George Harrison and John Lennon Wouldn’t Let Anyone Insult Paul McCartney but Them

John Lennon and George Harrison were frustrated with Paul McCartney. They insulted him, but made it clear that no one else should.

When The Beatles broke up, George Harrison and John Lennon were not happy with former bandmate Paul McCartney. Lennon disparaged his solo music and wrote pointed lyrics about McCartney. Harrison said that he would never work with him in a band again. They talked trash about him privately too, but they made it clear that the people they were talking to shouldn’t join in.

George Harrison and John Lennon were not happy with Paul McCartney when The Beatles split

When The Beatles broke up, McCartney sued the band in order to take control of their catalog from manager Allen Klein. This, coupled with festering irritation over McCartney’s behavior in the studio, infuriated his bandmates. Lennon wrote the brutal “How Do You Sleep?” about McCartney, and Harrison said publicly that he wouldn’t want to work with McCartney again.

“To tell the truth, I’d join a band with John Lennon any day, but I couldn’t join a band with Paul McCartney, but it’s nothing personal,” he said, per the book George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters. “It’s just from a musical point of view.”

McCartney struggled during this time period, but he couldn’t rely on his bandmates for support. None of them wanted to talk to him.

“I’d ring John and he’d say don’t bother me,” he said, per the book The Beatles: The Authorized Biography by Hunter Davies. “I rang George and he came out with effing and blinding, not at all Hare Krishna.”

George Harrison and John Lennon could insult Paul McCartney but didn’t want others to

After the band broke up, Lennon, Harrison, and Ringo Starr continued to spend time together and collaborate. Drummer Jim Keltner got to know both Lennon and Harrison well and noted that they could be harsh when they spoke about McCartney.

“When I talk about George, sometimes I feel like I’m making him sound too much like he was a saint. By no means was the man a saint!” Keltner told Uncut. “Over the years with him and John, they could both be really brutal with Paul.”

No matter what they said, though, both Lennon and Harrison made it clear that Keltner shouldn’t join in with them.

“I learned very early on that I couldn’t join them,” Keltner explained. “They both on different occasions said, ‘We can say that, but you shouldn’t.’ They were truly brothers who loved taking the piss out of each other, but they didn’t want anybody else doing it.”

They showed their familial affection despite their anger

Keltner was right; for all their arguments, the former Beatles were like family to one another. They met when they were young and lived through an unprecedented, tumultuous decade together. While in The Beatles, they spent nearly all their time together, even when they weren’t actively touring or working on music. It bonded them in ways that their post-breakup disagreements could not dismantle.

Lennon agreed with this. He noted that while he was furious with McCartney and Harrison for their treatment of Ono, he couldn’t stop loving them.

“I can’t forgive ’em for that, really,” he told Rolling Stone in 1971. “Although I can’t help still loving them either.”

By the mid-1970s, the former bandmates were on better terms. They weren’t able to stay too mad at each other for long.

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