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Paul McCartney on Beatles manager Allen Klein: "A lot of hurt went down during that period in the early 1970s"

John Lennon
Allen Klein, John Lennon and Yoko Ono on 29 April, 1969. Klein was representing Lennon in negotiations over control of shares in the Beatles' Northern Songs company (Image credit: C. Maher/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Image)

Paul McCartney's recent Inside The Songs appearance on Radio 4 reading his new book continues to reveal Beatles revelations. Namely the extent of McCartney's opposition to Allen Klein and its role in the band's disagreements in the early '70s after their split. 

In the reading of The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present, written by Paul McCartney with Irish poet Paul Muldoon as editor, the legend talks candidly about the business disagreements that fractured the band. 

"The whole story, in a nutshell, is we were having a meeting in 1969, and John showed up and said he'd met this guy Allen Klein, who promised Yoko an exhibition is Syracuse, and then the matter of fact, John told us he was leaving the band," reveals McCartney.

"I suppose that's a funny pun but 'all ever I did' was Yesterday, Let It Be, The Long and Winding Road, Eleanor Rigby, Lady Madonna? Fuck you, John!

"It is basically how it happened," continues McCartney. "It was three to one because the other two went with John so it was looking like Allen Klein was gonna own our entire Beatle empire. I was not too keen on that idea."

McCartney seemed especially unguarded in the book when writing about Klein's involvement in the infamous 1971 Lennon song, How Do You Sleep? It took a clear swipe at his former Beatles bandmate in the lyrics. 

"John actually had Allen Klein and Yoko in the room suggesting lyrics during writing sessions," read McCartney on Inside The Songs. "In the song How Do You Sleep, the line, 'The only thing you did was Yesterday', was apparently Allen Klein's suggestion. And John said, 'Hey, that's great - put that in.' 

"I can see the laughs doing it and I had to work very hard not to take it too seriously, but at the back of my mind, I was thinking, 'Wait a minute! All I ever did was 'Yesterday'?'

"I suppose that's a funny pun but 'all ever I did' was Yesterday, Let It Be, The Long and Winding Road, Eleanor Rigby, Lady Madonna? Fuck you, John! I had to fight them for my bit of The Beatles, and in fact, for their bit of The Beatles, which many years later they realised and almost thanked me for.

It seemed to me they were all just fucking out of it and making no attempt to do anything sensible

"Nowadays, people get it," reasons McCartney, "but at the time I think the others felt they were the ones being hurt by my actions. Allen Klein already had a history with The Rolling Stones. I just though, 'Oy oy oy, this guy has got such a bad reputation.' And good old John says, 'If he's that badly talked about, he can't be all bad.' 

"John had this kind of distorted thinking which was amusing sometimes. But not when someone was going to take everything that John, George [Harrison], Ringo [Starr], and I owned, and really worked hard to get.

"So I stood up as the sensible one and said, 'This is not good.' Klein wanted 20%, and I said, 'Tell him he can have 10% if you have to go with him.' 'Oh, no, no, no,' they came back. 'No he wants 20.' "It seemed to me they were all just fucking out of it and making no attempt to do anything sensible.

"A lot of hurt went down during that period in the early 1970s," continues the Beatle, "them feeling hurt, me feeling hurt, but John being John, he was the one that would  write a hurtful song. That was his bag."

Paul McCartney

(Image credit: Allen Lane )

The two legends reportedly healed their relationship to some degree in the decade. Elsewhere in the reading, McCartney talks of his 1982 song Here, Today and his sense of loss after Lennon's murder in 1980.

"There's a longing in the lines, 'If you were here today and I'm holding back the tears no more', because it was very emotional writing this song. I was just sitting there in this little bare room thinking of John and realising I've lost him. And it was a powerful loss. So to have a conversation with him in a song was some form of solace. Somehow I was with him again."

The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present, written by Paul McCartney with Irish poet Paul Muldoon as editor, is out now. 

Hear McCartney's full Inside The Songs episode on BBC Radio 4.

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