John Lennon Said The Beatles’ Albums Were the Result of Suffering, Not Magic: ‘It’s Torture’

John Lennon said working with The Beatles was torturous. He shared what it was like to be a member of the famous band.

John Lennon was vocally frustrated with The Beatles, decrying his bandmates and the albums they made together. At the start of the 1960s, they worked closely and excitedly together. By the second half of the decade, though, the four Beatles were no longer as eager to collaborate. According to Lennon, working on albums became torturous.

John Lennon said it was always a pain to record Beatles albums

Shortly after The Beatles finished recording Let It Be, Lennon spoke about the slog of working with his bandmates.

“We were going through hell,” he told The Village Voice (via Gold Radio UK). “We often do. It’s torture every time we produce anything.”

While they were the most popular band of the era, Lennon said that there was no magic in what they did. It was all hard, painful work, particularly as they worked on their final albums.

“The Beatles haven’t got any magic you haven’t got,” he said. “We suffer like hell anytime we make anything, and we got each other to contend with. Imagine working with The Beatles, it’s tough.”

He noted that it was always tense in the studio, even as they created their best work.

“There’s just tension,” he said. “It’s tense every time the red light goes on.”

John Lennon named the Beatles albums he didn’t like

After The Beatles broke up, Lennon spoke frequently about disliking their music. Let It Be, which he seemed to be thinking about when he spoke to The Village Voice, was one of them.

“Such a dreadful, dreadful feeling,” he said, per the book 150 Glimpses of The Beatles by Craig Brown. “The s***tiest load of badly recorded s*** with a lousy feeling to it, ever.”

Another album Lennon hated was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, despite the album’s cultural significance. He didn’t even wait until after the band broke up to criticize it.

“I mean, everyone always says what a great record Pepper was, even though I think it’s the biggest load of s*** we’ve ever done,” he told Beatles audio engineer Geoff Emerick not long after its release, per Emerick’s book Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles.

He was the first person to leave the band

Given Lennon’s distaste for The Beatles’ music, it’s hardly surprising that he was the first to exit the band. Tensions in the group had been high for a while, but his bandmates were still surprised by Lennon’s announcement.

“There was a meeting and John walked into it, and the other Beatles and me were in this room and John walked in and said, ‘I’m leaving The Beatles.’… We were gobsmacked,” Paul McCartney told NPR. “We were very shocked. I think the first question in our minds was, is this going to last? Or is this just something very John-ish where he would just say, ‘Hey, Big Dramatic Statement!’ And then you go off and then a couple of weeks later, you go, ‘Oh, maybe we should get together again.’ It was quite shocking. You can imagine someone just walks in and tells you, ‘The factory is closing.’”

While the group wondered if they’d reunite, they never did. Lennon’s announcement was the death knell for the band.

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