Paul McCartney talks Egypt Station, John Lennon’s role in The Beatles’ breakup, and more in Howard Stern interview

Later this week, Sir Paul McCartney celebrates the unveiling of Egypt Station, his seventeenth (!) solo album. In the lead-up to the big release day, the former Beatle guested on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show this afternoon. As Variety reports, over the course of their lengthy, 90-minute chat, McCartney talked about The Beatles’ early days and eventual breakup and that time Jack Nicholson told him about his “big balls.” The iconic songwriter of course also discussed his highly anticipated new album.

When asked about the Beatles’ breakup in the late ’60s, Macca said — as he has done before — that it was John Lennon, and not Yoko Ono, who was responsible for the historic split. “There was a meeting where John came in and said, ‘I’m leaving the group.’ And looking back on it, he’d reached that stage in his life. We all had,” he recalled.

(Read: Paul McCartney’s 10 Best Bass Lines)

McCartney conceded that Ono was “intrusive” when it came to Lennon and The Beatles, but that at the end of the day, she made Lennon happy and that’s what mattered. “Even though we thought she was intrusive because she used to sit in on the recording sessions and we’d never had anything like that,” explained McCartney. “But looking back on it, you think, ‘The guy was totally in love with her. And you’ve just got to respect that.’ So we did. And I do.’”

Later, Macca relayed an anecdote involving a recent encounter with Nicholson. Both were in attendance at the same party, and when Nicholson sat down next to McCartney’s niece, he announced himself by saying aloud: “Big Balls coming in.”

Regarding the forthcoming Egypt Station, the music legend say he noted its title was inspired by one of his very own paintings. “I did a painting that kind of had Egyptian-y stuff in it because I like Egyptian [writing],” said Macca.

Elsewhere, McCartney also touched on how he was nearly cast in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet. He turned down the “flattering” film project, which went on to win Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design; the actor who ended up with the Romeo role, Leonard Whiting, won a Golden Globe for his portrayal.

Subscribers of SiriusXM can listen to the full interview here.

(Read: 10 Paul McCartney Songs That Made Movies Better)

Egypt Station is out Friday, September 7th. In his review of the album, Consequence of Sound’s own Tyler Clark wrote, “Though he may never produce an essential late-career record like contemporaries Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, or even Neil Young, Paul McCartney continues to make music that takes far more chances than it has to.”

McCartney will support the new album with an extensive run of tour dates, including his imminent 2018 Freshen Up Tour and a newly announced series of US shows set for Spring 2019. He is scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show this Thursday.

Revisit his latest Egypt Station single, “Fuh You”:

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