Lennon on Beatles, drugs,
music, and John
Eighty years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
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News Phone: 764-x'552
(Excerpted by special permission from
RollingeStone magazine. Entire contents
1971, Straight Arrow Publications).
1 would like to ask a question about Paul
and go through that. When we went
and saw 'Let It Be' in San Francisco, what
was your feeling?
I felt sad, you know. Also I felt ... that
film was set-up by Paul for Paul. That is
one of the main reasons the Beatles ended.
I can't speak for George, but I pretty damn
well know we got fed up of being side-men
After Brian Epstein died, that's what hap-
pened, that's what began to happen to us.
The camera work was set-up to show Paul
and not anybody else. And that's how I
felt about it. On top of that, the people
that cut it, did it as if Paul is God and we
are just lyin' around there. And that's what
I felt. And I knew there were some shots of
Yoko and me that had been just chopped
out of the film for no other reason than
the people were oriented for Englebert
Humperdinck. I felt sick.
How would you trace the break-up of the
After Brian died, we collapsed. Paul took
over and supposedly led us. But what is
leading us, when we went round in circles?
We broke up then. That was the disinte-
When did you first feel that the Beatles
had broken up? When did that idea first
I don't remember, you know. I was in
my own pain. I wasn't noticing, really.
I just did it like a job. The Beatles broke
up after Brian died; we made the double
album, the set. It's like if you took each
track off it and made it all mine and all
George's. It's like I told you many times,
it was just me and a backing group, Paul
and a backing group, and I enjoyed it. We
broke up then.
You see, a lot of people, like the
Dick James, Derek Taylors, and Peter
Browns, all of them, they think they're the
Beatles, and Neil and all of them. Well I
say fuck 'em, you know, and after working
with genius for ten, 15 years they begin
to think they're it. They're not.
Do you think you're a genius?
Yes, if there is such a thing as one, I am
When did you first realize that?
When I was about 12. I used to think I
must be a genius, but nobody's noticed. I
used to wonder whether I'm a genius or
I'm not, which is it? I used to think, well,
I can't be mad, because nobody's put me
away, therefore, I'm a genius. A genius is
a form of madness, and we're all that way,
you know, and I used to be a bit coy about
it, like my guitar playing.
If there is such a thing as genius-
which is what . . . what the fuck is it?-I
am one, and if there isn't, I don't care. I
used to think it when I was a kid, writing
me poetry and doing me paintings. I didn't
become something when the Beatles made
it, or when you heard about me, I've been
like this all me life. Genius is pain too.
* * *
w\hat were the reactions when you first
brought Yoko by?
They despised her.
From the very beginning?
Yes, they insulted her and they still
do. They don't even know I can see it.
and even when its written down, it will
look like I'm paranoiac or she's paranoiac
I know, just by the way the publicity on
us was handled in Apple, all of the two
years we were together, and the attitude of
people to us and the bits we hear from of-
fice girls. We know, so they can go stuff
Yoko: In the beginning, we were too
much in love to notice anything.
John: We were in our own dream, but
they're the kind of idiots that really think
that Yoko split the Beatles.
* * *
LSD started for you in 1964: how long
did it go on?
It went on for years, I must of had a
Literally a thousand, or a couple of hun-
A thousand, I used to just eat it all the
I never took it in the studio.
* * *
At some point, right between 'Help' and
'Hard Day's Night,' you got into drugs and
got into doing drug songs?
A Hard Day's Night I was on pills, that's
drugs, that's bigger drugs than pot. Started
on pills when I was 15. no. since I was 17.
since I became a musician. The only way
to survive in Hamburg, to play eight hours
a night; was to take pills. The waiters gave
you them-the pills and drink. I was a
fucking dropped-down drunk in art school.
Help was where we turned on to pot and
we dropped drink, simple as that. I've
always needed a drug to survive. The
others, too, but I always had more, more
pills, more of everything because I'm more
There's a lot of obvious LSD things you
did in the music.
How do you think that affected your
conception of the music? In general.
It was only another mirror. It wasn't
a miracle. It was more of a visual thing
and a therapy, looking at yourself a bit.
It did all that. You know, I don't quite
remember. But it didn't write the music,
neither did Janov or Maharishi in the same
terms. I write the music in the circum-
stances in which I'm in, whether its on
acid or in the water.
* * *
The Hunter Davies book, the "author-
ized biography," says ...
It was written in [London] Sunday,
Times sort of fab form. And no home
truths was written. My auntie knocked out
all the truth bits from my childhood and
my mother and I allowed it, which was
my cop-out, etcetera. There was nothing
about orgies and the shit that happened
on tour. I wanted a real book to come out,
but we all had wives and didn't want to
hurt their feelings. End of that one. Be-
cause they still have wives.
The rumor about Paul being dead?
I don't know where that started, that's
balmy. You know as much about it as me.
Were any of those things really on the
album that were said to be there? The
No. That was bullshit, the whole thing
was made up. We wouldn't do anything
like that. We did put in like "tit, tit, tit"
in "Girl," and many things I don't remem-
ber, like a beat missing or something like
that could be interpreted like that. Some
people have got nothing better to do than
study Bibles and make myths about it and
study rocks and make stories about how
people used to live. It's just something for
them to do. They live vicariously.
. . . All that business was awful, it was
a fuckin' humilitation. One has to com-
pieteiy humiliate oneself to be what the
Beatles were, and that's what I resent.
I didn't know, I didn't forsee. It happened
bit by bit, gradually until this complete
craziness is surrounding you, and you're
doing exactly what you don't want to
do with people you can't stand-the people
you hated when you were ten. And that's
what I'm saying in this album-I remem-
ber what it's all about now you fuckers-
fuck you! That's what I'm saying, you
don't get me twice.
Would you take it all back?
Being a Beatle?
If I could be a fuckin' fisherman I
would. If I had the capabilities of being
something other than I am, I would. It's
no fun being an artist. You know what
it's like, writing, it's torture. I read about
don't know, man, then there's no pain;
that's how I express it.
What do you think the effect was of the
Beatles on the history of Britain?
I don't know about the "history"; the
people who ae in control and In power,
and the class system and the whole bull-
shit bourgeoisie is exactly the same, ex-
cept there is a lot of fag middle class
kids with long, long hair walking around
London in trendy clothes, and Kenneth
Tynan is making a fortune out of the
word "fuck." Apart from that, nothing
happened. We all dressed up, the same
bastards are in control, the same people
are runnin' everything. It is exactly the
We've grown up a little, all of us, there
has been a change and we're all a bit freer
and all that, but it's the same game. Shit,
they're doing exactly the same thing, sell-
ing arms to South Africa, killing blacks on
the street, people are living in fucking pov-
erty, with rats crawling over them. It just
makes you puke, and I woke up to that too.
The dream is over. It's just the same,
only I'm thirty, and a lot of people have
got long hair. That's what it is, man,
nothing happened except that we grew
up, we did our thing-just like they were
telling us. You kids-most of the so-
called "now generation" are getting a
job. We're a minority, you know, peo-
ple like us always were, but maybe we
are a slightly larger minority because of
maybe something or other.
Why do you think the impact of the
Beatles was so much bigger in America
than it was in England?
The same reason that American stars
are so much bigger in England: the grass
is greener. We were really professional
by the time we got to the States; we had
learned the whole game. When we arrived
here we knew how to handle the press;
the British press were the toughest in the
world and we could handle anything. We
were all right.
On the plane over, I was thinking, "Oh,
we won't make it," or I said it on a film
or something, but that's that side of me.
We knew we would wipe you out if we
could just get a grip on you. We were
And when we got here, you were all
walking around in fuckin' bermuda shorts,
with Boston crew cuts and stuff on your
teeth. Now they're telling us, they're all
saying, "Beatles are passe and this is like
that, man." The chicks looked like fuckin'
1940 horses. There was no conception of
dress or any of that jazz. We just thought
"what an ugly race," it looked just dis-
gusting. We thought how hip we were, but,
of course, we weren't. It was just the five '
of us, us and the Stones were really the
hip ones; the rest of England were just
the same as they ever were.
You tend to get nationalistic, and we
would really laugh at America, except
for its music. It was the black music we
dug, and over here even the' blacks were #
laughing at people like Chuck Berry and
the blues singers; the blacks thought it
wasn't sharp to dig the really funky
music, and the whites only listened to
Jan and Dean and all that. We felt that
we had the message which was "listen
to this music." It was the same in Liver-
pool, we felt very exclusive and under-
ground in Liverpool, listening to Richie
Barret and Barrett Strong, and all those
old-time records. Nobody was listening
to any of them except Eric Burdon in
Newcastle and Mick Jagger in London. It
was that lonely, it was fantastic. When y
we came over here and it was the same
-nobody was listening to rock and roll
or to black music in America--we felt
as though we were coming to the land of
its origin but nobody wanted to know
What part did you ever play in the songs
that are heavily identified with Paul, like
"Yesterday," I had nothing to do with.
"Eleanor Rigby" I wrote a good half of
the lyrics or more.
When did Paul show you "Yesterday"? 0
I don't remember-I really don't re-
member, it was a long time ago. I think
he was . . . I really don't remember, it
just sort of appeared.
Who do you think has done the best
versions of your stuff?
I can't think of anybody.
Editorials printed in The Michigan Daiy express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 30, 1971
NIGHT EDITOR: STEVE KOPPMAN
Crisis threatens RC
SINCE ITS inception, the Residential
College has suffered f r o m financial
problems which produced a gap between
the original concept of the college and its
reality. Unless the University allocates
more funds for the RC during the current
financial crisis, however, the very heart
of the RC's educational enterprise-ex-
perimentation-may be lost.
The college is being asked to cut its
budget no more than any other segment
of the University, but due to its adminis-
trative structure and the nature of its
program, it is considerably less able than
other units to sustain the cuts.
Some of the problems involved in trim-
ming funds from the RC budget stem
directly from the history of the college.
In the beginning, the college was ex-
pected to have its own campus and an
academic budget of its own. However, the
drive for building funds fell some nine
million dollars short, and the academic
allocation from the University similarly
failed to materialize.
As a result, the college has been forced
to borrow faculty from existing depart-
ments - when those departments can
spare faculty members - and to rely on
volunteer help from faculty interested in
AT PRESENT, for instance, the RC is
paying partial salaries to six faculty
members who are on loan from their
original departments, and 13 or 14 pro-
fessors are simply contributing their time
to the college for no extra salary.
It is this situation which would make
budget cuts especially disastrous for the
RC. For the chief means by which de-
partments plan to economize in the com-
ing year is to avoid replacing retiring
faculty and to otherwise reduce the size
of their academic staffs.
It is therefore increasingly unlikely
that departments will have spare faculty
to share with the RC during -the coming
year. Acting literary college Dean Alfred
Sussman has so far emphasized he will
not allow departments to eliminate fac-
ulty-sharing with the RC as a money-
saving measure. However, given the fi-
nancial condition of the University, Suss-
man may not be able to prevent a drain
on RC faculty resources.
If it becomes necessary to increase
faculty workloads in their regular de-'
partments, for example, there will almost
certainly be less opportunity even for in-
terested faculty to donate services to the
RC. Since so much of the college's teach-
reduction more difficult than it is for
other portions of the literary college.
As an experimental unit, the college
emphasizes interdisciplinary courses often
requiring more than one faculty mem-
ber, the use of regular faculty rather
than teaching fellows for most courses,
and small classes and seminars for large
numbers of courses.
If the faculty were reduced in size,
therefore, the college would be forced to
abandon the interdisciplinary course con-
To eliminate this aspect of the RC,
however, would be to eliminate one of its
most essential characteristics - an at-
tempt to seriously personalize the college
experience. Without it, in large measure,
the rationale for the existence of the RC
would be undermined.
AS THE DIRECTORS of the RC have
already suggested, the only real solu-
tion to these problems lies in granting the
college enough funds to make it finan-
cially self-supporting-even in the face
of the present budget squeeze.
This would be beneficial in three ways.
First, it would allow the RC to begin mak-
ing ' its own faculty appointments and
j o i n t appointments with departments
whose faculty it shares. By thus paying
for the time faculty spend teaching there,
the RC would be less subject to fluxua-
tions in other departments.
Secondly, the funds would allow the
RC to improve its own curriculum by let-
ting administrators plan their program
two or three years in advance. Having to
wait for other departments to settle their
programs before it knows what faculty
will be available now forces the RC to
plan its curriculum rather haphazardly.
Thirdly, allocating the college its own
budget would allow the RC to actively
seek those faculty teaching subjects the
college has need for. Currently the RC
must simply accept whatever volunteer
help is available. Being self-supporting
would thus allow a more unified and co-
Particularly now, when most of the Uni-
versity is being forced into increased
streamlining and depersonalization, it
seems clear that some measure of experi-
mentation in ways to make education
more personally relevant must be main-
tained. However, with the RC's present
funding system, this preservation is clear-
ly impossible during the time when it is
-Rolling Stone-Annie Leibovitz
The Beatles tours were like the Fellini
film Satyricon. We had that image. Man..
our tours were like something alse, if
you could get on our tours, you were in.
They were Satyricon, all right.
Would you go to a town .. . a hotel ...
Wherever we went, there was always a
whole scene going, we had our four sepa-
rate bedrooms. We tried to keep them out
of our room. Derek's and Neil's room were
always full of junk and whores and who-
the-fuck-knows-what, and policemen with
it. Satyricon! We had to do something.
What do you do when the pill doesn't wear
off and it's time to go? I used to be up all
night with Derek, whether there was any-
body there or not, I could never sleep, such
a heavy scene it was. They didn't call them
groupies then, they called it something
else and if we couldn't get groupies, we
would have whores and everything, what-
ever was going.
Van Gogh, Beethoven, any of the fuck-
ers. If they had psychiatrists, we wouldn't
have had Gauguin's great pictures. These
bastards are just sucking us to death;
that's about all that we can do, is do it
like circus animals.
I resent being an artist, in that respect,
I resent performing for fucking idiots who
don't know anything. They can't feel. I'm
the one that's feeling, because I'm the one
that is, expressing. They live vicarously
through me and other artists, and we are
the ones . . . even with the boxers-when
Oscar comes in the ring, they're booing. the
shit out of him, he only hits Clay once
and they're all cheering him. I'd sooner be
in the audience, really, but I'm not capable
One of my big things is that I wish to
be a fisherman. I know it sounds silly-
and I'd sooner be rich than poor, and all
the rest of that shit-but I wish the pain
was ignorance or bliss or something. If you
LETTERS TO THE DAILY
not the issue
To the Daily:
MR. SIAK'S guest editorial on
the Senkaku Island dispute (Daily,
Jan. 28 sbetween China and Japan
indicates serious misunderstand-
ing of the 1958 U.N. Convention
on the Continental Shelf. T h e
agreement does not create na-
tional sovereignty over the actual
subsoil areas of the shelf but only
permits the coastal state to have
exclusive access to the natural re-
sources of the seabed and sub-
soil. Further, such authority does
not extend beyond 200 meters
whenever "important and depend-
able" natural resources are pre-
better direct his group's energies
to a careful examination of the
implications of a continued Chin-
ese and Japanese rejection of the
international principles asserted in
the treaty. Minimally his parent
organization should more
thoroughly review supporting doc-
uments presented in propaganda
To the Daily:
AS RUSH CHAIRMAN for one
of the independent campus com-
munity. Articles such as yours do
nothing but increase that feel-
I cannot help but wonder why
there was no mention made of the
fact that the Greek system does
play an important role in Uni-
versity and civic functions. I also
marvel at your failure to point
out that the overwhelming ma-
jor'itey of fraternity and sorority
members on this campus are quite
happy to be a part of the sys-
tem; if they weren't they would
simply disassociate themselves. I
am also amazed that the photo
pletely ignored by your publica-
tion in the coming year. You will
make no mention of our strengths
or progress. We can expect no cov-
erage of philanthropic or social
activities and we can look for-
ward to no accurate representa-
tion of our living situation.
THIS IS particularly unfortun-
ate when one considers that the
Daily is ranked nationwide as one
of the forerunning campus news-
papers. To overlook the possibil-
ity of presenting the student body
with an honest and balanced pic-
ture of the Greek system seems to
To the Daily.
THE INTERNS and Residents
Association of the University med-
ical center would like to public
support the goals and actions o
Local 1583 of AFSCME. For too
many years the health care pro-
fessions and auxiliary personnel
have been called upon to make
personal sacrifices because of the
nature of their work. Their pay
scale and working conditions haxg
never been on an equal level witf
As a result they have been de-
graded. depersonalized, a n d de-