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Reference Library: The Breakup

From: Bob Stahley (
Subject: Re: The Undisputable Fact
Date: 1 Jan 1996 02:32:01 -0700

What broke up the Beatles was Paul's public announcement on April 10th, 1970, that the Beatles would never work together again, and the subsequent lawsuit he filed against the other three on December 31, 1970.

Until then, no matter what they said privately to each other, all their public statements conveyed the message that the partnership was to continue indefinitely. In the fall of 1969, _after_ "Abbey Road" was released, John told Melody Maker that "after 'Get Back' is released in January, we'll probably . . . do another one." In February of 1970, he told _Rolling Stone_, "We still might make Beatles product . . . but we need more room--The Beatles are just too limited., that's where the trouble is." He told the New Musical Express, "It just depends on how much we all want to record together." He said that trying to accomodate everyone's songs on one album was the main problem.

Ringo told NME in March of 1970, "Everything's fine. I've got things to do and George has got things to do and Paul has his solo album and John has his peace thing. We can't do everything at once." George said, in the same article, "Say we've got unity through diversity, because that's what it is . . . we had to find ourselves, individually, one day."

When John Eastman (Paul's brother-in-law and attorney) announced on April 7th that the release of Paul's solo album, "McCartney," was coming out and it meant, in essence, the end of The Beatles, Apple spent three days denying it before it reluctantly released, on Paul's demand, the "self-interview" (subsequently was included in UK copies of "McCartney") that made the split official.

On that day (April 10), Apple also released a statement on behalf of the Beatles that read, "The world is still spinning and so are we and so are you. When the spinning stops--that'll be the time to worry. Not before. The Beatles are alive and well and the beat goes on. The beat goes on."

Even after the April 10th announcement, the remaining three Beatles were still publicly stating that the Beatles, as an entity, still existed and this was a temporary hiatus. A few weeks after Paul's statement, Ringo told a reporter, "I just feel it in my bones that we'll probably all be recording together again before very long." George said, "There is every prospect" that the Beatles eventually would work together again. "Everyone this year is trying to do his individual album, but after that, I am ready to go back to work together again." In early summer, George, while working on "All Things Must Pass", again said he'd expect the Beatles to be working together, possibly by the end of the year.

John initially had little response to Paul's announcement, saying only, "Paul phoned me to say 'I've decided to leave The Beatles.' It was good to hear from him, now that I know he's not dead [a reference to the "Paul is dead" hoax that broke the previous fall]."

In the May 14 edition of _Rolling Stone_, John made his feelings clearer: "It's the simple fact that [Paul] can't have his own way, so he causing chaos. I put out four albums last year, and I didn't say a f--ing word about quitting."

In June, Paul, through his attorney, began the slow process of disolving the partnership, raising the issue with John via a letter later that summer. John refused to discuss the issue. Paul again raised it during a meeting with the other three in New York that October. They refused to address it then, either.

McCartney filed suit against the Allen Klein and the other three Beatles on December 31, 1970, asking that The Beatles and Co. be legally dissolved that that a receiver be appointed in the meanwhile.

With that, the Beatles were no more.

Say what you will about the various arguments over guitar leads, drum breaks and girlfriends, but make no mistake, the facts are these: Paul went public and ignited the press firestorm that immediately erupted thereafter. He insisted on an immediate legal disolution of the partnership, igniting almost a decade of vitriolic court battles.

It is important to note that _all_ of John's statements regarding the breakup, such as the fact that he'd actually left first, et cetera, were made _after_ Paul's public announcement and the subsequent hard feelings it generated.

The bitter statements against Paul by the other three that appear in the court affidavits leave no doubt whatsoever as to who "broke up the Beatles."

The ironic thing is that, a mere three years later, John, George and Ringo split with Allen Klein and sued him. If Paul had bided his time, he'd have gotten what he'd wanted (the problem, of course, was Klein; Paul wanted Eastman to manage the group), and the Beatles might have been back in the recording studio in 1975.

Or maybe not.

(From the article, "'Unity Through Diversity'--How Close Did The Beatles Come To Not Breaking Up?" by William P. King, published in _Beatlefan_, #93 (Vol 16, No 3), March-April, 1995. For more information, refer to that article; also see _Apple To The Core_, McCabe and Schonfeld, Pocket Books, 1972.)

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