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In 1965, Paul McCartney wrote a song named “Woman” and decided to give it to Peter And Gordon. For that purpose, he used the pseudonym Bernard Webb, to see if the song could be a hit without the Lennon/McCartney mark on it.
You wrote ‘Woman’ for Peter and Gordon as BERNARD WEBB.
Well that was the first pseudonym I used for secrecy reasons. I was a bit annoyed that anything by Lennon-McCartney was being a hit, particularly by Peter and Gordon, and…I don’t know, I just got an attack of morals or something, but I felt it was a bit much that automatically having our name on something made it do well, and I wanted to see if I could get around it. So I asked our music publisher, Dick James, if I could use a pseudonym. He was a bit jittery – “It sells better if your name’s on it!” – so I said “Yes but Dick, look, you’ve got all that money, you’ve got ‘Yesterday’, we’re doing great, I really am keen on seeing this happen”, so he gave in. Bernard Webb was the name I chose, and the nice thing was that shortly after that we went on tour to America and someone was holding up a big sign saying “Long live Bernard Webb”! I didn’t really mind when people found out. The release suggested to me that my name didn’t need to be on things – but then, it wasn’t as big a hit as some of their other singles so it sort of proved a point. I quite like the song, actually. People say to me now, “Is that song really yours?” because it doesn’t sound like one of mine.
In America, the credit was B Webb-A Smith.
I don’t know why that is – it may have been a contractual thing, or John might have caught onto the joke and taken a pseudonym too.Paul McCartney – Interview with Club Sandwich N°62, Spring 1992
I tried to write a song under another name, just to see if it was the Lennon-McCartney bit that sold our songs. I called myself Bernard Webb and I was a student in Paris and was very unavailable for interviews. Peter & Gordon made it a big hit and then it came out that it was me. I realised that when I saw a banner at a concert saying, ‘Long Live Bernard Webb’. We would need a properly controlled experiment to find out how much our names really mean now, but I can’t be bothered.Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off The Record” by Keith Badman, 2008
Paul had asked that “Woman” be released under a pseudonym, with the songwriting credit given to the imaginary “Bernard Webb.” The reason for doing this was that some of the press were suggesting that the Beatles’ stature had reached a point where anything with their name on it, or anything with a Beatle’s name on it, would inevitably be successful, regardless of its intrinsic merit and quality. And I think this pissed Paul off a bit, because nobody likes to be thought of as resting on his laurels or relying on his name for success. The “Bernard Webb” deception worked for about three or four weeks before somebody found out that it was really Paul, and the cat was out of the bag, but in truth, “Woman” became a big hit very quickly, so even those few weeks were enough to prove that the success of the song did not depend upon the record having Paul’s name on it.Peter Asher – From “The Beatles from A to Zed“, 2019
PAUL’S PEN NAME
We asked Paul why he chose the name Bernard Webb to go on the song “Woman” that he wrote for Peter and Gordon, he replied simply, “Why not! It’s a very inconspicuous name. If there are any real Mister Bernard Webbs about then I apologise”.From The Beatles Monthly Book – May 1966
Last updated on December 20, 2022
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