It was 43 years ago today (April 10th, 1970) that Paul McCartney's departure from the Beatles was made public, in effect announcing to the world what many fans had suspected over the past six months -- the Beatles had broken up. McCartney's statements regarding the end of his songwriting partnership with John Lennon, along with his wish to record apart from Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, came as part of a question-and-answer sheet included with press copies of his debut solo album, which was simply titled McCartney.
The news had first leaked out three days prior to that. McCartney's brother in-law and attorney John Eastman let McCartney's break with the band slip while announcing plans for McCartney's plans for an animated film of the British animated character Rupert the Bear and the upcoming release of McCartney's debut album.
In the Q&A for the press, which was actually written entirely by McCartney, he asked himself several pointed questions about the future of the group. McCartney explained his reasons for going solo, citing "business and musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family." McCartney went on to issue what most fans read as the ultimate death knell to the Beatles: "I do not foresee a time when the Lennon & McCartney partnership will be active again in songwriting."
In truth, the group had been dormant since Lennon privately announced his split to McCartney and Starr during a business meeting the previous September. By all accounts, George Harrison was not present for the announcement. Lennon ended the meeting by revealing to the pair that he wanted "a divorce" from the group.
Tensions had been building between the Beatles since their return from India in the spring of 1968. And a year later, when Lennon, Harrison and Starr out-voted McCartney into hiring manager Allen Klein to run their company Apple Corps, the rift began to deepen.
True to his decision, Lennon didn't attend what turned out to be the group's final recording session on January 3rd, 1970, when the Beatles taped Harrison's song "I Me Mine."
In the months that followed Lennon's private announcement, the Beatles gave interviews in which they all deliberately refrained from announcing the split. That February, nearly five months after quitting the group, Lennon told Rolling Stone that, "We still might make Beatles product. We just need more room. The Beatles are just too limited."
That next month, both Starr and Harrison spoke to Britain's New Musical Express, with Starr stating that, "I've got things to do, George has things to do, and Paul has his solo album to come, and John has his peace thing. We can't do everything at once. Time will tell." Harrison added that, "Say we've got unity through diversity. . . We had to find ourselves individually, one day."
Paul McCartney says that both fans and the press have incorrectly pegged him as the villain in the "Fab Four" breakup: "Wrong, wrong, sorry. It wasn't me. It was John. What actually happened was: The group was getting very tense; it was looking like we were breaking up. One day we had a meeting, I came in and it was all Apple and business and Allen Klein and it was getting very hairy and no one was really enjoying themselves. It was. . . we'd forgotten the music bit -- it was just business. I came in one day, and I said, 'I think we should get back on the road -- small band, go and do the clubs, sod it, let's get back to square one, let's remember what we're all about. Let's get back.' And John's actual words were, 'I think you're daft. And I wasn't gonna tell ya, I'm breaking the group up.' He said, 'It feels good -- it feels like a divorce.' And he just sat there and our jaws just dropped."
Photo Courtesy of Linda McCartney