It was perhaps fitting that the best musical act of all time, also had one of the most famous breakups.
After a success-laden run which ran for most of the ’60s, the great Merseyside rock band The Beatles were abruptly broken up in 1970, shortly after the release of their last album Let It Be. The prominent reason for their break up at the time was the announcement of frontman Paul McCartney, who in April of that year said he was ‘taking a break’ amid the release of his debut solo project.
McCartney then filed for the dissolution of the band’s contractual partnership in December 1970, though it was only formalised once his writing partner John Lennon put pen to paper a whole four years later.
However, in a bombshell expose to the BBC recently, (now Sir) McCartney set the record straight, and he lays the blame for the breakup at the feet of Lennon, with reference to his much-discussed relationship with Yoko Ono.
“I didn’t instigate the split. That was our Johnny. I am not the person who instigated the split,” he said to BBC Radio 4 presenter John Wilson earlier this week.
“John walked into a room one day and said I am leaving The Beatles. And he said, ‘It’s quite thrilling, it’s rather like a divorce.’ And then we were left to pick up the pieces.”
“The point of it really was that John was making a new life with Yoko and he wanted… to lie in bed for a week in Amsterdam for peace,” said McCartney in reference to the couple’s ‘Bed-Ins for Peace’ protest held at the Hilton Hotel Amsterdam.
“You couldn’t argue with that. It was the most difficult period of my life. This was my band, this was my job, this was my life. I wanted it to continue. I thought we were doing some pretty good stuff – Abbey Road, Let It Be – not bad, and I thought we could continue.”
Speaking about the lawsuit against his bandmates, McCartney also took a swipe at their then-manager Allen Klein, who he said he was not interested in aligning himself with. The frontman had fallen out with Klein over the handling of their final record, and had protested his appointment in charge of the band from the very beginning.
“So for a few months we had to pretend. It was weird because we all knew it was the end of The Beatles but we couldn’t just walk away. I had to fight and the only way I could fight was in suing the other Beatles, because they were going with Klein,” he said.
“They thanked me for it years later. But I didn’t instigate the split.”
For many die-hard Beatles fans, the reason for the band’s split is a much theorised and contested issue. For the McCartney die-hards, this perhaps will put to bed the speculation on his name, and as for the Lennon stans, well, we told you so.
It’s a shame it ended the way it did, with Lennon’s subsequent murder by a radicalised fan in 1980, but their music will forever live on.