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Years after The Beatles broke up, Paul McCartney still spent a good deal of time reflecting on the group. The split had been acrimonious, but after the dust settled, the surviving Beatles had improved their relationships. McCartney was also able to look back fondly on his friendship with John Lennon. He discussed all this with Peter Cox, a prominent vegetarian, within minutes of meeting him, to Cox’s slight alarm.

Paul McCartney surprised a stranger with the way he talked about The Beatles

In 1988, Paul and Linda McCartney met Cox, the former chief executive of the Vegetarian Society. He thought they were an “amazingly beautiful couple” and was excited to meet them. The excitement went both ways. McCartney was a vegetarian and animal activist and was familiar with Cox’s work.

“[Y]ou’re Peter Cox! I saw you on the Wogan [TV] show, talking about your book,” McCartney said to him in greeting, per the book Paul McCartney: The Life by Philip Norman. “I’ve got to get your autograph.”

McCartney is a friendly and open person, and within minutes, he was talking to Cox “like the most intimate friend” as they walked together. Some of his openness alarmed Cox.

“He talked about John a lot — but the strange thing was that it was in the present tense, ‘John says this,’ or ‘John thinks that,'” Cox said. “At one point, he asked me, ‘Have you ever thought what power The Beatles could have had if we’d been evil … if we’d gone over to the dark side?’ Hearing something like that after only knowing him for about five minutes sort of freaked me out.'”

Paul McCartney believed The Beatles had changed the world

McCartney didn’t disclose what he meant by “the dark side,” but it’s a good thing that The Beatles never went over to it. They had immense, unprecedented fame in the 1960s and are relevant to this day; people like me are still writing about them. McCartney shared when he knew the scope of their influence.

“I suppose it was our first big success in America,” he said on his official website. “I started to realize that the attention was not just local, and it was around the time of Sgt. Pepper when we started seeing our clothes and the music we were making getting copied on an international level. Although this had happened before at home, with people getting the Beatle haircut and all dressing in a similar fashion, it was around about Sgt. Pepper that you could feel the worldwide movement.”

He believed their influence was so far-reaching that they had, in many ways, changed the world.

“You could feel that people in California were thinking about what you were thinking about,” he said. “And that’s when people started saying to us, ‘Wow man, you know your music changed my life!’ So, I think around about that time I started to think it was changing the world.”

Ringo Starr wished the band had done more with their power

The Beatles’ influence is unquestionable, but Ringo Starr wished the band had done more with it. They didn’t use their power for evil, but they could have done more good with it.


Paul McCartney Shared Why He Moved His Family Into a Place He Saw as a ‘Dump’

“I feel now, on reflection, that we could have used our power a lot more for good,” he said, per The Beatles Anthology. “Not for politics, but just to be more helpful. We could have been some bigger force. It’s an observation, not a regret — regrets are useless. We could have been stronger for a lot more causes if we’d pulled it together.”