Paul McCartney Says John Lennon’s Death Made Him a ‘Martyr’
In a startling display of candor, Paul McCartney has admitted that the 1980 killing of John Lennon unfairly elevated his status within the Beatles. In a new interview, he discussed the difficulty he -- and George Harrison and Ringo Starr -- faced in seeing Lennon described, in retrospect, as the leader of the group.
Speaking to Esquire (as quoted in the Telegraph), McCartney said, "When John got shot, aside from the pure horror of it, the lingering thing was, 'OK, well, now John's a martyr. A JFK.' I started to get frustrated because people started to say, 'Well, he was the Beatles.' And me, George and Ringo would go, 'Er, hang on. It's only a year ago we were all equal-ish.'"
"John was the witty one, sure," he continued. "John did a lot of great work. And post-Beatles he did more great work, but he also did a lot of not-great work. Now the fact that he's now martyred has elevated him to a James Dean, and beyond."
But he quickly clarified his position, adding that he "didn't mind that – I agreed with it – I understood that now there was going to be revisionism. It was going to be: John was the one."
For much of the '80s, McCartney didn't speak much on the matter, lest it seemed like he was taking credit for elements of the Beatles success while Lennon couldn't defend himself. But as time passsed, he started opening up about the mid-'60s, when he attended avant-garde concerts and was involved in London's art scene -- he helped start the Indica Gallery where Lennon met Yoko Ono -- while Lennon was living in suburban Weybridge with his wife, Cynthia and son, Julian.
See the Beatles and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the '60s
You Think You Know the Beatles?