SHE is one of the most controversial figures in modern music history, but former Beatle Paul McCartney now says Yoko Ono was not responsible for breaking up the band.
While fans have directed decades of anger at John Lennon’s widow, Sir Paul has now told them to “let it be”.
In a frank interview to mark 50 years since the iconic band released their first single, Love Me Do, McCartney, 70, said: “She certainly didn’t break the group up, the group was breaking up.”
And he claimed Lennon could not have written songs such as Imagine without Yoko’s influence.
For decades Beatles fans made Ono a scapegoat for the band’s 1970 split. McCartney said: “I don’t think you can blame her for anything. When Yoko came along, part of her attraction was her avant-garde side, her view of things, so she showed him another way to be, which was very attractive to him.
“So it was time for John to leave, he was definitely going to leave (one way or another).” Ritchie Yorke, the Brisbane music writer who worked with Lennon and Ono in 1969 and 1970, has spent 40 years defending her role in The Beatles’ demise.
“Paul is finally telling a truth that was always obvious to anyone with an ear inside The Beatles’ camp in the late ’60s,” Yorke said yesterday.
“When Yoko first arrived on the scene in 1967, the band was all but broken up and hanging on to the last threads, trying to recover from the impact of their massive global success.
“Rather than break up something already partly broken, Yoko played a special role in encouraging an insecure John to believe in himself by following his own dreams and backing himself.”
Lennon told Yorke in 1969: “I found out what to do, and it didn’t really have to be with The Beatles. It could have been if they wanted.”
McCartney is still bitter towards the late Allen Klein, saying the businessman who tried to take over following manager Brian Epstein’s death in 1967 had created the rift in the group.
In 1970, McCartney took the other members of the band to court. Lennon retaliated with an interview with Rolling Stone, accusing McCartney of taking over the band and making the others feel like his sidemen.
According to The Observer newspaper, in the interview with David Frost for television channel Al Jazeera English, McCartney will talk about losing his mother at the age of 14 and his first wife, Linda, in 1998.
McCartney also tells Frost he would “like to retire soon”.