11:25The truth behind Sir Paul's success
A four in a bed romp and the pregnancy that nearly ended Macca's career before it began (and how a girlfriend's mum used to brush his hairy legs to relieve his stress): The truth behind Sir Paul's success
This week, the Mail is exclusively serialising Philip Norman’s jaw-dropping Paul McCartney biography, approved by the star.
On Saturday, he detailed the shocking extent of Heather Mills’ lies and money-grabbing.
Today, in our second extract, he reveals the star’s merry-go-round of girlfriends and groupies . . .
Long past the heyday of The Beatles, Paul McCartney offered a lift one day to a young film-maker, telling him to throw a sackful of letters on the front seat into the back of the car.
‘Go ahead and read one,’ he told David Litchfield. ‘They’re all the same.’
Litchfield leafed through the letters with growing disbelief. Every single one was from a woman who claimed she’d slept with McCartney — and had subsequently given birth to his child. ‘Some of [the letters] are really impressive,’ McCartney told Litchfield. ‘They come with lawyers’ letters and exact details of when and where — and I start racking my brains and thinking to myself: “Maybe I did once have sex with her.”’
The year was 1983. The ex-Beatle had by then been happily married for 14 years — yet still the claims were pouring in.
Even the historical ones could prove troublesome. That very year, a woman called Erika Hubers had gone before a Berlin judge, claiming that McCartney had fathered her daughter, Bettina, during The Beatles’ visits to Hamburg in the early Sixties.
The former waitress wanted £1.75 million — but a blood test proved that he couldn’t be the father.
Dot Rhone, right, Paul's first real girlfriend, told him that she was expecting his baby in 1960 aged 16
Still unconvinced, Hubers alleged that McCartney must have used a stand-in for the test, and he was told to retake it. In the meantime, the judge ordered him to pay his supposed daughter £175 a month.
Again, the blood-test exonerated him. For Hubers herself, this meant financial ruin — until McCartney stepped in to settle all her legal costs.
Whether he’d ever slept with her or not, he’d long since lost count of all the women who’d flitted through his life. Since his late teens, sex had always been on offer.
Even after The Beatles’ early gigs at the Cavern in Liverpool, their roadie would bring in willing females along with fish-and-chip takeaways. Then from 1962, when the group started touring the world, no-strings sex effectively became part of room service.
At airports across America, four pre-paid high-class hookers would usually be part of their welcoming party. As thousands of fans surrounded their hotels, it proved a welcome distraction from their imprisonment.
Not that it ever needed to be a commercial transaction, especially not for the ‘cute’ Beatle. In any room McCartney entered, he knew he could have his pick of the most beautiful women.
During the early days of Beatle-mania, he often acted as a judge at bathing-beauty contests — whose winners might well find themselves receiving an extra ‘prize’, along with a crown and a bouquet of roses.
They were certainly not alone in fancying the left-handed bass guitarist with the doe-like eyes. To his cousin, Mike Robbins, McCartney once described a four-in-a-bed session in which he’d been the only male.
The Press pack who travelled with the group also knew quite a bit about his sexual activities, but none of them dared dish the dirt on the Fab Four. The same rule held good when ranks of young women started popping up with kiss-and-tell stories.
For these women, The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein had a practised routine. Knowing that the vast majority were merely after money, he had a policy of buying them off without even looking into the truth of their allegations.
One of them was Anita Cochrane, a hardcore Beatles fan who claimed to have had sex twice with Paul and then given birth to his son in February 1964. After contacting Epstein while she was pregnant, he’d initially offered her £2.50 per week maintenance, then upped it to £5.
When her lawyer threatened to call for blood-tests, the manager gave her a one-off payment of £5,000 — in exchange for signing a document promising ‘not to make any allegations . . . that Paul McCartney is the father of said child’. Anita duly signed.
In the Fifties, most boys of Paul McCartney’s generation didn’t learn about sex until long after puberty. No adult explained the mechanics to him: his father merely advised him to watch dogs ‘at it’ in the street.
To find out more, Paul secretly consulted Black’s Medical Dictionary, which his mother had used in her work as a midwife, poring over stark illustrations of the female anatomy.
Paul was also involved with British actress Jane Asher, pictured, until he started taking LSD D
Since kindergarten, he’d been aware of the effect his melting brown eyes had on the opposite sex. By the age of 13, he was attracting girls by the flock: his former primary school classmate, Bernice Stenson, had a crush on him, as did most of her friends. ‘He had this angelic-type face, and we’d see it peering out from the top deck of the 86 bus as he passed us,’ Bernice recalls. ‘We’d all jump up and down and wave and shout at him.’
At 15, he joined a Liverpool skiffle group called the Quarrymen. As they became better known, the Quarrymen began attracting female followers who’d wait for them after shows, always game for a snog or a grope or — on lucky nights — a ‘knee-trembler’ up against a wall.
There were never enough of these for John Lennon, whose sexual appetite seemed insatiable.
By the time George Harrison — a talented 14-year-old guitarist — joined the band, Paul had met his first serious girlfriend — Dot Rhone, who worked in a chemist’s shop.
She’d initially been more attracted by John’s rugged looks, but after discovering that he was already going steady with an art student called Cynthia Powell, she agreed to date Paul instead.
Dot and Cynthia were equally mild and malleable. Both girls, for instance, had to change their appearance in order to look more like John and Paul’s fantasy woman, Brigitte Bardot — which meant dyeing their hair blonde and wearing tight skirts and fishnet stockings. And when the Quarrymen played at a basement club called the Jacaranda, which didn’t have microphones, Dot and Cynthia would sit in front of them all night, holding up broom-poles with hand-mics tied to them.
Early in 1960 — when Dot was 16 and Paul 17 — she told him she was expecting his baby.
As they were both little more than children themselves, there was a meeting between Dot’s mother Jessie and Paul’s father Jim about what should be done.
Mrs Rhone favoured giving the baby up for adoption, saying her daughter was ‘too young to push a pram’. But Jim threw his arms around Dot and told her he’d be proud to see her pushing his grandchild in one.
It was settled that the couple would have a quiet wedding, then live with Paul’s widowed father. The implications were clear: with a wife and baby to support, Paul would have to leave school and find a ‘proper’ job. Three months into her pregnancy, however, Dot had a miscarriage. Paul rushed to her bedside with flowers and tried to conceal his relief.
When the group — now renamed The Beatles — landed a club gig in Hamburg, Dot and Cynthia wrote their boyfriends long letters several times a week, enclosing snapshots to show that they were keeping up the required Bardot look.
Paul McCartney had his first sexual experience with a prostitute in Germany which he found unnerving
In Germany, meanwhile, Paul was having his first sexual experience with a prostitute, which he found thoroughly unnerving. ‘[She was] a shortish, dark-haired girl . . . I think she was a stripteaser,’ he recalled later. ‘I remember feeling very intimidated in bed with her . . . I spent the whole night not doing an awful lot but trying to work up to it.’
The Beatles shared a room, so when 17-year-old George lost his virginity, Paul and John were in bed a few feet away: they cheered and clapped when he’d finished.
Once, George recalled, John had found Paul in bed with ‘a chick’. While his bandmate was busy, John ‘went and got a pair of scissors and cut all her clothes in pieces, then wrecked the wardrobe’.
Despite all this, Paul gave Dot a ring after they’d been dating for a year, and she considered herself engaged. But the relationship eventually fizzled out, and the faithful Dot was supplanted by 17-year-old Iris Caldwell, a trapeze artist who went on to work as a dancer in pantomimes and summer variety shows. Her brother Rory also played in a Liverpool band, and their home became one of John and Paul’s favourite haunts.
‘We’d go to the cinema every Tuesday: Paul would pay one week, I’d pay the next,’ recalls Iris, who had previously dated George. ‘Or we’d go to the Empire if a big name was on — always sitting in the cheap seats.
‘Paul liked what I thought were quite square entertainers, like Joe “Mr Piano” Henderson. He knew all of Joe’s numbers and sang along with them, which I found a bit embarrassing.’
Sadly for Iris, he never wrote a song about her in the two years they were together — because he said that the only thing that rhymed with Iris was ‘virus’.
Paul by now had a car — one of the new Ford Classics in a colour called Goodwood Green. ‘Wherever we went, he always had to be the centre of attention,’ Iris says. It irritated her that he had picked up John’s habit of doing Quasimodo impressions, pretending to have a grotesquely humped back. ‘One night, we’d gone to this coffee bar in Birkenhead,’ she says. ‘Paul’s showing-off got on my nerves so much that I picked up the sugar-bowl and emptied it over his head.
In 1967 while in America, Paul met with freelance photographer Linda Eastman, pictured right
‘We were always having rows and breaking up. And whenever we did, George would be round the next day, asking me to go out with him again.’
In the late evenings, they were often at her home, where Iris’s mum Vi provided not only non-stop food and hot drinks but also leg-grooming for Paul.
‘He’s quite hairy, and having his legs combed seemed to relax him,’ says Iris. ‘He’d say, “Oo, Vi, give me legs a comb” and roll up his trouser-leg, and Mum would get a comb and do it.
‘She loved him but she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind about the way he used his good looks and charm to get away with things — like always smoking other people’s cigarettes instead of buying his own.
‘I remember her saying to him once, “You’ve got no heart, Paul.”’
By 1962, when The Beatles landed their first contract with Parlophone Records, Iris’s days as Paul’s girlfriend were numbered — not least because her cabaret engagements and his touring commitments meant they rarely saw each other.
In the end, it was Iris who took the initiative in early 1963 and dumped him. ‘It was on the day before my 19th birthday. My mum said I should have waited in case he’d got me a nice present.’
He didn’t forget her; nor did he forget her mother’s playful jibe that he had ‘no heart.’ Two years later, as The Beatles prepared to be filmed in Blackpool, he phoned Iris. ‘Paul told me: “Watch Blackpool Night Out, and tell me if I’ve still got no heart . . .” ’ she recalls. ‘It was the first time he ever sang Yesterday on television.’
Paul and Linda got married in Marylebone registry office in 1969, two years after meeting
Despite being bruised by the break-up, however, Paul soon found a new diversion: the teenage actress Jane Asher. They’d met when she interviewed The Beatles for the BBC backstage at the Royal Albert Hall. At that stage, it was George who’d seemed likeliest to score.
But at a party later, it was Paul who took Jane to a bedroom for an earnest chat about Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, which he’d studied at school. He then saw her to the front door of her six-floor Georgian home in Wimpole Street central London. Jane and her middle-class family opened up a new world to him. Her father, Richard Asher, was a distinguished doctor and her mother a professor at the Royal Academy of Music. And both made Paul welcome — to the point that, later that year, he moved into their home.
There, he happily slept in a former maid’s room, with space only for a narrow single bed and a heavy wooden wardrobe. Mrs Asher fed him and did his laundry.
It wasn’t till 1966 that Paul and Jane moved into a house he’d bought in St John’s Wood.
The most poised and sophisticated of his girlfriends, she wasn’t prepared to let her entire life revolve around him. So she’d sometimes be away for months at a time, working for the Bristol Old Vic theatre company.
Immediately, Paul would revert to his bachelor life. Sitting in clubs, he’d watch beautiful young women turn away from their partners on the dance-floor as soon as they realised who he was. Often, they’d mime a striptease in front of him. He could always tell in advance which one he’d be taking home.
On 17 May, 1967, while Jane was acting in America, he went to the Bag O’Nails club — a well-known pop hang-out — where he was introduced to Linda Eastman, a 25-year-old freelance photographer from New York.
The relationship with Jane was starting to fray. With more than a touch of traditional Northern male chauvinism, Paul had begun to resent that she had a flourishing career of her own.
Nor did it help that they had different sets of friends, or that Jane was dismayed — on her return from America — to find that he was now taking LSD.
His fleeting liaisons with other women were less of an issue. Jane had always been aware that he regarded them as only one step on from signing an autograph.
Hoping for the best, the couple announced their engagement on Christmas Day 1967. But it was the beginning of the end, and they started leading increasingly separate lives.
What Jane didn’t know was that for almost the whole time they’d been living together as a couple, Paul had been conducting a parallel affair with Maggie McGivern — who worked as a nanny for the singer Marianne Faithfull. She even spent the occasional night at his home — where his housekeeper, who was fiercely loyal to Jane, treated Maggie with barely restrained hostility.
Just four months after proposing to Jane, Paul then launched himself into yet another secret affair — this time with Francie Schwartz, a 24-year-old New Yorker in The Beatles’ Press team.
On July 20, Jane Asher announced on a chat show that her five-year relationship with Paul was over. ‘I haven’t broken it off but it’s broken off, finished,’ she said.
‘I know it sounds corny, but we still see each other and love each other . . . but it hasn’t worked out. Perhaps we’ll be childhood sweethearts and meet again and get married when we’re about 70.’
Not long afterwards, Jane paid a surprise return visit to the home she’d shared with Paul. The fans who hung around outside the front gate rang Paul’s entryphone to warn him.
Unfortunately, he didn’t believe them — and Jane found him in bed with Francie Schwartz.
Eventually, on March 12, 1969, with minimum fanfare, McCartney married Linda Eastman at Marylebone Register Office. She was four months’ pregnant with daughter Mary.
Against all predictions, he’d remain faithful to her until her death in 1998.
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