Paul McCartney has told fans over the decades that he wrote a play with John Lennon before they formed The Beatles. And now the 79-year-old has unearthed the manuscript. He said in a new interview: “For years I’ve been telling people that me and John wrote a play.”
Paul told BBC Radio 4: “It was the era of kitchen sink, so we wrote this play. We only got four pages in.
“This was before The Beatles when we were just hanging out writing our earlier songs.
“We’d started this play and [upon discovering it years later I] said, ‘Oh stop!’ and I read it and I said, ‘That’s that play I’ve been talking about for forever and really thought was lost.’
As for the play’s subject matter, it turns out that John and Paul wrote their story about Jesus.
Considering John and Paul’s humour, perhaps Pilchard is a bit like Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
In Barry Miles’ 1997 biography Many Years From Now, Macca said of the play: “We were going to have this character: the person upstairs who never comes in, and the play is just people talking about him and his terrible crisis.
‘Oh, our Pilchard, you know, he’s taken a turn. He’s born again, and he really thinks he’s the Messiah. He’s upstairs praying.’ This was the way it was going to go but we couldn’t figure out how playwrights did it.”
The interviewer did suggest to Macca that all four pages of the play should be produced as a BBC Radio drama, although doubts this would happen. Nevertheless, hopefully one day the manuscript will be shared for Beatles fans to read.
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When the Fab Four became famous and toured the US, John famously said The Beatles were bigger than Jesus.
Speaking with Evening Standard in March 1966, John said: “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink … We’re more popular than Jesus now – I don’t know which will go first, rock and roll or Christianity.”
The star’s comments were met with protests and threats, particularly in the Bible Belt of the US, where some radio stations stopped playing Beatles songs.
Additionally, records were burned, press conferences were cancelled and the KKK picketed the band’s concerts.
While on another occasion, John had a meeting with The Beatles to announce he was Jesus Christ after an LSD trip.
The memory, shared by Tony Bramwell, appears in the book, Magical Mystery Tour: My Life With The Beatles.
Having called Paul, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to the boardroom of Apple Records, Lennon announced; “I’ve got something very important to tell you. I am Jesus Christ. I have come back again. This is my thing.” In response, Ringo sighed and said: “Right. Meeting adjourned, let’s go have some lunch.”
Sir Paul McCartney’s Radio 4 interview on This Cultural Life goes out on October 23, 2021.