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  • John Lennon said Paul McCartney had the inspiration for The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.”
  • John said a rock star who wasn’t a member of The Beatles helped pen the song.
  • Ringo Starr added a joke to “Yellow Submarine.”
"Yellow Submarine" era John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney near microphones
The Beatles’ John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney | Keystone Features/Getty Images

John Lennon felt The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” was Paul McCartney’s “baby.” Despite this, he said another 1960s rock star helped McCartney write the lyrics. In a book, the rock star discussed his role in creating the song.

John Lennon said all The Beatles made ‘Yellow Submarine’ ‘come alive’ while another rock star helped with the lyrics

According to the book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Lennon discussed the origin of many Beatles songs in a 1980 interview. At one point, he discussed “Yellow Submarine.” “‘Yellow Submarine’ is Paul’s baby,” he said.

Lennon recalled another rock star helped McCartney write the song. “Donovan helped with the lyrics,” he said. “I helped with the lyrics, too. We virtually made the track come alive in the studio, but based on Paul’s inspiration.”

Paul McCartney said Ringo Starr added a joke to the song

In the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. Donovan discussed his role in writing the track. “[Paul] played one about a yellow submarine,” Donovan remembered. “He said he was missing a line and would I fill it in.”

Donovan then came up with a famous line from the track. “I left the room and returned with this: ‘Sky of blue and sea of green in our yellow submarine,'” Donovan recalled. “It was nothing really, but he liked it and it stayed in.”

In addition, McCartney discussed how Lennon helped craft “Yellow Submarine.” “I think John helped out; the lyrics get more and more obscure as it goes on, but the chorus, melody, and verses are mine,” he said.

McCartney also revealed Ringo Starr added a joke to the track. “There were funny little grammatical jokes we used to play,” he said. “It should have been ‘Everyone of us has all he needs’ but Ringo turned it into ‘everyone of us has all we need.’ So that became the lyric. It’s wrong, but it’s great. We used to love that.”


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How The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

“Yellow Submarine” became a hit. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for nine weeks. The Beatles released the track on the soundtrack album of the film of the same name. Yellow Submarine reached the second spot on the Billboard 200, lasting on the chart for 25 weeks.

“Yellow Submarine” became even more prominent in the United Kingdom. There, it was a double A-side with “Eleanor Rigby.” According to The Official Charts Company, the songs reached No. 1 in the U.K. for four weeks. They stayed on the chart for 13 weeks in total.

The soundtrack was far less popular. In the U.K., it peaked at No. 3. The soundtrack lasted on the chart for 10 weeks.

“Yellow Submarine” is a classic children’s song and it might not be the same without Donovan.