Erin discovered this interesting account, written by Paul, of a typical day in the life of a rock star. It was first published in Q magazine and linked here in The Beatles’ Bible. What I find most appealing is Paul’s candor and absence of false cheeriness. To quote Paul:
The Bee Gees are great and talented people, but they can still fuck off!
Click on the link to read more.
60 thoughts on “A Day In The Life of Paul McCartney”
Interesting. To me this is as close to his real personality as we can get….or at least one side of his real personality. It’s very different from the cutsie, thumbs up notion of him that most people seem to have. Pieces like this remind me of how similar to John he is. Thanks for posting this.
That’s exactly what I said to Erin, when we discussed it.
“To me this is as close to his real personality as we can get”
Except for being a fly on the wall, I think you’re right. It’s got some snark — “So that’s where our profits go” and defensive sarcasm “sure, let me tell you the worst things about myself!” This is a guy who is razor sharp, suspects his manager is sucking up to him, and has a wry, sarcastic humor. He’s also defensive about the Beatles story — note the bit where he talks about calling up the director of “John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert” and trying to correct him for labeling Paul as the reason for the band’s split — and aware of the absurdity of sending a postcard to a friend and then seeing it for sale at Sotheby’s years later.
It was MacDonald who said that John and Paul “thought at the same speed,” and interviews like this are a refreshing change of pace from some of the caricatured drivel I was reading the other week, where some journalist who thought he was being funny described Ringo as incapable of sophisticated thought and Paul as “someone with a smile on his face all the time — someone who thinks happy, hummable thoughts and dots his i’s with little flowers.”
Like Karen said, it lacks the semi-forced cheeriness of so many of Paul’s TV interviews. (I think Paul does best in print or radio interviews and worst in TV interviews, especially as he’s gotten older).
He comments about the reporters asking him the same old stuff (and this is from 1993!) is pretty — well, not revealing for the most devoted fans, because everyone does usually ask the same old questions, but if its frustrating for us to read the same old Q&A’s, imagine how frustrating it must be for Paul to answer the same old Q&A’s endlessly. I think it was Mark Lewisohn who said that if you ask Paul good, thoughtful questions you’ll get interesting, thoughtful answers, but if you just ask him the same old leftovers, Paul will just go on autopilot. Which … the first time I read this piece, I was impressed at how many interviews Paul did in a space of a week. Extrapolate that out over fifty years: by this point, Paul has given more interviews than probably almost anyone alive, and has more practice giving them than interviewer has asking them.
Isn’t it funny how Paul chose to mask this aspect of his personality when John wore it proudly? I recall reading a Beatles biography years ago (I think by Julius Fast, but don’t quote me) where he said: “Paul hides a sharp intellect behind a facade of schoolboy enthusiasm because he realizes that people are more at home with the boy than with the man.” (Also funny how I remember that quote, almost verbatim–I can hardly remember my email password.)
It is funny, and I wonder how much of it has to do with the quasi-sibling role that each of the Beatles found themselves in, and how much was determined by their caricatures, which entrenched themselves, and which they were expected to continue to fill over time. For me, part of Paul’s “Cutesy” façade was necessitated by John and George’s own personalities and caricaturizations: to become the world’s biggest band, the Beatles needed “A ‘Cute’ one; to stay the world’s biggest band, they needed a P.R. man, and Paul was more suited than anyone else to fill those roles. Having started out in that role fifty years ago, I think Paul reflexively falls back into it by rote, even today. One of the few things fans find difficult to forgive the Beatles for is not fulfilling the images we, the fans, have built up of them in our minds. People are comfortable with cuddly Paul, because that’s how he was introduced to them: it’s that AHDN influence again. Also, emphasizing Paul’s cutesiness is a lazy way for lazy writers to contrast him with John.
You do have Paul attempting to break out of the “cute schoolboy” caricature by 66-67: that’s when you have Paul’s famously snarky “prostitutes and lesbians” comment at a press conference and his interview with Maureen Cleave which I mention in the book, where he’s talking about Stockhausen and John Cage and Shakespeare and bashing America’s lack of a BBC and history of racial segregation. Hardly the image of a man who dots his ‘i’s with little flowers. But the anti-Paul breakup-era P.R. brought it roaring back — as did Shout! and other works in the 80’s. Having said that, at times, Paul is his own worst enemy in interviews. IMO, George gave better interviews in Anthology than Paul did; Paul comes across at times as hammy and trying too hard, whereas George comes across as wry and thoughtful.
I think even John addressed Paul’s more caustic side in interviews back in the day. It’s like no-one would believe it. Once established, he couldn’t get out of it–so of course John was the wild, avant-garde musician while Paul was a pretty socialite.
I agree. If only he’d realize that he comes across more favourably when he acts like himself, and not like one side of a four-sided caricature.
Well, here — courtesy of Amoralto — are part of John’s 1965 musings on his image as the “vicious,” “biting” Beatle with the rapier wit, and the presumably “safer” Paul, which comes from a 1965 interview with Ray Coleman:
“The people who have fallen for my image and publicity go to Paul, which I think’s funnier still. Paul can be very cynical and much more biting than me when he’s driven to it. ’Course, he’s got more patience. But he can carve people up in no time at all, when he’s pushed. He hits the nail right on the head and doesn’t beat around the bush, does Paul.”
(I read that and automatically think of Paul’s comments to Stu and Pete on their respective musical abilities: “You may look like Jeff Chandler, and you may look like James Dean, but you’re both crap.”)
One of Paul’s teachers — I think it was Alan Durband, his favorite, though I’m not sure — says something similar to John in either one of the group bios or Paul bios — it might even be in “Tune In.” Something to the effect of how Paul was perfectly capable of giving the
sharp, smart, ” devastating” insult, but chose not to because he, unlike John, had a filter.
“If only he’d realize that he comes across more favourably when he acts like himself, and not like one side of a four-sided caricature.”
Precisely. Paul’s cute, charming personae has worn somewhat with age, but it also worked better in press conferences and interviews when he had John and George to balance him out by demonstrating their own caricatured traits. Paul still, to a certain extent, falls back in the P.R. role he’s been slotted into for fifty-plus years, which is part of the whole “auto-pilot” of his interview process.
I remember that too. There’s a side to Paul, usually well-hidden, that’s sharp as a tac. Read Julius Fast’s comment above.
Paul hides a sharp intellect behind a facade of schoolboy enthusiasm because he realizes that people are more at home with the boy than with the man.”
I remember that quote too. I think it was Julius Fast. Yes it does seem to be verbatim. I’m impressed! And no I don’t remember my email password either. 😀
I’ve never read (or even heard of) Fast: what did you think of his work?
I remember liking the book for his understanding of the Beatles’ individual personalities, and his attempt to understand how fame impacted the group. Fast was also not focused on a particular Beatle so it was fairly objective. I found a copy of it online and downloaded it on my e-reader. It suffered a bit in the transition (the pages are all wonky) but it’s there. I’ll have to give it another read. I first read it as a young teen, 13 or so.
Thanks for the information; I’ll have to see if I can get a copy via I.L.L.
some journalist who thought he was being funny described Ringo as incapable of sophisticated thought and Paul as “someone with a smile on his face all the time — someone who thinks happy, hummable thoughts and dots his i’s with little flowers.”
Seriously? What were you reading? Was it written a long time ago? Honestly it’s bazaar how there is so much misconception about this band.
He’s also defensive about the Beatles story — note the bit where he talks about calling up the director of “John, Paul, George, Ringo and Bert” and trying to correct him for labeling Paul as the reason for the band’s split
The misconceptions are mind boggling. It must drive him up a tree. It’s as if they’re talking about fictional characters.
I went back through my notes, and you’re right; it is an older article: “I Wanna Be Your Man,” from a 1996 New Yorker article, where the author discusses his son picking a favorite Beatle, and how he, the author, had chosen Paul, which he evidently believed cast aspersions on his manliness. It’s in a compilation book on articles/stories on the Beatles: the compilation itself is fairly forgettable.
I hesitate to say so (gdelgiblueeyes from JHP here), but unless someone can tell us if Paul actually wrote it, this may just be another piece of satire from Q like its rendition of the Lennon diaries whipped up in the wake of the Rosen and Giuliano publications in the early 2000’s: http://www.beatlesarchives.com/diaries.htm
Well dang. That just blows our whole commentary out of the water 🙂 When I read the article over again, I think you may be on to something.
Oh, Thanks for that, Provider. Best laugh I’ve had all day. Loved the reference to “Mull of Kintyre” “Suggested bagpipes for an intro. Think Paul fell for it.”
I’d have to do more research on this article to verify that it is on the up and up, but at the moment I’d guess its not a satire. It might have been written by Paul’s personal assistant or secretary, but unlike the John stuff, its not overtly satirical. A true satire would have been heavier on the references/caricatures/clichés, don’t you think? More exaggerated pot references?
Another interesting note: The interview Paul references with Maureen Cleave in this diary account might very well be the same one which includes two quotes I included in my book: the observation by Maureen that Paul’s life at the time “lacked angst,” and Paul’s declaration to her that he and John loved each other. There were some really great observations from Maureen surrounding that interview; how she hadn’t seen Paul in years, or interviewed him in decades; how numerous reporters were all waiting in line to interview him and, even though they were all forced to wait, they just accepted it; she made the comparison to interviewing the Royal Family. I’ll have to look in my notes to see where the observations she made are; I’m very interested in the mindset of the interviewer going in to an interview. We know that can make an enormous impact on the material you get out of a source.
Definitely. I don’t think this is satire. I think it’s the real deal. It’s funny but to me it’s not a satirical on Paul McCartney. I think it’s way too low key and understated to be satire. It’s filled with sarcastic quips. I don’t think a satire on Paul McCartney would be filled with sarcastic quips. It would probably be filled with jokes about vegetarianism, animals, being knighted, the pot busts, and maybe some ‘Beatle Paul’ ‘the cute one’ jokes. Like you mentioned earlier, Eric Idle as Dirk McQuickly was satire. An overly exaggerated version of Paul at his ‘cutest’.
See, I don’t think it’s low-key or understated at all. As Paul’s public persona (at least to the British public) is all about vegetarianism, animals, being knighted, pot, and being “Beatle Paul”/”the cute one” forever and a day, satire for the press might be to pretend Paul McCartney was a human being. But I might be over-thinking it.
Personally, I don’t read it as satire, especially after reading and comparing it to the satirical “John” entries you linked to. Those are so obviously full of references, after-the-fact events — Ringo and Shining Times Station — and Paul/the other Beatles that it reads like an SNL sketch. Paul’s reads more like a regular Day in the Life.
But there might be a cultural contrast: Americans are generally regarded as preferring more obvious satire, exaggeration, sarcasm, etc., — i.e. the “John” entries — whereas its my understanding that the English prefer, and are the masters of, a less telegraphed style of such forms of humor. (I know MacDonald discussed the issue in the first edition of RITH, because I quoted it in the book, where he’s discussing the contrast between American vs. British irony).
I’m guessing you are British, Provider, since you discussed the popular British perception of Paul, and argued that the image of Paul in the popular British mindset is such a satirical version already that providing depth would actually subvert the standard clichés. Which is an interesting concept. I think there would be an interesting discussion to be had out of that; the contrast between how the U.S. (or France, or Canada, or Argentina, or Germany., etc) views the Beatles as a whole and the Beatles as individuals, and comparing and contrasting those perceptions with how the British view them. Both the U.S. and English seem to make some form of proprietary claim over the Beatles — although the British obviously have a great deal more reason to do so — but according to The Beatles Bibliography, there’s a great deal of Beatles scholarship coming out of Poland. (Unfortunately, neither of the book’s editors spoke/read Polish, and so couldn’t translate the articles, but merely cataloged them).
This is largely speculation, but it does seem as if the American press/public is a little more forgiving of Paul than the British press/public is; not that we don’t caricaturize him — we do — we just embrace the caricaturization with gusto, something that MacDonald, again, noted; that level of ‘un-ironic devotion’ is simply not-British. And now I realize that much of this post is serious digression from the topic at hand, but its late, and I do find the topic interesting, so I’ll let it post anyway.
Actually, I’m American.
Then we can celebrate Hawaii statehood day together later this week.
In that case then, the cultural contrasts don’t apply — although I’d love to hear from any other nationalities/cultures following the discussion — but it does seem to be an element in perception of the individual Beatles and of the band as a whole.
I know I’m getting somewhat tangential here, but its a discussion worth having, and one that I, at least, am interested in: how do differing nationalities and cultures view the Beatles and their music? I’ve seen posters from other countries express frustration on other forums at how dominated the Beatles story is by British/American journalists and British/American events. And the British/American control of the story — viewing them through that lens, particularly the male British/American journalists lens — is almost ubiquitous. How do Indian fans view the Beatles interest in the Maharishi and meditation, for example? Do they see it as favorable, or do they view it as more cultural appropriation by English Westerners? What about the Japanese? Fans there evidently lobbied long and hard to get permission for Paul to come there in 1980, despite his drug busts, and we all now how that turned out. There’s a book out regarding Soviet fans and how and why they became so devoted to the Beatles — initially because of the melodies, as they couldn’t understand English, and because they were banned.
As to the main topic, I simply don’t read the entry as a satire. I’d expect a satire of Paul to include numerous references to pot, Wings, Mull of Kintyre, Give My Regards to BroadStreet, and oodles of Beatles/vegetarian/cutesey Paul moments.
I wouldn’t think it was satire, but possibly something penned by an assistant, given to Paul for his approval/minor editing touches, then off to the publisher. Or penned by Paul, given to an assistant for polishing, then off to the publisher. It’s so hard to say, because we don’t really have an exemplar of Paul’s writing, except for the intro to In His Own Write (a title which was Paul’s interestingly enough.)
Edited to Add: With respect to cultural differences, I can say as a Canadian that the whole John-and-Jesus incident left us scratching our heads about what all the fuss was about. We’re much more closely aligned to our British cousins in that respect.
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So, the internet ate my earlier reply. But thanks for the Canadian perspective on that whole fiasco, Karen.
Speaking of being “bigger than Jesus,” here’s an interesting article about on it that presents a very different motivation behind Datebook’s editor, Art Unger’s, decision to post the interviews. https://theconversation.com/are-the-beatles-still-more-misunderstood-than-jesus-62751
I have always found it interesting that Paul’s remarks on America’s racial relations were completely ignored, especially given the climate at the time. According to both this article and Robert Rodriguez’s Revolver, Unger expected that Paul’s comments would get the attention, which is why he put Paul’s face on the cover, but people at the time and decades later seemingly completely overlooked Paul’s statements. Odd.
Really interesting piece, Erin. I didn’t know datebook was so political.
The Beatles had always taken a stand against segregation and conservative American sentiment. They refused to play for segregated audiences (building that clause into their contract) and stood their ground when told they were “anti-American” (John: “that’s very observant of them, because we’re British.”) I’m guessing Paul’s comment didn’t receive as much (or any) airtime because he didn’t comment on religion. Appearing to criticize religion (even now) is tantamount to treason in some parts. 🙂
Seems to me that the American DJ (can’t recall his name), not Datebook, was the mastermind of the Jesus fiasco. That fool promoted record burnings and all the other nonsense.
Fascinating article, thanks for posting that Erin. If I may I’d like to just copy and paste below, from Brian Ward’s article:
“Understanding the Beatles’s links to Unger and their willingness to speak out on social issues in his magazine long before 1966, changes our perspective on the dramatic events of that summer. Suddenly, they begin to look less like the first chapter in the story of the band’s political awakening and more like an important episode in a much longer tale. Looking back through the pages, not to mention the covers, of Datebook certainly reminds us that Lennon was not the only Beatle with strong opinions on current affairs.”
“Fifty years on, it is time to stop casting Unger’s decision to reprint Lennon’s interview as the act of the unscrupulous owner of a “cheesy American teen magazine” out for a fast buck. Instead, we need to see it as one phase in his efforts to use Datebook to showcase progressive politics, encourage unconventional opinions, and expose all kinds of prejudice. The Beatles certainly recognised that Unger’s Datebook was very different from other teen publications.”
Reading this reminds me once again of how ( except for Lewisohn) unsatisfying Beatles bios have been so far. I remember in Spitz’s book there was a whole scene created on a plane, with so called dialogue between John and Paul. It was over the Jesus fiasco and Spitz has Paul saying to John, “Well you’ve always been the controversial one.” Honestly why was there invented dialogue in what was supposed to be a biography? Also I remember thinking, Paul would never have said that because the pre Yoko Beatles were equally controversial. Spitz was creating dialogue based on a modern, post Wenner/Yoko/70’s/1980, view of Lennon that didn’t exist in 1966. Before that Datebook article hit the news wires there wasn’t really anything that was more “controversial” about John than the others unless you count the rattle your jewelry comment. And why did biographers portray Unger’s decision as “the act of the unscrupulous owner of a cheesy American teen magazine out for a fast buck”? Did they bother to do any research? Paul’s comments (unless of course, you count invented dialogue that reads like fan fiction) are never mentioned in biographies. This presents a skewed view of the Beatles and who they were.
Like Karen mentioned, two southern djs blew Lennon’s comments out of proportion because they knew it would stir up their listeners and therefore raise ratings for their radio station. They saw Paul’s comments too but they didn’t think his would have the same emotional impact on their listeners. The whole thing was just a big publicity stunt that got very out of hand.
I’ve watched all of the Beatles press conferences and some of the individual interviews. Paul turned on the cute, boyish persona briefly in 1964 during their first visit, but after that he seemed to drop it. Perhaps it got back to him that he was thought of as “the girl of the group” and “coquetish”. I think he may have turned that persona on because he was nervous about how they would be received. He didn’t seem to have it long. To me they all seemed natural in most press conferences and Paul was quite caustic in a couple of them, almost rude. Strangely I don’t remember John being rude in any press conference. To me John seemed most mindful of how they were coming across. Later on in 1964, in the U.S. it was Paul who explained that they were all atheists. In another interview with Playboy, it was Paul who seemed the most outspoken about casual sex, talking about “tits” and openly referring to quick, one off sexual encounters. And of course Paul is the one who booed the cops during the Shea concert while John seemed to be scolding him for doing so. Personally I think the image of Paul as the cute, boyish p.r guy comes more from his 1980’s interview persona but I agree it was mostly on television.
I think Paul has demonstrated various P.R. behaviors over the decades but, because the “cute” personae is how he was first pigeonholed, both for fans and the press, its been impossible for him to shake. That’s that AHDN influence again; Ringo noted the same thing, how that original image of him as the “downtrodden dummy” in that movie — because it was how he was introduced to so many people — is the one they can’t get rid of. And from a historian’s perspective, that makes perfect sense; regardless of topic, that original perception is so difficult, if not impossible, to overcome, and will probably never be totally wiped away; we actually discussed that at the last Historian’s conference I went to, although the topic was primarily “captivity narratives” of the old West and not, obviously, the Beatles. Look at The Rutles, and Dirk McQuickly, yes its a spoof, and its (to me at least) extremely funny but it is a movie where cloying cuteness is “Pauls” identifying characteristic.
His 1966-1968 era interviews are, as I mentioned in a different post, pulling away from the cute schoolboy caricature: that’s when he’s giving interviews to the “International Times” discussing his LSD use, etc. (And you mentioned other instances which date back even earlier). For me, that’s period in which his P.R. strengths really shine through; he’s discussing these radical ideas and concepts, but in part because of his earlier personae, and because he’s Paul, its somewhat of an easier concept for people to accept, or at least not dislike him for: the cultural equivalent of an “Only Nixon could go to China;” Only Paul McCartney could go on television and announce he had taken LSD and still be your mother’s favorite Beatle. His confidence in that time period is sky high; and his P.R. job is to sell the Beatles and their music, and he does a masterful job of it.
His P.R. personae in the breakup period is hard to analyze, to an extent, because of how little of it there is. He really dropped off the map for almost a year, and when he did give interviews, they were rambling, defensive, wounded, and appeasing, and (for the rock press, anyway) unconvincing. For me, there is a very clear before and after the breakup in regards to Paul’s P.R. personae; there is a defensiveness, rather than confidence, in all his post April-1970 P.R. that is not present in his earlier interviews. That defensiveness dissipates considerably by Wings Over America in 1976, and then comes roaring back after December 1980, Christgau, Norman, Coleman, etc. I think, again, that defensiveness has dissipated somewhat over the last twenty years or so.
Also, (and this isn’t a problem for me, but I suspect it might be for those who take rock and roll Oh So Seriously) Paul can come off as a bit of a ham. (Sheffield, the journalist who I quoted in the earlier thread regarding the discussion on Linda’s worthiness, makes the same observation, and so does Doggett, and I think its an accurate one). Some of Paul’s TV interviews are a curious mix of hamminess and defensiveness. (And now I’m wondering if anyone has ever really done an in-depth study of Beatles P.R. I read Barrow’s book, but it wasn’t that good).
I think Paul’s finest hour was during the John and Jesus debacle. The press leaned on him pretty heavily. Note, in this interview, John’s body language. As the interview progresses, he leans more and more into Paul, connoting affiliation and dependence. Epstein and the other three Beatles were very dependent upon Paul during that time, and Paul really came through.
Some of Paul’s TV interviews are a curious mix of hamminess and defensiveness.
True, especially in the 80’s.
And now I’m wondering if anyone has ever really done an in-depth study of Beatles P.R.
I enjoyed the book, Beatles for Sale. Also there’s a book called, The Beatles: Image and the media that was also very good. I’m curious Erin..why didn’t you think Barrow’s book was very good?
Thanks for those suggestions, Linda. I’m especially intrigued by “The Beatles: Image and Media.” Some more books to add to my I.L.L. list.
It’s not that I didn’t think Barrow’s book was no good, I just found it rather uninteresting. There was little new information in it and Barrow’s style of writing wasn’t particularly memorable or vivid.
I thought Barrow’s book was too short and rather underwhelming. Because of his insider status I had been waiting for a book from him but I didn’t realize he merely worked for them but wasn’t a personal friend. I did learn a lot, for instance I learned about the reorganization of their p.r after the Jesus debacle, assigning Paul spokesman duties because he was simply better at organizing his thoughts and then speaking them coherently than John was. He also had some interesting personal anecdotes. I like memoirs.
As much as I loved the Bee Gees, I agree with Paul on this one.
This article links to The Beatles Bible which links to a Youtube video titled Famous Stupid People, (it’s a channel) which captures the very end of something (a quick friendly, street Q&A with some smiles) the viewer doesn’t get to actually see. Then Paul with Nancy, begs off with a polite_”That’s it, thank you very much, goodbye_” (brushes off pap or autograph seeker, can’t tell which) “Thank you. Please leave us alone now, okay?” as he attempts to walk away. Paul continues with the ‘thank yous and good byes’, but the paps wont’t leave him alone, two in particular, pestering him, asking if he and Nancy were happy together, and to say “thank you” if they were.!
Paul complains the paps “are harassing”_him _”with the morals of a rat!” and that he “has civil rights too.”
The guy pap switches tactics, (He may have been somewhat sincere) claiming he’s a fan and loves Paul, that England loves Paul and wants to know how he is doing. He eventually apologizes for harassing Paul. The female pap gets indignant and calls Paul the “C” word. and pathetic. Paul hurls “See ya Fatso!” back to her while staying in calm polite mode. Paul is the consummate professional. Most would be seething in rage and go all Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Kanye West on them, which of course is exactly what they want.
The two paps discuss it after Paul is gone, and laugh about it. My reaction watching this video, well I had a meaner, nastier name for both of them than Rat and Fatso. Most commenters sided with Paul.
UGH!!! The downside of fame is a mofo!
I’m trying the markdowns again. Apologies in advance if I goofed.
Looks like you nailed it!
And the downside of fame is another topic I’d really like to see explored in-depth, regarding the Beatles.
Despite my problems with the structural issues inherent in Norman’s Paul bio, I do think he did a good job at least obliquely trying to brush up against the subject of mega-fame, and how that and press intrusion has been one of the defining factors of Paul’s, and every Beatles, life. Living that sort of reality — the circumstances and video you described — is enough to drive anyone mad. That the Beatles coped with it as well as they did for as long as they did is impressive. According to George in Anthology, the reason they were able to cope with it so well was because of each other; how would the breakup, then, have impacted their respective reactions to such mega-fame? There’s a part in the LIB film where Paul is discussing the issue with John and George, and says that they’re never going to stop being famous; even if they sequester themselves away for years — unintentional foreshadowing — they’ll be like Greta Garbo.
I think George Martin put his finger on it, when he argued that the Royal Family was trained from birth to deal with that sort of fame — although, presumably, not teenaged girls sprinting down streets after you, trying to rip your clothes off — but the Beatles were not. They were young, 20ish guys tossed into the center of a hurricane. They had to learn their P.R. styles on the fly, and deal with a daily level of intrusiveness that most of us could not conceive of. According to Tony Bramwell, George would sometimes deliberately step on the toes of the Apple Scruffs as they gathered around while he was leaving Abbey Road: I’m not condoning it, but I understand why he might want to, or why George would toss a drink in a reporter’s face. Or why Paul would call particularly persistent and intrusive reporters names.
“…or why George would toss a drink in a reporter’s face.”
I remember reading (I can’t remember which book at the moment) that episode where George gets angry at the photographer, whom George and party, lets take plenty of pictures, and then tells the photog they’ve had enough and for him to leave them alone, so they could enjoy themselves in peace. The photog continues to take pictures anyway, provoking an irked George to fling his drink at him but misses, and the drinks hits Jayne Mansfield in the face! Read like a Marx Brothers sketch! LOL!
Hi Charlotte…As funny as it is, I’m not sure if the account in that book is true. I’ve seen photos of George throwing his drink at the photographer (who was still clicking away even as the drink was being hurled at him) but Jane Mansfield was sitting next to George. She was not near the flying drink so she couldn’t have gotten it in the face. Unless his arm rebounded back after he threw it and the remaining liquid may have splashed her. Maybe! It’s a fun story either way.
Here is the video:
A commenter says the female paparazzi says to Paul, “Bye you miserable cnt, you’re pathetic,” but it sounded to me like she was referring to Nancy (who had her head down), “Why is she such a cnt?” which prompted Paul’s anger. It’s grossly unfair, especially as earlier Paul had stopped and posed for the photographers in an effort to get them to leave, but the one proceeded to follow him and taunt him for five minutes.
Regarding fame, this New Yorker piece is one of the most fascinating I’ve ever read about Paul because the reporter is actually allowed to follow him around for a couple of days, including into his home (a first and only for a reporter AFAIK):
Rose the video was difficult to watch. It made me very uncomfortable. Did you feel the same way? Actually I saw a different version of this when this incident first happened. It was a different cut taken from the perspective of the woman reporter, he called fatso. She lets out a string of expletives which weren’t included here. This is celebrity bullying in its purest form. I wonder if this happens more in England than in the U.S.
And its not only celebrity bullying. If, as it appears, the photographer did call Nancy that name, then she’s also bullying Nancy, whose only offense — like Linda before her — was marrying Paul McCartney. The treatment of the women in the Beatles lives — by fans, by the press, by other women, by one another — is one of the great unexplored areas of Beatles historiography.
The proprietary feelings of so many female (and male — Norman and Sheffield) fans towards the Beatles and their relationships (If you haven’t seen the AHDN director’s cut, there’s a part where the actress who had her scene cut with Paul discusses how viciously the female fans attacked her when he offered her a ride home; pinching her, scratching her, pulling her hair, calling her names). Their preference for certain relationships over others, the vicious attacks, both physical and verbal, on these women, many of these attacks made by other women … There’s a book in there somewhere.
As Rose said, that New Yorker article she posted does a good job of observing the reality of life as Paul McCartney in terms of fame. Paul can not walk down the street — or eat lunch — or go to a park — or stop to take a picture — without being approached by fans and autograph seekers. Most of the interactions were positive, but if that’s a typical day in London, and extrapolate that out over fifty-plus years, and consider what that amount of attention and sometimes intrusiveness must do to you socially and psychologically. Given what happened to John and George, its astonishing to me that Paul will walk down the street without a bodyguard.
I think she called Paul a c*** and she seems pretty proud of it too. It’s a lot easier to see what exactly took place if you watch the video taken from the woman reporter’s point of view. Maybe that one has been taken down? That one starts just as Paul is calling the male reporter “a big school kid.” Then suddenly he turns toward the woman reporter who is pointing her camera at him and says, “And you! You’re just a fat little school girl!” She then becomes absolutely incensed that someone would call her that, drops her camera and let’s out a string of expletives at him, calling him “pathetic” ( the rest of what she says is bleeped out). For the rest of the video because the reporter has dropped her camera, you see Nancy’s feet scraping along the pavement as this women screams foul words at Paul. The only thing she says to Nancy is, “I hope you’re happy with your boyfriend….because he’s nothing but a pathetic c***!” Actually the reporter is the one who comes across as “pathetic”….getting so angry over a silly, childish taunt. Paul stays in control for the most part although calling her names in the first place, reveals that he wasn’t really in control of the situation. But the reporter was extremely unprofessional. It’s just an awful video…even worse then this one that Rose embedded.
and consider what that amount of attention and sometimes intrusiveness must do to you socially and psychologically.
Yep. It has to have caused serious emotional damage. It probably blurs reality to the point where it becomes difficult to see yourself as just an ordinary human who happens to have a lot of talent that merely sets you apart, instead of a superior, highly entitled, God like, being. It says something for their collective constitutions and characters that they didn’t completely lose it a long time ago.
would you mind humouring my anal nature and put quotations around quoted passages? It makes it easier to read whose saying what. 🙂
‘It has to have caused serious emotional damage.’ Yeah. No wonder all the Beatles did varying drugs to varying extents.
It also has to cause you to be on guard, at some level, in public all the time, and that’s not healthy. The video Rose posted below, including Mary McCartney, also introduces the issue of their kids into it. I know in that particular incident, Mary was interceding with a fan, (and she, at least, is an adult) but how intrusive are the fans and the press with Beatles kids? Except for the Beatles, my knowledge of celebrity/pop culture/paparazzi is pretty limited. Do they stalk Mary and Stella and Sean and Dhani as well? And how much guilt would that, in turn, cause in a parent: “You will always have to watch yourself in public simply because you are my child?”
Stella said in an interview once that when she was little, she used to think it was her duty to stand between her dad and fans and protect him, “There’s Dad, and you’re like this little wall in front, trying to spot who’s going to attack.” Then she grew up and realized her dad could handle it on his own. But I imagine part of that was also, when you’re little, wanting your parent all to yourself, so probably reacting badly sometimes to all these people you see trying to take away Daddy’s attention. Stella has also seemed more fiery and more like a mother lion type, whereas Mary seems more cool and collected.
Paul and Linda always guarded their kids’ privacy, and luckily they were raised in an era before the widespread paparrazzi. I’m sure it’s difficult sometimes, though. When Stella first became a designer, Paul said he was once driving and heard some radio deejays slagging her off and had to pull the car over and cry. He said he was used to criticism of himself but couldn’t take it when it was directed at one of his kids. Now they’ve grown so much and two have become public figures in their own right that I’m sure he’s adapted. I’m no fan of Heather Mills but she and Paul have managed to keep Beatrice out of the public eye as well.
Do they stalk Mary and Stella and Sean and Dhani as well?
I’m sure they do. But as Rose said, it seems the papparazzi didn’t bother people as much in the 70’s especially children. But now, yeah I do think they are probably followed. Speaking of children and the 70’s I remember reading right after John was killed, that the papparazzi took to following little Sean to Kindergarten. They even published the route he took to his private school every day. That story about Stella protecting her dad reminds me of Bea. There’s a video out there of Bea acting terrified when the papparazzi descend on her mother in an airport. Four year old Bea is seen going into protection mode trying to shield her mom from them. Even now I’ve seen pictures of Bea where she is clearly being stalked and she looks wary and slightly frightened.
Thanks, Rose and Linda, for the information on the press and the Beatles kids.
That anyone could conceivably think it was okay to publish Sean’s route to school following John’s murder is incomprehensible.
Linda, I loved this quote you mentioned:
“Looking back through the pages, not to mention the covers, of Datebook certainly reminds us that Lennon was not the only Beatle with strong opinions on current affairs.”
Part of the reason I loved this is because I basically said the same thing in my book (she said modestly) but its true, and worth repeating. In those same interviews with Cleave, you have George criticizing America’s involvement in Vietnam — two years before the Tet Offensive, when the American mainstream media was still largely supportive on it, and years before Cronkite denounced it, which is generally considered to be the moment when mainstream America lost its support for it — but I can’t think of a Beatles bio that discusses what George said, and a lot of them don’t even mention that George got interviewed at all.
In June of 1966, you have James Meredith leading an anti-segregationist march from Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi: Meredith gets assassinated by a white supremacist, and Martin Luther King Jr. leads the march instead. Two months later, the Beatles go to perform in Memphis — refusing, as always, to play in front of a segregated audience — but Paul’s criticisms of America’s racial segregationist practices are utterly ignored. Not only then, but also for decades later. Paul is weighing in and condemning the most divisive and hot button topic of the time period, but everyone overlooks that in countless later biographies, either ignoring Paul’s interview or tacking on his statements to the end of John’s. As you said, this whole idea that John was the only Beatle willing to shake up the P.R. establishment and make controversial statements is retrospective revisionism, originating after his relationship with Yoko and his breakup-era efforts to embrace every radical political cause available.
“And why did biographers portray Unger’s decision as “the act of the unscrupulous owner of a cheesy American teen magazine out for a fast buck”? Did they bother to do any research?”
Probably not. Although its worth noting that in his book on Linda — which has its own issues — Danny Fields, who worked for Unger, portrays it as an effort sell more copies, and not as a deliberate attempt to discuss and promote liberal political causes.
George doesn’t even exist in most Beatles bios. Neither does Paul really. Paul only exists as a foil to John,…and George and Ringo are side characters. More pages are devoted to Brian than to George and Ringo. The narrative has been shaped into fiction pretending to be non fiction. And yes, the retrospective revisionism is rampant, hence the erasing of George and Ringo from the narrative and reducing Paul to a cartoon foil. No one except John has anything interesting to say. No one but John has any human reactions, or opinions on what is going on around him. John gets tired, John is sad, John is outraged. John loves, John experienced tragic losses, but apparently no one else did; only John. Paul gets girls pregnant. George strums his guitar and gets mad at Paul during Let it Be. Ringo walks out. The bios are about John. I downloaded a book sample on Amazon a while back to see if it was worth buying. It is a memoir by some reporter who traveled with them on tour. I didn’t buy it because early in the sample he recounts a funny wise crack that Paul made but he attributes the comment to John. It’s an easy mistake to make 50 years after an event, however this particular comment is on a DVD called, The First American Visit. The DVD is widely available. It’s probably on YouTube too. It would have been nice if the author had someone to fact check Beatle comments so they can be assigned to the right Beatle. But too many times, any funny, edgy, or controversial comment is simply attributed to John.
Although its worth noting that in his book on Linda — which has its own issues — Danny Fields, who worked for Unger, portrays it as an effort sell more copies,
I couldn’t read Danny Field’s book. It’s a meandering mess. He said some interesting things about Linda and Paul, but to find them you had to wade through an ocean of off topic, unimportant details, about people who have nothing to do with who the book is supposed to be about. I thought his comments that John and Paul were the perfect house guests, neat as pins, always making their beds and hanging up their towels, was very interesting though. That’s an observation that would not be found in a bio because it contradicts John’s tough, edgy, artist narrative and Paul as his foil.
The reason is religion. John’s comments were more incendiary than either Paul’s or George’s to the American public.
I honestly don’t think they were, Karen, but YMMV. John’s were “depicted” as more incendiary, although they were really more observational — because of how they were seized upon by, as you said, D.J.s, and then certain papers — but Civil Rights and treatment of African-Americans was the single most incendiary topic in the United States at the time and something that had been receiving increasing awareness, certainly ever since Brown Vs. Board of Education, which desegregated schools, and more so after the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the assassination of Meredith, which was nationwide news.
Segregation also has a long history of being a topic which Americans did not like being lectured on by others, esp. the British – there’s a WWII era pamphlet for British soldiers, instructing them not to bring up the “Negro problem” with American G. I’s. Even Norman Rockwell caught an enormous amount of Southern flack for his anti-segregationist portraits in this same time period. That Paul, a British pop star and one of the world’s most famous men, could condemn America’s race relations in 1966 — and call the U.S. “a lousy country” because of it — and largely have that overlooked, both at the time and by biographers for decades afterwards, is astonishing.
Perhaps the anti-Beatles contingent focused on John’s comments because they were easier to spin in their favor than Paul’s were. It’s easier to take John’s comments out of context and turn them into “Bigger than Jesus,” — John is anti-Christianity — than it is to deal with Paul’s. The major arguments of the pro-segregationist movement were that separate but equal was valid; that mixing the races was unfair to both, because neither race would be comfortable around the other; that changing the structure of segregation would dismantle the identity of the South, and that unfairly imposing it on the South was another demonstration of Northern aggression, following a pattern continuing on through the beginning of the Civil War. There’s really no way to use any of those arguments about Paul’s statements.
You misunderstood me. I wasn’t suggesting that John’s comments were more incendiary–they were considered more incendiary to the American public because those comments were perceived as critical of religion.
By the time the race issue comments were made, that was old news in the U.S. Everyone was weighing in on it. It simply wasn’t verboten to comment on it. But religion–still a sacred cow, and considered off-limits.
I see; we’re pretty much in agreement, we’re just talking past each other. 🙂
Yup, I think we were talking past each other. 🙂
Right on with that. I can’t imagine those DJ’s being even remotely successful raising a ruckus over Paul’s statements. John’s statements were so out of the ordinary (I’m mean, who calls the disciples “thick and ordinary”?) that they had a field day.
Absolutely Erin. That’s exactly what they were thinking according to The Gospel According to the Beatles, by Steve Turner. Great Book by the way. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth your time. In fact the two djs didn’t have anything against the Beatles and were not even particularly upset by Lennon’s comments. But they knew their listening base, and they saw an opportunity to boost ratings on their morning show, by taking his comments out of context and blowing them out of proportion. Paul’s comments needed to be overlooked because to focus on them would be akin to rubbing their listeners faces in their own shortcomings. That would have fallen flat ratings wise.
Thank very much for the book recommendation, Linda: I will definitely put it on my too-read list. Thank heaven for libraries and I.L.L.: actually purchasing all these books would put a serious dent in my pocketbook.
This is not from the same incident (there are a few paparrazzi videos on Youtube of Paul) but I find this video interesting because of the cool and calm way Paul’s daughter Mary intercepts a fan. (I kind of adore Mary.)
Here’s my over simplified 2 cents for what it’s worth. In my neck of the woods, Oklahoma,for most of my life race has trumped just about everything regarding social mores but that has been changing over the years. The only thing that would trump race, would be religion of the christianvariety, which could bring the races (meaning black and white) together (sort of) against some perceived “blasphemy” against God, Jesus, and christianity. Bible thumping, _ holier than thou types_, were primed to take what John said about The Beatles being more popular than Jesus out of context and run with it, never mind Jesus teachings about love, forgiveness, lead by example, etc., some of these people believe God hates everybody that they hate, and thinks it’s okay to harm those they hate, in the name of Jesus of course.
As a child, I don’t remember any Beatle record burnings going on here in Oklahoma, as an adult I haven’t read of any such thing happening here in the state at all, (but who knows what happens in the boonies, and sticks of small towns that doesn’t get reported) nor do I recall any sermons being preached against The Beatles, at least not in the churches that my family attended, but I know that as a child, how terrified I was at the images of dogs attacking black people, and powerful fire engine water hoses nearly flushing people away. I remember asking if we lived in the south, and looking at maps to see if we lived near “the south”. Oklahoma definitely had/has racial problems to be sure, but for the most part, I didn’t feel like we were in a state of siege like the images I seen on tv. Or maybe my sisters and I were just sheltered more. Anyway I remember seeing a publication that said on it’s cover “Paul says that in the US, all blacks are niggers.” I remember how shocked I was until I read the content which he stated “…in the south, all blacks are considered niggers by racists. It really pissed me off that they would try and portray Paul or any of the Beatles as racists when clearly they were/are not. I think it was a rag that wanted to sell copy by pandering to the base instinct of those who would wave it as a flag “Paul is on our side!, Paul is on their side!” I agree with John who said that from the looks of it, the record burnings were attended by middle age men and 12 year olds. Teen girls and young twenty-something girls wanted to be with a Beatle, to hell with what the record burners had to say! LOL!
Which brings me to another point. I’m a proud, progressive liberal Black woman, living in a depressingly red state with some people whose politics I loathed with every fiber of my being, however, some of these same people, can be, and have shown themselves to be very generous, helpful, and kind, individually to those in need, reminding me that there are those who really walk the talk, and are not just lip service christians, hating folks on the down low. And it humbles and reminds me that I’m not always as fair minded in my judgements of people as I’d like to believe myself to be, but I am trying to do better, I just thought I’d weigh in on the subject.
Great comment, Charlotte. I think you’ve reinforced what we’ve been speculating about–that John’s “Jesus” comment raised such ire because of its perceived slight against Christianity.
The Beatles were probably ahead of their time when it came to their staunch support of people of colour–from doing covers of their songs to refusing to play to a segregated audience.
Correction: Medgar Evers was the civil rights leader who was assassinated in June, 1963.
James Meredith, happily, is still with us.
You are right; I confused Medgar Evers with James Meredith; thanks for the correction.