Why Paul McCartney Knew John Lennon’s First Marriage Was Doomed to Fail

The Beatles practically grew up in front of the world. They were barely out of their teenage years when they hit it big in 1962. The public took almost as much interest in their love lives as it did in the music. John Lennon was the first Beatle to get married (George Harrison had some thoughts about it affecting the band’s image), and Paul McCartney knew it was destined to fail.

(l-r) Paul McCartney, Jane Asher, Cynthia Lennon, and John Lennon. McCartney knew John's marriage to Cynthia wouldn't last because of one comment she made to him.
(l-r) Paul McCartney, Jane Asher, Cynthia Lennon, and John Lennon | PA/PA Images via Getty Images

John Lennon was the first of The Beatles to get married, but he didn’t seem to enjoy it

John Lennon and Cynthia Powell met in school in 1957. The attraction wasn’t mutual at first, but Powell became drawn to John when she saw him play music. John and a pregnant Powell married in 1962, just as the Beatles started to find success but marriage didn’t seem to suit the songwriter.

John once said he felt embarrassed being the only married member of the group. He likened his marriage to Powell to walking around with his fly open.

The other Beatles picked up on John’s sentiments, too. Paul knew the song “Good Morning Good Morning” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was about John’s problems with his wife. The album came out years after John and Powell tied the knot, but Paul knew their marriage was doomed from the start.

How Paul McCartney knew John’s first marriage was doomed to fail

John’s comments about married life indicated the relationship wasn’t built to last. The couple divorced in 1968, and Paul knew the marriage was doomed to fail well before then. 

As he once told Howard Stern, Paul said Powell once made a comment about what she wanted from a marriage, and the Beatle knew her vision wouldn’t suit John:

“He’d found Yoko, and John loved strong women. His mother had been a strong woman, his auntie who brought him up was a strong woman, and bless her, but his first wife wasn’t. She once said to me, ‘Oh, all I want is sort of a guy who wants his pipe and slippers.’ And I thought, ‘Oooh, that’s not John.'”

Paul McCartney explains why he knew John Lennon’s first marriage wouldn’t last

As Paul said, John and Yoko seemed suited for each other. Her presence around the Beatles’ recording sessions caused some tension in the band. Yet Paul said it absolutely made sense in hindsight.

“Even though we thought, ‘Oh god, this is a bit intrusive’ because she’d sit in on the recording sessions and we’d never had anything like that, but looking back on it, you think ‘The guy was totally in love with her,” Paul told Stern. “You’ve just got to respect that.”

What Paul thought of John and Yoko’s relationship, and why it’s unfair to blame the Beatles’ break-up on Ono

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The simple way to put it is that Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles. That’s not quite true. As Paul told Howard Stern, John was completely in love with Yoko, so much so that he lost interest in the band.

Paul was not too keen on Yoko at first, but he changed his mind as he got to know her more. It’s easy and convenient to say Yoko drove a wedge between John and the rest of the Beatles, but the band was already starting to fracture when she entered the picture. Placing the blame squarely on her shoulders is unfair. And it was never Paul’s or anyone else’s responsibility to define Paul and Yoko’s relationship.

Paul McCartney knew John Lennon’s first marriage was doomed to fail. In hindsight, he realized John and Yoko were perfect for each other. 

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