John Lennon Speaks in Newly Released Interview

ByABC News via GMA logo
December 5, 2005, 6:13 AM

Dec. 5, 2005 — -- Animosity over Paul McCartney's stardom was one of the main reasons the Beatles split up, John Lennon says in a newly released interview from 1970.

Lennon was 30, and the Beatles had broken up just months before, when he and wife Yoko Ono talked to Rolling Stone editor/founder Jann Wenner. Lennon explained how strained the relationships between the "Fab Four" had become when they shot their last film, a documentary called "Let it Be."

"I felt sad," Lennon said. "That film was set up by Paul, for Paul. That's one of the main reasons the Beatles ended, 'cause I can't speak for George [Harrison], but I pretty d-- well know, we got fed up being sidemen for Paul. And the camera work was set up to show Paul and not show anybody else. That's how I felt about it. And on top of that, the people that cut it, cut it as 'Paul is God' and we're just lying around there. I felt sick."

Lennon also said he was deeply hurt by the band's reaction to his 38-year-old wife.

"They despised her, they insulted her, and they still do," Lennon said.

In the nearly seven-hour interview, Lennon also expressed his frustration with his mega-stardom.

"They're just sucking us to death," Lennon said of his fans. "About all we can do is do it like circus animals. I resent being an artist in that respect. I resent performing for idiots who won't know -- who don't know -- anything. 'Cause they can't feel -- I'm the one that's feeling, 'cause I'm the one expressing what they are trying to. They live vicariously through me and other artists."

Wenner said the singer felt things deeply.

"John was a man of extreme passions," he said. "He would feel something, something and then change his mind. He was angry at the whole experience -- the lies and the dishonesty. He was angry at the hypocrisy, the false fronts. It bled him dry."

Lennon also spoke of rivalries between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

"I think Mick [Jagger] got jealous," Lennon said. "I always was very respectful of Mick, of the Stones, but he said a lot of sort of tarty things about the Beatles, which I am hurt by, because I can knock the Beatles, but don't let Mick Jagger knock them. Because I just like to list what we did and what the Stones did two months after, on every album and every thing we did, Mick does exactly the same. He imitates us."

Despite all he had achieved by 1970, Lennon still harbored intense resentment toward those who never appreciated him as a child.

"People like me are aware of their genius (so-called) at 10, 8, 9," he told Wenner. "I had always thought why hadn't anyone discovered me? In school can't they see that I'm cleverer than anyone else in this school? That the teachers are stupid too?! I used to say to Auntie 'you throw my poetry out and you'll be sorry when I'm famous.' I was different. I was always different. Why didn't anybody notice me? It comes out that people like me have to save themselves because you get kicked and say to themselves look at me. I'm a genius . What do I have to do to prove to you who I am? And don't you dare criticize my work like that. You who don't know anything about it."

Wenner said Lennon "was a volcanic individual to begin with," but did have a softer side. When Wenner asked him where he would be when he was 64, (a question inspired by the Beatles song "When I'm Sixty-Four") Lennon answered that he and Ono would be living alone, looking back on their "scrapbook of madness."

Lennon was shot dead 25 years ago in front of his apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side.

The full interview is available at via podcast.