Skip to main content

Paul McCartney and John Lennon met as teenagers and quickly grew close. They discovered they had a solid musical connection and were both serious about their craft. Not everyone in McCartney’s life viewed Lennon this way, though. He recalled one of his girlfriends who — understandably — felt a bit put off by the fact that Lennon joined them on a date. McCartney had to defend Lennon and his rudeness to her.

Paul McCartney said John Lennon rubbed some people the wrong way

When McCartney was a teenager, he began dating an art school student. 

“I remember I had a girlfriend called Celia,” he said, per the book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now by Barry Miles. “I must have been sixteen or seventeen, about the same age as her. She was the first art-college girl I’d ever been out with, a bit more sophisticated. And we went out one evening and for some reason John tagged along, I can’t remember why it was.”

A black and white picture of John Lennon and Paul McCartney playing guitars and singing into a microphone.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney |  Sammlung Horst Fascher – K & K/Redferns

Lennon’s presence on the date would have been frustrating enough. He made it worse, though, by behaving rudely the entire time.

“I think he’d thought I was going to see him, I thought I’d cancelled it and he showed up at my house,” McCartney said. “But he was a mate, and he came on a date with this Celia girl, and at the end of the date she said, ‘Why did you bring that dreadful guy?’ And of course I said, ‘Well, he’s all right really.'”

According to McCartney, he often had to defend Lennon to people who found him unpleasant.

“I think, in many ways, I always found myself doing that,” he said. “It was always, ‘Well, I know he was rude; it was funny, though, wasn’t it?'”

Paul McCartney and John Lennon balanced each other out

This dynamic between Lennon and McCartney was ultimately beneficial to their careers. They wrote well together, but McCartney could also present Lennon in a more palatable way. He was able to see his bandmate’s good side, and he described him in this way to other people. McCartney saw himself as a PR representative for his friend because he knew it would help the band.

“I have a reputation now of being a PR man, which has grown over the years, because anything you promote, there’s a game that you either play or you don’t play,” he said. “I decided very early on that I was very ambitious and I wanted to play.”

He knew that being likable raised The Beatles’ chances of success. As a result, he tried to sand down some of Lennon’s rougher edges.

The future Beatle had to behave similarly with George Harrison 

Somewhat more surprisingly, McCartney found himself playing a similar role with George Harrison. After introducing Harrison to his group of friends, Harrison head-butted someone. McCartney was surprised but believed Harrison must have had a good reason for doing this. He defended him by saying this.

A black and white picture of Paul McCartney singing and playing guitar and George Harrison playing guitar.
Paul McCartney and George Harrison | Brian Randle/Daily Herald/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

John Lennon Said a Paul McCartney Song Would Be a Career-Ender for the Band That Recorded It

“I always had to stick up for these friends of mine,” he explained. “What might have been construed as good old-fashioned rudeness I always had to put down to ballsiness. I had to assume that my mates were a little bit wimpish and that George had done the right thing, for some reason.”