Paul McCartney on BBC Radio 4’s Mastertapes

McCartney on BBC 4

The recently taped interview with Paul McCartney on a special edition of BBC Radio 4’s Mastertapes will be available today on the BBC iPlayer. Paul McCartney talked to John Wilson about his career and answered questions from the audience at Maida Vale studios. A couple of our readers were present during the taping.

During the interview session, Sir Paul said he had been at a loss when the band fell apart in acrimony in 1970.

“It was difficult to know what to do after The Beatles. How do you follow that?” he told John Wilson.

“I was depressed. You would be. You were breaking from your lifelong friends. So I took to the bevvies.”

The Beatles officially split in 1970 with the release of Let It Be, but the seeds of their demise were sown a year earlier, when the band appointed Allen Klein as their manager, against Sir Paul’s wishes.

Although Klein helped restructure the band’s loss-making business, Apple, he also took a hefty share of their profits, and gave his own company the rights to press The Beatles’ records in the US.

He further angered Sir Paul by hiring Phil Spector to overdub a choir, orchestra and additional drums on to Let It Be; and attempted to make EMI delay the release of the star’s first solo album.

In order to divest himself of Klein’s influence, Sir Paul had to sue his bandmates. The legal fall-out was the caustic agent that finally broke his bond with John Lennon.

“The business thing split us apart,” said Sir Paul, adding that all the “heavy meetings” were “doing my head in”.

He became so depressed that he did not know “whether I was still going to continue in music”.

Eventually, he moved to Scotland – partly to make himself unavailable for the business meetings – and hit the bottle.

“I was far gone,” he said. “It was Linda who said, ‘you’ve got to get it together…’ and that led to Wings.”

“I liked the idea of a band. I wanted to go back to square one.”

However, he admitted: “We were terrible. We weren’t a good group. People said, ‘Linda can’t play keyboards,’ and it was true.

“But John couldn’t play guitar when we started [The Beatles].”

Here is a filmed version of the interview:

Mastertapes was recorded in Studio 3 of the BBC’s historic Maida Vale, where the Beatles taped numerous radio sessions in the 1960s.

Among the audience were Brad Pitt, Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, Martin Freeman, James Bay and Simon Pegg, as well as 100 members of the public, many of whom were able to put questions to Sir Paul.

Sir Paul talked about the writing of solo songs including Maybe I’m Amazed, Coming Up and Dance Tonight, as well as his Band on The Run and Sgt Pepper’s.

The conversation also covered his recent collaborations with Kanye West, revealing: “We never appeared to write a song. A lot of what we did was just telling each other stories.”

“People says he’s eccentric… which you’d have to agree with. He’s a monster. He’s a crazy guy that comes up with great stuff.”

And Sir Paul discussed how his relationship with John Lennon had improved in the months before the star’s untimely death in 1980.

“I would make calls to John occasionally,” he said. “We just talked kids and baking bread.”

Sir Paul McCartney’s Mastertapes interview is available now on the BBC iPlayer and Red Button. It will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 this Saturday, 28 May..

Video from the interview session.

11 Responses

  1. kristof.thoelen says:

    Is it possible to Watch the interview outside the UK?

  2. Tony says:

    Fascinating new revelations from Sir Paul. He was depressed after leaving the Beatles – who knew? He used to phone John and chat about kids and baking bread – interesting. But I would have liked to know whether he and John ever used to sag off school and write songs in his living room, or whether George Harrison ever said anything about George Martin's tie. Maybe next time.

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  4. Titenhurst says:

    @kristof – It maybe possible to view outside the UK if you use a proxy service. Google UK Proxy

  5. Shad Radna says:

    In his question, Simon Pegg observed that McCartney is a very private man and asked about the challenge of revealing too much of himself when songwriting. The answer began (roughly) with:

    "Just in real life I find that a challenge. I like to not give too much away. I'm quite private. Why should people know my innermost thoughts? That's for me – they're innermost."

    I actually quite enjoyed the interview. Between the stories, he comes out with little jokes and asides that give you glimpses into his personality. But the problem – if you want to see it as a problem – is right there in that quote. Everything he says is coming to us through a filter. For me, that's just a part of who he is. It's fine. But it is kind of odd that the seemingly ubiquitous McCartney is possibly the Beatle we know the least well.

  6. Unknown says:

    I think there's a lot of celebrities that can relate to that sentiment very strongly. I actually found it refreshing and very forthcoming that he expressed that so openly and honestly. His every movement has been a media blitz since anyone can remember. That takes a toll if you let it. I'm sure it is very hard to keep something for yourself. Even young artists (and actors) today, with only a tiny fraction of his fame, feel this happening to them in a major way. I say good-on-ya if you find a way to survive it with a little something that yours and yours alone, and isn't considered rightful public property. I'm not having all of my innermost thoughts smeared all over Gawker for the world to savage through and pick apart. He has shared a good number of inner thoughts over these many years, more so than many other artists I can think of off hand.

    Just my 2 cents.

  7. TexasMan says:

    Very old news!! Move on already. Stop trying to relive the same dream over and over and over…

  8. Titenhurst says:

    I don't believe in Beatles….The dream is over

  9. Martin says:

    The praise for that narcissistic clown, Kanye West, was sickening.
    So Paul has gone from the heights of Pepper and Band On The Run to working with some knobhead who uses the word 'nigger' in almost all of his recordings and gigs. If Paul is so proud of his collaboration with West, then why does he say 'N-Word' on his mastertapes interview? Why not say what Kanye says if he's that great? Because he isn't and, sadly, neither is Macca any more…

  10. Titenhurst says:

    Mmmm very controversial, It's bound to offend people. If it's any consolation, I was in the audience for the BBC Maida Vale recording. When he was asked the question on recent artists that he liked, he umm'd and ahh'd for a good 10 to 15 seconds before anyone came to mind. Of course that was edited out.

  11. KT says:

    Can you imagine what Lennon would be like now? Probably tweeting non-stop and hanging out with Courtney Love.

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