Paul McCartney Made A Moving Confession To John Lennon’s Son About A Forgotten Beatles Reunion

The Beatles are arguably the best-loved and most successful band in the history of popular music. Yet by the time the group reached the end of their incredible decade-long run of hits, relationships between them had fractured. Now Paul McCartney has cast light on a poignant reunion with John Lennon in a reveal that will surely be bittersweet for fans.

So despite the unparalleled success enjoyed by Lennon and McCartney as a songwriting duo, their friendship sadly didn’t fare so well. In the ten-year period between The Beatles breaking up and Lennon’s premature death, the pair barely spoke. But in a recent interview with Lennon’s younger son Sean, McCartney has opened up about meetings that did take place during that period. And what he revealed must go down as one of the most iconic reunions in rock and roll history.

McCartney’s interview with Sean Ono Lennon forms part of a new British BBC Radio 2 documentary called John Lennon at 80. The show was made to coincide with what would’ve been the iconic musician’s 80th birthday in October 2020. Tragically, Lennon was murdered outside his apartment in New York City at the age of just 40 back in 1980.

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Lennon’s death came ten years after the split of The Beatles. Both he and McCartney had gone on to have successful careers post-break-up. But at the time of Lennon’s untimely passing, many still harbored hopes of a proper reconciliation between the two brilliant songwriters. Perhaps even a reunion for The Beatles. Now, thanks to McCartney’s interview with Sean, we know that the two did in fact meet. And McCartney’s words are touching.

What’s there left to say about The Beatles? The four-piece band, formed in Liverpool, England, way back in 1960, have reached an iconic status that transcends music at this stage. A cultural phenomenon is probably a better way to describe The Beatles as opposed to a mere rock group. It wasn’t just the number of records that they sold, but the way that the songwriting geniuses of Lennon and McCartney, and to a lesser extent George Harrison, shaped the future of popular music.

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Nearly every major band and solo artist that has followed cite The Beatles as an influence. How could they not? The group evolved from producers of radio-friendly pop hits to music that changed the very shape and nature of modern music, all in the space of a just a few short years. And what’s even more endearing is that Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Ringo Starr – the fourth member of the iconic band – were just four working-class guys from an industrial town in Northern England.

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Everybody surely knows at least one Beatles track. Even the titles are now more than mere song names. “Strawberry Fields Forever.” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” “Yellow Submarine.” “Let it Be.” “Hey Jude.” Everyone has their favorite Beatles song. Everyone has their favorite Beatle. But there’s no doubt that Lennon and McCartney were the tour de force behind the group. Theirs was the friendship that the whole glorious sensation that was The Beatles was built upon.

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The numbers are worth mentioning as well. According to CBS News, in America alone the foursome have shipped an almost unbelievable 1.6 billion singles, as well as 600 million albums globally. Unsurprisingly, those figures aren’t matched by any other artist. But the cultural value of The Beatles cannot be appreciated in figures alone.

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And The Beatles remain relevant. According to Forbes, the band were one of only two groups to top sales of one million through the first half of 2020. That’s fully 50 years on from the band’s split. In a report detailing Spotify streams in 2019, Forbes also revealed that three-tenths of those listening to the group were between the ages of 18 and 24. The band’s music had earned 1.7 billion streams during 2020 as of September.

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As you can imagine, The Beatles splitting was a big deal. A huge deal. And rumors abounded that the iconic songwriting duo of Lennon and McCartney now couldn’t stand one another. For fans of the band – for anyone who cared about music, really – the thought of the two legends despising each other would’ve been difficult to accept.

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Thankfully, at least according to McCartney, plenty of the stories about the split of the band in 1970 were untrue. “I suppose that when The Beatles broke up, perhaps there was a misconception that we all sort of hated each other,” McCartney admitted to the British version of GQ magazine in August 2020.

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McCartney explained that he now better understood what had transpired all those years ago. “What I realize now is that, because it was a family, because it was a gang, families argue. And families have disputes,” the musician said. He also stated that he had a fair idea of who was to blame for the bad blood that developed between the Fab Four. And it wasn’t Lennon.

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McCartney said things began to go awry when Harrison, Lennon and Starr selected Allan Klein, the then manager of the Rolling Stones, to look after the band’s finances. McCartney was never in favor of this and said he doubted Klein’s intentions. Things reached a head following the break-up when McCartney decided to sue the rest of the band late in 1970.

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McCartney added that bringing a lawsuit against his former band-mates was the sole means of extricating The Beatles and the record label owned by the band – Apple – from Klein. “If I hadn’t done that, it would have all belonged to Allan Klein,” McCartney said. He also explained that it was the autonomy that his subsequent victory afforded that later allowed him to remaster the music that appeared on the acclaimed Anthology record.

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The bass player then spoke further about the options available to him in 1970. “The only way I was given to get us out of that [full control for Klein] was to do what I did. I said, ‘Well, I’ll sue Allan Klein,’ and I was told I couldn’t because he wasn’t party to it. ‘You’ve got to sue the Beatles,’” McCartney recalled.

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Things went downhill from there in terms of the relationship between Lennon and McCartney, though. The legal process rumbled on for nearly half a decade, meaning that the band only officially broke up early in 1975. And McCartney recalled reading a particularly incendiary interview during that period with Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono.

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“I remember reading an article, an interview with Yoko, who, okay, she was a big John supporter, I get that, but in this article she goes, ‘Paul did nothing. All he ever did was book studio,’” McCartney said. “And I’m going, ‘Err? No…’ And then John does this famous song, ‘How Do You Sleep?’ and he’s going, ‘All you ever did was “Yesterday”‘. And I’m going, ‘No, man.’”

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“How Do You Sleep?” has long been notorious as a song that takes a swipe at Lennon’s old band-mate. Yet McCartney told GQ that he subsequently learnt more about the track’s origins. “But then you hear the stories from various angles and apparently people who were in the room when John was writing that, he was getting suggestions for the lyrics off Allan Klein. So, you see the atmosphere of ‘Let’s get Paul. Let’s nail him in a song…’” McCartney revealed.

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This seemed to be McCartney saying that he didn’t feel his old friend Lennon was totally to blame for the animosity between the two. Or at least for the lyrics in which Lennon mocked him. It all still had an impact, though. “Those things were pretty hurtful,” McCartney admitted, and it’s hard not to feel a little sympathy for him. But it’s also important to remember that McCartney had criticized his old friend on his 1971 Ram album as well.

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Much time has passed since, of course. And 2020 is an important year for fans of The Beatles in general and John Lennon in particular. For one, it’s when the music icon would’ve turned 80. Lennon was tragically shot dead in the winter of 1980 near his home in New York City. The man who pulled the trigger remains in prison, but the damage he did can never be undone. The world was robbed of one of its most talented songwriters. And a Beatles reunion now could never be.

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To mark the occasion, one of Lennon’s children – Sean Ono Lennon – spoke to his father’s old band-mate McCartney. And for fans of The Beatles it’s a discussion that’s bound to stir up all sorts of feelings. McCartney talked candidly of the relationship he had with Sean’s dad, particularly in the run up to Lennon’s premature death.

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The chat between Sean and McCartney was arranged by the U.K.’s BBC Radio 2. Called John Lennon at 80, the pair covered all manner of topics. And there are some stand-out moments, most notably when McCartney revealed that he and Lennon managed to reconcile before the latter’s death.

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McCartney started by telling Sean that he’d been “lucky” to know Sean’s father. “I look back on it now like a fan,” McCartney said. “How lucky was I to meet this strange teddy boy off the bus, who played music like I did. And we get together and, boy, we complemented each other!”

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And in an admission that must’ve sent tingles down the spine of every Beatles fan, McCartney opened up to Sean about how he’d been able to reconcile with Lennon. “I always say to people, one of the great things for me was that after all The Beatles rubbish and all the arguing and the business, you know, business differences really… That even after all of that, I’m so happy that I got it back together with your dad,” McCartney revealed.

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McCartney revealed how he would’ve felt if he’d never had the chance to bury the hatchet with Lennon. ″It really, really would have been a heartache to me if we hadn’t have reunited,” the music legend said. “It was so lovely to me that we did and it really gives me strength to know that.”

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If you’re now starting to think of what might have been had Lennon not been so tragically lost, you’re surely not the only one. Who knows if The Beatles would ever have got back together? For many, though, simply to know that arguably the greatest songwriting duo in music history were able to reconcile is enough to make the heart feel glad.

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McCartney spoke of a photo that he often turned to when he thought of how the relationship had broken down with his former friend. McCartney’s wife at the time, Linda, had been behind the camera. In it, Lennon and McCartney are deep in conversation during the recording of Abbey Road, which would be the band’s final record.

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McCartney discussed the photo with Lennon’s son Sean. “It really gave me hope that picture… That was one little picture I held onto. You can just see that we’re into each other and we’re smiling, and I will write down something, so we’re engaged in doing something artistic, something interesting,” McCartney said. Perhaps that picture still gives comfort to the musician even now, long after the death of his great friend and musical partner?

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McCartney doesn’t go into any great detail about why he and Lennon actually fell out, though. He does allude to the business issues, of course, but he also seems to dismiss any rivalry or jealousy between the pair as being a factor. He describes what existed between the songwriting duo as more of a “friendly competition”.

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Suggesting why he and Lennon had been such an effective combination as songwriters, McCartney was frank. “Okay, number one, we were good. Right there. Number two, we’d grown up together,” the star explained. And surely no one can begrudge McCartney’s belief in his own talent.

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McCartney then explored the theme of his chemistry with Lennon more deeply. “From little kids, we’d taken the first steps together, we learned to walk together, then we learned to run,” the former Beatle said. “And the fact that each of us was influencing the other was very important, you know.”

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“And we were learning, not just about songs and stuff about life, you know,” McCartney continued. “And the fact that we’d come along this journey together meant that, hey, we’re just gonna continue, and who knows, we might get better.” Of course, they did get better.

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McCartney explained that he and Lennon had continued to evolve and grow as songwriters. “And so we did [improve], and if I did something that was a little bit ahead of the curve, then John would come up with something that was a bit ahead of my curve. And then so I’d go ‘Well, how about this?’ … there was a lot of friendly competition,” he concluded.

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Thankfully, any animosity that once existed between Lennon and McCartney began to dissipate as the 1970s progressed. It’s unclear which precise moment, if any, McCartney’s referring to in his interview with Sean, but the first meeting between the pair seemed to occur in LA during 1974. They actually got together in the studio again. This time, though, they had the likes of Harry Nilsson and Stevie Wonder with them rather than George and Ringo.

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While the studio catch-up was nothing more than a jam session, it certainly seemed to do the trick in terms of Lennon and McCartney’s friendship. These were two old pals once again doing what they loved. A recording of that session reveals the two having fun. And rumors of a band reunion soon began to surface as a result.

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John touched on the subject of a reunion with some of his comments during a series of interviews now remembered as the “Lost Weekend.” “It’s never got to a position where every… each one of us has wanted to do it at the same time. I think over the period of being apart, we’ve all thought, ‘That would be nice. That wouldn’t be bad,’” Lennon admitted. You can almost hear the collective gasp of excitement as he utters the words.

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Lennon follows that up with a line that must have sung straight to the hearts of any fan of The Beatles. “I’ve worked with Ringo, I’ve worked with Ringo and George. I haven’t worked with Paul because we had a more difficult time, but now we’re pretty close,” the icon. The pair had reconciled. And, oh, to imagine what could have been.

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The Radio 2 interview between Sean and McCartney is just one section of a two-episode documentary. Also heard are Lennon’s eldest son Julian as well as Sean’s godfather, Elton John. It’s an emotional listen in a year when he would have celebrated reaching his ninth decade.

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McCartney also revealed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that he often dreams about his old friend and band-mate Lennon. “I love it when people revisit you in your dreams. So, I often have band dreams, and they’re crazy,” McCartney said. He then told Colbert about a recurring dream he has.

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“I’m often with John and just talking about doing something. And I come to get my bass ready to play and it’s covered in sticky tape. You know, dreams! So, I’m picking all this stuff off, trying to talk to him,” McCartney told Colbert. “I have a lot of dreams about John. And they’re always good.” And so The Beatles as a group may never have reunited, but at least we can all rest safe in the knowledge that Lennon and McCartney did.

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