Why Did The Beatles Really Break Up?
Added: (Thu Jan 26 2006)
Pressbox (Press Release) -
Lot’s of people ask why The Beatles broke up, but keep in mind how miraculous it is that they ever came together in the first place. Much has been written about how the four met and much has been written about their history. Sort of glossed over is the break up. Maybe glossed over is the wrong word. I just don’t think the real causes have been touched upon. It’s painful for those involved to talk about, I’m sure. And no one, not even the Beatles, could possibly elaborate on all the dynamics that brought about The End. They were really too close to the action and would have to see their own faults to figure out, and we all know how hard it is to see one’s own faults. It’s easier to just blame Yoko, or some other outside devilish force. But what broke up The Beatles came from within and rests upon the tremendous egos, false pride and the differences of the four, and particularly the two main players Lennon and McCartney. In my humble opinion The Beatles started to dissolve after Paul wrote and released “Yesterday.” That was the peek of the roller coaster and it was followed by the extreme rush down the hill to oblivion.
It’s hard to understand why John seemed to be more miserable the bigger The Beatles got. Fame isn’t as glorious as it seems to a teenager. It was not a glamorous and fun time for John, but one must try to understand Lennon’s wounded psyche. He was extremely insecure. That’s why he needed a band around him, and as youngsters the ones he picked fed his ego, and basically played yes men to John’s dream of how the game should be played. He needed this, and conversely the others needed him. He was the undisputed leader of the band, but don’t for one minute, despite his mega fame, think he was not extremely bothered by Paul being “The Cute” one, and that he wasn ‘t hurt when Paul’s music did better than John’s. This songwriting competition led to the rapid creation of the best songs in song writing history, but by it’s very nature was doomed. In the very beginning they really did sit across from each other and write together. Later the extent of their collaboration was trying to out do the other.
(And call me nuts if you want, but I really hear John and Paul talk to each other through their music. Maybe John was the Fool On The Hill and maybe Paul was the subject of Bull Dog). We’re limited in space here and I don’t fee like writing a book. There’s enough books out there now. I just want to understand the break up of The Beatles.
It is now well known how much they hated the boy band image, but it was smooth sailing till the band, and mostly John, decided to change their writing style. Unfortunately, John made his first major, (though innocent enough at the time), mistake by saying The Beatles were bigger than Jesus. This didn’t raise an eye brow in Britain, but 5 months later this quote was taken out of it’s original context and splattered across the American press in a way to demonize The Beatles. I’ll avoid the hypocrisy of America in this article. Suffice it to say I’m ashamed of the United States and especially it’s self-righteous lynch ‘em attitude right wing self righteous religious bible thumpers.
The fact is, Lennon began receiving death threats. Lots of them! The Beatles were boycotted and the KKK protested outside their concerts. They were harshly beaten by the southern bible belt and John was EXTREMELY paranoid. Though the other three stood by John, they privately resented John for putting his foot in his mouth. Out of this fear John decided to quit touring, and George hopped aboard this decision. Paul to this day thrives on touring and wasn’t happy about ‘never’ again touring. Maybe he thought things would pass and eventually they would resume touring, but for the time being they began an amazing stint as studio recording artists. John was losing his role as the leader, and Paul gladly picked up the slack (the void left by the death of Brian Epstein only sped up the inevitable). By the time Sgt Pepper was recorded Paul was the leader of the Beatles, and John in turn hated this new Beatles band. He blew, and resented the whole charade and all his old childhood anger resurfaced. He wanted out of it. I think he brought Yoko in only to sabotage the group, and it worked. John played dirty. Paul played just as dirty, and The dream was over. There just is no one person to point the finger at. Lennon and McCartney lost control of their egos and crashed. Not totally unexpected for working class Liverpudlian’s. Competition is fierce and it destroyed the group. Everything else is arm chair psychiatry. The what ifs and what next is for people through out the rest of history to wrestle with. I do it. I read about their childhoods and try to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I just can’t at this time write a book. The books are out there. Go grab some and play arm chair shrink. Human nature, warts and all, can be seen in the story of The Beatles.
For Paul’s part, as the newly bearded father figure, he certainly made his share of bad choices. Not the least of which was his idea to ‘Get Back.’ He didn’t see there was no going back, only forward. To make a documentary on film at the height of there fighting was a bit daft. George walked out, John is seen sitting next to Yoko usually mocking Paul, and Paul is shown trying to rally the troops, but only as side men to McCartney songs. This period, and this film caused Harrison so much pain the film was taken out of print at his request in 1981 and only allowed to be re-released after his death. We’re still waiting….
John fought hard, I think too hard, to destroy the boy band image, and Paul fought hard, I think also too hard to hold on to that image. So we ended up two extremes after the break up. Some Time In New York was John’s crap recording and Silly Love Songs summed up Paul’s idea of rock ‘n’ roll. It was never so obvious how desperately they needed each other. We can clearly see how the clash of these two egos created magic, and had they taken a much needed break from each other perhaps the split could have been avoided. It seems as though Paul was under the spell of his in-laws and was angered that his brother and father in law weren’t made managers of The Beatles. John pointed out in a civil manner that much earlier on they agreed to never let relatives be their manager,and the war raged on.
Somewhere along the way Paul got it in his head to sue the others and make a legal break up (Hmmm, his in laws were lawyers….not a lot of thought need be put into this). Leaving aside all opinions and this and that, one could say Paul broke up The Beatles. The others had each quit, but never publicly. By all accounts the others had plans to record again. Paul’s lawsuit and announcement that he was leaving The Beatles surprised John, George and Ringo as much as it did the world.
Now here’s the twist. The break up was a disaster for all four Beatles. Lennon and McCartney’s early solo efforts were still very much collaborations/competitions. Paul was writing for John even on his solo albums (Too Many People, “You took your lucky break and broke it in two…”. I wonder, did John break his lucky break?) Paul hasn’t released anything memorable since John died. And the sad thing is by most accounts John and Paul were planning to record again. There was a Beatles Anthology on the drawing board, and both had agreed to play on Ringo’s new album. Most of this was sabotaged by Yoko, who obviously had her own agenda.Then Dec 8, 1980 happened. We’re left with educated guesses and wishful thinking, but one thing is undeniable. The thing that made the Beatles what they were was each one playing 25% of the whole. What destroyed them was egoism, and like anything, it could have been mended.
I believe it was being mended, and in time they’d have done something again, but that’s the one thing we weren’t granted. More time…
David Holmes Webmaster of American Based Beatles fan site Beatlesnumber9 http://beatlesnumber9.com