What Was The Real Reason The Beatles Broke Up?
Paul McCartney and John Lennon make up what’s considered one of the greatest songwriting duos in musical history. And with George Harrison providing the soul, and Ringo Starr as the backbone, The Beatles were a worldwide sensation. So if they were such a big deal, and adored by so many fans around the world, why exactly did the band break up?
There are countless theories floating about why The Beatles ultimately broke up, with some saying it was because of one of the girlfriends, others blaming their manager, and still more saying it was the bad vibes between the members. But when we look deeper, we can see the real reasons are a little more complex than that.
Apart for Three Months
After a number of years touring, the rest of the band convinced Paul to stop touring in 1966, putting the group on a three-month hiatus. When they returned, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band was created and recorded, which was primarily conceptualized by McCartney. On that album, Lennon’s track “A Day in the Life” was one of the top-rated pieces, and reflected the musician’s despair as a result of his current domestic situation, and frequent LSD usage.
No More Epstein
Tragically, the manager of The Beatles, Brian Epstein, was the victim of a drug overdose, and was found dead in his apartment. The majority of the band agreed he had been the grounding force for them during their career up until that point. Luckily, McCartney was able to get everyone back on track, eventually recording the Magical Mystery Tour film as a collaboration between all members.
After an overt dose of harsh criticism over the Magical Mystery Tour album, the group sought council from one of the world’s top spiritual mentors, the Maharishi. They learned the ancient art of transcendental meditation in his ashram in India, in an attempt to quiet the chaos.
Unfortunately, Harrison accused both Lennon and McCartney of using their time to write music rather than study spirituality, and felt betrayed by their lack of commitment. Starr only lasted two weeks at the ashram, with McCartney leaving shortly thereafter as well. When Lennon discovered that the Maharishi had been sexually harassing women there, he forced Harrison to leave the ashram along with him. The band remembers after Lennon’s return to London, he always seemed to be angry.
John Lennon met Yoko Ono in 1966 – the same year he ended his relationship with his wife Cynthia – and he moved right into a relationship with her. He allowed her access to all parts of his life, including private recording and practice sessions, even wanting her to be involved in the recording process. They ultimately opted to work on their own album, Two Virgins, creating their own songs. At the same time, Lennon began using heroin regularly.
The recording of The White Album proved to be tumultuous for all the band’s members. At this point, each of them considered the others to be nothing more than a backup band for their own superior sound. They even recorded in a total of three studios to get the album finished, since the tensions were so high.
Under New Management
Allen Klein became their new manager, signing on in 1969. McCartney originally wanted his wife’s father (his father-in-law) to manage them, but Lennon ending up winning the rest of the band over to support Klein. In a strange situation, he only ended up representing three of the members, and McCartney outright refused to be under his management.
Following the release of Abbey Road, Lennon announced that The Beatles were breaking up, sending McCartney into a deep depression, which he self-medicated with heavy drinking. The break up dragged on in a messy fashion, with lawsuits between members, and grudges being held. Ultimately, there were many reasons the band broke up, and sadly, it was just a matter of time.
While the Beatles were (and still are) considered to be titans, giants, and borderline immortals within the music industry (and pop culture in general), they’re still mere mortal human beings. And when we’re talking about the imperfect nature of being human, even talents as gifted as the Beatles aren’t immune to the perils that come with living life in rarified air.