Personalities | The Beatles | The Beginning of the End (1966–68) | An Overview
The first cracks in the seemingly impregnable façade that had been built up by three years of Beatlemania seemed insignificant. When John Lennon casually remarked that The Beatles were ‘more popular than Jesus’ in March 1966 he had no idea that his words would haunt him with increasing malevolence for the rest of the year. The Beatles narrowly avoided another major furore when the infamous American ‘Butcher’ album was withdrawn just as it was about to go on sale.
But there was no way out of the touring nightmare which spiralled towards terror until, after a third American tour, they decided to stop. Henceforth they would be a studio band. At first this was no problem. Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) were incandescent albums, the best The Beatles ever made. But manager Brian Epstein’s death in August 1967 was the turning point. As Lennon said, ‘I thought, “We’ve f***ing had it.”’ The idea that The Beatles could manage themselves was preposterous. Their next project, Magical Mystery Tour (1967), was a total shambles. Apple Corps, naively described by Paul McCartney as ‘A kind of Western communism’ was even worse.
For a while they continued to act collectively, travelling to India together to raise their consciousness. And they delivered two anthems that rocked the world in 1967 and 1968: ‘All You Need Is Love’ and ‘Hey Jude’. But the arrival of Yoko Ono at John’s side ripped apart the last ties that bound them together. There was little sign of collaboration on The Beatles at the end of 1968.
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