Contact Us

Paul McCartney Looks Back on His ‘Very Necessary’ Rivalry With John Lennon

Hulton Archive / Stroud / Getty Images

Nothing brings out the best in a songwriter like a partnership with just the right amount of creative tension. Just ask Paul McCartney, whose long friendship — and rivalry — with John Lennon produced some of the greatest songs in rock ‘n’ roll history.

McCartney looks back on their complicated relationship in an excerpt from Paul du Noyer’s new book, Conversations With McCartney, printed in the current issue of MOJO. As McCartney tells it, the competition between the two kept going well beyond the breakup of the Beatles, and may have even been responsible for spurring Lennon back into action after the five-year hiatus that followed his “lost weekend” period.

As McCartney tells it, Lennon was inspired to record his Double Fantasy album after hearing McCartney’s 1980 single, “Coming Up.” “Apparently John heard it when he was in New York,” he recalled. “I saw a John documentary and somebody was saying, ‘I brought this record of Paul’s to John and played it for him.’ John went, ‘Oh f—in’ hell, the bastard’s done something good! I’ve gotta work!’ I love the idea of forcing him up off his arse.”

Forcing one another up their respective arses, says McCartney, is something they had done since their earliest days. “I like that, because we were always doing that with each other,” he added. “People sometimes see it as an arch rivalry. It wasn’t. It was a friendly competition that was actually very necessary.”

Beatles Albums Ranked, Worst to Best

You Think You Know the Beatles?

Subscribe to Ultimate Classic Rock on

Next: Top 10 Paul McCartney Songs

Recommended For You

Around the Web

Best of Ultimate Classic Rock

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for Ultimate Classic Rock quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!