This year marks two major milestones for fans of John Lennon. Not only what would have been his 80th birthday on October 9, but then the 40th anniversary of his shocking murder on December 8. In an extraordinary interview on Radio 2 this weekend, John’s son Sean chats with his half-brother Julian, as well as Paul McCartney and Elton John, about the incredible life and legacy of the Beatles legend. Paul opens up about their rivalry and why he had an advantage over his bandmate.
The interviews will be broadcast in two parts this Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Lennon and McCartney remain the most successful songwriting partnership in music history, with over 600 million records sold.
Although they are credited jointly on most songs, few were written in partnership. It was a hangover from their early days when they agreed on joint credits but, in reality, one would compose the bulk of a track and then the other would add some finishing touches.
This lead to a rivalry, both during the Beatles years and after, which Paul accepts also added to their creative drive
Looking back at it, Paul told Sean Lennon: “I think what was important wasn’t who was more sophisticated than the other or whatever.
“There maybe is some truth that, musically, I had an edge because my dad had shown us some things. And I’d learned the guitar chords a bit before John, but it wasn’t so much that, the sophistication, it was attitudes.
“So my attitude would be, ‘This is what I want to do.’ And then John would bring another edge to it.
“So the great thing was the combination of those two attitudes, and I look back on it now like a fan.”
The Beatles famously and acrimoniously split in 1970, after the recording and release of Abbey Road.
Relationships between all four band members were strained for years, but Paul is able to look back now with great affection and positivity on what they went through and created together.
He added: “You think, ‘Wow, how lucky was I to meet this strange Teddy boy off the bus who turned out to play music like I did? And we get together!’ And, boy, we complemented each other. It was a bit yin yang. They say with marriages opposites attract and I think we weren’t like madly opposite, but I had some stuff he didn’t have, and he had some stuff I didn’t have. So when you put them together it made something extra, which I think was this.”
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Paul says he can now look back an see how their partnership and rivalry encouraged them both to be better and to push boundaroes.
The Beatles star added: “The fact that we’d come along this journey together meant that, ‘hey, we’re just gonna continue, and who knows?, we might get better.’
“And so we did, and if I did something that was a little bit ahead of the curve, then John would come up with something that was a bit ahead of my curve. And then so I’d go ‘Well, how about this?’… there was a lot of friendly competition.”
John Lennon at 80 from 9-10pm, Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 October, on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Sounds.
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