Was John Lennon considered to be the Beatles leader?

I know on a lot of the Beatles album covers, he was featured prominently. Also, it seemes as though on a lot of their early records he sang lead vocals. Was he considered to be the leader of the band?

I think in the earlier years of the Beatles, he was the acknowledged leader of the band. After the Sgt. Pepper period, when Paul was writing much of the material - sort of dominating the tone of the albums- and George was writing more - then a lot of rivalry came to the surface.
I can’t find anything online, but if you read any interview (Like John’s Rolling Stone “Lennon Remembers” interview from 1971 or his Playboy interviw in 1980)…or any articles from when the Beatles were still together, that becomes pretty clear.

A guy named Mark Lewissohn once wrote a book in which he analysed each song and said what percentage of the song was Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Starr, or other. I forgot the extact numbers, but they showed John to be the dominant vocalist and writer - mainly because of their first 4 or 5 albums. So some people take this really seriously.

John was always the “unofficial leader”, until around 1966-67. Around 1968, John sort if reclaimed his “leader” role with the White Album, where he wrote a majority of the songs.

Gee, you are quick saudade. I wish I could type as fast as you. :slight_smile:

Of course…he was the Smart One, after all.

Its easy to type fast when you spell like I do…

I think most people would say that what made the beatles great was that they were a combo, not a band. A band would be Buddy Holly and the Crickets, or Bill Haley and the Comets. The Beatles were a group.

BTW, suadade, would you happen to be a Love and Rockets / Bauhaus fan?

Lennon once sat down and listed which of the Beatles’ songs were written by him, which by McCartney, and which were collaborations. On the White Album, Lennon songs were “Dear Prudence,” “Glass Onion,” “Every Body’s Got Something to Hide,” “Warm Gun,” “Bungalow Bill,” “I’m So Tired,” “Yer Blues,” “Cry Baby Cry,” “Julia,” “Sexy Sadie,” and “Goodnight.” The rest were McCartney, with a couple by Harrison, and one by Starkey. “Birthday” was a collaboration.

Overall, Lennon wrote 76 songs and McCartney wrote 70. There were 24 collaborations (if the number don’t add up, blame my count).

Lennon thought “Across the Universe” was one of his best and that “Hey Jude” was McCartney’s best (though he also liked “Yesterday.”

Lennon was the leader in the very beginning, but the group became collaborative, and it was McCartney who was holding it together at the end.

As other posters have noted, John Lennon was the undisputed leader of the Beatles in the early days. Bear in mind, John was about 2 years older than Paul, and 3 years older than George. That’s a tiny gap among adults, but it’s huge age difference among teenagers. Paul and George were kids when they first met John Lennon, who was older, cooler, more worldly, more experienced with girls, more knowledgeable about music… it was only naturally that they’d look up to him, and follow his lead.

By 1966, though, it was pretty obvious that George and Paul were no longer just kids in awe of Lennon. They had their own ideas, and weren’t about to roll over at Lennon’s command any more. By this time, Lennon and McCartney each had their own distinct, recognizable styles… and they were starting to fight each other for space on albums.

By the time the Beatles called it quits, Paul seemed to be the dominant force, while John seemed increasingly uninvolved and apathetic.

Postscript: though John Lennon DID make a long list of which songs he wrote and which songs Paul wrote, Lennon’s version is not to be taken as gospel truth. Remember the famous interview in which Paul called his deceased partner “a maneuvering swine” who regularly took credit for songs he didn’t write?

I have no way of knowing which Beatle was telling the truth with regard to any given song. I merely note that at LEAST one of them has not always told the truth about which songs he wrote. (YOU can decide for yourself which one that is.)

Just for the record ~ not that anyone really cares ~ but just for the record… Hey Jude and ObLaDi-ObLaDa are my two favorite Beatles songs.

Sure, I’m not much of a goth* – but then again that’s sort of the image people give Bauhaus. Their music was pretty diverse.
I sort of confuse them with Love and Rockets. Mostly the same guys right. I am familiar with some of their songs, so I know why you asked that question…:wink:

Speaking of bitterness between John and Paul, in a Rolling Stone interview in the 1970’s, sort of at the peak of their bickering, Paul sort of accused John (and it wasn’t a complete joke) of having “Mafia connections”. Maybe through Alan Klein.

Did anyone else see on VH1 a show with Aidan Quinn as Paul and some guy as John, recreating a get-together they had in the 1970’s. It was certainly better than most of those VH1 “movies”, but it was pure fiction right? I wasn’t in the SD when that aired, but I’ve wanted to ask somewhere.

[sup]*Yet my screen name is a word roughly meaning "a longing despair tinged with nostalgia " in Portuguese.[/sup]

In the “Quarrymen” days, it was John who invited George and then Paul into “his” group and things just developed from there. “Where are we going, boys?”
“To the toppermost, of the poppermost, Johnny”, was the answer.

I believe that it was when Yoko came on the scene that John began to shed the “leadership” image, and it was “thrust” on Paul to hold things together. By then, however, the others had become disenchanted and the breakup was imminent.

John was always my favorite Beatle, but I have to say that Paul really tried to keep them together and continue live shows.

My observations are not new. Many feel as I do and if you go to the Beatles newsgroups you are bound to find many threads debating the question you have asked.

We are all fortunate indeed to have had them for as long as we did, and it would be well to remember that when they finally became famous, it was at the end of 4 years of playing in dives in Hamburg and other places. They worked hard, and god they must have been tired.


What they said.

John was definitely the leader in the early days for a combination of reasons. The group that eventually became the Beatles started as his band, and the other three joined after the band was already started. And he was older than Paul and George (I think Ringo was the oldest, but he was a drummer, can’t sing much, and is not exactly the forceful leader type).

And at the beginning he was the most prolific composer in the bunch, nowhere more evident than on “Hard Days Night”. This was the first album they did that featured all original material, and IIRC all but 2 of the songs were written by Lennon.

Things changed, of course. Paul and George became more assertive, particularly Paul, as they got older and figured out that they could write some pretty fair songs too. And John went through a bit of a funk for a while and was much less prolific - speculation on my part, but he might have been so focused on achieving success that after he got it he lost interest a bit.

Paul in particular stepped up during this time (and you can argue over whether he was acting in his own interest here and seizing power, or working in what he though was the best interest of the band to keep it going). Primarily through Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour I think you’d have to consider Paul the leader.

By the White Album I’m not sure there really was a leader. It’s a great album, but as has been stated by many others it’s very much like four solo artists who happened to be working together.

From there on out the Beatles were definitely in the breakup stage of things. Paul did work for at least a while to keep them together but by then the handwriting was on the wall. Too bad in a way, as I think they had at least a few more excellent albums in them (just look at the solo work they all did immediately after the breakup - you could put together one incredible album by picking and choosing the best of those songs), but on the other hand it prevented them from turning into the Stones or something.

saudade: I caught that VH1 movie. Both Lennon and McCartney, in separate interviews over the years, have commented upon a couple of meetings they had at the Dakota around that time (I think it was '75 or '76). Lennon even going so far as saying he tried to talk McCartney into going to Rockefeller Center to take Lorne Michaels up on his offer of $300 (or whatever ridiculous amount it was) for the Beatles to get together on “SNL”. Other than gleaning topics from those interviews, the script for the movie was pure conjecture. If you’re a Beatle fan, as I am, it was an interesting conceit. But the acting was pretty god-awful.