Paul McCartney Had To Stop John Lennon Drilling Holes Into His Head


Party life and experimentation within bands go together like bread and butter. Usually, that is limited to drinking, drugs, and sensual debauchery. But there was one point, John Lennon wanted to drill holes into his head, an idea that only didn’t come to fruition thanks to Paul McCartney.

The Beatles members McCartney and Lennon, in addition to bandmates, became fast friends, though their relationship was tested over the years. Indeed, after a period of tension, after the two reconciled, McCartney had celebrated, “We had certainly got our friendship back, which was a great blessing for me.” He would even think about Lennon for inspiration while writing songs. But there was one bizarre incident that would thoroughly explain why McCartney once called him one “kooky cat.”


John Lennon told Paul McCartney of the idea of drilling a hole in his head for mental health

Lennon was openly interested in alternative medicine / Everett Collection

Lennon had a well-documented history of interest in very varied health practices, from Eastern medicine to using surgeries for spiritual purposes. At one point, Lennon wanted to voluntarily undergo trepanation, which involves drilling a hole into the skull – but not for any medical requirements, but rather for enlightenment.


RELATED: Paul McCartney Talks About His Feud With John Lennon

“We’d all read about it—you know, this is the ’60s. The ‘ancient art of trepanning,’ which lent a little bit of validity to it, because ancient must be good,” recalled McCartney. “And all you’d have to do is just bore a little hole in your skull and it lets the pressure off—well, that sounds very sensible. ‘But look, John, you try it and let me know how it goes.'”

Knowing when to draw the line and when to listen

Paul McCartney did not think of of John Lennon wanting to drill a hole in his head / Everett Collection

What is the “ancient” art of trepanning? Trephination, or burr holing, is a surgical process in which a circular hole is drilled into and removed from the skull. Its use does date back to the Mesolithic era and persisted on and off to today. In ancient times, Hippocrates asserted that stagnant blood, like stagnant water, would turn foul, and so trepanning would allow to keep blood flowing and fresh. Low survival rates saw this phase out for a bit. Today, it persists usually under the name craniotomy and is useful for surgeons to access the brain when treating brain tumors or lesions.

Still, there are complications today just as there were risks when Lennon told McCartney about his dreams of cranial drilling. While Lennon was quite eager to give this procedure a try, McCartney, fortunately, had the final say.

LET IT BE, John Lennon, 1970 / Everett Collection

“Yeah, but this is the good thing about John and I—I’d say no,” McCartney continued. “And he knew me well enough that if I said no, I meant no, and I’m not frightened of being uncool to say no. And I wouldn’t go so far as to say, ‘You’re f—ing crazy,’ because I didn’t need to say that. But, no, I’m not gonna trepan, thank you very much. It’s just not something I would like to do.”

It helps that McCartney believes “I don’t think he was really serious,” but admits Lennon has said quite a few things that did not seem sincere but were. Fortunately, when Lennon and wife Yoko Ono visited a practitioner of acupuncture from Shanghai native Dr. Hong, the risks were far less dire than skull drilling.

Lennon feels McCartney was probably jesting but can’t be sure / AdMedia

RELATED: John Lennon Once Admitted There Was Only One Paul McCartney Song He Liked

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