Lennon reveals all in new tapes
Friday, 2 December 2005
Singer John Lennon compared life in the Beatles with decadent ancient Rome in an interview to be broadcast in the UK for the first time.
The interview for Rolling Stone magazine in December 1970, eight months after the band split, will be aired on BBC Radio 4 at 1900 GMT on 3 December.
Lennon said the circle around the band was a "portable Rome" of money, sex and drugs. "Everyone wanted in," he said.
The singer was shot dead in New York on 8 December 1980.
Interviewer Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone, believes the tapes show Lennon at his most honest.
"There wasn't a word in it that wasn't valuable or interesting," said Wenner.
In the interview, Lennon exploded the clean-cut image of "the Fab Four".
"Everybody around you wants the image to carry on," he said. "That's why some of them are clinging to it.
"'Don't take away our portable Rome, where we can all have our houses and our cars, and our lovers and our wives, and our office girls and parties and drink and drugs.'"
Lennon also revealed the band's darker side on tour.
"If you couldn't get groupies, we had whores," he claimed. "Whatever was going.
"There were photos of me crawling round on my knees coming out of whorehouses in Amsterdam with people saying: 'Good morning, John.'"
Lennon claimed the photos and other revelations did not come to light because people did not want "a big scandal".
The singer also attacked his former songwriting partner and bandmate, Sir Paul McCartney.
"We got fed up of being sidemen to Paul after Brian Epstein (Beatles manager) died," he said.
"Paul took over and supposedly led us. What's leading us when you wander round in circles?"
Lennon claimed the pair's songwriting partnership had ended "around 1962 or something".
"All our best work, apart from the really early ones like I Want to Hold Your Hand, were written apart."
Amid the anger, Lennon still expressed respect for his former partner McCartney. "He's capable of great work and he will do it," he said.
Lennon claimed he was driven to use heroin because of the treatment he and Ono received from "the Beatles and their pals".
"We were in real pain," he said.
Nor did band member George Harrison escape attack from the singer.
"He was working with two brilliant songwriters and he learnt a lot from us," says Lennon, who criticised Harrison's debut solo album.
"I wouldn't have minded being George."
Rival Mick Jagger, of the Rolling Stones, was also dismissed by Lennon as "a joke".
"I'd like to list what we did and what the Stones did two months later on every album," he said. "Mick imitates us."
The ex-Beatle also complained about the personal downside of his talent.
"It's not fun being a genius," he said. "It's torture."
On a more positive note, Lennon talked about the contentment he found with Ono compared with the other types of pleasure and gratification he had experienced.
"I've been through it all, and nothing works better than to have somebody you love hold you."