In November 1971, Paul McCartney shared his thoughts on the Beatles
breakup, John and Yoko, and John's song "How Do You Sleep" with Melody
Maker magazine. The article infuriated John Lennon so much that Lennon
dashed a letter of reply to Melody Maker, and requested that his letter be
published in its entirety in an effort to give "equal time" to his version
of the story. The exchange read as a very public argument between the two
McCartney in Melody Maker
PAUL: "There was a bit of hype on the back of the (Let It Be) sleeve for
the first time ever on a Beatles album. At the time, the Beatles were very
strained with each other and it wasn't a happy time. It said it was a
'new-phase Beatles album' and there was nothing further from the truth.
That was the last Beatles album and everybody knew it... (Allen) Klein had
it re-produced because he said it didn't sound commercial enough."
"I just want the four of us to get together somewhere and sign a piece of
paper saying it's all over and we want to divide the money four ways. No
one else would be there, not even Linda or Yoko or Allen Klein. We'd just
sign the paper and hand it to the business people and let them sort it
out. That's all I want now, but John won't do it. Everybody thinks I am
the agressor but I'm not, you know. I just want out."
"John and Yoko are not cool in what they are doing. I saw them on
television the other night and thought that what they are saying about
what they wanted to do together was basically the same as what Linda and I
want to do."
"John's whole image now is very honest and open. He's alright, is John. I
like his 'Imagine' album but I didn't like the others. 'Imagine' is what
John is really like but there was too much political stuff on the other
albums. You know, I only really listen to them to see if there's something
I can pinch." (laughs)
"'How Do You Sleep'? I think it's silly. So what if I live with straights?
I like straights. I have straight babies. It doesn't affect him. He says
the only thing I did was 'Yesterday.' He knows that's wrong. He knows and
I know it's not true."
"John wanted to do a big thing in Toronto (9/13/69 concert, Toronto Rock
and Roll Revival) but I didn't dig that at all. I hear that before he went
on stage he was sick, and that's just what I didn't want. Like anybody
else I have been nervous because of the Beatles thing."
"I wanted to get in a van and do an unadvertised concert at a Saturday
night hop at Slough Town Hall or somewhere like that. We'd call ourselves
Rikki and the Red Streaks or something and just get up and play. There'd
be no press and we'd tell nobody about it. John thought it was a daft
"Before John was leaving the Beatles, I was lying in bed at home one night
and I thought we could get a band together, like his Plastic Ono Band. I
felt the urge because we had never played live for four years. We all
wanted to appear on a stage but not with the Beatles. We couldn't do it as
the Beatles because it would be so big. We'd have to find a million-seater
hall or something."
Lennon's response letter, published in Melody Maker
Dear Paul, Linda et all the wee McCartney's,
Thanks for your letter.
1. We give YOU money for your bits of Apple.
2. We give you MORE money in the form of royalties which legally belong to
Apple (I know we're Apple, but on the other hand we're not.).
Maybe there's an answer there somewhere, but for the millionth time in
these past few years I repeat, 'What about the TAX?' It's all very well,
playing 'simple honest ole Paul' in Melody Maker but you know damn well we
can't just sign a bit of paper.
You say, 'John won't do it.' I will if you indemnify us against the tax
man! Anyway, you know that after we have OUR meeting, the fucking lawyers
will have to implement whatever we agree on, right?
If they have some form of agreement between THEM before WE meet, it might
make it even easier. It's up to you, as we've said many times, we'll meet
whenever you like. Just make up your mind! E.g. two weeks ago I asked you
on the phone, 'Please let's meet without advisors, etc. and decide what we
want,' and I emphasized especially Maclen [Lennon and McCartney's
songwriting company] which is mainly our concern, but you refused, right?
You said under NO CONDITION would you sell to us if we didn't do what you
wanted, you'd sue us again and that Ringo and George are going to break
you John, etc. etc.
Now I was quite straight with you that day, and you tried to shoot me down
with your emotional "logic." If YOU'RE not the aggressor (as you claim)
who the hell took us to court and shat all over us in public?
As I've said before, Have you ever thought that you might POSSIBLY be
wrong about something? Your conceit about us and Klein is incredible. You
say you "made the mistake of trying to advise them against Klein and that
pissed them off" and we secretly feel that you're right! Good God! You
must know WE'RE right about Eastman.
One other little lie in your "It's only Paulie" MM bit: Let It Be was not
the first bit of hype on a Beatle album. Remember Tony Barrow? And his
wonderful writing on "Please Please Me" etc. etc. The early Beatle Xmas
And you gotta admit it was a 'new-phase' Beatle album, incidentally
written in the style of the great Barrow himself! By the way, what
happened to my idea of putting the parody of our first album cover on the
Let It Be cover?
Also, we were intending to parody Barrow originally, so it was hype. But
what is your LIFE article? Tony Barrow couldn't have done it better. (And
your writing inside of the Wings album [Wild Life] isn't exactly the
realist is it?) Anyway, enough of this petty bourgeois fun.
Another thing, whadya mean BIG THING in Toronto? It was completely
spontaneous. They rang on the Friday, we flew there, and we played on
Saturday. I was sick because I was stone pissed. Listen to the album--
with no rehearsal too. Come on Macka! Own up! We'd never played together
before! Half a dozen live shows with no big fuss. In fact we've BEEN DOING
what you've said the Beatles should do. Yoko and I have been doing it for
three years! (I said it was daft for the Beatles to do it. I still think
it's daft.) So go on and do it! Do it! Do it! E.g. Cambridge 1969,
completely unadvertised! A very small hall. Lyceum Ballroom, 1969, no
fuss, great show-- thirty piece rock band! "Live Jam" out soon! Filmore
East, 1971, unannounced. Another good time had by all-- out soon!! We even
played in the streets here in the Village (our spiritual home!?) with the
great David Peel!! We were moved on by the cops even!! It's best just to
I know you'll dig it, and they don't even expect the Beatles now anyway!
So you think 'Imagine' ain't political? It's 'Working Class Hero' with
sugar on it for conservatives like yourself!! You obviously didn't dig the
words. Imagine! You took 'How Do You Sleep' so literally (read my own
review of the album in Crawdaddy.) Your politics are very similar to Mary
Whitehouse's-- 'Saying nothing is as loud as saying something.'
No hard feelings to you either. I know basically we want the same, and as
I said on the phone and in this letter, whenever you want to meet, all you
have to do is call.
All you need is love
Power to the people
Free all prisoners
Jail the judges
Love and peace
Get it on and rip 'em off
P.S. The bit that really puzzled us was asking to meet WITHOUT LINDA AND
YOKO. I thought you'd have understood BY NOW that I'm JOHNANDYOKO.
P.P.S. Even your own lawyers know you can't "just sign a bit of paper."
(or don't they tell you?)