Paul McCartney’s Young Love
“Dot Rhone, who was Paul’s girlfriend at the same time that John started going out with Cynthia. Nobody knows about Dot. A very nice, simple, shy girl who didn’t want any of the bullshit surrounding the Beatles’ stardom. As soon as they got famous, she retired from the scene. Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike.
Dorothy Rhone, everyone called her Dot, was Paul McCartney’s first formal girlfriend. They began dating in 1959 and were engaged to be married shortly afterward but after Dot suffered a miscarriage in 1960 the relationship quickly ended.
She was a naïve girl, even for her young age. Somewhat introspective. Like McCartney, Dot came from modest middle-class people. Her parents were conservative and strict. Her father, Tom, a timekeeper on the Liverpool docks was a stern taskmaster and often a belligerent drunk. Dot would later recall her childhood as anxious and unhappy and because of it, she said "I was painfully shy and had no confidence. I’d never spoke to people if I didn’t know them, especially boys because I had no contact with boys. I was way behind. I didn’t go to my first dance until I was maybe 15. My friends were a lot more advanced than I was. I didn’t know anything about anything. I never thought I was pretty at school because my sister always said my nose would spread all over my face because it was too pudgy. One night I actually went to bed with a clothes peg on my nose to try to make it narrower, but it was too painful."
The Quarry Men
Towards the very end of 1959, Dot and some friends went to the Casbah Club to hear the new band playing there, the Quarry Men….starring George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. "They were so fast on their feet, sparking off each other with jokes and cracks," she remembered, "it was impossible to keep up."
She immediately fell for John Lennon. "I liked his face, I thought he was rugged-looking. Paul was handsome in a softer way. John was also the dominant one, a very different personality. He gave me the nickname bubbles for some reason, and we got along really well. I know Paul is always painted as the nice, kind one, but to me, John was more compassionate. He wasn’t as mean as they make out."
However, John already had a girlfriend, Cynthia, whom Dot met and became fast friend with.
"We were sitting around talking and I said I felt a bit woozy, that I might faint, and went outside into the garden. Paul came out after me to see if I was all right and it was then that he said ‘D’you fancy going out?’ This had been my plan and it worked a treat. But although I had moments of being very bold, all the doubts then came out. Anyway, I said yes, and we agreed to meet somewhere. It could have been Penny Lane which was roughly halfway between our houses. The first date was the pictures. We didn’t have any money to go anywhere else."
It was only the second date Dot had ever been on, but Paul was charming and funny telling her about a recent nightmare visit he had with the dentist. At the end of the night, he walked her back to her bus stop and arranged to meet her again at the Casbah. In between that, he dropped by the bank where she worked "Everyone was giggling and joking because he had such long hair compared to the other lads, so I felt I was probably doing something rebellious. It was exciting to be going out with him; different. Whatever everyone else was doing, I always wanted to do the opposite... We got close very quickly and it was such an exciting time. We used to see different Rock ‘n’ Roll groups in the coffee bars, and I felt I was part of something new. It made me feel special because not everyone was in on that scene. The normal thing was to go to these big ballrooms, where the girls would sit at one end and the boys at the other. There would be a crowd of us. Me, John, Cyn and George - who was the youngest - always tagging along."
Dot recalled that Paul could be overly possessive and controlling. "He was so possessive that he needed to control everything about me - my appearance, the way I dressed, even the way I thought. he was always wanting me to look better than I did, and I never thought I measured up to the way he thought I should be. I feel ashamed to admit it now, but back then I went along with it. I became his puppet If I knew then what I know now, I would never have allowed it to happen.
He gave me a list of rules that I had to stick to. John had the same rules for his girlfriend Cynthia. He told me I couldn't see my girlfriends. There was no going out except with him, and I lost touch with my friends because I was never available. When we did go out I wasn't allowed to smoke, even though he smokes; it wasn't the image he wanted I guess."
Paul wanted the pair of them to always wear black and insisted that Dot had blonde hair. "It started getting darker, but he said I should dye it. There was one time he paid for me to have it done like he wanted and made the appointment. When I came out it looked terrible, all teased. I hated it but Paul said it was my fault because I had let them do it that way. He just said, 'Give me a call when your hair grows' and walked off. We didn't see each other for a few days after that. Things like that would happen quite often."
Paul explained years later, "At the time everyone was trying to turn their girlfriend into a bargain basement Bardot. We all happened to be at the age when a ravishing sex goddess taking off her clothes was the fantasy for us boys. We were all smitten. So the girls had to be blonde, look rather like Brigitte and preferably pout a lot. John and I used to have these secret talks intimating, although not actually saying it, that we could be quite happy for our girlfriends to be Liverpool's answer to Bardot. My girlfriend was called Dot and, of course, John had Cynthia. We got them both to go blonde and wear miniskirts. It's terrible really. But that's the way it was."
He could also be explosive. One time Dot was dancing with someone else while Paul was rehearsing with the band. "I always used to see this guy on the way to school, standing at the bus stop, and I would spin fantasies about him. And one night there he was at the Casbah. I was giving him the eye and stuff and he asked me to dance. I was dancing away with him while Paul was upstairs rehearsing. When he came down he saw us jiving and he was furious. He came up to us with my coat in his hand, while we were still on the floor and just said ‘We’re going’ just like that. We went home and had a row, but it was very one-sided. He told me I shouldn’t be dancing and having a good time without him, but I wouldn’t fight back. Maybe I wanted to keep the peace because I had seen so much fighting at home. And, of course, inwardly it was quite flattering all this possessiveness."
When Paul wanted to move their relationship onto another level, Dot, still a virgin, was reluctant "I had to fight him off - maybe that was the attraction for him. All the other girls were falling at his feet."
She resisted successful for four months and gave in during the Christmas season of 1959, telling her mother she was going to stay at a friend’s, slipping over to Paul's house while his father was away. "I was terrified,” she said “that someone might come back, but I couldn’t fight him off anymore. Paul was kind and gentle. After that, we were frequent lovers, and it just felt right."
Dot adored Paul’s close-knit family, who were, unlike her own family, loving and supporting "I think I was probably in love with Paul because I loved his family, too. His Aunties were great. One of them always came round on a Monday night to do the washing and make supper. And I loved his dad too - he was great. At Christmas and New Year's I would go there and it was so different from my house. They had brilliant parties and they would play music together, Paul on guitar and his dad on piano... Paul was always writing songs and he would try them out on me. He would say that he wrote them for me. Two songs, Love Of The Loved and PS I Love You he said were definitely for me... I remember the first bit, something about ‘Each time I look into your eyes I see the love of the loved.’ but no more. It is such a long time ago... PS I Love You must have been written later, in Hamburg, because the words were about writing home to a loved one."
In February 1960 Dot, only 16 years old, discovered she pregnant by the 17-year-old Paul who was still studying Art at the Liverpool Institute. Dot mother outraged “She was one of those women who lived and died by what the neighbors thought, so I couldn’t walk the streets appearing pregnant. Everything had to be whiter than white... She thought I should go and stay with my sister in Manchester and have the baby adopted."
Paul refused to cooperate and insisted that they would raise the child on their own and planned their wedding "It was just going to be in a register's office. It wasn’t going to be a big wedding. No one had any money. I was going to live with his dad in their house. Everything was set. My mum went to see his dad. Paul’s dad was great; my mum was awful. She said I couldn’t be wheeling a pram around because of the neighbors, but he said he’d be proud to have me wheel a pram. He was really good. He put his arm around me, made me feel looked after."
James McCartney (Center)
Jim McCartney insisted Paul get a reliable full-time job in order to support his family.
Three months into the pregnancy, Dot suffered a miscarriage. "He (Paul) seemed a bit upset but deep down he was probably relieved. With hindsight so am I. When I look back on what happened to Paul after the Beatles became famous, I know it would never have worked between us."
A few months later, Paul and the Beatles left for Hamburg Germany, leaving behind a broken-hearted Dorothy "There were so many rules, and it was so hard to meet his expectations that it was almost easier to be 'going out' with him and not have him around. I wasn't being judged."
The Beatles stayed in Hamburg for four months, where, according to Dot, he saw other girls regularly "I went up to Paul's bedroom and found some postcard from a girl. She was saying that she couldn't wait for him to come back. It was from a German girl but written in English….I spent a lot of time with Cyn (Lennon) talking about them and writing letters. Sometimes we would dress ourselves up in the leather skirts and put on our make-up and take pictures of one another to send to them."
In the summer of 1961 during the band's second visit to Hamburg, Paul paid for Dot’s trip over to Hamburg to visit him. Cynthia Lennon remembered "Dot had a great deal of difficulty in persuading her parents that all would be well on the trip, but a solemn promise of good behavior and constant pleading wore them down. Paul's dad Jim and my mother saw us off on the boat-train. We were consumed with excitement... The idyllic image of our handsome heroes waiting for us with open arms on the platform of a foreign station, all misty and romantic, kept us occupied."
Dot had a different memory, "By this time they were all drinking heavily and taking pills to keep them awake. When we arrived it was morning and they hadn't been to bed all night. They were drunk, or whatever, and their eyes were popping out of their heads."
Returning from Hamburg, Dot worked in a drug store and took an apartment next door to the apartment where John and Cynthia Lennon lived, on Garmoyle Road in Liverpool. Paul paid for most of the rent but rarely went there "It was” Dot said “really a furnished room with a hotplate, bed and dresser. Cyn’s place was nicer and we’d go sit in there."
When Paul returned from Hamburg Dot began to realize how things were changing. "They were becoming more famous and all the girls were after them all the time. One day I went to his house and this girl was in the kitchen, cleaning or something. His dad said she had been hanging around outside waiting for Paul so he thought he would invite her in to make herself useful. The girls used to come round and snip bits off the hedge just because it was Paul's. And they were always coming up to me and asking what Paul was like."
By late 1961, the Beatles were slowly but surely walking towards superstardom and Paul stopped by Dot’s apartment less and less and when he did, arguments would follow. "John was really kind to me” Dot said’ “and was always telling Paul he should be nicer."
When Brain Epstein took over as manager "He said we couldn’t go to the concert’s anymore.” Dot said “We obeyed him. We were very annoyed, but we thought, if it helped their careers we would do it… I could see that Paul wa growing away from me. I knew what was coming. And all these years he had been having his bits on the side and it was getting so easy for him. he was young and he couldn’t resist. That was a time of sadness but also release. I didn’t keep trying so hard or worrying about trying to keep up or saying the right things or not having my hair right or not being enough fun”.
Cynthia Lennon recalled a loud argument Paul and Dot had after Paul arrived at the apartment on Garmoyle Road. Dot recalled “Paul said we’d been going out so long that it was either get married or split up. He said, ‘I don’t want to get married, so even though I love you we’ll have to finish.’ I could see that Paul was growing away from me. I knew what was coming. All these years he had been having his bits on the side and it was getting so easy for him. He was young and he couldn’t resist.”
Dot’s friend Sandra Hedges recalled Dot nudging Paul to marry her "Dot wanted them to be married as were their friends John and Cynthia who lived upstairs. In an ill-fated attempt to move Paul closer to marriage, Dot moved back home to her parents. A few weeks later when Cynthia Lennon discovered she was pregnant and moved into Brian Epstein’s apartment and Dot took an apartment in the same building to be close to her "I used to see Paul when he came with John and one time he took me out in the car. He started out being okay, and maybe he just wanted to see if we could get back together. But he ended up being nasty again because he didn’t like my nylons, which were patterned with diamonds. As I said, looks were everything, he was very superficial then, though I’m sure he’s changed quite a bit. I cried and cried for weeks after Paul and I split up. I didn’t go out because I hardly had any friends anyway. It was probably three or four months before I got myself together. Paul could charm the birds out of the trees if he wanted, but he could be pretty nasty too. Once we were going to the pictures and it was sold out, so he put on the charm to the cashier. When she still said they had no tickets for us he got really mad and started calling her a bitch.”
Dot and Paul came to an end in the Summer of 1962. Paul arrived unexpectedly and Dot answered the door with her hair in curlers, wearing her mother’s camiknickers and a baggy sweater.
“Paul said we’d been going out so long” she recalled “that it was either get married or split up. He said, ‘I don’t want to get married, so even though I love you we’ll have to finish.’ He didn’t cry but I knew he felt badly, and he was sorry, just by the way he looked. I burst out crying. I said ‘How can you do this? What am I going to do?’ I thought he might come back because it had been three years, but I suppose really I knew.”
A few weeks later the Beatle explosion happened, and nothing was ever the same again. Dot emigrated to Canada in 1964, married and gave birth to three daughters, naming the eldest one Astrid, after Astrid Kirchherr. (Below)
Dot is a grandmother now. In 1996 she and Cynthia Lennon met in Toronto where Cynthia gave her the engagement ring Paul had brought back for her on his first trip to Hamburg a few months after her miscarriage. She had worn that ring even after they split up, but when she took it off one day at Cynthia’s apartment, she forgot to put it back on. "I was ecstatic,” she said, “and I took it that we were going to get married."
Otherwise, she has little left to remember the early days in Liverpool. She threw out all of her old love letters from Paul and auctioned off her photos. She doesn’t own a single Beatles recording however she did see Paul again, in Toronto, and then once more when his band Wings played there. He sent a Rolls Royce to pick her and her family up and drive them to the concert.