After more than 50 years in a sometimes scorching spotlight, Paul McCartney is somewhat of a known quantity.
Still, the former Beatle and solo artist offered up several surprising stories in a lengthy new GQ profile published Tuesday. In it, the 76-year-old spoke about everything from his sexual exploits in the early days of the Beatles to his relationship with Kanye West today. And he didn’t hold back.
Here are some of the more surprising comments:
McCartney, John Lennon, and a few friends once mαsturbated together
“What it was,” McCartney explained, “was over at John’s house, and it was just a group of us. And instead of just getting roaring drunk and partying — I don’t even know if we were staying over or anything — we were all just in these chairs, and the lights were out, and somebody started mαsturbating, so we all did.” They began shouting out the names of people who’d, uh, help them along.
“We were just, ‘Brigitte Bardot!’ ‘Whoo!’ and then everyone would thrash a bit more,” the singer explained.
He said it was Lennon who broke it up when he jokingly offered the name of Winston Churchill. But this, ahem, gathering, wasn’t a regular occurrence among friends.
“I think it was a one-off. Or maybe it was like a two-off,” McCartney said. “It wasn’t a big thing. But, you know, it was just the kind of thing you didn’t think much of. It was just a group. Yeah, it’s quite raunchy when you think about it. There’s so many things like that from when you’re a kid that you look back on and you’re, ‘Did we do that?’ But it was good harmless fun. It didn’t hurt anyone. Not even Brigitte Bardot.”
That story about George Harrison losing his virginity in a bunk bed while the other Beatles listened is true … probably
When asked, McCartney sort of confirmed a story that Harrison himself told in 2000’s The Beatles Anthology — that Harrison had lost his virginity at 17 in a room shared with his bandmates before they’d made it big. Everyone reportedly broke out into applause when it was over.
“The thing is, these stories, particularly Beatles stories, they get to be legendary, and I do have to check: Wait a minute. I know we had one bed and two sets of bunks, and if one of the guys brought a girl back, they could just be in the bed with a blanket over them, and you wouldn’t really notice much except a little bit of movement,” McCartney told the magazine. “I don’t know whether that was George losing his virginity — it might have been. I mean, I think in the end this was one of the strengths of the Beatles, this enforced closeness, which I always liken to army buddies. Because you’re all in the same barracks. We were always very close and on top of each other, which meant you could totally read each other.”
Lennon tried to persuade McCartney to submit to the ancient practice of trepanning, or drilling a hole through one’s skull
“John was a kooky cat,” McCartney said. “We’d all read about it — you know, this is the ’60s. The ‘ancient art of trepanning,’ which lent a little bit of validity to it, because ancient must be good. And all you’d have to do is just bore a little hole in your skull and it lets the pressure off — well, that sounds very sensible. ‘But look, John, you try it and let me know how it goes.'”
McCartney said he doubted that Lennon was serious about trepanning anyway.
“He did say it, but he said all sorts of s***,” McCartney said.
McCartney once had a ‘wonderful experience’ with two hookers
When the GQ interviewer asked McCartney about Lennon’s claims that stories about the band’s early days were much more G-rated than they the actual events had been (Lennon claimed there were “orgies” on tour), McCartney responded candidly.
“There weren’t really orgies, to my knowledge. There were sexual encounters of the celestial kind, and there were groupies,” he said. “The nearest it got… See, this is my experience, because I’m just not into orgies. I don’t want anyone else there, personally. It ruins it! I would think — I’ve never actually done it. Didn’t appeal to me, the idea. There was once when we were in Vegas where the tour guy, a fixer, said, ‘You’re going to Vegas, guys — you want a hooker?’ We were all, ‘Yeah!’ And I requested two. And I had them, and it was a wonderful experience. But that’s the closest I ever came to an orgy.”
However, McCartney added that Lennon had probably experienced more of the orgy aspect of touring than he had, including once when the “Imagine” artist ended up having a sexual encounter with a woman whose husband watched.
McCartney toured with just one pair of socks in the Beatles’ early days
Members of the Fab Four were given only the basics, including a single pair of black socks, when they hit the road as a band, McCartney said. They washed their socks “if they smelled a bit” with soap and hung them on a radiator to dry, he said. It’s a miracle they looked so pulled together!
“Yeah, one pair of black socks,” McCartney confirmed. “Our touring kit was a pair of socks, pair of Beatle boots, a Beatle suit, white shirt, a toothbrush…”
Kanye West regularly keeps in touch with McCartney
McCartney and the rapper met at the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards, and the former Beatle said West offered to produce his album, Egypt Station, which has just been released. Although working on the new album was never talked about again, the two did write together, at Kanye’s request, in 2014. Their sessions resulted in McCartney’s fingerprints on music from Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar, as well as a lasting friendship between the former Beatle and West. “I speak to him occasionally on the phone,” McCartney said. “And mainly texting.”
McCartney wishes he had told Lennon how much he admired him
While McCartney and Lennon have often been depicted as rivals, McCartney made it clear that he has a lot of love for his late friend, who was murdered outside of his New York City apartment on Dec. 8, 1980.
“I was very lucky because before he died we had a good relationship, so I think it would have just got better and better as we matured,” McCartney said of what their relationship might be like in the present. “I probably would have been able to tell him what a fan of his I was now. These days, I can tell everyone else, and I think I would have been able to tell him now. Whereas I implied it when we were together. I never said, ‘Oh, you’re f***ing great, man, I’m such a fan of yours.’ We just hinted at it with each other. We were Liverpool guys, and you don’t do that — you don’t compliment each other. It’s just how you’re brought up.”
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