Personalities | The Beatles | The Break-Up Years (1969–70) | An Overview

The end of The Beatles was a complex, messy affair, not surprisingly for a band that for the previous five years had been the biggest group in the world and encouraged to believe that they were divine.

The blame for their demise was cast in many directions: Yoko Ono’s presence in the studio destroyed the Lennon and McCartney songwriting partnership; John Lennon showed more commitment to the peace movement than to the band; and Paul McCartney’s efforts to lead the band after manager Brian Epstein’s death irritated the others profoundly. George Harrison and Ringo Starr, each of whom left the group temporarily (although news of it never got out), felt squeezed and demeaned by the other two.

But Epstein’s death remained pivotal. Afterwards they showed themselves unable to manage their way out of a paper bag (although Lennon and Yoko demonstrated that they could get into one). They couldn’t end it amicably and lawyers joined the other rip-off merchants who circled Apple Corps like vultures.

Occasionally the music broke through. That Lennon and McCartney could set aside their bickering and record ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ (1969) in a day together proved the remarkable musical bond between them. The band enjoyed an Indian summer with Abbey Road (1969) and ‘Let It Be’ (1970) was a fitting epitaph, something that Let It Be (1970) was not.

It is no exaggeration to say that The Beatles changed the world. When John Lennon was murdered on 8 December 1980 the world stopped briefly, traumatized by the event.

Personalities | Introducing The Beatles
Personalities | The Beatles | The Break-Up Years (1969) | Key Events


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