John Lennon was one of the principal songwriters in The Beatles. Together with Paul McCartney, the lads from Liverpool made up the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership and penned countless tracks for the Fab Four. While George Harrison and Ringo Starr also contributed hits to the band’s 13 albums, it was McCartney’s extraordinary songwriting finesse that irritated Lennon the most.
McCartney has written some unbelievable hits throughout the years, including Yesterday, Hey Jude, Blackbird and Let It Be to name just a few.
However, Lennon grew disdainful of how talented McCartney was behind the scenes. The Beatles star’s assistant, Dan Richter, recently opened up about the two creatives’ differences. He said McCartney was always Lennon’s “biggest rival”. He went on: “It bugged him that Paul could write those sweet melodies like Yesterday and Hey Jude. He couldn’t do that. He was just too acerbic, or too intelligent…” (Via The Telegraph)
This bitterness between the two songwriters even bled into Lennon’s social life, Richter recalled. On one occasion, the singer found himself being assaulted by his band’s music in public – but not the music he wanted.
Richter laughed while recalling a trip to a “fancy restaurant that had a band”. He said: “When they saw John come in they started playing Yesterday. John was so p****d off!”
Lennon even spoke out about this instance in one interview back in 1980 while talking to journalist David Sheff. He was asked about hearing his music being played in public, and he replied: “I’m always proud and pleased when people do my songs. It gives me pleasure that they even attempt to do them, because a lot of my songs aren’t that doable.” He added: “I go to restaurants and the groups always play Yesterday. [His wife] Yoko [Ono] and I even signed a guy’s violin in Spain after he played us Yesterday. He couldn’t understand that I didn’t write the song. But I guess he couldn’t have gone from table to table playing I Am the Walrus.”
Behind the scenes, however, it was a different story. Lennon’s assistant, Richter, even recalled the star getting so frustrated by the rivalry in his own home he made a request of his staff. Richter said: “John got somebody to make a list of all the Beatles’ songs and then we had to say which were his and which were Paul’s.”
Lennon and McCartney’s feud grew into a painstaking fury when The Beatles split up in 1970. McCartney looked back on his relationship with his lifelong friend in his recently released book, The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present.
He wrote: “When we broke up and everyone was now flailing around, John turned nasty. I don’t really understand why. Maybe because we grew up in Liverpool, where it was always good to get in the first punch of a fight.”
Lennon and McCartney buried the hatchet in the years that followed. Their feud was brought to an end and when Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980, the pair were friends once again.
McCartney later recalled the final words he said to Lennon just weeks before his assassination. He remembered: “I ring John – and I was making bread and got quite good at it – so when I heard John was doing it [baking], it was great. We could just talk about something so ordinary. There’s no threat or anything. It was just two guys talking about: ‘Well, I don’t know. Do you leave it [the bread] overnight or what do you do?’ And someone says: ‘Yeah, I leave it overnight in a hot cupboard’ and you’d just be chatting.”
Although McCartney’s final conversation with Lennon wasn’t a groundbreaking look into their psyches or relationship, the star confessed he wouldn’t change anything about it.
He added: “It was really nice and I was so glad that we got back to that relationship that we’d always had when we were kids. We’d lived in each other’s pockets for so long that it was great to get back to that.”