Fans have long heard stories about how acrimonious the breakup of The Beatles was. Now, they can read about it from a firsthand perspective, as a letter written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono to Paul and Linda McCartney has been shared online.
The typed and annotated letter is being sold online via a Boston-based auction house PR Auctions, and it’s expected to fetch close to $20,000. It appears to be a response to a correspondence sent by the McCartneys which seems to have been heavily written by Linda. “I was reading your letter and wondering what middle aged cranky Beatle fan wrote it,” Lennon and Ono’s note begins. “I resisted looking at the last page to find out — I kept thinking who is it — Queenie? Stuart’s mother? — Clive Epstein’s wife? — Alan Williams? — What the hell — it’s Linda!”
In particular, it seems Linda calls out Lennon for his handling of the band’s split in the press. Lennon, however, believes the blame falls squarely on his bandmates for their treatment of Ono. “I hope you realize what shit you and the rest of my ‘kind and unselfish’ friends laid on Yoko and me, since we’ve been together,” reads the note. “It might have sometimes been a bit more subtle or should I say ‘middle class’ — but not often. We both ‘rose above it’ quite a few times — & forgave you two — so it’s the least you can do for us — you noble people. — Linda — if you don’t care what I say — shut up! — let Paul write — or whatever.”
Lennon goes on to say that while he’s “not ashamed of the Beatles — (I did start it all),” he was uncomfortable with “some of the shit we took to make them so big.” He also takes issue with how the fame went to McCartney’s head. “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!”
After reiterating that Paul and manager Allen Klein persuaded him not to speak to the press about his leaving the band, which Linda seemed to deny, he ends by taking direct shots at Linda and the McCartneys’ marriage. “Of course, the money angle is important — to all of us — especially after all the petty shit that came from your insane family/in laws — and GOD HELP YOU OUT, PAUL — see you in two years — I reckon you’ll be out then.”
The letter is signed “In spite of it all, love to you both from us two.” However, a handwritten postscript adds, “P.S. about addressing your letter just to me — STILL….!!!”
You can look at the original two-page letter below. As it’s hard to read, a transcription is underneath the images (via The Daily Mail).
“Dear Linda and Paul,
I was reading your letter and wondering what middle aged cranky Beatle fan wrote it. I resisted looking at the last page to find out—I kept thinking who is it—Queenie? Stuart’s mother?—Clive Epstein’s wife?—Alan Williams?—What the hell—it’s Linda!
You really think the press are beneath me/you? Do you think that? Who do you think we/you are? The ‘self-indulgent doesn’t realize who he is hurting’ bit (quotation marks and the word ‘bit’ in handwriting) —I hope you realize what s*** you and the rest of my ‘kind and unselfish’ friends (the word ‘friends’ untyped and added in handwriting) laid on Yoko and me, since we’ve been together.
It might have sometimes been a bit more subtle or should I say ‘middle class’—but not often. We both ‘rose above it’ quite a few times—& forgave you two—so it’s the least you can do for us—you noble people.—Linda—if you don’t care what I say—shut up!—let Paul write—or whatever.
When asked about what I thought originally concerning MBE, etc.—I told them as best as I can remember—and I do remember squirming a little—don’t you, Paul?—or do you—as I suspect—still believe it all? I’ll forgive Paul for encouraging the Beatles—if he (word ‘he’ added in handwriting and not typed) forgives me for the same—for being—‘honest with me and caring too much’! F****** hell, Linda, you’re not writing for Beatle book!!!
I’m not ashamed of the Beatles—(I did start it all) (brackets to ‘I did start it all’ were added in pen)—but of some of the s*** we took to make them so big—I thought we all felt that way in varying degrees—obviously not.
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!
McCartney, pictured with his first wife Linda, has since confirmed the anger between him and Lennon after the Beatles’ break-up was real but that they later made up before his former band-mate was murdered in 1980
Don’t give me that Aunty Gin s*** about ‘in five years I’ll look back as a different person’—don’t you see that’s what’s happening NOW!—If I only knew THEN what I know NOW—you seemed to have missed that point….
Excuse me if I use ‘Beatle Space’ to talk about whatever I want—obviously if they keep asking Beatle questions—I’ll answer them—and get as much John and Yoko Space as I can—they ask me about Paul and I answer—I know some of it gets personal—but whether you believe it or not I try and answer straight—and the bits they use are obviously the juicy bits—I don’t resent your husband—I’m sorry for him. I know the Beatles are ‘quite nice people’—I’m one of them—they’re also just as big b******* as anyone else—so get off your high horse!—by the way—we’ve had more intelligent interest in our new activities in one year than we had throughout the Beatle era.
Finally, about not telling anyone that I left the Beatles—PAUL and Klein both spent the day persuading me it was better not to say anything—asking me not to say anything because it would ‘hurt the Beatles’—and ‘let’s just let it petre out’—remember?
So get that into your petty little perversion of a mind, Mrs. McCartney—the ***** asked me to keep quiet about it. Of course, the money angle is important—to all of us—especially after all the petty shit that came from your insane family/in laws—and GOD HELP YOU OUT, PAUL—see you in two years—I reckon you’ll be out then—inspite of it all, love to you both, from us two.
‘P.S. about addressing your letter just to me—STILL….!!!’”