Paul McCartney says Yoko Ono being in the studio with The Beatles was "disturbing": "I don’t think any of us particularly liked it"

Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1968
(Image credit: Getty Images/ Cummings Archives)

The "Yoko split the Beatles" trope is as persistent as it is tired, having gone in and out of fashion with Beatle-ologists and fans several times over the years. 

The grown-ups in the room insist - correctly - that the fragmentation and eventual dispersal of the Fab Four was a much more gradual, complex affair, taking in the stresses and strains of redefining popular culture, knotty business wrangles, personal loss and good old-fashioned musical differences.

“Things like Yoko being literally in the middle of the recording session were something you had to deal with"

Now, Paul McCartney has opened up, a little, on the impact of John Lennon's introduction of Yoko to the band's tight-knit studio workflow.

“John and Yoko had got together and that was bound to have an effect on the dynamics of the group,” McCartney says in a new episode of McCartney: A Life in Lyrics, a fascinating series of discussions between Macca and Pulitzer prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, his collaborator on The Lyrics book project.

“Things like Yoko being literally in the middle of the recording session were something you had to deal with. The idea was that if John wanted this to happen, then it should happen. There’s no reason why not.”

While the band were supportive and tolerant of each other's personal preferences, there's clearly no doubt in McCartney's mind that the change in dynamics disturbed The Work.

“Anything that disturbs us is disturbing. We would allow this and not make a fuss. And yet at the same time, I don’t think any of us particularly liked it.

“It was an interference in the workplace. We had a way we worked. The four of us worked with George Martin. And that was basically it. 

"And we’d always done it like that. So not being very confrontational, I think we just bottled it up and just got on with it.”

This isn't the first time McCartney has broached the subject. In a BBC Radio 4 interview marking the release of The Lyrics book, he was even clearer that Ono's presence was an unspoken concession.

"I had been able to accept Yoko in the studio sitting on a blanket in front of my amp," McCartney said. 

"I worked hard to come to terms with that, but then when we broke up and everyone was now flailing around, John turned nasty. I don't really understand why. 

"Maybe because we grew up in Liverpool where it was always good to get the first punch in the fight."

Will Groves

I'm lucky enough to be MusicRadar's Editor-in-chief while being, by some considerable distance, the least proficient musician on the editorial team. An undeniably ropey but occasionally enthusiastic drummer, I've worked on the world's greatest music making website in one capacity or another since its launch in 2007. I hope you enjoy the site - we do.