The classic rock artists of the 1960s were sometimes seen as anti-establishment or even anti-capitalist (looking at you, Pete Seeger). Paul McCartney admitted that The Beatles were materialistic and so were their contemporaries. He discussed why he and John Lennon were so keen to make money. The “Imagine” singer revealed his attitude toward money and socialism.
Paul McCartney said The Beatles used their concerts to sell Coca-Cola
Many fans interpret The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” as anti-materialistic songs. John’s “Imagine” goes even further, painting a world without possessions as a utopian ideal. To this day, the song spurs controversy for drawing influence from Marxist rhetoric. “Working Class Hero” also mimics Marxism. Despite this, The Beatles were as commercialized as humanly possible, inspiring a cartoon series, several films, merchandise, and more.
During a 1990 interview with Rolling Stone, Paul pulled no punches. “Whether you like it or not, no matter what people thought was going on in the ’60s, every single band that did anything got paid for it,” he said. “You look back at the early Beatles concert programs, there were Coke ads. We always got paid for everything we did, and when we made a deal, we always wanted the best.”
Paul McCartney demolished 1 ‘myth’ surrounding the Fab Four
Paul revealed he wanted a swimming pool from the beginning. “Somebody said to me, ‘But the Beatles were anti-materialistic,’” he said. “That’s a huge myth. John and I literally used to sit down and say, ‘Now let’s write a swimming pool.’ We said it out of innocence. Out of normal, f****** working-class glee that we were able to write a ‘swimming pool.’ For the first time in our lives, we could actually do something and earn money.
“You get any act around the table with their record company, they tell their manager, ‘Go in and kill,’” he continued. “They don’t say, ‘Oh, let the punters in at half price.’ We’ve actually done a lot of that — the free program, that wasn’t necessary.”
John Lennon remained a socialist despite making lots of money through The Beatles
The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features an interview from 1980. In it, John discussed his opinion of socialism. He revealed that he was a socialist because he wanted people to have healthcare. However, he also wanted to be rich. John said that, if that was a contradiction, then he wasn’t a socialist.
The “Power to the People” singer said he used to feel guilty over his wealth, which is why he allowed people to take so much from him. Over time, he came to terms with his wealth. He decried the biblical notion that money is the root of all evil. He described money as a form of “energy,” echoing the rhetoric of the New Age movement.
The Beatles’ music might encourage people to focus on love over possessions but Paul and John still desired to earn lots of money.