Sir Paul McCartney says John Lennon only talked "c**p" about him when he was high on drugs.

The 67-year-old music legend has refuted the widely held opinion his Beatles bandmate disliked him during the band's latter years, insisting substance abuse made John say things he didn't mean.

McCartney said: "John was on drugs, wasn't he? This is the trouble with history, with journalism. John said so much c**p that he later said he hadn't meant. It's bulls**t. We were there. We all enjoyed it. I never really criticised John. I'm not that critical. It's a question of personalities.

"John's was more abrasive than mine and that was good for his corner of the square that made up The Beatles. If we'd had two people like that - forget it - I don't think it would have worked.

"Whatever bad things John said about me, he would also slip his glasses down to the end of his nose and say, 'I love you.' That's really what I hold on to. That's what I believe. The rest is showing off."

Lennon and McCartney enjoyed one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in history, but their friendship seemed to break down when the band split in 1970.

Lennon - who was assassinated in 1980 - went onto complain about McCartney's lack of commitment to the group in a series of interviews.

But McCartney insists Lennon wasn't as tough as people thought he was.

He told Radio Times magazine: "The image of John is seriously flawed because he was not the hard, mad man that people think he was. He was a very soft-centred guy and we had a lot more in common than people think.

"His favourite song when we were kids was 'Little White Lies', which was very sentimental. It was a smoochy old standard that his mum liked."