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Paul McCartney reveals John Lennon's fear to 60 Minutes

McCartney: human, humble and still having fun
Paul McCartney: human, humble and still having fun 06:19

He's a rock star, a music legend with dozens of platinum albums — a Beatle. But even after more than 50 years behind the microphone, Paul McCartney still has self-doubt.

"I think if you care about what you're doing, if you really want to get it right, then you've got to deal with insecurities," he tells 60 Minutes correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi in the video above. "It's what makes it right."

Paul McCartney speaks with 60 Minutes this week.

In a candid, wide-ranging interview this week on 60 Minutes, McCartney admits a few things. For starters, he doesn't know how to read or write music — surprisingly, none of the Beatles did.

"It doesn't matter how elevated you get or your reputation gets, you still worry about things." -Paul McCartney

When it comes to handling his stardom, McCartney says he won't take a selfie with people who approach him, though he will chat with them.

Given the number of people who stop him on the street, McCartney must have a lot of chats.

"Who's been famous longer than Paul McCartney?" Alfonsi asks 60 Minutes Overtime's Ann Silvio. "He handles it really well. I think a lot of people could learn from the way he manages fame."

But one admission in particular seems to emerge as a theme throughout the interview: At 76, Paul McCartney still feels he has to prove himself the way he did when the Beatles' first album came out 55 years ago.

"It doesn't matter how elevated you get or your reputation gets, you still worry about things," McCartney tells Alfonsi on the broadcast.


McCartney, it turns out, wasn't the only Beatle with doubt. In the video above, he tells of a quiet moment between the bandmates, when John Lennon revealed that he also felt uncertain — about his own legacy.

"I remember him once particularly strangely, out of the blue, saying, 'I worry about how people are going to remember me,' " McCartney reveals. "And I was like, 'John listen to me, look at me. You're going to be remembered as one of the greatest people.'"

As McCartney explains on the broadcast, his friendship with Lennon was complex. Songwriting partners since they were teenagers, the two collaborated in writing some of the most popular songs in music. A sense of competition also pushed them to create even more, even though McCartney says Lennon only complimented him once.

Lennon was also able to tell McCartney when his lyrics needed tweaking. When McCartney initially wrote "I Saw Her Standing There," the original opening lines were, "She was just 17 / She'd never been a beauty queen."

But Lennon wasn't so sure.

"So I said, 'Well, let's change it,'" McCartney said.

Bill Owens, who produced this week's profile on McCartney, said that constructive partnership went both ways. 

60 Minutes' Bill Owens, left, produced this week's profile of Paul McCartney.

"The relationship was so complicated," Owens says. "They needed each other so much. I think Paul McCartney is the only person who could tell John Lennon 'No,' or 'That doesn't work.'"

The video above was originally published on September 30, 2018 and produced by Ann Silvio and Lisa Orlando.

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