Why Did the Beatles Break Up?

//DAVID ROBINSON//

The Beatles are often considered to be the greatest band of all time. Their harmonious melodies, masterful instrument work, beautiful lyrics, appeal to the societies of the 1960’s and 1970’s and their contributions to history are considered legendary. However, when music connoisseurs listen to the Beatles and hear the story of their fame and legacy, they often wonder why they would ever want to split up.

The Beatles were formed in 1960 and officially split 10 years later when Paul McCartney announced his departure to the media. Many people often cite George Harrison’s death from pancreatic cancer and John Lennon’s infamous assassination as the two factors that caused the Beatles to break up, but this is inaccurate because Harrison died on November 29, 2001 and Lennon was shot by Mark David Chapman in New York City on December 8, 1980; both of these events took place long after the Beatles officially disbanded, so citing their deaths as the main cause of the breakup is not accurate. What actually caused the Beatles to separate was not a singular event; it was a chain of events. These events are what ultimately caused the Beatles to separate:

#1. Their manager died.

The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein is credited as the man who made the Beatles a worldwide phenomenon. Additionally, Epstein also served as the peacemaker/mediator when arguments or conflicts would arise in the band. When Epstein died of an accidental medical overdose in August of 1967, John Lennon fell into a depressed state due to his strong connection with Epstein. The absence of a manager caused the bandmates to have to deal with the formal and legal sides of running a band themselves. Without Epstein to mediate, conflict could also arise easily and boil into intense, heated arguments.

#2. Paul McCartney was becoming too controlling over the band.

Lennon’s absence from the band’s events due to his sadness over Epstein’s death made McCartney feel like he needed to step up as the band’s unofficial leader, spokesperson and decision maker. McCartney’s controlling demeanor over the band ticked off the other Beatles and made them feel as though he has trying to control something that he did not have sole control over.

#3. The band started to have a difficult time collaborating with each other.

As the Beatles grew older, they realized that they had different passions and interests; Lennon was heavily inspired to spread anti-war/peace messages through music, McCartney was drawn to the new pop music trend over America and Britain, Ringo Starr thoroughly enjoyed starring in movies and Harrison was intrigued by the calming and liberating nature of Indian music. The formation of new opinions and tastes caused a major clash of opinions among the bandmembers that could not be resolved. After all, a band can not make a pop song that has peace messages with Indian influences for a feature film.

#4. George Harrison was beginning to become an excellent songwriter.

George Harrison provided amazing lead vocals for the Beatles with songs like “Here Comes the Sun” (1969) and “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” (1963), but those songs were not written by Harrison; they were written by Lennon and McCartney and were intended for Harrison to sing. After Harrison began to search inside of himself through meditation and other self-exploration methods, he became inspired to write his own music that could be used for the Beatles’ future albums. Lennon and McCartney both constantly rejected and shut down Harrison’s compositions because his songs did not resonate with their tastes. This, obviously, lead to many arguments in the band and let out a wave of frustration.

#5. John Lennon broke the Beatles’ “bro code”.

An agreement that the Beatles made with each other was that they would not allow their families or significant others into the studios. They made this pact with each other because they agreed that their personal lives should be kept outside of the studio so that it would not interfere with their music. Lennon chose to ignore this pact by bringing his girlfriend Yoko Ono into the Beatles’ studio. Her presence alone irritated McCartney, Harrison and Starr, but when Ono began to criticize the band’s music and offer her own suggestions on how to improve it, the last straw was reached and yet again, heated arguments began to unfold. Ono is often claimed to be “the woman who broke up the Beatles” and while she was definitely a contributing factor to the split, she is not solely responsible for their breakup.

These factors are what caused the Beatles to split. Although the Beatles’ disintegration was a harsh moment for fans of the Beatles and music fans overall, it was the best decision. Had the Beatles not chosen to go their separate ways, violent outbreaks might have unfolded between the Beatles and their music would have become less marvelous over time because their music would be the result of conflicts, arguments and clashing of opinions and tastes.

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