+
upworthy
Pop Culture

Inside the Beatles’ messy breakup, 53 years ago

More than 50 years later, there's still more to learn about the world's greatest band.

Inside the Beatles’ messy breakup, 53 years ago
via TM on music / Twitter

Fifty years ago, when Paul McCartney announced he had left the Beatles, the news dashed the hopes of millions of fans, while fueling false reunion rumors that persisted well into the new decade.

In a press release on April 10, 1970 for his first solo album, "McCartney," he leaked his intention to leave. In doing so, he shocked his three bandmates.

The Beatles had symbolized the great communal spirit of the era. How could they possibly come apart?



Few at the time were aware of the underlying fissures. The power struggles in the group had been mounting at least since their manager, Brian Epstein, died in August of 1967.

'Paul Quits the Beatles'

Was McCartney's "announcement" official? His album appeared on April 17, and its press packet included a mock interview. In it, McCartney is asked, "Are you planning a new album or single with the Beatles?"

His response? "No."

But he didn't say whether the separation might prove permanent. The Daily Mirror nonetheless framed its headline conclusively: "Paul Quits the Beatles."

The others worried this could hurt sales and sent Ringo as a peacemaker to McCartney's London home to talk him down from releasing his solo album ahead of the band's "Let It Be" album and film, which were slated to come out in May. Without any press present, McCartney shouted Ringo off his front stoop.

Lennon had kept quiet

Lennon, who had been active outside the band for months, felt particularly betrayed.

The previous September, soon after the band released "Abbey Road," he had asked his bandmates for a "divorce." But the others convinced him not to go public to prevent disrupting some delicate contract negotiations.

Still, Lennon's departure seemed imminent: He had played the Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Festival with his Plastic Ono Band in September 1969, and on Feb. 11, 1970, he performed a new solo track, "Instant Karma," on the popular British TV show "Top of the Pops." Yoko Ono sat behind him, knitting while blindfolded by a sanitary napkin.

In fact, Lennon behaved more and more like a solo artist, until McCartney countered with his own eponymous album. He wanted Apple to release this solo debut alongside the group's new album, "Let It Be," to dramatize the split.

By beating Lennon to the announcement, McCartney controlled the story and its timing, and undercut the other three's interest in keeping it under wraps as new product hit stores.

Ray Connolly, a reporter at the Daily Mail, knew Lennon well enough to ring him up for comment. When I interviewed Connolly in 2008, he told me about their conversation.

Lennon was dumbfounded and enraged by the news. He had let Connolly in on his secret about leaving the band at his Montreal Bed-In in December 1969, but asked him to keep it quiet. Now he lambasted Connolly for not leaking it sooner.

"Why didn't you write it when I told you in Canada at Christmas!" he exclaimed to Connolly, who reminded him that the conversation had been off the record. "You're the f–king journalist, Connolly, not me," snorted Lennon.

"We were all hurt [McCartney] didn't tell us what he was going to do," Lennon later told Rolling Stone. "Jesus Christ! He gets all the credit for it! I was a fool not to do what Paul did, which was use it to sell a record…"

It all falls apart

This public fracas had been bubbling under the band's cheery surface for years. Timing and sales concealed deeper arguments about creative control and the return to live touring.

In January 1969, the group had started a roots project tentatively titled "Get Back." It was supposed to be a back-to-the-basics recording without the artifice of studio trickery. But the whole venture was shelved as a new recording, "Abbey Road," took shape.

When "Get Back" was eventually revived, Lennon – behind McCartney's back – brought in American producer Phil Spector, best known for girl group hits like "Be My Baby," to salvage the project. But this album was supposed to be band only – not embroidered with added strings and voices – and McCartney fumed when Spector added a female choir to his song "The Long and Winding Road."

"Get Back" – which was renamed "Let it Be" – nonetheless moved forward. Spector mixed the album, and a cut of the feature film was readied for summer.

McCartney's announcement and release of his solo album effectively short-circuited the plan. By announcing the breakup, he launched his solo career in advance of "Let It Be," and nobody knew how it might disrupt the official Beatles' project.

Throughout the remainder of 1970, fans watched in disbelief as the "Let It Be" movie portrayed the hallowed Beatles circling musical doldrums, bickering about arrangements and killing time running through oldies. The film finished with an ironic triumph – the famous live set on the roof of their Apple headquarters during which the band played "Get Back," "Don't Let Me Down" and a joyous "One After 909."

The album, released on May 8, performed well and spawned two hit singles – the title track and "The Long and Winding Road" – but the group never recorded together again.

Their fans hoped against hope that four solo Beatles might someday find their way back to the thrills that had enchanted audiences for seven years. These rumors seemed most promising when McCartney joined Lennon for a Los Angeles recording session in 1974 with Stevie Wonder. But while they all played on one another's solo efforts, the four never played a session together again.

At the beginning of 1970, autumn's "Come Together"/"Something" single from "Abbey Road" still floated in the Billboard top 20; the "Let It Be" album and film helped extend fervor beyond what the papers reported. For a long time, the myth of the band endured on radio playlists and across several greatest hits compilations, but when John Lennon sang "The dream is over…" at the end of his own 1970 solo debut, "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band," few grasped the lyrics' implacable truth.

Fans and critics chased every sliver of hope for the "next" Beatles, but few came close to recreating the band's magic. There were prospects – first bands like Three Dog Night, the Flaming Groovies, Big Star and the Raspberries; later, Cheap Trick, the Romantics and the Knack – but these groups only aimed at the same heights the Beatles had conquered, and none sported the range, songwriting ability or ineffable chemistry of the Liverpool quartet.

We've been living in the world without Beatles ever since.

Tim Riley is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director for Journalism, Emerson College

This article was originally published by The Conversation on 4.10.20. You can read it here.

How often should you wash your jeans?

Social media has become a fertile breeding ground for conversations about hygiene. Whether it’s celebrities bragging about how little their family bathes or battles over how often people should wash their sheets or bras.

One of the debates that gets the most diverse responses is how often people wash their denim jeans.

Denim atelier Benjamin Talley Smith tells Today that jeans should be washed "as little as possible, if at all.” Laundry expert Patric Richardson adds they should be cleaned “after nine or 10 wearings, like to me, that is the ideal." At that point, they probably have stains and are "a little sweaty by that point, so you need to wash 'em," Richardson says.

Still, some people wash and dry them after every wear while others will hand wash and never hang dry. With all these significant differences of opinion, there must be a correct answer somewhere, right?

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

People from other countries share 14 'obvious' signs that someone is an American

"Americans lean on anything they can while standing around…"

Some American tourists enjoying the sights

Americans have a style and personality all their own, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just noticeable when they travel aboard. Americans often stand out because of their outgoing personalities. They are friendly and enjoy having casual conversations with strangers.

This is an endearing trait to a lot of people in more reserved cultures, although it can also come off as a little brash.

An American characteristic that isn’t quite endearing to people in other countries is that they can be rather loud. In Europe, one can always notice the Americans in the restaurant because they can be heard from across the room.

Keep ReadingShow less

Woman learns lesson in kindness after date apologizes.

How you treat people in the service industry is often used as a measure of what kind of person you are. Arguably, the same could be said for how you treat anyone in a customer-facing job, whether it be the sales associate at a department store, the cashier at McDonald's or the janitor in your office building.

While people may think that these jobs are not skilled positions, they do require an immense amount of skill that has to be learned. The skill just isn't as valued by society as a whole, and sadly, that often leads to people treating those in customer-facing jobs poorly. But when a woman recently went on a date with a potential partner, her poor behavior towards the waitstaff caused him to pause.

The story was shared by a woman by the name of Barbara NOT Barb on Twitter with a lengthy thread about her daughter's recent interaction. Though the details were juicy, it quickly became obvious that kindness is the way to go.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Viral kids' librarian responds to being bullied online and it's a lesson in kind clapbacks

“I hope they experience kindness. I hope they experience joy.”

Librarian's response to online bullying is a beautiful lesson.

No one enjoys being made fun of. It can be difficult to manage no matter how old you are, but the internet has brought teasing and bullying to a whole new level. People no longer have to see their bullies face-to-face, and instead of maybe someone turning a few of their friends against you, it's a few hundred or few thousand joining in on the teasing.

In this digital age, people are still trying to learn new ways to deal with finding themselves on the receiving end of online bullies. Mychal, a librarian who has become a viral sensation for his unique way of excitedly telling people about the library, recently found out he was the subject of online bullies. He had no idea anyone was teasing him until followers started doing mental health check-ins to make sure he was okay.

Once he found out why his community was reaching out with concern, the librarian decided to address the situation head on and in the process he gave a masterclass in kindness.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Watch a 13-year-old boy become the first person ever to beat Tetris

The classic 80s video game was considered unbeatable…until now.

Classic Tetris/YouTube

Thirteen-year-old Willis Gibson is the only player ever known to beat Tetris.

Few video games are as compelling and addictive as Tetris. Nor are other games, even the most difficult ones, literally impossible to beat.

The task behind Tetris is simple: rotate the falling blocks to fit the puzzle. But as those pieces fall at a faster and faster rate, at some point even the most skilled player becomes outmatched. In fact, no player (other than an AI bot) has been known to ever actually beat the game.

Until now.

Thirteen-year-old Willis Gibson, better known as “Blue Scuti” when he’s gaming, was about 39 minutes into a Tetris competition, rotating blocks at lightning speed, when he achieved a “True Killscreen,” signaling the game couldn’t keep up and crashed.

In other words, Gibson did the impossible. The 34-year-old old game was finally beat…by a teen.

Keep ReadingShow less

Shadow Ace returns to wow AGT crowd with shadow art.

Remember when you were little and learned you could make shadow puppets on the wall from the bathroom light that peeked through your bedroom? Most people learned how to make a fairly realistic-looking frog or rabbit, but that's about where the talent ended for most. Shadow Ace, an "America's Got Talent" alum, took that childhood skill and never stopped honing it.

The shadow artist first appeared on Season 18 of the iconic show, coming in 3rd place after charming the crowd with his shadow routine. But he still had more up his sleeve when he returned for "America's Got Talent: Fantasy League" where he's competing on Howie Mandel's team. It's a good thing too, because it's Mandel's head that's used as his stage for his shadow act that will have you wanting to bust a move.

Shadow Ace starts off strong with the famous Sir Mix-a-Lot song, "Baby Got Back," and yes, he was somehow able to make his hands look like a person shaking their derrière.

Keep ReadingShow less