In an interview to mark his 70th birthday, to be broadcast on Al Jazeera next month, McCartney tells Sir David Frost: “When Yoko came along, part of her attraction was her avant-garde side, her view of things.
“She showed him another way to be, which was very attractive to him. So it was time for John to leave. He was definitely going to.
“She certainly didn’t break the group up – the group was breaking up.”
Lennon wrote iconic track Imagine thanks to conceptual artist Ono’s influence, says McCartney. “I don’t think he would have done that without Yoko, so I don’t think you can blame her for anything.”
Looking back on one of the most controversial band splits in rock’n'roll history, he adds: “It wasn’t that bad a thing.” And he says the Beatles left “a neat body of work.”
Frost first interviewed McCartney 50 years ago, when he told the broadcaster: “I’d like to retire soon – and the way things are going I might be able to.”
Meanwhile, the mystery surrounding the 1969 disappearance of McCartney’s head from a billboard has been solved.
The cut-out promotional advert was put up over Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, supporting the release of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album.
Soon afterwards fan Robert Quinn, then 19 years old, scaled the scaffold, cut off the head and took it home. He says he was inspired by the “Paul is dead” rumour that had been circulating at the time.
Quinn recently met artist Mario Rueda, now 94, who originally painted the billboard. View the video interview below.