Paul McCartney has revealed how he’s “only just got over” the common “misconception” that it was his fault The Beatles split up. Discussing the band during the launch of his new book, The Lyrics, at London’s Royal Festival Hall, McCartney was asked by the host Samira Ahmed what the biggest misconception is about “being Paul McCartney”.
“I think the biggest misconception at the end of The Beatles was that I broke The Beatles up, and I lived with that for quite a while,” he responded. “Once a headline’s out there, it sticks. That was a big one – and I’ve only finally just gotten over it”.
It wasn’t actually McCartney who broke The Beatles up; each member played their part. John Lennon informed the rest of the band in private in September 1969 that he planned to leave. The following year, McCartney announced his self-titled debut album accompanied by a press release stating that he was no longer with the group. It was this that fed into the “misconception”. Over it now, McCartney said, “You kind of have to let it go”.
At another point, he was asked, “What it had cost to be Paul McCartney?” to which he replied: “Your privacy, that’s what you have to give up – but I made that decision early on when I could see what was coming for The Beatles”.
“We had gone on holiday to Greece, and nobody there knew who we were, and we’d only just started to get famous in England,” he explained. “I used to listen to the hotel band, and they were really good. I used to hang out with them everywhere like a groupie. I was talking to them one night, and I said, ‘I’m in a group in England, and we’re getting quite big, you know’, they were like, ‘Oh, OK.’”
McCartney added: “I couldn’t really persuade them, so I thought, ‘Oh, I’ve got anonymity here, so I can always come to Greece and be fine’. That didn’t work, because they year after, they knew!” he continued. “To me, I then had to make a decision: Are you getting out of music, or are you going to live with this thing called fame? I decided I was going to live with it, I had to learn to cope. That’s what I’m still doing: coping”.
The Lyrics is a career-spanning compendium that tells McCartney’s life story via 154 songs from throughout his career and through photos. It is out now.