An upcoming Beatles biography by John Harris – titled Get Back, which details The Beatles' final few quarrelsome days as a band – has revealed private conversations between Paul McCartney, John Lennon and Yoko Ono following George Harrison's five day leave from the group in 1969.
The book is being released to coincide with the release of Peter Jackson's docuseries of the same name.
Harris, who was handed hundreds of hours of recordings as part of the project, has waded through the content to untangle what really happened during the band's unseen moments. Now, he has shared the story of what really went down when Harrison temporarily walked out of the band on January 10 in 1969 after a difficult morning of butting-heads while working on the tracks Get Back and Two Of Us – when the guitarist apparently quit by simply stating "see you around the clubs".
Speaking to the Guardian, Harris says: “Lennon, Ono and McCartney had lunch, and recorded a remarkable conversation. On the audio I was given, it began suddenly and unexpectedly". The discussion was secretly recorded by music filmmaker Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who hid a microphone in the studio canteen to capture the band's private moments. Starting with Lennon noting his dedication to his partner, Yoko Ono, he begins: "‘I mean, I’m not going to lie, you know. I would sacrifice you all for her [Ono]… She comes everywhere, you know."
McCartney replies: "So where’s George?"
Lennon: "Fuck knows where George is."
Ono: "Oh, you can get back George so easily, you know that."
Lennon: "But it’s not that easy because it’s a festering wound… and yesterday we allowed it to go even deeper, and we didn’t give him any bandages."
McCartney: "See, I’m just assuming he’s coming back, you know. I’m assuming he’s coming back."
Lennon: "Well, do you…"
McCartney: "If he isn’t, then he isn’t; then it’s a new problem."
Lennon: "If we want him – I’m still not sure whether I do want him – but if we do decide we want him as a policy, I can go along with that because the policy has kept us together."
Elsewhere, Harris points to another conversation which captures McCartney – the Beatles manager at the time in replacement of the late Brian Epstein – discussing Lennon bringing Ono to band meetings.
"They’re going overboard about it, but John always does, you know, and Yoko probably always does. So that’s their scene. You can’t go saying: ‘Don’t go overboard about this thing, be sensible about it and don’t bring her to meetings.’ It’s his decision, that. It’s none of our business starting to interfere in that.” says McCartney.
John Harris' book, Get Back, arrives on October 12.