climb up over the eight-foot-high gate in a fit of fury. Once inside the cobblestone courtyard, he sprinted up to the large red door and began banging without cessation for several tense minutes. Eventually Paul opened up. "Just what the bloody hell are you playing at, McCartney!" John shouted, pushing his way inside the front hall. "You must have fuckin' known before now that you couldn't make it. What about us lot then? Ringo, George and I all drove in from the country for this thing and you don't have the motherfuckin' decency to turn up?"
"But it's our anniversary tonight," McCartney replied weakly.
"Bollocks!" Lennon screamed. "You don't see me canceling anything for my anniversaries with Yoko. Why don't you grow up? Those fuckin' bastards at the studio have all got to be paid as well, you know. None of it comes cheap either."
With that the irate Lennon bolted into McCartney's living room and snatched from the wall a favorite painting he had done for his partner and ceremoniously put his foot through it. "Happy anniversary, mate!" he said as he turned to leave. For Paul it was a deeply hurtful and embarrassing episode.
By the summer of 1970 it seemed inevitable that the Beatles as a group were almost certainly finished. In June, Lee Eastman (who, along with his son John, now handled McCartney's business affairs) wrote to Allen Klein (John, George, and Ringo's manager) politely requesting that the Beatles' partnership be immediately dissolved.
Hoping that the group could somehow settle their difference amicably and carry on making music, and millions, Klein tried to sidestep any confrontation with Eastman by simply ignoring his letter. McCartney, however, was by this time adamant, and dashed off a terse note to John suggesting that the Beatles break up once and for all. Several days later, McCartney received a postcard from Lennon reading simply, "Get well soon." It was the last straw. Paul remembers finally coming to terms with the painful prospect of taking his three former partners to court:
My lawyer, John Eastman, he's a nice guy and he saw the position we were in, and he sympathized. We'd have these meetings on top of hills in Scotland, we'd go for long walks. I remember when we actually decided we had to go and file suit. We were standing on this big hill which overlooked a loch — it was quite a nice day, a bit chilly, and we were searching our souls. Was there any other way? And we eventually said, "Oh, we've got to do it." The only alternative was seven years with the partnership — going through those same channels for seven years . . . People said, "It's a pity that such a nice thing had to come to such a sticky end." I think that too. It is a pity. I like fairy tales. I'd love to have had the Beatles go up in a little cloud of smoke and the four of us just find ourselves in magic robes, each holding an envelope with our stuff in it. But you realize that you're in real life, and you don't split up a beautiful thing with a beautiful thing.
Paul McCartney formally filed suit on Thursday, December 31, 1970, his stepdaughter, Heather's seventh birthday, petitioning the London High Court to order the Beatles' partnership dissolved and demand an accounting of all partnership assets and liabilities. Neither John, George, nor Ringo were in any way amused and sought to legally block the move by retaining their own counsel for the long, unpleasant road ahead.
The next big blowup came, predictably, following Paul's first-round victory with the appointment of an official receiver to monitor the group's ever-flowing millions. Henceforth, all of the Beatles were forced to cut back their expenditures at least temporarily, in an effort to maintain not only their rapidly rotting Apple empire, but also their own lavish lifestyles. There was, however, another potentially ruinous problem, the taxman. The delicate matter was examined in the January 20, 1971 edition of the London Times:
The financial affairs of the Beatles partnership, whose estimated annual earnings are between £4m and £5m, are in a grave state, counsel said in the High Court yesterday.
"The latest accounts suggest that there is probably not enough in the kitty to meet even the individual Beatles' income and surtax liability," Mr. David Hirst, Q.C., declared. He added that "on a conservative estimate" the four's surtax liability must be £500,000.... Each Beatle has a five percent interest in the partnership. Apple Corp. holds the remaining 80 percent.
Mr. Hirst told Mr. Justice Stamp that the group's manager, Mr. Allen Klein, had instructed accountants not to give Mr. McCartney information about the group's financial affairs. He said of Mr. Klein: "He is a man of bad commercial reputation.
Mr. McCartney has never either accepted him as a manager or trusted him. And on the evidence his attitude has been fully justified."
Counsel gave three main reasons for the claim for dissolution:
- The Beatles had long since ceased to perform together as a group, so the whole purpose of the partnership had gone.
- In 1969 Mr. McCartney's partners, in the teeth of his op position and in breach of the partnership deed, had appointed Mr. Klein's company, Abkco Industries, Ltd., as the partnership's exclusive business managers.
- Mr. McCartney had never been given audited accounts in the four years since the partnership was formed. Counsel said the partnership agreement was entered into in April 1967, before the death in August that year of The Beatles' manager, Mr. Brian Epstein.
In May 1969, the other three insisted on appointing Mr. Klein, or rather Abkco Industries, Inc., as exclusive director. Mr. McCartney opposed and protested strongly. But Abkco were appointed managers "at a fee of no less than 20 percent of the gross income."
On the afternoon of the court's appointing a receiver, John, George, and Ringo were together in Lennon's sparkling white Rolls when the bespectacled Beatle got an idea. "Excuse me, Anthony," he said to his chauffeur. "Take us round to Paul's would you. I've got a little going-away present for the cunt." Arriving at the smart address some thirty minutes later, Len-non bounded out of the car and in a single agile leap pulled himself over the famous wall. Seconds later, the latch clinked from the inside. Grinning from ear to ear, Lennon peeped his head out to the others. Walking silently around the classic Phantom Five, he opened the trunk and produced two perfectly new bricks which he then carried the few steps back inside Paul's entrance way. By this time, George and Ringo had stepped out of the car and were standing in the street, their eyes now carefully following John's every move.
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Without a moment's hesitation, Lennon drew back his arm and flung one of the bricks through a downstairs window. Almost before the din had subsided he fired off another, smashing an adjacent pane. Flinging open the front door, McCartney stopped dead in his tracks as soon as he saw the culprits. All at once George burst out laughing hysterically, followed by Ringo and John. Seconds later, the three superstar vandals were motoring joyfully down the street, leaving poor McCartney alone on his front stoop, frozen with anger.
The disintegration of the Beatles as a band was hardest on Paul. So very much of everything he does is directed at being accepted and loved and it hurt a lot when his three closest mates began to outgrow the circumscribed world of Beatle-hood. From almost day one the Beatles had meant everything to him. Although John started the group, as time went by he gradually relinquished the reins of power to Paul, who has hung on mightily ever since. For McCartney the preservation of the Beatles' music, mystique, and lore is a life's work.
He has commented that, apart from the death of his mother when he was fourteen, the breakup of the Beatles was the worst thing that ever happened to him. After it was all finally over, he was left feeling useless and impotent, a lone, out-of-work musician, so long part of a band. "If it wasn't for his family," says a friend, "I'm not sure that he would have ever made it." If it wasn't for his family, maybe he wouldn't have wanted to.