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Lennon reveals 'torture' of Beatles' final album

11 Comments

Recording their 12th and last studio album was nothing short of "torture" for The Beatles, said John Lennon in a tape-recorded interview coming up for auction this month.

The Fab Four had just completed "Let It Be" in 1969, but had yet to break up, when Lennon and wife Yoko Ono sat down in Toronto with radio DJ and Village Voice critic Howard Smith for an hour-long interview.

"We were going through hell. We often do. It's torture every time we produce anything," Lennon revealed.

"The Beatles haven't got any magic you haven't got. We suffer like hell anytime we make anything, and we got each other to contend with. Imagine working with the Beatles, it's tough," he said.

"There's just tension. It's tense every time the red light (in the recording studio) goes on."

Released in May 1970, and ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 500 greatest albums of all time, "Let It Be" was largely recorded in London in 1969 to complement a film of the same name.

Its title track and "The Long and Winding Road" endure as two of the Beatles' most memorable songs.

But for Lennon, who was murdered in New York in 1980, "Let It Be" was a "strange album" that reflected the friction that had grown between himself and band mates Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr.

"We never really finished it. We didn't really want to do it. Paul was hustling for us to do it. It's the Beatles with their suits off," he said.

New Hampshire auction house RR Auction said the hour-long interview over two audio tape reels had lain forgotten for nearly four decades in a crate at the rear of Smith's loft in New York.

"It's a frank and honest interview from one of the most revered musicians and activists of all time," RR Auction vice president Bobby Livingston said Thursday.

The recording is among more than 100 Beatles-related items folded into a larger "Marvels of Modern Music" memorabilia auction that runs from September 19 through September 26 online at www.rrauction.com.

An excerpt of the interview is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbJEM2mQsns.

© (C) 2013 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

11 Comments
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The way this article is written suggests that Let it Be was the last album the Beatles recorded. Most people are aware that Abbey Road was recorded after Let it Be, but released before Let it Be.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

No wonder. McCartney's songs were the highlight of that album. Lennon's songs were mediocre ranging to awful at that point in his career, due to the destructive influence of Yoko Ono.

The exception on the album was "Across the Universe," but Lennon wrote that in 1967-68, before Yoko entered the scene.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Was it as bad as the torture of listening to most of his solo work? which apart from a few exceptions, is a legacy-slaying collection of mediocrity.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@BluesRee The 'Let it Be' album is a bit if a mess and 'Naked' is only a marginal improvement. Then again, an album with Across the Universe, Get Back, The Long and Winding Road, Let it Be and the underrated Two of Us ( not to mention Don't Let Me Down on Naked ) isn't bad going.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We were going through hell. We often do. It's torture every time we produce anything,

We suffer like hell anytime we make anything, and we got each other to contend with.

All the headlines for this story indicate that it was ONLY torture for the LAST ALBUM, which indicates some kind of hidden drama that reveals some insight into why they broke up.

But as the above quote indicates, that "torture" was ALWAYS there, as is the creative process. Just a bunch of musical geniuses getting together to produce an album. Which is likely the SAME for ANY group composed of highly talented individuals.

Complete and utter SPIN by the media to generate drama that isn't really there.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Anyone who has ever seen the movie "Let it Be" knows those sessions were torture. We don't need an interview 44 years later to prove it (wow, has it been that long?)

Also, Abbey Road was the last recorded Beatles studio album, not Let it Be (although Let it Be was released later than Abbey Road)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'll be interested to see what it fetches. I'm going with 200 grand American. Though I truly have no idea what Beatles stuff goes for. Still, it would still be eerily cool to hear the interview.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Auction said the hour-long interview over two audio tape reels had lain forgotten for nearly four decades.

But the problems and incompatibility of The Beatles during 1969 is certainly not new news.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That happened a little bit later, Kenneth. Lennon was still living in Britain at the time of this interview.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No wonder. McCartney's songs were the highlight of that album. Lennon's songs were mediocre ranging to awful at that point in his career, due to the destructive influence of Yoko Ono.

The exception on the album was "Across the Universe," but Lennon wrote that in 1967-68, before Yoko entered the scene.

Ono brought a lot of friction to the band. Everyone knows she was very stubborn and controlling. But the biggest tension was between her and Paul and to this day, you can call that relationship at best lukewarm. A few years ago, when Paul released a commemoration cd of their works Ono exploded that Paul put his name before John's and demanded he switch it. It's been only recently that Paul and Ono are talking (barely) still frosty.

http://youtu.be/m5R2djmBGHc

If you look closely, you can see the tension still exists between the two.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This was a tough time for Lennon since he was being followed around 24/7 by the FBI under Nixon's orders. It was a major strain in his life.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

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