With his debut solo album McCartney due for release on 17 April 1970, Paul McCartney chose not to do any promotional interviews. Instead, he asked Apple’s Peter Brown to write a list of questions to which he supplied the answers. They included his ruminations on the Beatles and the end of his partnership with John Lennon.
McCartney’s self-interview caused an immediate storm after its contents were revealed by Daily Mirror journalist Don Short, and its contents were widely reported around the world. Although speculation had been rife for the previous six months, confirmation that the group was no more still came as a shock to many.
The world reaction was like ‘The Beatles Have Broken Up – It’s Official’ – we’d known it for months. So that was that, really. I think it was the press who misunderstood. The record had come with this weird explanation on a questionnaire of what I was doing. It was actually only for them. I think a few people thought it was some weird move of me to get publicity, but it was really to avoid having to do the press.
Although McCartney did not directly say that The Beatles had split up, his disparaging comments about the group, their management by Allen Klein and his assertion that Lennon-McCartney would not become an active songwriting team effectively cut the ties.
McCartney’s actions also angered John Lennon, who had left the group some months ago but was persuaded to keep quiet while their final album Let It Be – here twice referred to by McCartney by its working title Get Back – was due for release.
The press release was divided into two parts. The first was McCartney’s questionnaire; the second detailed the songs on his album.
Q: Why did you decide to make a solo album?
A: Because I got a Studer four-track recording machine at home – practiced on it (playing all instruments) – liked the results, and decided to make it into an album.
Q: Were you influenced by John’s adventures with the Plastic Ono Band, and Ringo’s solo LP?
A: Sort of, but not really.
Q: Are all songs by Paul McCartney alone?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Will they be so credited: McCartney?
A: It’s a bit daft for them to be Lennon/McCartney credited, so “McCartney” it is.
Q: Did you enjoy working as a solo?
A: Very much. I only had me to ask for a decision, and I agreed with me. Remember Linda’s on it too, so it’s really a double act.
Q: What is Linda’s contribution?
A: Strictly speaking she harmonizes, but of course it’s more than that because she’s a shoulder to lean on, a second opinion, and a photographer of renown. More than all this, she believes in me – constantly.
Q: Where was the album recorded?
A: At home, at EMI (no. 2 studio) and at Morgan Studios (Willesden!)
Q: What is your home equipment (in some detail)?
A: Studer four-track machine. I only had, however, one mike, and as Mr Pender, Mr Sweatenham and others only managed to take six months or so (slight delay) I worked without VU meters or a mixer, which meant that everything had to be listened to first (for distortion etc…) then recorded. So the answer – Studer, one mike, and nerve.
Q: Why did you choose to work in the studios you chose?
A: They were available. EMI is technically very good and Morgan is cozy.
Q: The album was not known about until it was nearly completed. Was this deliberate?
A: Yes, because normally an album is old before it even comes out. (aside) Witness GET BACK.
A: I’ve always wanted to buy a Beatles album like people do and be as surprised as they must be. So this was the next best thing. Linda and I are the only two who will be sick of it by the release date. We love it really.
Q: Are you able to describe the texture or the feel of the album in a few words?
A: Home, family, love.
Q: How long did it take to complete?
A: From just before (I think) Xmas, until now. THE LOVELY LINDA was the first thing I recorded at home, and was originally to test the equipment. That was around Xmas.
Q: Assuming all the songs are new to the public, how new are they to you? Are they recent
A: One was from 1959 (HOT AS SUN). Two are from India – JUNK and TEDDY BOY, and the rest are pretty recent. VALENTINE DAY, MOMMA MISS AMERICA and OO YOU were ad-libbed on the spot.
Q: Which instruments have you played on the album?
A: Bass, drums, acoustic guitar, lead guitar, piano and organ-mellotron, toy xylophone, bow and arrow.
Q: Have you played all these instruments on earlier recordings?
A: Yes, drums being the one that I normally wouldn’t do.
Q: Why did you do all the instruments yourself?
A: I think I’m pretty good.
Q: Will Linda be heard on all future records?
A: Could be. We love singing together and have plenty of opportunity for practice.
Q: Will Paul and Linda become a John and Yoko?
A: No, they will become Paul and Linda.
Q: What has recording alone taught you?
A: That to make your own decisions about what you do is easy, and playing with yourself is very difficult, but satisfying.
Q: Who has done the artwork?
A: Linda has taken all the photos, and she and I designed the package.
Q: Is it true that neither Allen Klein nor ABKCO have been nor will be in any way involved with the production, manufacturing, distribution or promotion of this new album?
A: Not if I can help it.
Q: Did you miss the other Beatles and George Martin? Was there a moment when you thought, ‘I wish Ringo were here for this break?’
Q: Assuming this is a very big hit album, will you do another?
A: Even if it isn’t, I will continue to do what I want, when I want to.
Q: Are you planning a new album or single with the Beatles?
Q: Is this album a rest away from the Beatles or the start of a solo career?
A: Time will tell. Being a solo album means it’s “the start of a solo career…” and not being done with the Beatles means it’s just a rest. So it’s both.
Q: Is your break with the Beatles temporary or permanent, due to personal differences or musical ones?
A: Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family. Temporary or permanent? I don’t really know.
Q: Do you foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again?
Q: What do you feel about John’s peace effort? The Plastic Ono Band? Giving back the MBE? Yoko’s influence? Yoko?
A: I love John, and respect what he does – it doesn’t really give me any pleasure.
Q: Were any of the songs on the album originally written with the Beatles in mind?
A: The older ones were. JUNK was intended for ABBEY ROAD, but something happened. TEDDY BOY was for GET BACK, but something happened.
Q: Were you pleased with ABBEY ROAD? Was it musically restricting?
A: It was a good album. (No. 1 for a long time.)
Q: What is your relationship with Klein?
A: It isn’t. I am not in contact with him, and he does not represent me in ANY way.
Q: What is your relationship with Apple?
A: It is the office of a company which I part own with the other three Beatles. I don’t go there because I don’t like offices or business, especially when I am on holiday.
Q: Have you any plans to set up an independent production company?
A: McCartney Productions.
Q: What sort of music has influenced you on this album?
A: Light and loose.
Q: Are you writing more prolifically now? Or less so?
A: About the same. I have a queue waiting to be recorded.
Q: What are your plans now? A holiday? A musical? A movie? Retirement?
A: My only plan is to grow up!
Also on this day...
- 2011: The Beatles’ first contract to be auctioned
- 1970: George Harrison is interviewed for the BBC’s Fact Or Fantasy
- 1970: The Beatles’ final press release
- 1967: Paul McCartney performs on The Beach Boys’ Vegetables
- 1965: Television: Top Of The Pops
- 1964: US album release: The Beatles’ Second Album
- 1964: Filming: A Hard Day’s Night
- 1963: Live: Majestic Ballroom, Birkenhead
- 1962: Stuart Sutcliffe dies
- 1961: Live: Top Ten Club, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
The sense of frustration and impending liberation is palpable in the self-interview. McCartney’s brash tone no doubt ticked off the other Beatles, but they (except perhaps Ringo) seemed just as ready to leave the band, so it was not a matter of when but HOW the band was going to break up.
The Beatles’ business problems also were a major contributor to the break-up, as McCartney’s comments about Allen Klein make clear.
McCartney was obviously relieved to be his own boss for this record, but not having to answer to anyone else would prove to be a detriment to him in the long run as he lapsed into self-indulgence far too often in his post-Beatles career.
John had already left the group but without fanfare like Paul did to promote a record.