No other rock group has had a greater influence on popular culture than The Beatles. The band--comprised of members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr--made 14 studio albums in what is a relatively short recording career of 7 years ('64-'70).
When The Beatles exploded on the scene in the early sixties, a type of mania spread across England and America, and it was exponential, spreading like wildfire...
Had The Beatles remained the 'pop band' they were in the early sixties throughout their entire career, they may not be quite so revered as they are today. But instead, they did what all truly great bands do, they expanded their sound and constantly explored music in a way that ignited a passion and love among their fans that no other band has been able to match. That is why, when The Beatles broke up in 1970, it was like a crushing blow to the fans of the band, as if a loved one had died.
Beatles fans are not just young people; people of all ages enjoy their music. The reason for their widespread appeal is not easy to pinpoint, but they are often praised not only for their music, but for the message it delivers. The band's lyrics have always centered around the themes of peace, love and understanding: All are concepts that people tend to cling to in a violent and turbulent world that is often on the brink of revolution and change...
As is common among a group of guys who work together for a long period, egos begin to clash and tensions arise. Tension between the band members began in earnest during the studio sessions for their penultimate album, Abbey Road, released in 1969. That was the year that John Lennon married Yoko Ono, a Japanese-born woman who spent most of her adult life in America. After they married, she seemed to become like the 5th Beatle, trying to add her own musical input (mostly through John) to the band, which the other Beatles resented. Ono is often attributed as the catalyst for the band's demise. Yoko had definitely become a strong presence among the band: she was often seen with them in the studio, in several band photographs and even in the music itself, such as 1969's The Ballad of John and Yoko...
Furthermore, each member of the band wanted to flex their creative muscles and craved more room to express themselves musically. John and Paul seemed to get their way most of the time, while George and Ringo's input seemed less valuable. This led to each member quitting at some point, although they were coaxed back, usually by Paul.
On September 20, 1969, Lennon told the other guys in the band, "I'm done. I want a divorce!" He wasn't the first to make such an announcement, but it marked the beginning of the end for the fab four. It wasn't until April 10, 1970 that Paul McCartney announced the break up during a press questionnaire to promote his solo album, McCartney. The significance of the band's break up cannot be understated.
In America, the result led to Beatles fans literally crying in the streets over the news. The result was much the same elsewhere: "England might have been less shocked to find Buckingham Palace transformed into the Royal Arms Motel. A great British institution—and perhaps the Empire's most far-flung export since the Thin Red Line—seemed in peril. From Liverpool to Piccadilly, the cries of anguish rent the air: "The Beatles are dead! (Time, '70)."
For America, it was this event that seemed to mark the direction for music in the seventies. It was only four months into the new decade and The Beatles were done. After this, music seemed to take a new direction, big rock and roll bands such as Led Zeppelin swept the scene, ushering an era of stadium bands that focused on explosive guitar riffs with a big sound that was intended to be played live. That had been the original intent of Let It Be, the last Beatles album. The band wanted it to have a live, raw sound. Instead, their manager, Phil Spector, decided to modify and clean up the music for a more polished sound, even adding orchestral arrangement to some tracks. He did all this without the bands consent. Perhaps the new sound of the 70's was an unconscious, collective drive to fulfill that effort, to expand upon it... to continue where The Beatles had left off.
The point is that The Beatles broke up and the whole rock industry shifted. What they left behind was their massive influence. Additionally, the seventies marked the decade of the solo Beatles. Each member of the band spent the seventies creating their own music, finally expressing that musical creativity that each of them felt was being oppressed as a Beatles member.
Finally, let's go back to May, 1970. On the 8th of that month, 4 weeks after the break up announcement, the album Let It Be was released. The first single from the album was the title track. Because Let it Be was the first post-Beatles song to be released, it has a kind of sad and somber tone that really has nothing to do with the lyrics, but everything to do with the break up of the band.
The Beatles were dead, and Let It Be was their requiem...
- YouTube.com. The Beatles Break Up (A Rare Documentary). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ysb6XEWtvo.
- YouTube.com. The Beatles - Revolution (HD). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edIqdKLL6o4&feature=related.
- YouTube.com. The Beatles - The Ballad of John and Yoko. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVmCbwlRo2Y&feature=fvst.
- YouTube.com. The Beatles Let It Be (Digital remaster 2009) [High definition] HD. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFonBtPz06U.
- YouTube.com. Beatles - Coming to America! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=WJJ-692Ih6A.
- Beatles, The. The Beatles Anthology. Chronicle Books. San Francisco, 2000.
- TIME magazine. Music: Hello, Goodbye, Hello. April 20, 1970.
- Rolling Stone. Beatles Splitting? Maybe, Says John. Jan 21, 1970 (p. 7).
- Rolling Stone. The Trouble with the Beatles. July 9, 1970 (p.12).
- Miles, Barry. Hippie. Break Up of The Beatles. Sterling Publishing Company. New York, 2004.