No other band in history has had as great of an influence on the culture as the Beatles. The English super-group rocked the charts, music halls, and an entire generation of the sixties. And then, as quick as they had emerged- they were gone.
The band broke up in 1970, and the music scene was never the same. But was caused the break-up? It turns out a number of things contributed to their downfall. This is what we know about why The Beatles broke-up.
How did The Beatles break-up?
In 1960, four musicians, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr came together in Liverpool to form The Beatles. Soon, they were topping the music charts all over the world and, in the words of Lennon, they were “more popular than Jesus.” After almost a decade of popularity, the band stopped touring in 1966.
The first sign of their break-up happened in 1969 when Lennon privately announced to his bandmates that he was leaving the group. But the public didn’t become aware of their separation until 1970 when McCartney also decided to leave the band. By the end of that year, all four members were working on solo projects, and they had dissolved the official business partnership.
When McCartney made the announcement of the breakup, he listed several reasons that contributed to their separation. He said: “Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family. Temporary or permanent? I don’t really know.”
The death of The Beatles manager weakened their group
In 1967, the group’s manager, Brian Epstein, was found dead in his home from a drug overdose. Epstein had been a workaholic, who gave his all to the group. He helped them become the success they dreamed of, but because of his inattention to his personal life, he suffered from depression. According to Forbes, Epstein’s story “brings to light the psychological costs of giving to others without getting your own needs met.”
The Beatles depended on Epstein, often turning to him to resolve their conflict. Once he was gone, the group was left unsure how to manage themselves or work through the arguments that often arose.
The Beatles members had trouble collaborating together
After Epstein’s death, each band member began to pursue independent artistic agendas. They tried to collaborate, but with each of them trying to move in separate directions, it became difficult to come up with a cohesive sound that they could all agree on. Tensions began to build between group members, and arguments became more frequent.
In a 2016 interview, McCartney again tried to explain what brought about the group’s demise. “The business thing split us apart,” he said. Arguments over how to deal with their new manager, and trying to collaborate on their last album Let It Be, were blamed as reasons for the split during that interview with the BBC. “I was depressed. You would be. You were breaking from your lifelong friends,” he added.
Fans blamed Yoko Ono for The Beatles break-up
Towards the end of the Beatle’s work together, Lennon began a relationship with Yoko Ono. He began spending all of his time with her, including in the studio, which irritated other members of the group. Lennon worked with Ono on artistic collaborations, leaving his responsibilities with the band behind. To make matters worse, when disagreements arose between band members, Lennon would stay quiet and instead defer to whatever Ono thought about the situation.
According to Rolling Stone, when band members objected to Ono being in attendance at every Beatles gathering, Lennon said: “Yoko only wants to be accepted. She wants to be one of us.” Starr replied: “She’s not a Beatle, John, and she never will be.” But Lennon didn’t agree: “Yoko is part of me now. We’re John and Yoko, we’re together.”
Fans have always thought Ono had played a role in the band’s break-up, and she was treated with abuse because of it. She was called, “Jap,” “Chink” and “Yellow” in public. Lennon had to defend her, sometimes physically, from the attacks.
In reality, no one person was responsible for the break-up of the Beatles. It was a culmination of many different reasons and rising tensions between band members that eventually led to their separation. Fans mourned the break-up, but we will always have their songs, recorded to share with future generations for as long as we still enjoy it.