I was always waiting for a reason to get out of The Beatles from the day I made How I Won the War in 1966. I just didn’t have the guts to do it, you see. Because I didn’t know where to go. I remember why I made the movie. I did it because The Beatles had stopped touring and I didn’t know what to do. Instead of going home and being with the family, I immediately went to Spain with Dick Lester because I couldn’t deal with not being continually onstage. That was the first time I though, ‘My God, what do you do if this isn’t going on? What is there? There’s no life without it.’ And that’s when the seed was planted that I had to somehow get out of this, without being thrown out by the others. But I could never step out of the palace because it was too frightening.
I was really too scared to walk away. I was thinking, ‘Well, this is the end, really. There’s no more touring. That means there’s going to be a blank space in the future.’ At some time or other that’s when I started considering life without The Beatles – what would it be? And I spent that six weeks thinking about that: ‘What am I going to do? Am I going to be doing Vegas? But cabaret?’ I mean, where do you go? So that’s when I started thinking about it. But I could not think what it would be, or how I could do it. I didn’t even consider forming my own group or anything, because it didn’t enter my mind. Just what would I do when it stopped?
Lennon had the part of Private Gripweed in the film, which was released in 1967. He remained in Spain for seven weeks, initially staying at a small seafront apartment but later moving to a villa, Santa Isabel, near Almería.
Santa Isabel was owned by producer Sam Spiegal. Lennon stayed there with his wife Cynthia, and The Beatles’ assistant Neil Aspinall. Also staying in the house was actor Michael Crawford, the star of How I Won The War, and his family.
Lennon also took his Rolls-Royce with blacked out windows to Spain. The car had a microphone and mounted loudspeaker, and Lennon took delight in surprising passers-by.
When John went to make How I Won The War in Spain, he took the same car, which he virtually lived in. It had blacked-out windows and you could never see who was in it, so it was perfect. John didn’t come out of it – he just used to talk to the people outside through the microphone: ‘Get away from the car! Get away!’