"I was thought to be the guy who broke The Beatles up and the b------ who sued his mates. And, believe me, I bought into that. That’s the weirdest thing. It was so prevalent that for years I almost blamed myself," he said in an interview with British GQ.
The legendary English rock band, formed in 1960, lasted a decade before splitting in 1970. McCartney ended up suing the band after disputes with manager Allen Klein.
"The only way for me to save The Beatles and Apple (Records) ... was to sue the band," he told the magazine, explaining he wasn't able to bring a lawsuit against Klein directly because "he wasn’t party to it."
The result, McCartney says, was "horrendous." He was vilified.
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"I drank way too much and did too much of everything," he told GQ. "And it was crazy, but I knew that was the only thing to do, because there was no way I was going to save it for me, because there was no way I was going to work that hard for all my life and see it all vanish in a puff of smoke. I also knew that, if I managed to save it, I would be saving it for them (the rest of The Beatles) too. Because they were about to give it away. They loved this guy Klein. And I was saying, 'He’s a f------- idiot.' "
McCartney says John Lennon's “How Do You Sleep?" was a targeted jab at him, with Klein reportedly influencing the lyrics as part of an "atmosphere of 'Let’s get Paul. Let’s nail him in a song ...' "
"And those things were pretty hurtful," McCartney said.
After the split, McCartney says he became depressed and turned to alcohol to cope. He credits his first wife, Linda McCartney, with helping him out of his fog. When they first met, she was in a rough spot: divorced, raising a child and fending for herself in New York, he recalls.
"She said: 'You know what? I’m not going to have this depression, because if I do I’m going to be in the hands of other people. And I’m not going to allow that to happen.'" Her attitude inspired McCartney to do the same.
Today, he's in a much better place, and whenever he hears a Beatles tune, "it always takes me on a happy trip down memory lane."
Follow Gary Dinges on Twitter @gdinges
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Paul McCartney talks fallout from Beatles breakup, suing the band