Sir Paul McCartney has opened up about his post-Beatles depression – and how he once came close to quitting music.
“I was depressed,” Sir Paul told BBC Radio 4 Mastertapes series. “It was difficult to know what to do after The Beatles. How do you follow that?”
Speaking in front of a studio audience including Brad Pitt, Simon Pegg and Hobbit star Martin Freeman, McCartney added that the Beatles split in 1970 was mainly caused by an argument over the role of US businessman Allen Klein in the band’s affairs.
“With all the business stuff going on and not knowing whether I was going to continue in music, that was kind of depressing,” he adds.
“You were breaking from your lifelong friends. We used to liken it to the army, where you’d been army buddies for a few years and now you weren’t going to see them again.”
Sir Paul’s immediate answer was to put all his business, artistic and emotional problems to one side by moving to the remoteness of Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre with late wife Linda.
It was there that he took to the bottle – or “the bevvies” as they call it in his native Liverpool.
“It was great at first but then after a while I was a bit far gone,” adds McCartney. “Suddenly I wasn’t having a good time. It wasn’t working.”
Thankfully, Linda stepped in to say, ‘You’ve got to get it together.’ The result was the formation of the band Wings in 1971 and a return to songwriting that ultimately saw McCartney team up with Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and, more recently, Kanye West, who he describes as an “eccentric” and a “monster.”
“He’s a crazy guy who comes up with great stuff. So he inspires me,” he adds.
More importantly, this new spurt of creativity also made it possible for McCartney to slowly repair his relationship with fellow Beatle John Lennon.
“I would make calls to John occasionally and it was a bit, ‘What do you want?’ “Well, what do you want?!'” reveals McCartney. “We were doing the silly bugger’s stuff, you know.
“I was getting annoyed at him and calling him silly insults. By then he had got a little bit of an American accent. So I’d say, ‘All right Kojak!'”
Despite this, the pair persevered long enough to make a breakthrough and become friends once again.
“One of the things that I was really grateful for was that we got it back together before he died, because it would have been very difficult to deal with,” adds McCartney.
“I mean, it was difficult anyway, but it would have been especially difficult. So it was good.
“We had a really good relationship and we just talked kids and baking bread. Just ordinary stuff.”