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Paul McCartney, Elton John chat with John Lennon’s son ahead of 80th birthday anniversary

Over the weekend, BBC Radio 2 hosted a two-part programme titled John Lennon at 80, featuring interviews with Paul McCartney and Elton John.

To commemorate what would have been the 80th birthday of the fabled John Lennon this coming Friday (October 9), his son Sean Lennon has spoken to some serious hall of famers, including The Beatles’ sweetheart Paul McCartney and rocket man Elton John, as well as Sean’s brother, Julien.

It was a wild ride full of stories of the beloved musician and we’re here to give you the highlights.

John Lennon
Photo: Iain McMillan/BPI

Let’s start with Paul McCartney. The Beatles’ bassist reflected on his first impressions of Lennon, first spotting the soon-to-be songwriter partner playing at a village fete. McCartney remembered: “I knew nothing about him except that he looked pretty cool. He had long sideboards and greased back hair and everything.”

Looking back on their relationship, McCartney recalled their perfect synergy and ability to round the other out: “I think, ‘Wow, how lucky was I to meet this strange Teddy Boy off the bus who turned out to play music like I did, and we get together and, boy, we complemented each other’.”

“They say with marriages opposites attract and we weren’t madly opposites, but I had some stuff that he didn’t have and he had some stuff I didn’t have,” he continued. The end combination? Timeless music, no doubt.

Elsewhere, Paul didn’t shy away from Sean’s question about his and John’s interpersonal, reflective” songwriting. “We certainly got a lot from Dylan and I know I had one of his first LPs at home before The Beatles,” he described.

The LP likely could have been The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Dylan’s 1963 breakout album with lyrics universal and impenetrable enough to stir a whole generation. “I was steeped in him and I think your dad was too”, Paul kindly added.

It’s interesting to note that in 1964, The Beatles all met the last troubadour at the New York Delmonico Hotel. Supposedly, Dylan offered the Fab Four some hash, and they ‘steeped in’, so to speak.

In a separate interview with Elton John, positivity was high. In a warm manner, one glasses-clad icon spoke fondly another. “Your dad was as kind and as generous and sweet and we just hit it off immediately,” John described to Sean Lennon. “He was so funny, that’s what I loved about him.”

John went on to recall their profound friendship: “That was the kind of wonderful two- or three-year whirlwind romance we had and it was such an important thing in my life, Sean, and it just really helped me.”

He noted the authenticity of the British pop-rock explosion and the nods to Liverpool and Strawberry Fields in the group’s songs: “If you analyse and look at The Beatles song list, from all their albums, it’s just terrifying how good the songs are.”

After some reminiscing over Lennon and Elton John’s musical collaborations, Sir John went on to imagine what the man would be up to today. He would have “maybe won the Nobel Peace prize or something,” John envisioned. “He was a uniter and he was prepared to go to any lengths to make people see what his point was.”

Very sweet, Sir John. Very sweet indeed. I think that’s an enduring spot as any to leave it, but if you’d like to dive into the full programme, here you are.