Ringo Starr Said Paul McCartney and George Harrison Once Had a 2-Hour Argument That Had Nothing to Do With Music

Ringo Starr and The Beatles maintained a frenetic pace in the 1960s. When they weren’t playing residencies in Hamburg, Germany, the Fab Four crisscrossed England to play shows almost nightly. Ringo once said the band’s farting caused terrible trouble in the confines of the van. The close quarters also put tempers on edge, as Ringo revealed George Harrison and Paul McCartney once had a lengthy argument that had nothing to do with music.

(l-r) Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr at JFK Airport in 1964, two years after Ringo said Paul and George argued for two hours over car keys.
(l-r) Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr of The Beatles | Bettmann/Getty Images

The Beatles played live almost every night when they just started

Before a lucky encounter landed The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and changed their career, Ringo, George, Paul, and John Lennon, honed their chops playing live.

The Fab Four had multiple residencies in Hamburg, Germany, in the early 1960s. When they weren’t entertaining the Germans, the Beatles played shows across the U.K. They were regulars at Liverpool’s Cavern Club and played hundreds of shows there, but they hit every corner of the island to play live. They spent a lot of time in the van going from Liverpool to Manchester, Aintree, Birkenhead, New Brighton, and all points between.

As one might expect, the hectic schedule and inordinate amount of time spent with the same few people led to tempers sometimes running high among the Beatles. Ringo once revealed that George and Paul had a two-hour argument that had nothing to do with music.

Ringo Starr said George Harrison and Paul McCartney once had a two-hour argument over car keys

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The Beatles split in 1970 as their different personalities and visions for the future of the band diverged. George reportedly had a fistfight with John at one point. The recording sessions for The White Album included a near-brawl between John and Paul.

The Fab Four got physical (or nearly so) during their later arguments, but those were hardly their first tussles. Ringo revealed Paul and George once had a two-hour row after a pit stop during the band’s early days (via YouTube):

“In 1962, we’re traveling around the country in this van. It’s the four of us. One day, we stopped at this cafe somewhere in England. George got in the driver’s seat; he wanted to drive, just to break the monotony, but Paul had the keys. So we hung out for two hours while they discussed it. ‘I’m driving. I’m sitting here — I’m driving.’ ‘Well, I’ve got the keys, I want to drive.'”

Ringo Starr describes George Harrison and Paul McCartney arguing over car keys

Considering the outright animosity of the later years, George and Paul’s battle over car keys was either a lighthearted look at the past or a sign of things to come many years later. Or maybe it’s both.

The Beatles found a way to continue making great music despite their fighting

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Many bands with talented members who have strong personalities have moments of strife. The Beatles had all three: Talented musicians, big personalities, and disagreements. But they still created some of the finest classic rock music because their mix of talent and attitude created a brilliant chemistry.

When they put their differences aside and just played the music, they united as a cohesive whole. And that whole was greater than the sum of its formidably talented parts. The Beatles kept making great music despite the fighting because they truly had something special together. The four members’ collective creative energy superseded whatever petty arguments happened between them.

George and Paul’s two-hour argument over who would drive the van in 1962 was perhaps a sign of things to come. The fighting eventually derailed them, but not before the Beatles created some of the best popular music of all time.

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