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Encyclopedia > The Beatles' breakup

The Beatles are one of the most popular and influential musical groups in history.[1] In 1970, their breakup came as a surprise to almost everyone. There were numerous causes for the split, and the break up itself has become almost as much of a legend as the band itself or the music they created while together.[2] The White Album, see The Beatles (album). ...


Yoko Ono

John Lennon was in a fragile state of mind after returning from the band's sojourn to India in early 1968. He was disillusioned and resentful that the Maharishi did not fulfill his expectations. Coupled with renewed drug use and deterioration in his marriage and family life, his personal identity and his artistic role within the Beatles was a source of discontent. Although Paul McCartney may have been the first to be exposed to the other forms of artistic developments and trends, Lennon began to develop a more intense interest in one artist in particular, Yoko Ono. A Japanese-American conceptual artist, she met Lennon at one of her exhibitions in 1966. The pair maintained a platonic relationship until the spring of 1968. In May of 1968 they spent time together in his home studio while his wife, Cynthia, was away on holiday. They recorded an avant-garde tape that would eventually be released as Unfinished Music #1: Two Virgins, before consummating their new relationship. From that point on, the two were rarely apart, including when Lennon was working with the rest of the band in the studio. This violated a previous tacit agreement between the members not to let wives or girlfriends into the studio. However, as John Lennon's artistic infatuation with Yoko Ono grew, he desired that she would be alloted artistic input into the band's recordings.[3] Though infrequent, Yoko Ono would comment or make suggestions in the recording studio which caused them to resent her even more. [4][5][6] Many Beatles fans accuse Yoko Ono for the breakup. Following the breakup one fan was interviewed as saying "If I ever come across that fstupid selfish woman, I'll start beat her. I don't care what it leads to, one day she is going to pay for this major disaster!" Yoko Ono Lennon (小野 洋子 Ono Yōko (ONO Yōko), born February 18, 1933) is a Japanese-American artist and musician. ... Japanese Americans ) are Americans of Japanese descent who trace their ancestry to Japan or Okinawa and are residents and/or citizens of the United States. ... Cynthia Lillian Lennon née Powell (born September 10, 1939) in Blackpool, Lancashire, England. ... ...

Brian Epstein's death

Brian Epstein, The Beatles' manager, was arguably the man most influential in launching and promoting the group's worldwide popularity. His management style was to let the group pursue their musical notions and projects, though he would often mediate if there was a conflict of opinion. However, this role began to diminish after the band ceased touring. When he died in 1967, there was a void left in the band. John Lennon had the closest personal relationship with Epstein and ostensibly was the most affected by his death and cast a shadow on the future leadership and management for the group.[4] Paul McCartney likely sensed the precarious situation and sought to initiate projects for the group. While this may be considered to be a noble if not pragmatic move, the rest of the band progressively became perturbed by his growing domination in musical as well as other group ventures.[7] Lennon retrospectively perceived McCartney's efforts as necessary to the survival of the band, but he still believed that McCartney's desire to sustain the viability of the band arose from McCartney's misgivings about pursuing a solo career.[6] McCartney maintained the greatest devotion to the group as an entertainment entity. Thus, his efforts at maintaining the band's cohesiveness may reflect his artistic faith in The Beatles' immense popularity.[8] Brian Samuel Epstein (IPA: ) (born in Liverpool, England; 19 September 1934 – 27 August 1967) was the manager of The Beatles. ... John Winston Ono Lennon, MBE (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980), (born John Winston Lennon, known as John Ono Lennon) was an iconic English 20th century rock and roll songwriter and singer, best known as the founding member of The Beatles. ... Sir James Paul McCartney, MBE (born 18 June 1942) is an iconic English singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who first gained worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles. ...

The foundation of Apple Corps was initiated under the oversight of Brian Epstein as a tax shelter endeavour. His unexpected death left the planning and implementation of Apple Corps in a tenuous state. The lack of Epstein's supervision led to an expedited and perhaps chaotic venture that only added to the incipient stresses when the band returned to the studio for the convoluted sessions that would result in The Beatles (aka The White Album).[1] The void of Brian Epstein's role as band manager would never be harmoniously filled during the remaining years of the group's existence. Ultimately, the discord over managerial leadership would be one the precipitating factors of the band's dissolution.[9] Apple Records logo, featuring a Granny Smith apple. ... “The White Album” redirects here. ...

George Harrison's emergence as a songwriter

In the early years, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were the two primary songwriters, while the other two members, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, took more supporting roles in the band. Lennon and McCartney would often compose one song per album for Starr to sing, and let Harrison either cover an old standard, or record one of his own compositions. From 1965 onward, Harrison's compositions started to mature and become more appealing in their quality.[10][11] Gradually the other band members acknowledged his potential as a song writer.[6][12][10] Though Harrison emerged as a proficient songwriter and producer he nonetheless continued to have his song ideas for the most part relegated, especially when his compositions were offered during the Twickenham rehearsals. He became frustrated and this led to estrangement and resentment towards the rest of the group, especially Lennon and McCartney.[13] For other persons named George Harrison, see George Harrison (disambiguation). ... Richard Starkey Jr, MBE (born 7 July 1940), known by his stage name Ringo Starr, is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor, best known as the drummer of The Beatles. ...

Competitors rather than collaborators

After the band had stopped touring, each of the musicians to one degree or another began to identify and pursue personal interests and autonomy. When the band convened to resume recording in late 1966, there was still a palpable camaraderie and desire to collaborate as musicians. However, individual trends were becoming more salient. Paul McCartney, perhaps to a greater degree than the others, maintained a deep interest in the pop musical trends and styles emerging both in Britain and the United States, whereas George Harrison developed an interest in Indian music and John Lennon's compositions became more introspective and experimental.[1][4][11] Consequently McCartney began to assume the role of the initiator and, to a degree, leader of the artistic projects of The Beatles.[14]

Each band member began to develop individual artistic proclivities and agendas, which eventually compromised the level of enthusiasm among the musicians. The varying level of cohesive interest in songwriting and production gradually transformed into a lack of patience and at times tolerance of mutual collaboration. This became most evident on the album The Beatles (aka the White Album) in which artistic self-interests began to dominate the recording sessions, which in turn further undermined band unity.[15] “The White Album” redirects here. ...

The Beatles double album

The Beatles reconvened at George Harrison's home in Esher in May 1968 to record demos that would ultimately become released in November 1968 as The Beatles. This was released as a double album and both The Beatles and the public ultimately referred to it as The White Album. Contemporaneous reviews and retrospective commentary by The Beatles acknowledged that the album reflected the development of autonomous composers, musicians and artists.[12] “The White Album” redirects here. ...

John Lennon and Paul McCartney's artistic venues for The Beatles became more disparate. George Harrison continued to develop as a songwriter; unfortunately he had little support from within the band. His composition "Not Guilty" reflected his state of mind during the recording of The Beatles. Ringo Starr began to develop and pursue cinematic opportunities during this period. He was also distressed by the increasingly dour and tense atmosphere that was characteristic of the recording sessions.[16]

As the sessions progressed there was a growing tension in the band. The disquiet was multifaceted in nature, but it was the artistic and personal discord that was most salient. The strain of the sessions took its toll on Geoff Emerick (recording engineer employed by EMI) and more notably Ringo Starr. Both left during the sessions, which commenced in June and concluded in October.[15] These were the first substantive signs of the group's emerging disunity and antipathy.[10] Engineer Geoff Emerick. ...

Upon completion and release of The Beatles the group did not give collective interviews or recorded appearances. The public relations were carried out individually. The most telling evidence of the group's collective alienation was the release of the 1968 Christmas fan club recording. The contributions were entirely individual and John Lennon made disparaging remarks about his bandmates' apparent disdain for Yoko Ono.[17][18]

The Twickenham and Apple studio recording sessions

By the end of 1968, The Beatles' status as a group entity was in limbo. Paul McCartney, who had unofficially assumed the mantle of leadership since Brian Epstein's death, suggested a group project involving rehearsing, recording and performing the songs in a live concert. Though the recording sessions for the double album initially involved ensemble playing, the band was ill-prepared to settle comfortably back into this mode. Only eight days after recording sessions commenced, George Harrison's frustration and resentment peaked and he informed his bandmates that he was leaving. The combined patronising by McCartney and estrangement from John Lennon had taken its toll on George Harrison. Thus, the band was on the verge of potential collapse and at an impasse. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine cited a recording that exists from the Twickenham sessions the day after Harrison's departure in which Lennon suggested having Eric Clapton take over lead guitar duties. This article is about the magazine. ... Eric Patrick Clapton CBE (born 30 March 1945), nicknamed Slowhand, is a Grammy Award winning English guitarist, singer, songwriter and composer. ...

Ultimately, complicated and heated negotiations brought Harrison back into the group's activities. The plan for a concert was abandoned and the recording sessions were resumed at Savile Row Apple Studios. The band gave their last public performance on the rooftop of Apple's headquarters in Savile Row, London, on 30 January 1969 as a substitute for an audience-based concert.[18][19][20] Savile Row Savile Row Savile Row occupies a quiet corner of Mayfair in central London near Bond Street and is famous for its mens bespoke tailoring. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... is the 30th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Also: 1969 (Stargate SG-1) episode. ...

Business quagmire: Allen Klein, Lee Eastman and ATV-Northern Songs

Apple Corps during this period was plagued by business problems. John Lennon and Yoko Ono met with Allen Klein regarding managerial advice. Subsequently, Lennon requested that Klein represent his business interests in the band. George Harrison and Ringo Starr acquiesced, while Paul McCartney had ambiguous feelings about Klein's managerial potential. McCartney's growing relationship with Linda Eastman opened the opportunity for Lee and John Eastman, Linda's father and brother, respectively, to become involved in advising the band's financial and legal decision-making. However, the band members' quarrels and disharmony over musical matters soon permeated their business discussions.[21]

Dick James, who held substantial rights to Northern Songs (the Lennon/McCartney song catalogue), became increasingly concerned over the band's dissension and resentment towards him. Without informing The Beatles, he inconspicuously entertained offers to sell his substantial shares in Northern Songs. Allen Klein and the Eastmans were caught off-guard and their attempts to reclaim control of The Beatles (via Maclen Music) failed. It soon became evident that the Eastmans and Klein had developed an adversarial relationship given their disparate advice and counsel. This further aggravated the underlying mistrust and antipathy experienced within the band.[22] Dick James (born Reginald Leon Vapnick, in 1920, in London died 2 January 1986) was the singer of the Robin Hood and The Buccaneers themes, from British television in the 1950s and was a friend and associate of renowned record producer George Martin. ... Northern Songs Ltd. ... The songwriting partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, usually referred to as Lennon/McCartney (sometimes McCartney/Lennon), is one of the best-known and most successful musical collaborations of all time. ...


The Get Back/Let It Be project from the January 1969 recordings and filming was aborted. However, the group continued to sporadically record together during the spring and summer of 1969. These recording sessions ultimately paved the way for The Beatles' last studio recording project, Abbey Road.[20] Back cover The back cover of the original 1969 UK LP. Note that Her Majesty is not listed, unlike later reissues and the compact disc version—originally making it a hidden track. ...

John Lennon's departure

Shortly after the completion of Abbey Road, John Lennon, who had a waxing and waning pattern of heroin use, yielded to cessation and acute drug withdrawal. This experience inspired him to record "Cold Turkey" shortly after the sessions for the album Abbey Road concluded. Offered to The Beatles for recording as a single, it was met with indifference and likely contributed to his decision to leave the band. The formation of the Plastic Ono Band was originally conceived as an artistic outlet for John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1969. However, their enthusiastic reception as performers in Toronto's Rock and Roll Concert extravaganza in September 1969 ostensibly crystallised his decision to leave the band. He informed Allen Klein and Paul McCartney of his decision in late September/early October 1969.[23] Ironically, in the autumn of 1969, the band signed a renegotiated contract with a higher royalty rate. This was the group's last demonstration of unity, though transient in nature. Further disclosure revealed that the contract bound the members of the band until 1976 collectively and separately. Thus, this renegotiated contract precipitated the final legal actions abrogating the partnership in 1971.[9] Cold Turkey was a 1969 single by John Lennon and The Plastic Ono Band. ...

Paul McCartney's departure

Despite his efforts at maintaining the band's cohesiveness, Paul McCartney acknowledged that The Beatles had effectively disbanded in a November 1969 interview conducted by Life magazine.[24] At the beginning of 1970, McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr briefly reconvened to complete recordings for the album Let It Be. Each of the band members otherwise focused solely on individual projects.[18][20] “Let It Be” redirects here. ...

During this time, McCartney grew deeply dissatisfied with Phil Spector's treatment of some songs on the upcoming Let It Be album, particularly "The Long and Winding Road". McCartney had conceived of the song as a simple piano ballad, but Spector dubbed in orchestral and choral accompaniment. On April 14, 1970, he sent a sharply worded letter to Apple Records business manager Allen Klein demanding that the added instrumentation be reduced, the harp part eliminated, and "Don't ever do it again."[25] These requests went unheeded, and the Spector version went on to be included in the album. Harvey Philip Spector (born December 26, 1939) is an American musician, songwriter and record producer. ... “Let It Be” redirects here. ... The Long and Winding Road is a pop ballad written by Paul McCartney that originally appeared on The Beatles album Let It Be. ... April 14 is the 104th day of the year (105th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar, with 261 days remaining. ... Year 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday (link shows full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Apple Records logo, featuring a Granny Smith apple. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

Another issue McCartney faced around this time frame surrounded his impending solo album. McCartney was scheduled for release on April 17, but the other Beatles and Apple realized that the album's release date could conflict with the impending Let It Be album and film. When Starr was sent to request that McCartney delay his solo debut, McCartney refused, asking Starr to leave for the only time in either's life: "I had to do something like that in order to assert myself because I was just sinking." Although the McCartney album was released on April 17 as planned, McCartney's bitterness over these incidents were contributing factors to his public announcement concerning his departure from the band.[7] McCartney is the first solo album by Paul McCartney and was released in 1970. ... is the 107th day of the year (108th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Apple Records logo, featuring a Granny Smith apple. ... For the Taiwanese film whose foreign title translates to the same name, see 無米樂 Let It Be is a 1970 film about the Beatles rehearsing and recording songs for the album Let It Be in January 1969. ...

At the beginning of 1971, McCartney sued his bandmates for the dissolution of The Beatles' contractual relationship and subsequently a receiver was appointed.[9]


The breakup of The Beatles was one of the most widely scrutinised and publicised events in the media for the past three decades. During this time the term "ex-Beatle" became a household byword when band members were referred to. To this day there are still contradictions and inconsistencies among fans and music scholars. Ultimately, the breakup can be described as a series of events of a myriad nature.[17] Broadly speaking, a contradiction is when two or more statements, ideas, or actions are seen as incompatible. ... For other uses, see Myriad (disambiguation). ...

The overwhelming impact of Beatlemania took its toll on the band members. After the cessation of touring in 1966, the personal changes that each Beatle experienced were not parallel in a collective sense; rather the pattern was one of divergence. The death of their founding manager Brian Epstein in 1967 led to financial and legal conflicts of interest.[21] The Beatles arrival at Americas JFK Airport in 1964 has proved a particularly enduring image of Beatlemania. ...

Internal dissension arose from the emergence of egocentricity in individual artistic interests and ventures. Group unity and vision were thus supplanted.[16] The first definitive events in the substantive Beatles' dissolution was the departure of John Lennon followed subsequently by Paul McCartney.[8][6] Ultimately, personal interests grew stronger than collective interests and animosity made it impossible for both group and individual pursuits to mutually coexist contemporaneously.[12]

Although there were sporadic collaborative recording efforts among the band members (most notably Starr's Ringo)for that was the only time that all four Beatles appeared one one album with "I'm The Greatest" the only song that John, George and Ringo played together), all four Beatles never fully and simultaneously collaborated as a recording or performing group ever again. After Lennon's death in 1980, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr reconvened for Harrison's All Those Years Ago. The trio reunited as The Beatles for the Anthology project in 1994; using the two unfinished Lennon demos Free As A Bird and Real Love for what would be the last two songs under The Beatles name.[14] Ringo is the third solo album by Ringo Starr, released in 1973. ... All Those Years Ago is a song written by George Harrison, released in the spring of 1981 as a personal tribute to the recently murdered John Lennon. ... The Beatles Anthology is the name of a documentary series, a series of three albums and a book, all of which focus on the history of one of the worlds most popular rock band The Beatles. ... Free As A Bird is a song, single and video released by The Beatles in December 1995 as part of their reunion and promotion around the release of the video documentary Anthology and their Anthology 1 compilation album. ... Real Love is a song originally written and performed as a demo by John Lennon, later redone by the remaining members of The Beatles in late 1995. ...


  1. ^ a b c Ian MacDonald : Revolution in the Head,PIMLICO ,2005
  2. ^ David Bennahum: The Beatles After the Break-Up: In Their Own Words ,Omnibus Press, 1991
  3. ^ Andy Peebles and John Lennon: The Last Lennon Tapes, Dell, 1982
  4. ^ a b c Ray Coleman: Lennon: The Definitive Biography 3rd edition, Pan Publications, 2000
  5. ^ "John Lennon and Yoko Ono Interview", Playboy, January 1981
  6. ^ a b c d Jan Wenner: Lennon Remembers: The Rolling Stone Interviews, Popular Library, 1971
  7. ^ a b Barry Miles: Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, Owl Books, 1998
  8. ^ a b "Paul and Linda McCartney Interview", Playboy, December 1984
  9. ^ a b c Peter McCabe: Apple to the Core: The Unmaking of The Beatles, Martin Brian and O'Keeffe Ltd, 1972
  10. ^ a b c Mark Lewisohn: Beatles Recording Sessions, Gardners Books, 2005
  11. ^ a b George Harrison:I Me Mine, Simon & Schuster, 1980
  12. ^ a b c DK Publishing: The Beatles: 10 Years That Shook the World, DK Adult, 2004
  13. ^ "George Harrison Interview", Crawdaddy magazine, February 1977
  14. ^ a b Philip Norman: Shout!: The Beatles in Their Generation (second edition), Fireside, 2003
  15. ^ a b Geoff Emerick & Howard Massey: Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles, Gotham, 2006
  16. ^ a b Bob Spitz: The Beatles : The Biography, Little, Brown and Company, 2005
  17. ^ a b Mark Hertsgaard: A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of The Beatles (Reprint edition), Delta, 1996
  18. ^ a b c John C. Winn: That Magic Feeling: The Beatles' Recorded Legacy (volume two) 1966-1970" Multiplus Books, 2003
  19. ^ Doug Sulpy & Ray Schweighardt: Get Back: The Unauthorised Chronicle of The Beatles' "Let It Be" Disaster, St. Martin's Griffin Pub., 1999
  20. ^ a b c Peter Doggett: Abbey Road/Let It Be: The Beatles (Classic Rock Albums Series), Schirmer Books, 1998
  21. ^ a b The Beatles: The Beatles Anthology, Chronicle Books, 2000
  22. ^ Peter Brown & Steven Gaines: The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of The Beatles (Reprint edition), NAL Trade, 2002
  23. ^ Anthony Fawcett: John Lennon: One Day at a Time : A Personal Biography of the Seventies (Revised edition), Grove Pr., 1980
  24. ^ "Paul McCartney: 'I Want to Live in Peace'", Life, November 7 1969
  25. ^ The Beatles, Anthology, p. 350, (full letter)

See also

  Results from FactBites:
John Lennon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (5718 words)
Each of the Beatles was known, especially during Beatlemania, for their sense of humour.
The Beatles often made fun of George Martin, as they once sang "tit-tit-tit", as backing vocals instead of "dit-dit-dit" on the 1965 song Girl from the LP Rubber Soul.
The first national transmission of the news across the USA was on the fledgling Cable News Network, on which anchorwoman Kathleen Sullivan reported that Lennon had been shot and was en route to a New York hospital (his death had not yet been confirmed).
  More results at FactBites »



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