Ringo Starr Said Paul McCartney Could Act Like a ‘Spoiled Child,’ but He Tried to Soften the Blow

In 1970, Paul McCartney sued The Beatles. He explained that he did it to protect the band’s catalog of music from band manager Allen Klein, but the move also aired out a great deal of the group’s dirty laundry. The group’s inner workings were made public, and John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr had harsh words to share about McCartney. Starr, at least, tried to soften the blow of his words, but he still insulted his former bandmate.

Paul McCartney stands with his hand on Ringo Starr's shoulder. Starr holds up a peace sign.
Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney | Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

The bassist sued The Beatles in 1970

In 1970, McCartney sued The Beatles to dissolve their contractual relationship when the other members appointed Klein to control the band’s finances. McCartney never liked Klein and didn’t trust him to manage the group’s affairs. 

“The only way for me to save The Beatles and Apple — and to release Get Back by Peter Jackson and which allowed us to release Anthology and all these great remasters of all the great Beatles records — was to sue the band,” McCartney told GQ. “If I hadn’t done that, it would have all belonged to Allen Klein. The only way I was given to get us out of that was to do what I did.”

It wasn’t McCartney’s intention to sue the band, but he wasn’t able to sue Klein directly.

“I said, ‘Well, I’ll sue Allen Klein,’ and I was told I couldn’t because he wasn’t party to it. ‘You’ve got to sue The Beatles.'”

Ringo Starr tried to be diplomatic, but he still insulted Paul McCartney

The lawsuit made the band’s complicated dynamics public. In interviews, McCartney’s former bandmates complained about him. Lennon was the harshest. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he said that The Beatles were “the most big-headed, uptight people on earth.” 

McCartney tried to play it off as though this didn’t bother him, but he later said he obsessed over the interview.

“I sat down and pored over every little paragraph, every little sentence,” he said, per the book Paul McCartney: A Life by Peter Ames Carlin, adding, “I thought, ‘It’s me. I am. That’s just what I’m like. He’s captured me so well. I’m a turd, you know.'”

Harrison complained that McCartney was overbearing and overlooked his contributions to the band. Even Starr complained about him, noting that “he acted like a spoiled child… he goes on and on to see if he can get his way.” Still, Starr lessened the sting of the insult by noting that McCartney was “the greatest bass player in the world.”

Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr think of each other like family

The Beatles’ anger toward each other softened after a few years and their relations were friendly again. McCartney and Starr think of each other as family.

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“It’s family,” McCartney told Rolling Stone. “Sometimes we get pissed off at each other. I’ll want something from him and he won’t give it to me, and I’ll get pissed off. But then it passes. Brothers fight sometimes. There’s this revisionist history that it was all John and Paul. But it was four corners of a square; it wouldn’t have worked without one of the sides. Ringo was the right angle.”