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John Lennon Shares Beatles ‘Hell’ in Recently Unearthed Interview

John Lennon
Keystone, Hulton Archive, Getty Images

A long-lost interview with John Lennon, conducted around the time of the Beatles‘ ‘Let It Be’ album, but only recently unearthed, delves into the difficulties the band experienced during its final days in the recording studio together.

As Classic Rock Magazine reports, the interview finds Lennon speaking with characteristic bluntness where the Beatles are concerned, referring to the experience of recording ‘Let It Be’ as “torture” and saying on behalf of the band, “We were going through hell … We never really finished it. We didn’t really want to do it. Paul [McCartney] was hustling for us to do it. It’s the Beatles with their suits off.”

The Beatles’ difficulties during the ‘Let It Be’ sessions are well known by now, but according to Lennon, they were nothing new. “It’s torture every time we produce anything,” he told Village Voice columnist Howard Smith. “The Beatles haven’t got any magic you haven’t got. We suffer like hell anytime we make anything. We’ve got each other to contend with. Imagine working with the Beatles — it’s tough. There’s just tension. It’s tense every time the red light goes on.”

Part of the problem, admitted Lennon, was a clash of songwriting egos. “In the old days Paul and I wrote most of the songs because George [Harrison] wasn’t prolific,” he recalled. “We encouraged him to an extent. Subconsciously we would have just made sure we got the LP for ourselves. Now there’s three of us all trying to squash ourselves onto 14 tracks. Do we make a double album every time? That’s why I broke out with the Plastic Ono Band.”

At this point, rumors of a Beatles split were already rampant, and although Lennon stopped short of coming out and saying they were true, he more or less admitted the band’s days as a unit were over. “I don’t know if there will ever be another Beatles product with the four of us on again … Ringo [Starr]’s left once; George has left once for a couple of days. It’s an anti-climax to the build-up of the myth. The myth is bigger than the three guitarists and a drummer. I’m inclined to leave them with the myth. If the Beatles would split open the group a bit and have Yoko [Ono], Billy Preston, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Elvis Presley in the group I might be interested. But as the Fab Four, I’m not personally interested in going out like that.”

Next: Top 10 John Lennon Beatles Songs

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