The End of the Beatles

On this day in 1970, an amalgam of Paul McCartney’s remarks on his solo project acts as the official death notice of the world’s most famous and influential band: The Beatles.

There were numerous causes for the Beatles’ break-up. It was not a single event but rather a long transition, including the cessation of touring in 1966, and the death of their manager, Brian Epstein, in 1967. Conflict also arose from differences in artistic vision; both George Harrison and Ringo Starr temporarily left the group at various points during 1968–69 and all four band members had begun working on solo projects by 1970 as they realized the unlikelihood that the band would regroup.

Additional challenges arose with Lennon’s heroin addiction, and his infatuation with and insertion of avant garde artist Yoko Ono deep into the interior life of the band. Denigration of the previously warm relations between the boys is exemplified by Lennon’s serious suggestion that Eric Clapton be substituted for George Harrison on the Let it Be sessions, and McCartney’s own drum tracks being laid over those of Ringo Starr.

Whatever his intent at the time, Paul’s statements and new relationship with Linda Eastman drove a further wedge between himself and his band-mates. In the May 14, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone, John Lennon lashed out at Paul in a way he’d never done publicly: “He can’t have his own way, so he’s causing chaos,” John said. “I put out four albums last year, and I didn’t say a f*cking word about quitting.” Ed. Note: any reader of this account owning all four 1969 “albums” of Lennon and/or Ono may wish to consider seeking medical help immediately.

By year’s end, Paul would file suit to dissolve the Beatles’ business partnership, a formal process that would eventually make official the unofficial breakup he announced on this day in 1970.

Author: Bill Urich

A tail-end baby-boomer, Bill Urich was born in Cleveland to a grade school teacher and her Navy vet husband, and reared in Greater Detroit. Working his way through school primarily at night, Mr. Urich holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism, Phi Beta Kappa, and a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University. In his legal career he has acted as an assistant state prosecutor, city attorney, special prosecutor, mediator, magistrate, private practitioner and mayor of Royal Oak, a large home-rule city in Michigan. Mr. Urich continues in private practice and municipal prosecution, is on faculty to DePaul University, pens regular contributions to political publications, and remains active in selected campaigns and causes related to labor, social and criminal justice. A father of three mostly-grown sons, he spends his precious free time on family, friends, the pursuit of happiness, beauty and truth, three rescue cats, and fronting the rock band Calcutta Rugs from behind the drum kit.

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