Paul McCartney said he was still “in denial” over the murder of John Lennon, which took place 40 years ago next week.

He also recalled his last moments with fellow Beatle George Harrison, who died of cancer in 2001.

In a new interview with The New York Times Magazine, McCartney said Lennon’s death was “difficult” to think about. “I rerun the scenario in my head," he explained. "Very emotional. So much so that I can’t really think about it. It kind of implodes. What can you think about that besides anger, sorrow? Like any bereavement, the only way out is to remember how good it was with John. Because I can’t get over the senseless act. I can’t think about it. I’m sure it’s some form of denial. But denial is the only way that I can deal with it.”

He added that he tried to find things to do that would help in small ways, citing his recent radio interview with Lennon’s son Sean. “That was nice — to talk about how cool John was and fill in little gaps in his knowledge,” he said. “So it’s little things that I am able to do … but I know that none of them can get over the hill and make it okay. But you know, after he was killed, he was taken to Frank Campbell’s funeral parlor in New York. I’m often passing that. I never pass it without saying, ‘All right, John. Hi, John.’”

McCartney acknowledged he's asked more often about Lennon’s death than Harrison's. “John is probably the one in the group you would remember, but the circumstances of his death were particularly harrowing,” he said. “When you die horrifically, you’re remembered more. But I like your point, which is: What about George? I often think of George because he was my little buddy.”

He recalled that he and Harrison had said “silly things” to each other as his death approached. That, he said, was “important” to both of them. “We were in New York before he went to Los Angeles to die," McCartney recalled. "I was holding his hand, and it occurred to me — I’ve never told this — I don’t want to hold George’s hand. You don’t hold your mate’s hands. I mean, we didn’t anyway.”

McCartney noted that Harrison "was getting a bit annoyed at having to travel all the time – chasing a cure. … He was sort of getting a bit, ‘Can’t we just stay in one place?’” Referring to a park near the area of Liverpool where they’d grown up, McCartney joked: “Yes, Speke Hall. Let’s go to Speke Hall.”

“That was one of the last things we said to each other, knowing that he would be the only person in the room who would know what Speke Hall was," he explained. "The nice thing for me when I was holding George’s hands [was] he looked at me, and there was a smile.”

 

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