Did classical composer write the ending for 'Eleanor Rigby'?

Did classical composer write the ending for 'Eleanor Rigby'?


norman lebrecht

December 15, 2011

The conductor and oboist Nicholas Daniel, commenting on my notice of the death of his friend John Gardner, mentions that it was this ‘refined and ascetic’ musician who contributed the ending of the song Eleanor Rigby when Paul McCartney got blocked.

This much is known: Macca lived at the time with Jane Asher, whose mother had a music studio on Wimpole Street, near the Royal Academy of Music, where Gardner taught. According to Barry Miles, in Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now (pp 281-4), Mrs Asher engaged an unnamed friend from a music college to give Paul piano lessons.

Paul adds: ‘I wrote it (Eleanor Rigby) at the piano, just vamping an e-minor chord; letting that stay as a vamp and putting a melody over it.’ Miles comments that Lennon had virtually ‘nil’  input into the song, which Paul felt would make him ‘a more serious writer’.

So was Mrs Asher’s friend who taught Paul how to play the piano the late John Gardner? And did he help finish off Eleanor Rigby?

I’ve sent the question to the world’s great Macca experts. Does anyone know more? Listen here


  • Emily Gardner says:

    I am the composer’s daughter. My memory is that it is only the last chord that my father wrote.

  • Gary Carpenter says:

    Very, very many years ago I used to teach John Gardner’s son (Christopher I think?!) and I remember his mentioning that Paul M went to his dad for the odd lesson.

  • Nicholas Daniel says:

    John told me that he just got stuck and didn’t quite know how to end it. It’s perfectly possible that just one chord was all that was needed!

  • Lucy Gardner says:

    I am the composer’s other daughter. My father certainly did teach Paul M in the 1960s; I can remember being incredibly excited when he told us the news. Paul M also mentioned it in a newspaper article at the time. My father told me that he had composed the last chord, as my sister states, but my understanding from the way he spoke about it was that by this he meant the last two bars, the notes of which essentially form a broken chord. After all, it wouldn’t really make any sense to claim ownership of the final bar!