How Paul McCartney Became the Beatles’ ‘Instigator’
Paul McCartney looked back at how he became the “instigator” in the Beatles, saying the pattern emerged in his friendships with John Lennon and George Harrison before they were bandmates.
McCartney’s apparent control over the band has been cited as one of the reasons tensions flared in its later years. But in a new interview with The New York Times Magazine, he argued that the situation took form before his musical career.
“I was thinking the other day of my hitchhiking bursts,” he said. “This was before the Beatles. I suddenly was keen on hitchhiking, so I sold this idea to George and then John. ... What I was thinking about was – it’s interesting how I was the instigator. Neither of them came to me and said, ‘Should we go hitchhiking?’ It was me, like, ‘I’ve got this great idea.’”
He said that was the basis of a “theory” he’s developed. “My theory is that attitude followed us into our recording career," he explained. "Everyone was hanging out in the sticks, and I used to ring them up and say, ‘Guys, it’s time for an album.’ Then we’d all come in, and they’d all be grumbling. ‘He’s making us work.’ We used to laugh about it. So, the same way I instigated the hitchhiking holidays, I would put forward ideas like, ‘It’s time to make an album.’ I don’t remember Ringo, George or John ever ringing me up and saying that."
However, McCartney doesn't want credit for bringing the band together in the first place. “We happened upon each other in Liverpool through a friend of mine, Ivan Vaughan,” he recalled. “Ivan said, ‘I think you’d like this mate of mine.’ Everyone’s lives have magic, but that guy putting me and John together, and then George getting on a bus – an awful lot of coincidences had to happen to make the Beatles.”
He also reflected on his talents, noting "there is something with my ability to write music that I don’t think I’m necessarily responsible for. It just seems to come easier to me – touch wood – than it does to some people. That’s it. I’m a fortunate man.”