Paul McCartney says John Lennon instigated the Beatles breakup
"I didn't instigate the split. That was our Johnny," McCartney says in an upcoming episode of BBC Radio 4 series This Cultural Life, set to air on Oct. 23, according to The Guardian's Sunday Edition, the Observer, which published excerpts from the interview on Sunday.
Reps for McCartney and BBC Radio 4 didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment on Sunday.
The Liverpool-bred star calls the 1970 breakup of his childhood group the "most difficult period of my life," telling the radio show, "This was my band, this was my job, this was my life, so I wanted it to continue."
McCartney's comments might come as a surprise to some. The singer, songwriter, and bassist is often believed to be the one behind the band's split as he was the first Beatle to address it publicly. According to various reports, including Bob Spitz's tome, The Beatles, Lennon had already told people privately he'd left the group, and conflicts had left the group members aware their time together was over.
In the new interview, McCartney dishes on Lennon's departure after being asked about his decision to pursue a solo career. "Stop right there," he reportedly tells This Cultural Life. "I am not the person who instigated the split. Oh no, no, no. John walked into a room one day and said I am leaving the Beatles. Is that instigating the split, or not?"
Adding to the confusion over who caused the split was a reported directive from their new manager Allen Klein not to say anything. "So for a few months, we had to pretend," McCartney explains. "It was weird because we all knew it was the end of the Beatles but we couldn't just walk away."
McCartney says he decided to "let the cat out of the bag" because he was "fed up of hiding it."
Things got worse after the band's breakup, with McCartney going on to sue his former bandmates in December 1970. (According to the Telegraph, a judge agreed with McCartney's argument and legally divided the band.)
"I had to fight and the only way I could fight was in suing the other Beatles because they were going with Klein. And they thanked me for it years later. But I didn't instigate the split," McCartney says. "That was our Johnny coming in one day and saying 'I'm leaving the group.'"
Sean Lennon addressed McCartney's comments in a statement to EW: "Time has sort of made us all grow to soften our edges and appreciate each other much more. Paul is a hero to me, on the same shelf as my dad. My mom loves Paul, too, she really appreciates him. They've had tensions in the past, and no one is trying to deny it. But all the tension we ever had, hyperbolized or not, makes it a real story about real human beings."
This article was updated with Sean Lennon's statement.
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.