John Lennon Said The Beatles Weren’t as ‘Open or Truthful’ as They Wanted to Be: ‘We Had to Compromise’

After The Beatles broke up, John Lennon had no fear of speaking his mind. He gave lengthy interviews in which he spoke poorly about his bandmates and their music. While Lennon spoke his mind in The Beatles — he notably caused a stir when he said The Beatles were bigger than Jesus — he said he wasn’t as honest as he wanted to be. He shared why they had to compromise in order to achieve success.

John Lennon said The Beatles had to change themselves
In the early years of The Beatles, the band received criticism for their clothing and long hair. According to Lennon, their style was already a compromise. They had to change themselves in order to seem palatable to the public.

“We weren’t as open and as truthful when we didn’t have the power to be,” Lennon said in The Beatles Anthology. “We had to take it easy. We had to shorten our hair to leave Liverpool. We had to wear suits to get on TV. We had to compromise.”

He said they didn’t necessarily realize they weren’t being truthful. They were just doing what it took to get their music career off the ground.

“We had to get hooked to get in, and then get a bit of power and say, ‘This is what we’re like,’” he said. “We had to falsify a bit, even if we didn’t realize it at the time.”

John Lennon said people looked down on them if they didn’t know they were The Beatles
The Beatles knew that they were able to get away with certain things because of fame.
“The class thing is just as snobby as it ever was,’ he said. “People like us can break through a little — but only a little. Once, we went into a restaurant and nearly got thrown out for looking like we looked, until they saw who it was: ‘What do you want?’ the head waiter said. ‘We’ve come to bloody eat, that’s what we want,’ we said. Then the owner spotted us and said, ‘Ah, a table, sir, over here, sir.’”

He knew that because of their newfound fame, people were behaving falsely toward them.

“It’s only since I’ve been a Beatle that people have said, ‘Oh, wonderful, come in, come in,’ and I’ve forgotten a bit about what they’re really thinking,” Lennon said. “They see the shining star, but when there’s no glow about you, they see only the clothes and the haircut again.”

The band primarily relied on each other
Their newfound fame was a strange world to navigate. As a result, they primarily stuck with each other. They believed this was how they survived Beatlemania.

“We can’t go around with anybody for a long time unless they are a friend, because we’re so closely knit,” Lennon said, adding, “We talk in code to each other. We always did when we had strangers around us…”

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