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Paul McCartney and John Lennon spent their twenties as close friends and collaborators. They got to know each other and their families well. Because of this, McCartney witnessed the moment Lennon and his first wife Cynthia’s marriage fell apart. While Lennon might have described it as an accident, McCartney saw it as a moment of casual cruelty from which the marriage could not recover.

A black and white picture of Paul McCartney, Jane Asher, Cynthia Lennon, and John Lennon holding glasses and standing in a crowded room.
Paul McCartney, Jane Asher, Cynthia Lennon, and John Lennon | PA Images via Getty Images

Paul McCartney said he witnessed the moment John Lennon’s 1st marriage ended

In 1967, The Beatles attended a seminar on Transcendental Meditation in Bangor, Wales. George Harrison had encouraged the band and their wives to attend. They all accepted, with the exception of Ringo Starr’s wife, Maureen, who had just given birth. 

When they arrived at the train station, a swell of Beatles fans met them. The band fought their way through the train, but Cynthia struggled to get through the crowd. Lennon had left her with all their bags. When she finally got to the platform, a police officer blocked her from entering the train, not knowing she was with the band.

A black and white picture of John Lennon looking out the window of a train.
John Lennon | Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

“It was too late. The train was already pulling away from the platform and I was left standing with our bags, tears pouring down my cheeks,” she wrote in her book John. “It was horribly embarrassing. Reporters were crowding around me, flashbulbs were popping and I felt a complete fool. Peter Brown, Brian’s assistant, had come to see us off: he put his arm around me and said he’d take me to Bangor by car. ‘We’ll probably get there before the train,’ he assured me, anxious to cheer me up. But what neither he nor anyone else knew was that my tears were not simply about the missed train. I was crying because the incident seemed symbolic about what was happening in my marriage.”

McCartney, however, noticed this. He saw this as the end of the Lennons’ marriage.

“I remember Cynthia not making the train, which was terrible and very symbolic,” he said in The Beatles Anthology. “She was the only one of our party not to get there. There’s a bit of film of her not making it. That was the end of her and John, really, weirdly enough.”

John Lennon’s marriage was on shaky ground before this happened

While McCartney viewed this as the end of their marriage, their split was a long time coming. By the time they divorced, Lennon and Cynthia had grown increasingly distant. He had multiple affairs, most notably with Yoko Ono. The couple met in 1966 and began a relationship behind Cynthia’s back. 

He mistreated her while they were dating and married her out of a sense of duty when she discovered she was pregnant. While he loved her, he once said he found it embarrassing to have a wife. Leaving Cynthia behind at the train may have been a symbolic end to their marriage, but they were never destined to last.

Paul McCartney visited John Lennon’s wife after their divorce

After their marriage fell apart, Cynthia believed Lennon asked people connected to The Beatles to cut her off.

“I lost a lot of weight, unable to face eating,” she wrote. “Mum and Dot were there, keeping an eye on me, and I was grateful not to be alone. But apart from them I saw or heard from hardly another soul. It seemed that John had cut me off not just from him but from the whole Beatles family.”

A black and white picture of John Lennon and Cynthia Lennon wearing hats and sitting in the back of a car.
John Lennon and Cynthia Lennon | Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

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Still, McCartney visited her. He brought a rose to her home and apologized for Lennon’s behavior, noting that it wasn’t right.

“[Paul] joked about us getting married — ‘How about it, Cyn?’ — and I was grateful to him for cheering me up and caring enough to come,” she wrote. “He was the only member of the Beatles family who’d had the courage to defy John — who had apparently made it quite clear that he expected everyone to follow his lead in cutting me off.”