John and Paul were credited with writing the majority of The Beatles songs while the band was still together. However, as they gained increasing recognition for their music, the four bandmates – including George Harrison and Ringo Starr – began to fight among one another. By the time they had become international stars, the band was struggling to hold it together. Throughout 1968 and 1969, both George and Ringo intermittently left The Beatles to work on their solo material, but after a short spell away they would find their way back.
When John decided in September 1969 that he was finally ready for a “divorce” as he termed it and wanted to permanently leave the group, he was begged by Paul and their manager Allen Klein to keep it quiet until the next album Let It Be was released the following year.
However, in April 1970, Paul publicly broke the news that he was leaving the band before the album had come out, and he used to opportunity to promote his debut solo work as well, infuriating John.
Paul briefly denounced their split as relating to the commercial side of music – ‘“it was the business thing that split us apart” – but correspondence between the two shows personal animosity also caused the band’s divisions.
Writing in Vanity Fair in 2016, Lauren Le Vine revealed how John had been scathing towards his former songwriting partner in a letter to Paul’s wife, Linda.
In response, John addressed a letter to both Paul and Linda: “Do you really think most of today’s art came about because of the Beatles? I don’t believe you’re that insane—Paul—do you believe that?
“When you stop believing it you might wake up!
“Didn’t we always say we were part of the movement—not all of it?—Of course, we changed the world, but try and follow it through.
“GET OFF YOUR GOLD DISC AND FLY!”
John himself once said The Beatles were “more popular than Jesus”, but while he was pursuing new work with his wife Yoko Ono, he believed he had garnered “more intelligent interest” than he received with the band. He went on to frequently denounce Paul’s solo writing efforts, saying ‘Yesterday’ was the only good song he had ever written.
This period of animosity with his former bandmates left Paul feeling incredibly low, according to the 2014 book by Tom Doyle ‘Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s’.
Mr Doyle continued: “For the first time in his life, he felt utterly worthless. Everything he had been since the age of 15 had been wrapped up in the band.
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“Now,even though he couldn’t tell the world, that period of his life was almost certainly over. It was as if he’d suddenly and unexpectedly lost his job, been made entirely redundant.
He was 27 and of no use to anyone anymore.”
A 2012 book entitled The John Lennon Letters claimed that Linda McCartney primarily wrote to John to reprimand him for his decision to secretly leave the Beatles and reluctance to announce it publicly.
Linda McCartney felt the situation had seriously affected her husband, and Paul later stated how his wife managed to get back to feeling positive once again.
When Paul announced he was leaving the band publicly, the press assumed he was the Beatle who was causing the group to disband.
However, before John’s assassination in 1980, he and Paul were on good terms once again.