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A decisive moment in the Beatles' ending is
captured by the lens of Linda McCartney. It is
September 1969 and all but George convene
at the Apple office in Savile Row, London, for a
business meeting. Paul suggests the Beatles
try to bury their differences by reinvesting in the
band and returning to live perfomances. John
announces instead that he wants 'a divorce'.
Left to right: John Eastman (Linda's brother and
Paul's business manager; John, George
and Ringo's ally), Ringo, Ringo's wife Maureen, and
Allen Klein's colleague Peter Howard
I met Linda in May 1967 in a club called the Bag O' Nails. It was my regular haunt after I'd finished working. She was over in London to shoot some photos and had gone down there with Eric Burdon and the Animals, friends of mine. I was in my normal alcove and they were just over to the left, and playing that night was Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, one of the good bands. And I just looked over, saw her and there was an immediate attraction. So I did what I didn't normally do -I stood up and said СOh, hi, my name's Paul, what's yours?С Then I had to say something else, so I said, СWe're going on to another club, would you like to join us?С We went on to the Speakeasy and heard A Whiter Shade of Pale for the first time. It became 'our song', because we heard it together that night.
Linda met John, George and Ringo at a party at Brian Epstein's house, when we launched Sgt Pepper. It was another good, casual meeting between Linda and me, and again we were attracted to each other, but it wasn't like we were going to stay together forever and forever. It was only later, when she kept coming back to my mind, that I realized she was great. I knew a lot of other girls and they just didn't seem quite as good.
At a certain age you start to think, СI've got to get serious, I can't just be a playboy all my lifeТ. And whenever I did, Linda came into my mind. So eventually I thought that we should spend more time together, to see if we really were attracted or if it was only a casual thing. We were making the White Album at the time and I said, 'Do you fancy coming over to London and staying a little bit longer? You could stay with meТ.
Linda came over to England from America. The Beatles were at Abbey Road that night, recording Happiness is a Warm Gun. She'd got her flight and gone straight to the house, so I left the session and went home - it was just around the corner. And that began a period of our living together and getting to know one another. Our backgrounds were dissimilar-she was from New York and I was from Liverpool - but as we got to know each other we realised we had many things in common: rock and roll, nature, art, photography, paintingЕ
I've now learned about Сquality of lifeС - how to live, how to feed yourself - but back then I was just a guy in a band, often on tour or in hotels or restaurants, and I never had to fend for myself. Before Linda came over to England, to live with Сa BeatleС, she imagined that I led an aristocratic lifestyle! We used to laugh about it afterwards, 'Your royal carriage awaits you...'
My fridge had half a bottle of sour milk and a little bit of dried cheese. Linda took the mickey out of me for that. The house was a bit of a tip, really, just a place to sleep, but when she arrived it became a place to live in. At one point, slightly later in our relationship but still during that period, Linda said to me Сl could make you a nice home.С
1: Linda Eastman photographed by Paul McCartney. winter 1968 - 69
2: Another Paul McCartney photo: Linda and Heather on Manhattan, late 1968
That really moved me, because I was a great home-lover, and having lost my mum at fourteen I really missed all that. Linda was very good to be with because she'd say things like ТLet's get out of LondonТ. I'd say, Сok, where do you want to go?С and she'd reply, СLet's just go and get lostТ. I particularly remember one morning after a late-night recording session, and here I was - unshaven, scruffy, really knackered-going out with a girl. I apologized and she just turned to me and said, С'It's allowedТ. I liked that. Those were really good balancing times for me. Sometimes I brought a guitar along; I wrote Two of Us about Linda and me, heading out for nowhere.
Linda and her daughter Heather had an apartment at 83rd and Lexington, the tenth floor. I'd always liked New York but never lived there - I'd just stayed in hotels, running to a limo. I'd never done much walking, which is one of the fun things about New York, or catching a cab and going around the park or the Village. We went on the subway, to 125th Street I think; and walked to the Apollo. Nobody knew who I was, or her; it was away from all the fame and I could be totally free.
A quiet stroll in Central Park, snapped by Paul
I wrote Maybe IТm Amazed in my early days with Linda. I was sitting in London, playing my piano, and the song kind of wrote itself Ц reflecting my fillings towards her. ItТs remained a favorite of mine.
One of the earliest Linda Eastman photos of her husband-to-be, taken at Kennedy Airport in May 1968. Paul and John had been in New York to announce the formation of the Beatles' company Apple Corps
John, George and Ringo weren't at the wedding, wich might have been because of the tensions of the time, or because we decided to do it quickly. It seems like an important point now but it wasn't at the time - it was just the two of us wanting to get married quietly. My dad wasn't there either - I'm not shure he was pleased with me about that, but my best excuse was that it was the spirit of the tomes. We didn't want a big fuss.
The New York City snowscape, taken by Linda Eastman during the home visit with her new English boyfriend
It was a fun little wedding. We giggled our way through it. It was quiet when we got to the registry office but word must have got out because it seemed like there were millions of people around when we came out, hanging out of office windows and cheering. I just made sure that I stayed near Linda, and kept shouting,СShe's with me, she's the bride!С Heather was with us too.
When it came to Linda being in the public eye, maybe once or twice we thought, 'This is going to be hardТ, but I don't think we ever thought of giving it up. Linda wasn't prepared for the bitchiness, though. Some journalists were uptight about my marrying an American divorcee with a child. They made up that she was Сthe Eastman Kodak heiressС, and one of the comments was СPaul's landed on his feetС'. But when people bad-mouthed us it made us even more determined to prove them wrong. It was a battle in some ways, one that we were determined to win.
My fans used to write on the wall outside the house, and to say that what they wrote about Linda was not complimentary would be the understatement of the year. I owed it to Linda to give her some quality of life, so one day I went out and said to the fans, СLook, I have just got married, and I'm going to be trying to bring up a family. I'll do an autograph but that's it. The old days are overТ. It was hard to get rid of them but one evening I snapped and they saw a side of me which I hadn't shown them until then. That did the trick.
The Beatles had a meeting to sign a new deal with Capitol Records. We were sitting around in this rather tense atmosphere and I was saying to the guys, СI think we should go back on the road, go back to our roots. We've got too crazy, we should just go out and play togetherТ. And John looked me in the eye and said, СI think you're mad. And I wasn't going to tell you until after we've signed the Capitol deal, but I'm leaving the group.С Our jaws dropped but he was excited by it, it was an adrenaline rush for him. He was controlling the moment. He said, СIt's like getting a divorceТ.
On his way home - a Linda Eastman image of John Lennon at Kennedy Airport, at the end of his and Paul's visit to New York, May 1968
There was really no point in sitting around in London, getting involved in all the Apple dramas. When I look back, it obviously wasn't the most stable time of my life. I went crazy for a good few weeks - it was more than a lost weekend-and started to have one drink too many. It was the nearest I'd ever been to feeling insecure, paranoid, out of work, useless. Why bother to get up in the morning? But in the depths of my despair Linda was there to say, СIt'll be all right, you'll get out of this.С She talked me through it. If I'd have been on my own I'm not sure I would have survived.
Driver Paul, photographer Linda and Martha (my dear) out on a road to nowhere, 1969