Paul McCartney and John Lennon grew up in Liverpool but had different upbringings. McCartney came from a large family, while Lennon came from a small, broken home. The two became fast friends despite their differences and later formed The Beatles. McCartney said his friendship with Lennon taught him an important lesson about one’s upbringing.
Paul McCartney was raised by a large family
McCartney grew up in a large, working-class family in Liverpool, England. He was raised by a family of 5 but had many aunts, uncles, and cousins, who were pivotal parts of his childhood. In an interview on the Smartless podcast, McCartney shared the fond memories he has of his family and said they are a crucial aspect of who he is now.
“I was very lucky with my family,” McCartney explained. “Uncles and aunties, cousins, and all of that. There were like millions of them. My dad had seven in his family. My mom had two brothers. The minute they all start reproducing and produced a big, big family. It was great. They were so wonderful and wise and funny and optimistic. I really don’t remember anything bad about it.”
John Lennon taught Paul McCartney that everyone had different backgrounds
Unlike Paul McCartney, John Lennon had a more difficult childhood. Lennon’s father left him when he was a child, and his mother died in a car accident when he was 17. McCartney said that meeting Lennon was the first time he realized how lucky he was to have his wonderful family.
“So, I grew up thinking, ‘That’s how everyone’s life is. We’ve all got lovely uncles and aunts.’ Then, when I met John, it turned out not to be true,” McCartney shared. “He had a terrible upbringing. His dad left home when he was three. His mother got run over and killed outside of his aunt’s place. It’s a terrible story.”
All of The Beatles had different backgrounds
The one similarity between Lennon’s and McCartney’s upbringing was that they both lost their mothers at early ages. McCartney’s mother died when he was 14 from breast cancer, and she later became the inspiration for “Let it Be.” The other Beatles, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, also grew up in Liverpool and similar economic classes.
Ringo’s parents split when he was four, and he didn’t see much of his father after that. His mother worked as a cleaning woman and a barmaid to support them. Starr, born Richard Starkey, also dealt with a few medical conditions during his childhood. At age six, he had an appendectomy and contracted Peritonitis, forcing him to live in a children’s hospital for 12 months while recovering. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and spent two years in a sanatorium.
Harrison’s parents remained together, and he was the youngest of four children in a middle-class household. His mother was a stay-at-home mom while his dad drove the bus for the Liverpool institute, an acclaimed grammar school attended by both Harrison and McCartney, where they first met.
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