"Q: 'Do you foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again?'
PAUL: 'No.' "
— Paul McCartney, April 10, 1970
Needless to say, the media reaction was immediate (even before the days of Twitter).
"Paul quits the Beatles," announced the front of the Daily Mirror the next day. The news spread globally from there, according to the Guardian.
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The April 10 announcement came 10 years after the musical group dubbed themselves The Beatles in Liverpool, England. The album “My Bonnie” was released in January 1962, featuring John Lennon, McCartney and George Harrison. Manager Brian Epstein invited Ringo Starr to join the group not long after.
These four English musicians evolved into what is considered the most influential rock ‘n’ roll group of all time. Hits include “Here Comes The Sun,” “Yesterday,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be.”
With the big songs came big personalities, and, inevitably, big clashes. It wasn’t a pretty breakup.
"The Beatles in their death throes were one of the most mysterious and complicated end-of-romance tales of the 20th century, as well as the most dispiriting," wrote Rolling Stone's Mikal Gilmore.
Many factors contributed, yet even those closest to the group were surprised by the finality.
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The group disagreed about music style, management, live concerts or lack thereof. It reportedly became personal as well, with issues such as Lennon’s relationship with Japanese artist Yoko Ono, McCartney’s authoritarian leadership, Lennon’s heroin use and Epstein’s death.
"I don't think you could have broken up four very strong people like them, even if you tried. So there must have been something that happened within them – not an outside force at all." — Yoko Ono
The group’s volatility was captured in the documentary “Let It Be,” which filmed during the group’s last studio album recording.
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Up to the end, various members of the original four wanted in or out.
Starr left for a short time during the recording of “The Beatles.” Then Harrison ducked out briefly during “Let It Be.”
Lennon, the group’s founder, privately told the band he “was breaking the group up,” according to Rolling Stone.
McCartney called Lennon in March 1970 to tell him he was also leaving.
“Good, that makes two of us who have accepted it mentally,” Lennon allegedly replied, breaking apart what was once regarded as one of the strongest songwriting duos ever.
McCartney’s solo album and press announcement sealed the deal, and The Beatles were legally dissolved by the end of the year.
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"I now see it as inevitable and also necessary, because in hindsight they couldn't have gone on into the '70s. It wouldn't have felt right," said musician Paul Weller in a recent interview with the Guardian. Weller was 11 when McCartney announced he was out and remembers feeling "shattered."
"The Beatles will always be my guides. They were my four prophets from the north. They came to show us there's another way to live – and to rejoice in what we have," Weller said.
Though the group is no more, Beatles music continues to permeate pop culture.
McCartney and Starr continue to make appearances. Starr’s group, All Starr, was set to go on tour this year but moved it back to 2021 due to the coronavirus.
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