A Deep Dive into How and Why the Beatles Really Broke Up

It’s been fifty years since Paul McCartney announced that he left the Beatles, crushing the hopes of millions of fans as rumors spread about a possible reunion – a rumor that lasted for years. But that reunion never came. A press release on April 10th, 1970, revealed McCartney’s first solo album, “McCartney,” which leaked his intention to leave the band. And that came after Lennon’s decision to “divorce” the band.

The Beatles collage

Phots by George Konig/Shutterstock / Northcliffe Collection/ANL/Shutterstock / Associated Newspapers /Shutterstock / Shutterstock/ Shutterstock/ David Magnus/Shutterstock / Joseph/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

No one could believe it. The Beatles were the face of the spirit of that era. How could they break up? You can blame Yoko Ono for all you want, or their new manager, Allen Klein. But the truth is that the cracks in the group’s dynamics started to crumble long before McCartney’s statement was ever made.

This is the inside story of the end of the world’s biggest band…

What’s it For? Why Are You Here?

January in 1969 was especially cold, and the Beatles were seated on a huge and even more chilling soundstage at London’s Twickenham Film Studios. They had spent days writing and rehearsing new material for their upcoming live show (their first since August 1966), but it wasn’t going smoothly, to say the least. The only one who had any sense of urgency was Paul McCartney.

The Beatles performing, 1963

Source: Shutterstock

“I don’t see why any of you if you’re not interested, got yourselves into this,” he said to his bandmates. “What’s it for? It can’t be for the money. Why are you here? I’m here because I want to do a show, but I don’t see an awful lot of support.” He looked at the familiar faces of John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, who simply stared at him with no expression.

A Mysterious and Muddled End of Romance Tale

McCartney continued: “There are only two choices: We’re gonna do it, or we’re not gonna do it, and I want a decision. Because I’m not interested in spending my f***ing days farting around here, while everyone makes up their mind whether they want to do it or not.” But the guys kept on with their blank expressions. Awkward and uncomfortable, sure. But that moment was far from the worst thing they would go through in those final days.

Ringo Starr, George Harrison, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney sitting in a theater with their feet up on the seats, 1963

Photo by Northcliffe Collection / ANL / Shutterstock

The Beatles’ end was one of the most mysterious and muddled breakup stories of the 20th century. Not to mention the most disappointing. We’ve all heard the accusations, like all those fans who blamed Yoko Ono, the love of John Lennon’s life. Or those who pointed the finger at Allen Klein, the band’s new manager (also a favorite of Lennon’s). But it wasn’t that simple.

It Wasn’t an Outside Force

The truth is that breaking up such a stronghold of a group takes much more than just one person. Yoko Ono herself claimed: “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.”

The Beatles are relaxing on a yacht in 1964

Photo by Globe Photos / Mediapunch / Shutterstock

The sessions that would become both the film and album ‘Let It Be’ came from an inspired place, but too many things were going wrong by the time McCartney delivered his plea. For the last year, the ties that kept the Beatles together were quickly fraying. The long friendship between Lennon and McCartney was particularly unstable.

A Bittersweet Collaboration

Lennon, the band’s founding member, had taken on the role of the band’s leader, but he was beginning to feel that he no longer wanted to be confined by the group. In contrast, McCartney loved the group deeply. The two men were undoubtedly the band’s central force; together, they created the richest songwriting collaboration in all popular music.

John Lennon signing autographs

John Lennon is signing autographs on the group’s second album. Photo by Evening News / Shutterstock

But Lennon’s temperament and needs got in the way. He had initially formed the band as a way to lower his anxiety and separation from losing his parents. His mother, Julia, gave up custody of him to her sister, and his father had walked out of his life completely. To understand the complex friendship and partnership, and ultimate demise, between Lennon and McCartney, it might help to understand their beginnings…

Two Teens Bonded by Loss

16-year-old Lennon met 15-year-old McCartney in the summer of 1957 while Lennon was playing with his band, the Quarry Men, at a church near Liverpool. He was impressed with McCartney’s ability to play the music of Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. But more importantly, and more relevant to each of them, was that they shared a deep loss.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney on set of their TV series, 1965.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney on set of their TV series, 1965. Photo by ITV / Shutterstock

McCartney also lost his mother, Mary, who died of breast cancer in October 1956. Lennon’s mother was then killed in a car accident in July 1958. Together, John and Paul found a new link to the world. They wrote songs together, swapping melodies and lyrics. Even after they began writing separately, they still counted on each other to finish or improve a song. The two of them had very different approaches to making music.

Two Totally Different Songwriters

McCartney was orderly and thorough, while Lennon was unruly and wouldn’t linger over a song. And despite his cocky facade, Lennon was less secure in his work than his writing partner. As the years went on, the contrasts between the two grew even more blatant. McCartney composed more and more “everyman narratives” and celebratory tunes.

John Lennon is lying on a sofa at their Christmas Concert in 1963

John Lennon at The Beatles Christmas Concert, 1963. Source: Shutterstock

Lennon, on the other hand, wrote what he felt was a more authentic and troubled personal viewpoint. Because these two dominated both the Beatles’ songwriting and singing, they were the unofficial band leaders. But Lennon always enjoyed having the implicit seniority. The Beatles, however, accepted using the policy of one-man, one-vote. This policy proved significant when, in 1966, after touring for years, John, George, and Ringo convinced Paul that they should stop performing their music live.

A Seed Was Planted

For three months, all four band members went their separate ways. During that time, Lennon was worried. “I was thinking, ‘Well, this is the end, really. There’s no more touring. That means there’s going to be a blank space in the future…’ That’s when I really started considering life without the Beatles – what would it be?” Lennon admitted.

The Beatles are sightseeing in Washington State, 1964

The Beatles are sightseeing in Washington, 1964. Photo by Northcliffe Collection / ANL / Shutterstock

It was in that brief hiatus that a seed was planted. It was then, in 1966, that Lennon started to entertain the idea that he “had to somehow get out of [the Beatles] without being thrown out by the others. But I could never step out of the palace because it was too frightening.”

Lennon Was at a Turning Point

It didn’t take long, though, for the band to regroup and create its most eventful work, ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’ It was also when the Beatles’ inner workings turned strangely complex. The album’s concept was McCartney’s idea, but Lennon saw his contributions to the album as masked reflections of his.

John Lennon and his ex-wife, Cynthia

John Lennon and Cynthia, circa 1966. Photo by Kay Cooper / Shutterstock

“I was going through murder” is how Lennon put it. He was at a turning point. He believed that he was trapped in a loveless and sober domestic life. This was before Yoko when he was married to Cynthia, who loved him deeply, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. Lennon also felt outdistanced by McCartney, who was living the luxurious life of a celebrity in London. Lennon may not have taken to life outside his home, but he did live an inner life of LSD.

A Case of Erased Identity

Lennon’s drug habits got to the point that those around him were worried that he was erasing his identity. George Harrison later said, “In a way, like psychiatry, acid could undo a lot – it was so powerful you could just see. But I think we didn’t really realize the extent to which John was screwed up.”

The Beatles and their manager, Brian Epstein at the ‘Hard Day’s Night’ film premiere, 1964

The Beatles and their manager, Brian Epstein at the ‘Hard Day’s Night’ film premiere, 1964. Photo by Harry Myers / Shutterstock

By August 1967, the leadership in and around the group shifted dramatically after their beloved manager, Brian Epstein, was found dead in his home from an unintentional overdose. Epstein had been depressed for a while but was utterly devoted to the band. Those close to the band felt that it was Epstein who kept them grounded and protected. “I knew that we were in trouble then,” Lennon said after losing Epstein.

Making Blatant Rubbish

McCartney didn’t see it that way, though. Five days after Epstein’s death, Paul persuaded the others to do a film and music fantasia, the Magical Mystery Tour. The band then embarked on a strange journey, filming odd musings and recording music to accompany them. The film came out on the BBC the day after Christmas in 1967. A day later, it was attacked by critics who called it “Blatant rubbish.”

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison being filmed in ‘Magical Mystery Tour,’ 1967

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison being filmed in ‘Magical Mystery Tour,’ 1967. Photo by Lillian Evans / Shutterstock

Word has it that Lennon was a bit pleased to see McCartney stumble for once. Then, in February of 1968, the Beatles studied Transcendental Meditation in India. Why? It was partly because of Harrison’s effort to gain some more influence on the band’s direction. He was actually the first of the group to gain an interest in Indian music and philosophies.

An Uneasy Spiritual Retreat

Their spiritual retreat soon became uneasy. Harrison suspected that Lennon and McCartney were using the retreat as a place to write songs, and he grew displeased. “We’re not here to talk music,” he complained to them. “We’re here to meditate!” Paul’s response: “Oh, yeah, all right, Georgie boy. Calm down, man.” Ringo Starr and his wife, Maureen, left a couple of weeks after they got there (Starr had stomach troubles and just couldn’t handle the Indian food).

Ringo Starr and Maureen Starkey at the airport leaving for India

Ringo Starr and Maureen Starkey leaving for India. Photo by Associated Newspapers / Shutterstock

McCartney and his girlfriend, Jane Asher, followed suit two weeks later. McCartney found the whole thing to be too much like school. Harrison and Lennon stuck around, that is until Lennon realized that he wasn’t any closer to solving his troubles. The final straw came after hearing a rumor that the guru made sexual advances toward a woman there. So Lennon demanded that he and Harrison leave as soon as possible.

From Despair to New Love

The whole venture transformed Lennon in ways that no one really understood. After that, he always seemed angry. But the truth is that he was in great despair. “Although I was meditating about eight hours a day,” he later said, “I was writing the most miserable songs on Earth.” Soon after he got back to London, Lennon left Cynthia and started a serious relationship, and artistic collaboration, with the woman who would become his one and only – Yoko Ono.

John Lennon, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and George Harrison are sitting together in front of a small table on their Spirit Trip in 1969

John Lennon, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and George Harrison on their Spirit Trip in 1969. Photo by Kobal / Shutterstock

Lennon met Yoko in November 1966. While Yoko was seen as an ambitious woman who pursued Lennon stubbornly, she went through her own personal troubles in the turmoil that followed, losing access to her daughter, Kyoko, and shelving a promising art career at Lennon’s request. The press and Beatles fans ridiculed her, calling her “Jap,” “Chink,” and “Yellow” in public. There were times when Lennon had to shield her from physical harm.

Bringing Yoko Into Their World

All of this judgment of the new love of his life fed into Lennon’s rage, but that paled in comparison to what happened once Lennon brought Yoko directly into the Beatles’ world. Up to that point, the group rarely allowed guests into the studio, and definitely didn’t tolerate anyone (other than producer George Martin or recording engineer Geoff Emerick) to offer input about a work in progress.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono holding light blue balloons in 1968

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1968. Photo by David Magnus / Shutterstock

Lennon didn’t bring Ono into their world as a guest; he took her in as a full-on collaborator. In May of 1968, while working on their first LP since Sgt. Pepper, Yoko would sit with John on the studio floor, talking to him continually in a low voice, and left with him every time he left the room, like his personal shadow.

When Yoko First Spoke

The first time she spoke out loud in the studio, giving John advice on a vocal, the room went silent. Paul said, “F*** me! Did somebody speak? Who the f*** was that? Did you say something, George? Your lips didn’t move!” Yoko later said, “He wanted me to be part of the group. He created the group, so he thought the others should accept that. I didn’t particularly want to be part of them.”

John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Cap D’Antibes, 1979.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Photo by Antonio Di Filippo / Shutterstock

McCartney realized that she inspired Lennon. “Do it more, do it double, be more daring, take all your clothes off. She always pushed him, which he liked. Nobody had ever pushed him like that.” But McCartney probably also realized that Lennon’s and Yoko’s record ‘Two Virgins,’ if left unchecked, could make or break his life, or even mean the end of the Beatles.

Way Too Far Out

Once the group learned that Lennon and Ono started using heroin, the Beatles were at a complete loss as to what to do about it. “This was a fairly big shocker for us,” McCartney said, “because we all thought we were far-out boys, but we kind of understood that we’d never get quite that far-out.” Lennon’s new partnership with Yoko was also a threat to his Collaboration with McCartney.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono are sitting behind a piano, playing, 1969

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, 1969. Photo by Globe Photos / Mediapunch / Shutterstock

As the band worked on its only double album, the White Album, the writing and singing skills of both Lennon and McCartney had never been as strong or diverse. Lennon started writing at full force thanks to his relationship with Yoko. Songs like “Dear Prudence,” “Julia,” “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” and “Revolution” were among his best work.

A Period of Acting Out

Harrison also blossomed, and even Ringo was writing songs. Yet none of them was willing to allow the others to overshadow, let alone direct his work. By that point, they had so much material and equally as much distaste for each other. They recorded in three studios for 12 hours a day. Each one treated the others as his supporting musicians.

The Beatles in a studio, 1964

Photo by David Magnus / Shutterstock

It created spectacular performances at the cost of some explosive studio moments, like when Lennon stormed out when recording McCartney’s “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” Ringo left the group for nearly two weeks after Paul scolded his drumming on “Back in the U.S.S.R.” Harrison brought in his friend, Eric Clapton, just to win consideration for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” McCartney told off George Martin in front of everyone, and Geoff Emerick finally walked out, sick of their behavior.

The Tension Album and the Debut of Apple

By the end, the album sounded like a disjointed masterpiece, a band in top form that no longer had any hope. Later on, McCartney would refer to it as “the Tension Album.” The Beatles then pushed forward and launched their new record label, Apple. The label’s debut was on August 11th, 1968, with four singles released, including Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days” and the Beatles’ own “Hey Jude.”

The Beatles performing on a TV show in 1964 wearing pinstripe suits and hats to match

Photo by ITV / Shutterstock

McCartney wrote “Hey Jude” as an ode to Lennon’s son, Julian, as his parents got divorced. When Lennon heard the song, he took it as a blessing from his songwriting partner. As Lennon told Playboy near the end of his life: “The words ‘go out and get her’ – subconsciously – [Paul] was saying, ‘Go ahead, leave me.’ On a conscious level, he didn’t want me to go ahead.”

The Hunger Was Still There

The Beatles realized that they still had a hunger to play live. So they arranged for a January date at London’s Roundhouse. The Beatles also saw it as an opportunity to discard the Sgt. Pepper image – one that Lennon was looking to disavow ever since its success. This new music would signal a return to the simpler times – a period when their love of rock & roll came first, back in the 1950s.

The Beatles posing with Ringo Starr dressed in an Elizabethan style costume and the fellow members are dressed as Jesters

Photo by Northcliffe Collection / ANL / Shutterstock

From the beginning, the project was plagued. The Beatles intended to film their rehearsal sessions at Twickenham Film Studios, which meant having to conform to union filming hours of 9 to 5, which were hardly the Beatles’ performing hours. Moreover, they lost all of their enthusiasm.

The Paul McCartney Show

By the morning of January 2nd, 1969, as rehearsals began, nobody but McCartney seemed to care, nor did they even remember why they were there, to begin with. Yet somehow, those sessions were atypically productive – they played 52 original songs in January 1969 alone. Some of those songs made it onto Abbey Road and would also show up as some of the best material on their early solo albums.

George Harrison and Paul McCartney sitting together in 1964

George Harrison and Paul McCartney. Photo by Denis Cameron / Shutterstock

All the feelings that each one had been festering for a while time would finally come to the forefront. McCartney tried to keep the guys on track, but it was a difficult task. The others found his nagging to be offensive and condescending. In their eyes, it was yet another case of The Paul McCartney Show, so to speak, where he told everybody what to play, even telling the director how to direct.

The Famous Scene

“Paul would want us to work all the time,” Ringo explained, “because he was the workaholic.” George Martin said, “Paul would be rather over bossy, which the other boys would dislike. But it was the only way of getting together… It was just a general disintegration.” There’s a famous scene in the film Let It Be where McCartney worries that his guidance is irritating Harrison too much. But Harrison says that he’ll play (or not play) whatever Paul wants.

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney. Photo by Sten Rosenlund / Shutterstock

“You’re not annoying me anymore,” Harrison says, in a very noticeably irritated tone. The scene came to represent the crux of the problem: that McCartney was being pushy and insensitive, and that Harrison was fed up. And Harrison had a legitimate reason to be upset. He was always consigned to the role of sideman.

Harrison, Sidelined for Years

Harrison was also troubled by other things, like his hate of the idea of doing a live show. As the days passed, his protests grew louder. By then, the Roundhouse date fell through, and when a bigger or more exotic setting, like the Roman amphitheater, was suggested, Harrison was sick of it all. “It would be just our luck to get a load of c***s in there,” Harrison said.

George Harrison with his mother in 1964

Photo by Northcliffe Collection / ANL / Shutterstock

The worst of the tensions that January was between Harrison and Lennon. After being dismissed for years, Harrison saw that Yoko’s opinion in the band’s matters either equaled or even outdid his. Lennon and Ono were then practicing what was called “heightened awareness” –a belief that verbal communication is unnecessary between people.

Heightened Shmeightened

But all this heightened awareness did was shut down any meaningful or helpful communication. When critical issues came up, Lennon said nothing and deferred to whatever Yoko thought, which, as you can imagine, drove his bandmates crazy. The way McCartney saw it, there were only two options: “to oppose Yoko and get the Beatles back to four or to put up with her.”

John Lennon and Yoko Ono walking around in all white outfits in 1968

Photo by Howard / Evening News / Shutterstock

He opted to put up with her. Why? Because he didn’t want to lose John. He also said that he was in no place to tell John to leave Yoko at home. It did, however, irk McCartney that Yoko would refer to the Beatles without “the.” Like, “Beatles will do this, Beatles will do that.” Paul tried to correct her, saying, “Actually, it’s the Beatles, Luv.” But it didn’t work.

Harrison Had Enough

Harrison finally reached a breaking point. In the afternoon of January 10th, 1969, Harrison and Lennon got into a fight that they later had to deny became physical. That moment was never caught on video, but was captured was Harrison apparently quitting the Beatles. “I’m out of here,” he said as he packed up his guitar. “Put an ad in and get a few people in. See you’ round the clubs.”

George Harrison performing

George Harrison. Photo by Richard Rosser / Shutterstock

McCartney and Starr looked shocked, but Lennon was unfazed, launching into a recording of The Who’s “A Quick One, While He’s Away,” which basically mocked Harrison’s rage. Later that day, Yoko took George’s place. She picked up the microphone and started humming a wordless blues, as the other members joined in. They just didn’t want Lennon to leave as well.

Clapton Could Have Replaced Harrison

That same day, Lennon suggested bringing on Eric Clapton to replace Harrison. Lennon said to the others: “The point is, George leaves, and do we want to carry on as the Beatles? I certainly do.” On January 12th, all four of the Beatles met at Ringo’s house to resolve their differences, or at least try to. But when Yoko persisted in speaking for Lennon, Harrison walked out again.

George Harrison and John Lennon offstage sitting and conversing

George Harrison and John Lennon. Photo by David Magnus / Shutterstock

The Beatles finally reached a consensus days later, but Harrison insisted on strict conditions: no more live concerts, and no more work at Twickenham studios. Yoko, surprisingly, was allowed to remain in all sessions with John. “Yoko only wants to be accepted,” Lennon explained. “She wants to be one of us.” But Ringo stated the obvious: “She’s not a Beatle, John, and she never will be.” Lennon’s response: “Yoko is part of me now. We’re John and Yoko; we’re together.”

A Fifth Beatle?

Almost two weeks after George walked out, the Beatles continued playing. Harrison brought in organist Billy Preston (who later played with Sam Cooke and Ray Charles). Lennon was so impressed with Preston that he wanted to add him as a member of the group, a fifth Beatle! McCartney was adamant: “It’s bad enough with four.”

The Beatles performing on a rooftop

Photo by Globe Photos / Mediapunch / Shutterstock

Time was running out on their project, and by the end of January, there was no longer time to plan a concert. The Beatles and Lindsay-Hogg also wanted an ending for the film they started. Then, on January 29th, 1969, somebody – some say it was Ringo, others claim it was McCartney or even Lindsay-Hogg, the director – suggested they stage a concert the next day on the rooftop of Apple’s offices.

Their Last Performance

The next afternoon, waiting in the stairwell, Harrison and Starr suddenly got cold feet. But at the last second, Lennon said, “Oh, f***, let’s do it.” And so the Beatles, along with Preston, stepped onto the makeshift stage, looking out on London’s tailoring district. It was their only concert-style performance since August of 1966, and, as we know, it would also be their last.

The Beatles are getting off of a plane on the way to a concert

Photo by David Magnus / Shutterstock

As they played for nearly an hour in the bitter cold, Lennon and McCartney exchanged smiles at every moment. But those rather sweet moments weren’t going to redeem what was about to happen. Supposedly, an earlier fight between Harrison and Lennon began after a remark Lennon made in an early-January newspaper article…

A Matter of Finances

Lennon said that if Apple kept losing money, he and the Beatles would be bankrupt by the summer. It was likely an overstatement, but Apple was indeed running out of control, and Harrison nor McCartney wanted Lennon to spread the news. Apple’s expenses were through the roof, and McCartney, as a director of the record label, was the only one who took a daily interest in the business.

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison are on the train to London, 1964

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison on the train. Photo by Northcliffe Collection / ANL / Shutterstock

McCartney tried to limit the company’s expenses, but he was met with resistance by the other Beatles. In essence, they had no real conception of finances – they spent what they wanted and had Apple pick up the bill. McCartney recalled telling Lennon that he particularly spent too much money. “I said, ‘Look, John. I’m right.’ And he said, ‘You f***ing would be, wouldn’t you? You’re always right, aren’t you?'”

Enter Allen Klein

For years, New York accountant Allen Klein was looking for a way to work with the Beatles. A harsh and persistent man, Klein was known for (who also managed Sam Cooke before his death and managed the Rolling Stones) uncovering lost royalties for music artists. But the man was also known for his questionable ethics and was even under investigation by U.S. financial authorities.

Allen Klein in the Apple Office in 1970

Allen Klein, 1970. Photo by Associated Newspapers / Shutterstock

But more than anything, he wanted the Beatles. Once, he offered to help Brian Epstein earn bigger fortunes, but Epstein didn’t even agree to shake Klein’s hand. After reading Lennon’s comment about the Beatles possibly going broke, Klein enticed Peter Brown, a director of Apple, into arranging a formal meeting with Lennon. On January 28th, 1969, two days before the Apple rooftop performance, Klein met Lennon and Yoko at a hotel and charmed them both.

The Fire That Killed the Beatles

Klein knew their music to a tee, and more importantly, he knew how to get on Lennon’s good side. Essentially, he schmoozed them. That evening, John and Yoko were sold, and Lennon and Klein signed a letter of agreement. The next day, Lennon informed EMI and the Beatles. “I don’t give a bugger who anybody else wants,” Lennon told the guys. “But, I’m having Allen Klein for me.”

Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon, 1967

Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon. Photo by David Magnus / Shutterstock

This is what set the fire that killed the Beatles. McCartney still tried to get Lee and John Eastman on board to represent the group’s interests, arranging a meeting for all the central players to be in. But Klein turned it into a fight. Finally, Eastman exploded, calling Klein “a rodent.” He and McCartney left the meeting.

Mick Jagger Warned Them

The worse Klein behaved, and the more Eastman questioned his character, the more Lennon and Yoko defended him as the Beatles’ savior, and eventually, Harrison and Ringo agreed. “Because we were all from Liverpool,” Harrison later explained in the ’90s, “we favored people who were street people. Lee Eastman was more of a class-conscious type of person. As John was going with Klein, it was much easier if we went with him too.”

Mick Jagger and John Lennon in 1967

Mick Jagger and John Lennon. Photo by David Magnus / Shutterstock

It turns out that Mick Jagger, who didn’t trust Klein at all, tried to deter the Beatles from taking him in, writing, “Don’t go near him” in a note to McCartney. But it was too late. The whole disagreement came at the worst time for the band, when things were happening way too fast.

So Many Things All at Once

Within months, the Beatles lost their chance to seize Brian Epstein’s management firm, NEMS (which cost them a fortune). Even worse, Lennon and McCartney lost the rights to their music publisher, Northern Songs. That same year, McCartney married Linda Eastman on March 22nd, 1969, just two days after Lennon and Yoko’s wedding on March 20th.

Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman on their wedding day. / George Harrison and Pattie Boyd leaving the registry office after getting married.

Photo by Ronald Spencer, Daily Mail, Shutterstock / Daily Mail, Shutterstock

On the same day as McCartney’s wedding, Harrison and his wife, Pattie Boyd, were arrested for marijuana possession. Then, on May 9th, during a recording session, Klein waited outside while Lennon, Harrison, and Ringo, at his request, demanded that McCartney sign a three-year management deal with Klein on the spot. But McCartney wouldn’t do it, saying that Klein’s 20% fee was too high. But truthfully, he just couldn’t imagine Klein as the Beatles’ manager.

A Clever Ploy

They were furious and stormed off, but McCartney held his ground. At the heart of the feud was the battle between Lennon and McCartney, two men who were meant to prevail and couldn’t afford to lose. McCartney eventually succumbed, but when it came time for the Beatles signed their contract with Klein, McCartney refused to put his signature on it.

Paul McCartney performing, 1967

Paul McCartney. Photo by David Magnus / Shutterstock

What McCartney pulled did was actually pull off the only brilliant maneuver ever accomplished during the Beatles’ endgame. By not signing the agreement, McCartney was later able to convince the court that he was no longer contractually obliged to stay with the Beatles and was never bound to Klein.

Time for One Last Album

By then, McCartney lost his passion for Apple. More so, he grew to hate the place and stopped going there at all. When McCartney tried to reach Klein, the manager would many times refuse the call. “Tell him to call back Monday,” Klein would say to his receptionist. Despite all their struggles, the Beatles still made another album.

The Beatles performing together

Photo by ITV / Shutterstock

Apparently, it was because they knew they were reaching an end and wanted to make a final record worthy of their reputation. And at the end of the day, the group couldn’t deny that they still liked making music together, even if they didn’t like each other.

Making Abbey Road

There were still disagreements, of course, like when Lennon barged into McCartney’s house after McCartney missed a session, and in a shouting rage, broke a painting he had given him. Meanwhile, Harrison finally enjoyed some long-overdue significance when his two songs, “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun,” were recognized as some of the best work the Beatles made during the summer of 1969.

The Beatles at a press conference

Photo by Kevin Cole / Shutterstock

Abbey Road proved that the band did indeed have some maturity left, and it also gave some perspective on its history, whether they intended it or not. McCartney was watching the Beatles fall apart, and he was grieving over it. By the time Abbey Road came out on September 26th, 1969, the Beatles’ union had effectively ended.

Like a Divorce

In September of 1969, during a meeting at Apple with Klein, the Beatles, and Ono, McCartney made one last effort to persuade his bandmates to do another tour and return to the stage. “Let’s get back to square one and remember what we’re all about,” he said to the guys. Lennon’s response: “I think you’re daft. I wasn’t going to tell you, but I’m breaking the group up. It feels good. It feels like a divorce.”

John Lennon photographed fish eye lens

Photo by Mondial / Shutterstock

Those in the room didn’t know if they should be shocked or to take it as another episode of Lennon’s boldness. Nobody, even Yoko, knew it would happen on that day. “Our jaws dropped,” McCartney admitted. For once, he and Klein agreed on something. They convinced Lennon to hold off on any announcements for at least a few months.

McCartney Fell into a Depression

While Klein and McCartney believed that Lennon would reconsider, Yoko knew better. But let it be known that she was as unhappy as anybody else. “We went off in the car,” she later revealed, “and he turned to me and said, ‘That’s it with the Beatles. From now on, it’s just you, OK?'” As for McCartney, he was shattered. The band and the life he was a part of since he was 15 had suddenly been cut off from him.

Paul McCartney

Source: Shutterstock

He stopped writing music altogether, and with his increased alcohol consumption, his tempers flared more frequently. He fell into a depression, that is until Linda couldn’t take any more. “Here I am, married to a drunk who won’t take a bath,” she said. She finally told her husband: “You don’t have to take this crap. You’re a grown man.”

Taking His Wife’s Advice

McCartney then took his wife’s advice and started to work on his first solo album. He called Lennon in March of 1970 and informed him that he was now leaving the Beatles. “Good,” his longtime friend and partner replied. “That makes two of us who have accepted it mentally.” When Paul released his first solo album, ‘McCartney,’ he also gave a self-interview, clarifying some previously confusing matters.

George Harrison and Ringo Starr

George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Photo by Globe Photos / Mediapunch / Shutterstock

The interview included the following excerpt: Q: Did you miss the Beatles? A: No. Q: Are you planning a new album or single with the Beatles? A: No.

Before Lennon told the world, “The dream is over,” McCartney already delivered the news. Lennon saw his partner’s statement as unacceptable. The way he saw it, “I started the band, I disbanded it. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

A Clash of Egos

It looked as though Lennon was upset that it McCartney who was leaving him, and not the other way around. “I think it was just straightforward jealousy,” McCartney said. He also said, “Ringo left first, then George, then John. I was the last to leave! It wasn’t me!” But the end of the Beatles entered a strange phase that would go on for years.

A photograph of the Beatles performing on stage with a view of the audience from behind the band

The Beatles performing. Photo by United Artists / Kobal / Shutterstock

McCartney wanted out of Apple altogether, but Harrison wouldn’t allow it. McCartney wrote Lennon letters, begging to leave the organization, but Lennon fired back one-line evasive replies. McCartney threatened to sue, Klein laughed at him, and on December 31st, 1970, McCartney sued to disband the Beatles. The other three members were unified: There was no need to end the group. They felt that they could still make music together without McCartney.

A Final Dissolution

The judge ended up siding with McCartney, and the divorce that Lennon said he wanted could be worked out. In 1973, the remaining Beatles’ contract with Klein ended, and they decided not to renew it. They were sick of him. Harrison, Lennon, and Starr sued Klein, and in a separate, Apple-related case, Klein was sentenced to two months in a U.S. prison for fraud.

Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, leaving to have lunch during the case which he brought against Apple and the other members of the group.

Paul McCartney and Linda going to having lunch during his case against Apple. Photo by Jones / Evening News / Shutterstock

When the time came for the group to gather and sign a final dissolution, Lennon refused to show up. Maybe he had never really meant to divorce the group after all. Nevertheless, it was the end of the Beatles. Lennon was assassinated in 1980. McCartney, Harrison, and Starr reunited as the Beatles in the mid-’90s to play some unfinished Lennon tracks. Harrison died in 2001. Starr continued and still continues to make music. McCartney went on to become the richest man in show business.