Paul McCartney says he sued The Beatles to save the band's music

Paul McCartney said that the misconception that he broke The Beatles up persists today and that "the only way" he could "save" the group's music was to sue his former bandmates.

"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," McCartney, 78, said in a wide-ranging interview with British GQ published Tuesday. "It was so prevalent that for years I almost blamed myself."

Image: US-MUSIC-GRAMMY AWARDS-SHOW (Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images file)
Image: US-MUSIC-GRAMMY AWARDS-SHOW (Frederic J. Brown / AFP - Getty Images file)

McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison formed the legendary English rock band in 1960, which broke up a decade later following myriad disputes — one major one being differing opinions of the band's manager Allen Klein, according to McCartney.

"The only way for me to save The Beatles and Apple — and to release Get Back by Peter Jackson which allowed us to release Anthology and all these great remasters of all the great Beatles records — was to sue the band," McCartney told British 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."

McCartney sued The Beatles in 1970 in London's High Court of Justice. He sought the dissolution of the band's contractual partnership after the other members of the group appointed Klein to preside over The Beatles' financial affairs. McCartney wanted Lee Eastman, the father of his late wife, Linda Eastman, to manage the band's finances instead, according to Rolling Stone, but he was outvoted.

Apple Corps Limited, which is unaffiliated with Apple Inc. the company behind iPhones and iPads, is a multimedia entertainment company founded by The Beatles in 1968. McCartney and Ringo Starr still own the company, along with the estates of Lennon and Harrison. The company is one of the producers behind "The Beatles: Get Back," a forthcoming documentary about the band directed by Jackson.

The decision to sue his bandmates wasn't an easy one and in fact, McCartney said he turned to alcohol to cope. Yet he believed "that was the only thing to do." He added that suing Klein by himself wasn't an option and that he was told he would have to sue the band as Klein "wasn't party" to the dispute.

"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," McCartney said. "I also knew that, if I managed to save it, I would be saving it for them too. Because they were about to give it away. They loved this guy Klein. And I was saying, 'He’s a f------ idiot.'"

A London High Court judge ruled in favor of McCartney’s action to dissolve the Beatles’ partnership in 1971 and consigned the financial affairs of the former Beatles to a receiver until the band established mutually acceptable terms for their break-up, but the other Beatles' relationship with Klein soured shortly thereafter. Klein later sued The Beatles himself in 1973 for $19 million after the band decided not to renew his contract and the two parties settled, with Klein receiving approximately $5 million, according to Billboard.

McCartney said that he was hurt by John Lennon's 1971 song "How Do You Sleep?", which he interpreted as a jab toward him. He said he felt his contributions to the group were downplayed after the group disbanded. "How Do You Sleep?" includes the lyrics "the only thing you done was yesterday/And since you're gone you're just another day," in reference to the Beatles' 1965 song "Yesterday," which was co-written by McCartney and Lennon, and Another Day," the first single of McCartney's solo career, which was also released in 1971.

After The Beatles broke up, McCartney found success as a solo artist and last Friday, he reissued his 1997 album "Flaming Pie," which includes a previously unheard, acoustic version of "Calico Skies" and other unreleased demos.

He said that now when he hears a song from his former band, it takes him "on a happy trip down memory lane."