The Beatles are one of the highest selling rock bands in the history of the music industry. A band that stormed the beaches during the British invasion and altered the course of music history. John Lennon and Paul McCartney remain a songwriting duo unparalleled before or since. During Beatles mania we hoped that this foursome would remain friends and bandmates, we hoped The Beatles would never die. In 1970, the world received the news of our nightmares-The Beatles were breaking up.
The beginning of the end for The Beatles began long before Yoko Ono entered the picture. Turmoil started to show publicly following the death of manager Brian Epstein after he was found dead from an accidental drug overdose in London. Epstein was one person capable of getting through to The Beatles.
Issues within the band did not head in a positive direction following that time. Paul McCartney and John Lennon were beginning to build upon a former friendship built upon love; a new friendship built on hate. The Beatles were rarely in the recording studio at the same time and the writing duo had writing styles that were now polar opposites. Remarkably, this variance in polarity produced the band’s only double album now famously known as The White Album (1968).
In 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono performed at the Toronoto Rock & Roll Revival with a band Lennon had formed including Eric Clapton. Paul McCartney, who was in attendance was making one last attempt to put the pieces of The Beatles back together. According to Rolling Stone magazine, McCartney tried to persuade Lennon by saying “let’s get back to square one and remember what we’re all about,” to which Lennon responded “I think you’re daft. I wasn’t going to tell you, but I’m breaking the group up. It feels good. It feels like a divorce.” These words planted the seed that grew into causing the break-up of The Beatles.
John Lennon’s volatile behavior escalated as did his display of jealously in friend and songwriting partner Paul McCartney who now wanted nothing more than to leave The Beatles. Paul repeatedly asked to be released from the band or to have The Beatles dissolved altogether. He wrote letters to George and Ringo who remained obstinate to their longtime friend. John Lennon saw no reason for The Beatles to break-up responding to McCartney’s requests in a quick and unfriendly tone.
On April 17, 1970 Paul McCartney proclaimed to the world what Beatles fans had always feared. During an interview regarding the release of his first solo album he broke the news,
Q: “Is this album a rest away from the Beatles or the start of a solo career?”
A: “Time will tell. Being a solo album means it’s ‘the start of a solo career…and not being done with the Beatles means it’s just a rest. So it’s both.”
Q: “Is your break with the Beatles temporary or permanent, due to personal differences or musical ones?”
A: “Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family. Temporary or permanent? I don’t really know.”
Q: “Do you foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again?”
John Lennon would later make his own announcement by simply saying “the dream is over.”
The Beatles are used as a measuring stick against which all other bands are compared in terms of greatness. Yoko Ono has been a scapegoat to many as the down fall to The Beatles since that fateful day in 1970. However, the internal struggle and the actions by members of the group are what ultimately tore the band apart. Perhaps we have blamed Yoko for so long because we refused to believe that it was Lennon all along. Chris McDonald