The Beatles star John Lennon died on December 8, 1980. The singer, who had penned such songs as Imagine, Strawberry Fields and Help!, was assassinated outside the hotel he lived at, The Dakota, in New York City. He died after being shot five times, aged 40. Paul McCartney later looked back on what would be the final time he spoke to Lennon just weeks before his murder.
Towards the end of The Beatles’ time together, Lennon and McCartney exchanged some harsh words. Their feud grew as the band began to decay around them, and claims were thrown around about Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, breaking up the band.
But during the following ten years, things between the pair had mended. As lifelong friends, they were never going to remain such bitter enemies. And McCartney recalled that his final conversation with Lennon was another example of how comfortable they were with one another.
McCartney went on to tell Howard Stern in 2021 that their final conversation was not about music or their feud or even women or religion – but something a lot more normal.
He said: “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.” Yes, Lennon and Macca’s last-ever conversation was about making bread at home.
McCartney most recently “duetted” with Lennon while performing at Glastonbury 2022. While headlining the prestigious festival, an HD video of the bespectacled star played behind him, allowing the pair to sing together once again.
But shortly after Lennon died, McCartney received a lot of criticism. On the day of Lennon’s death, McCartney was asked by a reporter how he felt about it. He seemingly flippantly replied: “Drag, isn’t it?”
Years later, McCartney explained what state of mind he was in when he made this unexpected comment. He said pointed out that he – much like the rest of the world – was in total shock. He said: “We heard the news that morning and, strangely enough, all of us… the three Beatles, friends of John’s… all of us reacted in the same way. Separately. Everyone just went to work that day. All of us. Nobody could stay home with that news. We all had to go to work and be with people we knew. Couldn’t bear it. We just had to keep going.”
Looking back on his comment, he went on: “So I went in and did a day’s work in a kind of shock. And as I was coming out of the studio later, there was a reporter, and as we were driving away, he just stuck the microphone in the window and shouted: ‘What do you think about John’s death?’ I had just finished a whole day in shock and I said: ‘It’s a drag.'”
McCartney clarified: “I meant drag in the heaviest sense of the word, you know: ‘It’s a DRAG.’ But, you know, when you look at that in print, it says, ‘Yes, it’s a drag.’ Matter of fact.”
Since then, he has pointed out that he and Lennon loved one another – even if they never said it out loud. “As 16-year-old, 17-year-old Liverpool kids, you could never say that,” he explained. “It just wasn’t done.”
McCartney added: “So I never did just say: ‘John, love you man.’ I never got round to it. Now it’s great just to realise how much I love this man.”