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The Beatles Heirarchy

Updated on October 18, 2009

Two of Us

 Most rock bands from the 60s until now, usually have a leader of sorts, a spokesperson. The Beatles were no different, but unlike others, one could actually see the emergence of another leader and both leaders trying to lead the band forward.

We are talking of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

It was John, at age 16 or so, who was in his skiffle band, the Quarrymen. They played Elvis and Buddy Holly tunes. After playing at a school function, one of his friends, had convinced Paul to audition for John. Mind you, John did not need another member in the band. Paul arrived at the gig on his bicycle and was introduced to John. John asked Paul to play something, Paul launched into a Little Richard song and screamed it. It was Long Tall Sally. History notes that John was blown away by Paul's vocals and guitar playing, which was much better than his own. John knew Paul would be an asset to the band, so he was in.

That started the Lennon and McCartney love affair in music. Both were competitive, creative and they became like "brothers", always together when away from home.

That set a pattern. Paul would never override John when it came to making final decisions about The Beatles, the songs etc. At least not from 1963-66. Paul felt second to John, after all, he did audition for John years before there were Beatles, yet, the hierarchy was set. If you listen now, most of the early LPs had John's vocals as the main one. The reason was he was the leader of the band. When George auditioned, he played for John. Paul had already played with George at home. Paul arranged for the audition.

But as The Beatles simple rock band turned into musical legends, which way beyond their wildest dreams, one can see the ascendancy of Paul, not only as a leader but main songwriter. It was not until 1966, that it began. The Revolver LP is mostly Paul, John was absent making a movie and doing whatever, he only has a few songs on it. The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper LP in 1967, was Paul's concept that he pressed until John agreed.  Most of the number one songs of 1967 from the Beatle's were Paul's. In 1968, it was Paul again that pressed the others into doing "Get Back", a film about how the Beatles make music. It was a concept that created a rift. Get Back was not released until 1969 as "Let it Be". The 1968 White LP, clearly shows Paul as the more prolific song writer.

1968 was the beginning of John wanting a divorce from the group he had created. Like any divorce, it is feeled with acrimony and spite. Paul clearly had become the group's leader, but the change was not welcomed. John still thought it was his band, the others were divided between two they were like brothers to. The Let it Be movie clearly shows the friction with Paul being in charge of everyone else. Hard to swallow watching two musicians trying to be the leader over the other.

The Abbey Road LP in 1969, their last, was again prompted by Paul. Paul did not want a divorce from the Beatles, it was his love and remains to this day. John did by now and clearly told Paul. Now began a race to see who was going to go public with it first. John oddly enough did not, Paul did and John followed.  Most of the songs on their last LP are from Paul.

 

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