“What you say? This is the famous “butcher” cover. It’s too horrible & blaghhh to ever be seen! (so don’t look) but you can sell it for 11 million dollars. My original idea for the cover was better – decapitate Paul – but he wouldn’t go along with it. – John Lennon, Inscription with “Butcher” cover, 1978
“I can’t wait to see your new room it will be great seeing it for the first time and having chips and all and a ciggie (don’t let me come home to a regular smoker please Miss Powell) Hmm I can just see YOU and Dot puffing away I suppose that’s the least of my worries. I don’t like the idea of Dot moving in permanently with you ‘cause we could never be alone really – I mean when I come home – can’t she have the other room or find another flat – imagine having her there all the time when we were in bed – and imagine Paul coming all the time – and especially when I wasn’t there. I’d hate the idea. I love you Cyn.”
Letter from John to Cyn, April 1962
“(…) Now for a few details about the boys themselves. John, who leads the group, attends the College of Art, and, as well as being an accomplished guitarist and banjo player, he is an experienced cartoonist. His many interests include painting, the theatre, poetry, and, of course, singing. He is 19 years old and is a founder member of the group. Paul is 18 years old and is reading English Literature at Liverpool University. He, like the other boys, plays more than one instrument – his specialities being the piano and drums, plus, of course….” – Excerpt from a draft letter written by Paul to a journalist called Mr Low (circa 1959)
I remember when we first met, at Woolton, at the village fete. It was a beautiful summer day and I walked in there and saw you on stage. And you were singing “Come Go With Me,” by the Dell Vikings, But you didn’t know the words so you made them up. “Come go with me to the penitentiary.” It’s not in the lyrics.
I remember writing our first songs together. We used to go to my house, my Dad’s home, and we used to smoke Ty-Phoo tea with the pipe my dad kept in a drawer. It didn’t do much for us but it got us on the road.
We wanted to be famous.
I remember the visits to your mum’s house. Julia was a very handsome woman, very beautiful woman. She had long, red hair and she played a ukulele. I’d never seen a woman that could do that. And I remember to having to tell you the guitar chords because you used to play the ukulele chords.
And then on your 21st birthday you got 100 pounds off one of your rich relatives up in Edinburgh, so we decided we’d go to Spain. So we hitch-hiked out of Liverpool, got as far as Paris, and decided to stop there, for a week. And eventually got our haircut, by a fellow named Jurgen, and that ended up being the “Beatle haircut.”
I remember introducing you to my mate George, my schoolmate, and getting him into the band by playing “Raunchy” on the top deck of a bus. You were impressed. And we met Ringo who’d been working the whole season at Butlin’s camp – he was a seasoned professional – but the beard had to go, and it did.
Later on we got a gig at the Cavern Club in Liverpool which was officially a blues club. We didn’t really know any blues numbers. We loved the blues but we didn’t know any blues numbers, so we had announcements like “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a great Big Bill Broonzy number called “Wake Up Little Suzie.” And they kept passing up little notes – “This is not the blues, this is not the blues. This is pop.” But we kept going.
And then we ended up touring. It was a bloke called Larry Parnes who gave us our first tour. I remember we all changed names for that tour. I changed mine to Paul Ramon, George became Carl Harrison and, although people think you didn’t really change your name, I seem to remember you were Long John Silver for the duration of that tour. (Bang goes another myth.)
We’d been on a van touring later and we’d have the kind of night where the windsceen would break. We would be on the motorway going back up to Liverpool. It was freezing so we had to lie on top of each other in the back of the van creating a Beatle sandwich. We got to know each other. These were the ways we got to know each other.
We got to Hamburg and met the likes of Little Richard, Gene Vincent…I remember Little Richard inviting us back to his hotel. He was looking at Ringo’s ring and said, “I love that ring.” He said, “I’ve got a ring like that. I could give you a ring like that.” So we all went back to the hotel with him. (We never got a ring.)
We went back with Gene Vincent to his hotel room once. It was all going fine until he reached in his bedside drawer and pulled out a gun. We’ said “Er, we’ve got to go, Gene, we’ve got to go…” We got out quick!
And then came the USA — New York City — where we met up with Phil Spector, the Ronettes, Supremes, our heroes, our heroines. And then later in L.A., we met up with Elvis Presley for one great evening. We saw the boy on his home territory. He was the first person I ever saw with a remote control on a TV. Boy! He was a hero, man.
And then later, Ed Sullivan. We’d wanted to be famous, now we were getting really famous. I mean imagine meeting Mitzi Gaynor in Miami!
Later, after that, recording at Abbey Road. I still remember doing “Love Me Do.” You officially had the vocal “love me do” but because you played the harmonica, George Martin suddenly said in the middle is the session, “Will Paul sing the line “love me do?”, the crucial line. I can still hear it to this day – you would go “Whaaa whaa,” and I’d go “loove me doo-oo.” Nerves, man.
I remember doing the vocal to “Kansas City” — well I couldn’t quite get it, because it’s hard to do that stuff. You know, screaming out the top of your head. You came down from the control room and took me to one side and said “You can do it, you’ve just got to scream, you can do it.” So, thank you. Thank you for that. I did it.
I remember writing “A Day in the Life” with you, and the little look we gave each other when we wrote the line “I’d love to turn you on.” We kinda knew what we were doing, you know. A sneaky little look.
After that there was this girl called Yoko. Yoko Ono. She showed up at my house one day. It was John Cage’s birthday and she said she wanted to get hold of manuscripts of various composers to give to him, and she wanted one from me and you. So I said,” Well it’s ok by me. but you’ll have to go to John.”
And she did…
After that I set up a couple of Brennell recording machines we used to have and you stayed up all night and recorded “Two Virgins.” But you took the cover yourselves — nothing to do with me.
And then, after that there were the phone calls to you. The joy for me after all the business shit that we’d gone through was that we were actually getting back together and communicating once again. And the joy as you told me about how you were baking bread now. And how you were playing with your little baby, Sean. That was great for me because it gave me something to hold on to.
So now, years on, here we are. All these people. Here we are, assembled, to thank you for everything that you mean to all of us.
This letter comes with love, from your friend Paul.
John Lennon, you’ve made it. Tonight you are in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
God bless you.
Paul McCartney- John Lennon’s induction to the Rock Hall of Fame
(Dear Q, It’s impossible to sum up in a short letter how + why I love John, but here are a few thoughts… I love him because…he was a mate through our teenage years in Liverpool, he was the guy I sat across from as we worked out how to write songs, he was the man I admired as we evolved through the madness of fame, fortune and “fabness”, and he was, and still is, the heroic figure whose wit and wisdom, with a little help from his friends, shaped the thoughts and lives of millions of people. AND SO MUCH MORE. Love, Paul)
“I really miss him as a person now – do you know what I mean, he’s not so much ‘The Baby’ or ‘My Baby’ anymore, he’s a real living part of me now, you know he’s Julian and everything and I can’t wait to see him, I miss him more then I’ve ever done before – I think it’s been a slow process my feeling like a real father! I hope all this is clear and understandable. I spend hours in dressing rooms and things thinking about the times I’ve wasted not being with him – and playing with him – you know I keep thinking of THOSE stupid bastard times when I keep reading bloody newspapers and other shit while he’s in the room with me and I’ve decided it’s ALL WRONG! He doesn’t see enough of me as it is and I really want him to know and love me, and miss me like I seem to be missing both of you so much.” John Lennon (Part of a letter he wrote to wife Cynthia while on tour in America in August 1965)