the broth, they say, and they are often right. For the elements that combine so
well to produce the heady mix that produces a recipe for success can also be
the seeds of a partnership’s destruction.
two heads can certainly be better than one, the headaches they generate can
have an impact far beyond those involved. Quite often once dynamic duos have
squeezed out the best of their creative juices, they degrade into a recipe for
disaster as they invariably turn into terrible twosomes. And as their synergies
self-destruct, the rest of the world has to live with the fall out.
despite being hell-bent on fighting for the last word or for the last drop of
limelight, such teams might as well be joined at the hip, for there is nothing
they can do to break away from their joint road to self-destruction.
can take many forms, from torture (literally in Mao’s case and aurally in the
case of Paul McCartney (see below)) to in-fighting and backstabbing in the
is usually the only way such destructive partnerships can ever be broken apart.
Unfortunately relations between the pairings have usually broken down many
prime examples of how destructive intimate pairings can be are outlined below
by Paul Simpson. It may take two to tango, but choose your partner carefully.
Ze Dong and Zhou En Lai
his lifetime, Chinese leader Mao Ze Dong became a semi-mythical creature, a
Communist Buddha. Yet cut through the mystique manufactured by Mao and his
entourage and he was that most familiar of corporate creatures: an intolerant,
egotistical manager for whom no plan was ever ambitious enough and who wanted
every job done yesterday.
Cultural Revolution was an insane attempt to erase thousands of years of history
overnight and China’s very survival is probably down to Mao’s sidekick, prime
minister Zhou En Lai. And the Chinese recognised this.
Zhou died in 1976, two million of them defied government orders to pay their
respects in Tiananmen Square. When Mao died later that year, the nation’s
mourning was long on official ceremony, but short on grief.
in 1898 (five years after Mao), Zhou was from a well-off family. He met Mao in
the Chinese Communist Party in the early 1930s. He differed with Mao over
revolutionary and military tactics, but quickly sensed that Mao had the fire to
inspire others and could present complicated subjects in a way even the most
uneducated could understand.
and Mao were polar opposites. Zhou was a debonair, backroom negotiator who
famously remarked, when asked about the effect of the French revolution,
"It’s too soon to tell". Mao,
meanwhile, was an impatient, brutish leader addicted to change and to his own
Zhou lived modestly for an official of his rank, Mao was the playboy of the
eastern world – taking his pick of the loveliest Red Guards and feasting like
an Epicurean while millions of his people starved.
often downplayed Zhou’s role, dubbing him "the donkey". And in the
at the height of the Cultural Revolution, he allowed the Red Guards to place
Zhou under house arrest and to torture and imprison his adopted daughter,
experiences which led to the prime minister’s first heart attack and fatally
undermined his health.
in 1972, Mao asked Zhou to run China. The offer became irrelevant when Zhou
developed cancer. But Zhouism, not Maoism, proved the stronger legacy. Zhou
helped create a political climate where Madame Mao could not seize power after
Mao’s death. It took Mao to make the Chinese revolution, but it took Zhou to
save it from Mao. In this instance, co-leadership saved a regime and thousands
Lennon and Paul McCartney
and McCartney are one of the most famous double acts in entertainment history.
But like Tom and Jerry, they are almost better known for their feud than for
what they achieved together.
latest, farcical, attempt to change the order of the most famous joint
songwriting credit in history is the latest twist in a saga which stretches
back to 1971 when Lennon asked his old partner on record: "How do you
sleep at night?"
Mark Hertsgaard, author of A Day In The Life: The Music And Artistry Of The
Beatles, says "Affectionate competitiveness pervaded Lennon and
McCartney’s entire relationship. From their earliest days together, John and
Paul were rivals as well as friends, competitors as well as partners, critics
as well as soulmates."
rock history has McCartney as the purveyor of pleasing pop tunes and Lennon as
the intellectual pushing the envelope. But on their most influential album,
Sergeant Pepper, it was McCartney who saw the appeal of trying to create a
sound as complex as classical music. Lennon, at first, insisted "I’m just
a teddy boy, I don’t do this".
producer George Martin says, "Neither achieved the heights they did as
Beatles in their solo careers, together they produced something bigger than the
sum of the individual parts", although, ironically, some of their finest
songs were written individually, but recorded by the group.
Ono is normally blamed for the Beatles’ demise, but the theory about what makes
good co-leaders suggests Lennon and McCartney were doomed to split.
equality (and rivalry) which made their music so effective corroded their
relationship. Neither had a pre-assigned role, both wanted to write, record and
sing their own songs and neither would concede seniority in the partnership to
the other. The surprise is not that their partnership broke up after 14 years,
but that it lasted as long as it did. In pure business terms, this was rather
like having two Richard Bransons trying to run Virgin at the same time.
Co-Leaders, David A. Heenan and Warren Bennis, John Wiley & Sons ISBN
Mao: A Life, Philip Short, Hodder & Stoughton ISBN 0340751981
A Day In The Life Mark Hertsgaard Pan ISBN 0330338919
Lennon: The Definitive Biography Ray Coleman Pan ISBN 0330483307