It’s no secret that the Beatles had a strong bond, but it turns out that John Lennon and George Harrison were sometimes pretty harsh with their bandmate Paul McCartney. In a recent conversation with Uncut, legendary drummer Jim Keltner shared some insights into the complex relationships within the group.
Keltner, who has a storied career working with some of the biggest names in music, was no stranger to the Fab Four. His connections to the former Beatles members run deep, having worked with Lennon, Harrison, and Ringo Starr on various projects. Keltner even filled in for Starr on a few occasions, so it’s safe to say he’s had his fair share of time around the lads from Liverpool.
During the chat with Uncut, Keltner reminisced about the dynamic between Lennon, Harrison, and McCartney. He mentioned that both John and George could be really tough on Paul, but they made it clear that they didn’t want anyone else joining in. In their eyes, it was a brothers-only type of situation, where they could tease each other mercilessly, but an outsider couldn’t do the same.
The drummer’s revelation about the Beatles’ inner dynamics:
“Sometimes I feel like I’m making him [George Harrison] sound too much like he was a saint. By no means was the man a saint! Over the years with him and John, they could both be really brutal with Paul. I learned very early on that I couldn’t join them. They both, on different occasions, said, ‘We can say that, but you shouldn’t.’ They were truly brothers who loved taking the piss out of each other, but they didn’t want anybody else doing it.”
Keltner’s observations suggest that Lennon and Harrison, while occasionally directing harsh comments toward McCartney, also maintained a deep sense of affection and respect for him. Their relationship can be compared to that of siblings, who may be candid with each other yet remain supportive and protective. This dynamic allowed them to engage in banter while still maintaining boundaries for those outside the group.