Paul McCartney Talks John Lennon’s ‘Truly Tragic Life’ and Admires His ‘Vulnerability’

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John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1963

Paul McCartney was exceptionally candid about his former Beatles bandmate John Lennon last week at the 2023 Tribeca Festival.

The 81-year-old English musician browsed through old Beatles photos with Conan O’Brien, 60, on Thursday for a live recording of O’Brien’s podcast, Conan O’Brien needs a friend. When the former late-night talk show host lined up for a photo of the late John Lennon, he noted hints of vulnerability and anxiety in Lennon’s expression.

“I don’t know about the anxiety, but the vulnerability is very real,” McCartney told O’Brien, explaining that Lennon endured many “minor tragedies” in his early 40s.

“As a child, his mother was ruled out as not being good enough to raise him…His father had left home when John was 3. So it’s not too wonderful,” he recalled. “It made me realize why he had this vulnerability. I always admired the way he handled it because I’m not sure I would handle the things he went through as well.”

Last week, McCartney announced the creation of what he calls “the last Beatles record”, which uses artificial intelligence to extract Lennon’s voice from old demos. The singer was shot and killed in December 1980 at the age of 40.

Related: New Book Will Reveal Life Secrets Never Shared With The Beatles

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Val Wilmer/Redferns

Paul McCartney and John Lennon in 1963

Related: Paul McCartney on Feeling ‘Deep’ Grief After John Lennon’s Death: ‘I Couldn’t Really Talk About It’

McCartney and O’Brien sat down on the storytelling panel to talk about the musician’s upcoming book titled 1964: Eyes of the Stormwhich features 275 newly discovered photographs taken by McCartney between late 1963 and early 1964 – the explosive period in which the Beatles sensationalized and cemented their place in music history forever.

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William Vanderson/Fox Photos/Getty

Paul McCartney and John Lennon in 1964

The photos will also be exhibited at the UK’s National Portrait Gallery in London from June 28 to October 1. In a statement about the exhibit, McCartney said the decades-old photos had an air of innocence.

“They bring back so many stories to me now, a flood of special memories, which is one of the many reasons I love them all, and I know they will always fuel my imagination.”

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