Paul McCartney Said The Beatles Were ‘Over’ in 1969 but No One Listened

If you were a fan of The Beatles, news of the band’s breakup hit hard in April 1970. And that news arrived just ahead of the first solo album by Paul McCartney. In a question-and-answer insert included with reviewer copies, McCartney revealed that the Fab Four had parted ways.

The Daily Mirror blasted out the signature headline on April 9: “PAUL IS QUITTING THE BEATLES,” it read, taking up half of the paper’s front cover. McCartney denied trying to pull off a publicity coup for his record with the timing of the announcement.

“I think a few people thought it was some weird move of me to get publicity, but it was really to avoid having to do the press,” he said in Beatles Anthology. And McCartney acknowledged the band had “known it for months.”

Indeed, when the “Paul is dead” conspiracy theory caught on in October ’69, McCartney had already withdrawn to his farm in Scotland. When reporters tracked him down to confirm he was alive, McCartney said in so many words The Beatles were done. But neither press nor public got the message.

Paul McCartney said ‘the Beatle thing is over’ in a ’69 interview that didn’t quite register

Beatles last photo shoot, 1969
Three Beatles pose during the band’s last photo shoot, 1969. | Mondadori via Getty Images

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The autumn of ’69 was not a happy time for McCartney. Wondering what he’d do next after splitting from his band of lifelong friends, he took to sulking and drinking. “I was depressed at the time,” he told the BBC in 2016. “And I took to the bevvies.”

In short, the last thing he needed was reporters sniffing around his farm in Scotland looking for comment. After rejecting the “Paul is dead” theory as “bloody stupid,” McCartney told Life Magazine he was avoiding the spotlight for a reason.

“I was switched on for ten years and I never switched off,” he said. “Now I am switching off whenever I can. I would rather be a little less famous these days.” McCartney didn’t stop there. While reporters were likely scrutinizing his face for identifiable marks, McCartney dropped some big news.

“I would rather do what I began by doing, which is making music,” he said. “We make good music and we want to go on making good music. But the Beatle thing is over.”

McCartney spoke of the Beatles’ fall due to their actions and those of ‘others’

McCartney late Beatles era
Paul McCartney in the late Beatles years | ullstein bild via Getty Images

McCartney closed the interview by chastising the conspiracy theorists. In so many words, he told them to get a life. “They should worry about themselves instead of worrying whether I am dead or not,” he said. And that was the story reporters took away from Scotland.

As for The Beatles, all might have seemed well to the press. Abbey Road had just hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Before its run ended, the final Beatles studio album would spend 11 weeks on top of the album charts. You couldn’t blame people for believing the Fab Four might just keep rolling.

But the album contained one hell of a clue: Its final track was called “The End.” And McCartney gave Life reason to take it literally. “[The Beatle thing] has been exploded, partly by what we have done, and partly by other people,” he told the magazine. But no one really heard him.