Paul McCartney and Jane Asher dated from 1963 to 1968. Asher was Paul’s first love and his muse. He wrote many iconic love songs about her and heartbreaking songs when they fought. Paul didn’t always treat her the best and wrote songs about their troubles, but Asher made their relationship even more public by breaking things off with the Beatle on live TV.
Paul McCartney met Jane Asher in 1963 at the Royal Albert Hall
In 1963, The Beatles’ fame was slowly rising. They’d already released a couple of successful singles and were set to play London’s Royal Albert Hall in April for a BBC Radio special. According to Steve Turner’s The Beatles A Hard Day’s Write, the BBC’s listings magazine, Radio Times, sent Jane Asher, Britain’s “best-known teenaged girl,” down to attend the concert. She was only 17 years old at the time and already an established actor. She was also a panelist on the BBC’s popular new music show Juke Box Jury.
The Radio Times article talked about The Beatles’ growing influence over young people. The article’s first photo pictured Asher calm and collected, but a second showed her next to The Beatles screaming. Her initial reaction to the band? “Now these I could scream for.”
Later that night, she met up with the band and talked with Paul. In a later interview, Paul said, “We’d thought she was blonde, because we had only ever seen her on black-and-white telly doing Juke Box Jury, but she turned out to be a redhead. So it was: ‘Wow, you’re a redhead!’ I tried pulling her, succeeded, and we were boyfriend and girlfriend for quite a long time.”
Asher’s parents later invited Paul to stay in the attic of their West End home. There he wrote some of The Beatles’ earliest hits. Some songs were about Asher, including “All My Loving,” “And I Love Her,” “Every Little Thing,” “Another Girl,” “We Can Work It Out,” “You Won’t See Me,” “I’m Looking Through You,” and “For No One.”
Jane Asher broke up with Paul McCartney on live TV
After going through a rough patch during the writing of Rubber Soul in 1965, things started to look up for the couple during Revolver the following year. Paul wrote Asher “Here, There, and Everywhere” and things settled. Paul had been angry at Asher for moving away from London to join the Bristol Old Vic Company. He couldn’t understand why she didn’t want to be around him, but she just wanted to start her own career.
Things between them started to look good when they announced their engagement in 1967. But things turned sour when Asher found out that Paul had been seeing American Francie Schwartz while she’d been away for work. So she humiliated him on live TV.
In July 1968, Asher went on the BBC chat show Dee Time. The show was usually early evening life-hearted entertainment, so no one expected to hear Asher’s appalling revelations. According to Express, she told host Simon Dee that her five years with Paul were over, saying, “I haven’t broken it off, but it’s finished.”
“I know it sounds corny, but we still see each other and love each other, but it hasn’t worked out. Perhaps we’ll be childhood sweethearts and meet again and get married when we’re about 70.” It must have been a shock for Paul to hear that on TV.
Paul and Asher have fond memories of each other
Not long after things with Asher dissolved, Paul started dating Linda Eastman, who’d become his first wife. Asher began dating cartoonist Gerald Scarfe in the early 1970s, and the couple married in 1981.
However, Paul does look back on his time with Asher fondly. “We had a good relationship. Even with touring, there were enough occasions to keep a reasonable relationship going. To tell the truth, the women at that time got sidelined. Now it would be seen as very chauvinist of us…”
“Once or twice we talked about getting married, and plans were afoot but I don’t know, something really made me nervous about the whole thing. It just never settled with me, and as that’s very important for me, things must feel comfortable for me, I think it’s a pretty good gauge if you’re lucky enough. You’re not always lucky enough, but if they can feel comfortable then there’s something very special about that feeling. I hadn’t quite managed to be able to get it with Jane.”
Paul also values Asher’s discretion. She’s “never gone to print” to sell her story, although she probably has similarly sweet memories of Paul. Unfortunately, the ex-couple did not meet again and get married when they were 70. Although, that would have been an exciting twist.