Paul McCartney, John Lennon "rescued each another" from non-music careers

Publish Date
Tuesday, 6 October 2020, 10:00AM
Getty Images

Getty Images

Paul McCartney and John Lennon's friendship was life-changing for both of the Beatles co-founders.

McCartney told Sean Ono Lennon on part 2 of the BBC radio documentary John Lennon at 80, that he and John "rescued each other" when they met as teens and proceeded to push each other forward in their development as musicians.

"We had to learn together," McCartney told John and Yoko Ono's son. "He only knew a couple of banjo chords, but that only lasted a week or two. And I would just show him chords I knew, which [were] very basic, but it was great bonding, just learning chords off each other. And I think the minute he knew those chords, he was as good as anyone. ... He might have had a little bit of a hang-up about not being sort of musically trained, but none of us were."

As the pair got better at playing their guitars, they eventually started writing their own songs.

That mutual interest in writing original material was rare among young musicians in its day, and it cemented McCartney and John's partnership for years to come.

"No one would pick up on that songwriting thing until I met John," McCartney continued. “I said, ‘Well, you know I've written a couple of songs.’ He said, ‘So have I.’ … Having our guitars, it had struck us as a good idea to try and do something of our own. ... When Buddy [Holly] came along, The Everly [Brothers] came along, we took a lot of their style and put them into our style — but we had actually started to flirt with songwriting independent of one another without major influences.”

While the partnership grew into a kind of brotherly rivalry, McCartney said neither he nor John regretted how their relationship changed over the years, because the music grew along with them.

"We kind of learned to walk together, then we learned to run," McCartney said. "And the fact that each of us was influencing the other was very important ... the fact that we'd come along this journey together meant that, 'Hey, we're just gonna continue, and who knows, we might get better.' And so we did."

Much of The Beatles' most sophisticated material was a result of John and McCartney pushing one another.

McCartney says he was considering becoming a schoolteacher before he met John. His counterpart might have become "an artist or something" had they not met, he added.

"And I think we rescued each other."

You can begin listening to John Lennon at 80 HERE

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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