"It bugged him that Paul could write those sweet melodies like Yesterday and Hey Jude. He couldn’t do that" – John Lennon's former assistant on his rivalry with Beatles bandmate

The Beatles
(Image credit: Bettmann / Contributor)

The existence of a rivalry between John Lennon and Paul McCartney is hardly revelatory; the dynamic fuelled some of the greatest songs in pop history. But firsthand witnesses to how deep it went are still fascinating to hear – especially now Lennon isn't here to testify himself. And Dan Richter was very close to the former Beatle's world in the late '60s and early '70s.

As Lennon's former assistant who spent three years in his world, Richter also lived with the musician and his wife Yoko Ono. Now 83, he has spoken of his experiences to The Telegraph and podcast The Great British Scandal – The Ballad of John And Yoko. 

John got somebody to make a list of all the Beatles’ songs and then we had to say which were his and which were Paul’s

"John got somebody to make a list of all the Beatles’ songs and then we had to say which were his and which were Paul’s,” Richter remembers in a recent interview with The Telegraph of his time with the songwriter at his Tittenhurst Park estate in Ascot following the Beatles' split.

Of all the Beatles, US-born actor Richter remembers that it was McCartney that his brought out his biggest jealous streak. He notes in his interview with The Great British Scandal podcast that Lennon had "took umbrage' on number of tracks on Paul and Linda McCartney's 1971 album Ram. But the issues go back further.  

“It bugged him that Paul could write those sweet melodies like Yesterday and Hey Jude," Richter told The Telegraph. "He couldn’t do that. He was just too acerbic, or too intelligent…”

This was John saying, I Am John Lennon and I offer you this masterpiece

For Richter, the Imagine album in 1971 was Lennon's grand solo statement; "John wanted to show that he could do a big mainstream album with a big number one kind of hit on it," he told The Great British Scandal podcast. "And that's what Imagine was going to be. At that point you have to remember, the Plastic Ono Band albums, that are now considered masterpieces, were doing well in Britain but weren't doing that well at all in the States. People were thinking, 'What's happened to John?'"

"This was John saying, I Am John Lennon and I offer you this masterpiece," added Richter, who played a key role in organising the recording facilities at Ascot Sound Studios in the grounds of Tittenhurst for some of the album sessions. 

Paul McCartney on the end of the Beatles: "I didn’t instigate the split. That was our Johnny coming in one day and saying ‘I’m leaving the group’”

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.