This January marks the tenth anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on the American charts. Last month Rolling Stone conducted its first full-scale interview with Paul McCartney, in six sessions starting in a London recording studio and ending on a New York street. The New York sessions took place the day after McCartney had entered the US for the first time in two years, visa problems stemming from two marijuana violations now finally resolved.
McCartney was cautious in his responses during the first two sessions. He and Linda remembered being on vacation in Scotland when they were first shown John Lennon’s lengthy interview (Rolling Stone Number 74 and Number 75, January 21st and February 4th, 1971), and having been deeply hurt by it. At first he seemed to want to avoid the kind of controversy Lennon’s interview had generated but in later conversations he became freer with his answers.
Because the various sessions were necessarily disconnected, our text does not follow in all cases the actual sequence of questions. For example, McCartney’s discussion of his legal difficulties is compiled from three separate conversations. One of those discussions was prompted by an incident on a New York street. We were walking down 54th Street towards the New York office of Eastman and Eastman, attorneys—Lee and John Eastman, father and brother of Linda McCartney (whose photographs illustrate this interview).
A man in a gray suit with a colorful umbrella approached McCartney and asked, “Mr. McCartney? This is for you.” It was an American copy of a process from Allen Klein that had been served on Paul two weeks before in London. An outraged PR man howled; McCartney smiled and told the man, “Thank you very much.” He was being sarcastic.
The villain of the scenario, so far as he was concerned, was not the man in the gray suit, but Klein himself, whom McCartney calls a “punk.” McCartney claims he sued his fellow ex-Beatles in High Court because it was the only way to sue Klein. When we queried the head of ABKCO Industries about the suit, he seemed to relish the new confrontation. “He now has the opportunity to say anything he wants in court,” Klein told us. “He has his opportunity to fight me face to face. I am welcoming it. Now he’s in the same ring with me. Isn’t that what he wanted?”
John Eastman made this statement concerning the Beatles/Apple/Klein suits and Paul’s involvement in them:
“John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, Apple and others started an action in England against ABKCO and Klein. This complaint alleges ABKCO and Klein took excessive commissions, practiced fraud, suggested conduct which would have been a fraud on the tax authorities in the US and UK, mismanaged Bangla Desh and otherwise mismanaged the affairs of the complainant. This action is now pending against ABKCO and Klein.
“ABKCO then sued Lennon, Harrison, Starr, Yoko Ono, Apple and other related companies in the US. It claims damages against them of $63,461,372.87 plus future earnings.
“ABKCO also joined Paul, claiming conspiracy. Its only claim against Paul is that Paul conspired with Yoko Ono, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr as well as Bag Production and other corporations wantonly, maliciously, fraudulently, wrongfully and intentionally without justification in law or fact to damage or injure plaintiff (ABKCO).’ Damages are sought for this alleged conspiracy of $34 million plus interest.”