On this same day in 1969, the late John Lennon informed the other lads he was leaving The Beatles. It was at a business meeting where he decided to tell the others, “I want a divorce” and “the group’s over.” Surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were present while George Harrison, who died in 2001, was visiting his mom and not around to hear Lennon’s bold declaration.
The meeting took place at the Apple headquarters in London’s 3 Savile Row where on its roof they performed their remarkable last public performance months before. On their way out that day, Lennon told his then-new wife Yoko Ono, “It’s just you and me now.”
Exactly a month before that, all four Beatles were together for the last time at their famous recording studio in Abbey Road. Two days after at John’s Georgian county house called Tittenhurst Park, the band reconvened for what became their final photoshoot.
The Beatles began 1969 in front of the camera being filmed rehearsing. At one point George snapped and sarcastically told the supposedly overbearing Paul that “whatever you want me to play I’ll do it.” He eventually ‘quit’ but then came back a few days after to wrap up the “Let It Be” shoots.
Of the four, it was Ringo who first made the move to leave while recording the tension-filled White Album in 1968, or some 50 years ago. He did not attend sessions for Back in the USSR and Dear Prudence because he felt “the others were close and he wasn’t playing great.” Both Lennon and McCartney responded, “I thought it was you three.” To cut the story short he returned, with George arranging for his drum kit to be decked with flowers.
While Lennon was coaxed not to tell the public of his announcement, he kept his word and never came back to see the other three in one room. He was on vacation when a Beatles session took place in January 1970 to properly record the Harrison-penned “I Me Mine.”
In his book Here, There and Everywhere, recording engineer Geoff Emerick looked back and said, “Nothing got done unless Paul approved of it.” Interestingly it was Paul’s marketing ploy to promote his solo album that word officially got out they were no more. In a press release he somewhat prepared himself, he revealed he sees no resumption of the Lennon-McCartney partnership, resulting to the April 1970 global headline, “Paul quits The Beatles.”
The dissolution of The Beatles, while they were still relatively on top of their game, was, for me, fittingly right. Recording a swan song like “Abbey Road” highlighted by that much-hailed zebra crossing album cover was Michael Jordan hitting the championship-clinching shot in his last game in Chicago Bulls uniform.
Somehow they knew it was coming since “Abbey Road” finishes with a group track called “The End.” The decade they so dominated was about to give way to a new. The dream, as Lennon would say in a post-Beatles number, is over.
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