I recently purchased a scrapbook full of Beatles goodies, including several articles about the Beatles break-up. This one written by Derek Taylor was especially interesting to me. Derek had such an interesting way of writing and expressing things. I hope you enjoy this article like I did.
The party’s Over for the Beatles
By Derek Taylor
July 26, 1970
What more emotional incentive to go see “Let it Be” and cry and groove to the tune “Long and Winding…you left me standing here a long, long time ago” than fearing that we never will see them again, not together anyway, laughing and waving and spitting into the wind, not up there, pulling in the crowds, banking millions as if it were a pocketful of change. What better plug for the album than to bill it as the last chance to hear the world’s greatest group.
On the eve of the release of the Beatles new movie and album “Let it Be,” Paul McCartney said, “I quit,” or “I think I quit,” which is roughly the same thing. As a publicity stunt, it’s as good or bad as any stunt they ever appeared to pull. But like every stunt they never did pull, this isn’t one either. McCartney’s declaration of independence was entirely impromptu, spontaneous and personal and so far had the group’s lines of communication become crossed that none of the Beatles really knew when the album would be out, or whether, nor did they greatly care.
In dispute over the choice of business managers, diverging musically, paying ever-increasing attention to hearth and home, unsure which of them their Apple company should most closely reflect, inching closer to early middle age (or maturity) there was less to bring them together than to keep them apart.
Because their immense collective strength as Beatles was nothing more and nothing less than the sum total of some pretty fierce individual power, it is clear that the future will bring some fine work from the four as separate artists. But as we have known them, the merry young Beatles are done; it was magic while it lasted and it was very public, but it is over.
It was the longest, most public running news story since the Second World War and no one got killed and if anyone got hurt, it was more by nightsticks than by the music, and then only rarely when the fans over-killed with love.
It was a lovely trip was Beatlemania. It changed my life and I guess it changed yours, gentle reader: I hope so, I hope so.
Now that trip is over and how may I do it justice, this joyful adventure which ended not while our backs were turned but in full view of our inquisitive, bulging eyes and within earshot, certainly within earshot?
Somewhere it went wrong for the Beatles and there is no time and no place I can identify and maybe is was not the Beatles that went wrong but that John and Paul and George and Ringo decided that they had to live their own lives, to go right on as humans rather than as Beatles.
I rejoined the Beatles’ staff when they were in India, with the Maharishi, all of them except Ringo who was with his wife Maureen had come back to England because he “didn’t like the spicy food in Rishikesh.” Paul came back a few weeks later and we talked about the future. Apple was going to be “groovy but not freaky” and above all it was going to be “business-with-pleasure.”
Apple, the Beatles’ corporation was going to reflect not only them and their dreams (and remember, the Beatles’ dreams had all come true, not without effort, not without pain, not without talent, not without sacrifice, but certainly without rancor and most assuredly all their gains had been realized with total unity: if there ever was a one for all and all for one, it was the Beatles) but it was going to be an environment for other dreamers and free spirits.
But it was, suddenly, all too much. Too many dreamers, too many free spirits, too many “freaks,” too many Hells Angels (they came too; one Christmas demanding accommodations, airfares for their bikes and food) too many , too much, too often all the time and everywhere, record me, discover me, house me, clothe me, bail me, don’t fail me.
Give peace a chance, said John, tired of being important; he put his head on the block for suffering mankind, got divorced, went nude, married Yoko, and suddenly the man-in-the-street, never a very steadfast traveling companion, abandoned him. John Lennon, one of the kindest, dearest men I ever met, acceptable to the establishment when he was “caustic witty Beatle, leader of the pack” was reviled a kook, busted, disbarred from visiting America.
Arriving back from India, still meditating and (contrary to the view promulgated by those who live by put-downs) still grateful to the Mahesh Maharishi Yogi for turning him on to it, George Harrison found it impossible to relate to the snatch-gimmie-grab that met him every time he came through the lobby of the fine $1,500,000 18th century house the Beatles had bought to be their Apple- business – with-pleasure-home-from-home; it spoiled his mind.
Ringo is a very strong cheerful Beatle and Apple seemed to him like a strong cheerful way of binding even closer the four who had come so far and who, then, seemed to have so far to go together. But for him, too, the queue of souls seeking the shelter of the “umbrella” of which Paul had spoken, was not comfortable.
For Paul, the Apple’s evolution was a shattering disappointment. It was a four-Beatle trip, but the rocket had been Paul. He had seen it, as the official Beatles’ biography said, “As a huge corporation with shops, clubs, studios and the best people in the business from cameramen and engineers to artists, writers and composers.” Everything had to be right, everything. It was to be totality. It was t be as perfect a Penny Lane, as absolutely complete as Yesterday. It had to have grace and style and although many months earlier when I was still a free spirit in Hollywood, he had told me the theme would be “controlled weirdness,” it became clear that later what Paul sought in Apple was not weirdness but a mirror image of his own very remarkable discipline.
With a staff of sixty (and when there were boutique, and electronics, labs and movie division, the staff sometimes topped sixty) the reflection in the glass was nothing like the way Paul McCartney had dreamed it could be and how could it be? Among sixty people, there are going to be a lot of different trips: some of them ego and some of them very far out, and none of them looked like Paul’s fantasies.
First, the shops were closed. Paul’s statement on the eve of the grotesque give-away when every greedy square in West London with time on his hands grappled and clawed for free good (cab drivers were seen bundling caftans into shopping bags and cops walked off with crimson velvet pants) said, “We don’t like being shopkeepers, we’re artists.”
The electronics department ended too, without anything reaching the market, not because of any lack of inspiration from “Magic” Alexis Mardas, the bizarre and charming Greek who headed it, but because the business men in grey seemed always to be in the way.
None of the four feature films planned for production by the movie department ever got as far as castings; it was also clear that the Beatles collectively would never make another fiction movie. So….the department closed.
“What is going on at Apple?” asked the Press.
“Nothing to worry about,” I half-truthed.
We became, by last year, a very successful record company. We sure had a lot of hits. The Beatles’ “white” album was released on the Apple label, and later Abbey Road, Hey Jude, Instant Karma, Come and Get it, Get Back, Those were the Days, Ballad of John and Yoko, Give Peace a Chance, many hits, many millions of records, many millions of dollars.
John and Yoko (in and out of difficulties caused by their determination to be their myriad selves, never a groovy row to hoe), made some very adventurous far-from-the-mainstream albums, formed the Plastic Ono Band, made a success of that, got some very charming lithographs busted for obscenity, and John sent back the MBE. George met the extraordinary, renunciates of the Radha Krishna Temple, was thoroughly turned on by them and by their Maha Mantra, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna (oh yes it does work, try it) and for them, with the instincts of a man who is on a good trip, made a couple singles, both of which were very big hits everywhere except America.
Ringo, a very determined man, left the Beatles for a day or a week because things were getting edgy, returned to complete Abbey Road and then took time out to make a movie with Peter Sellers. Also, he made his own album, “Sentimental Journey,” using songs his Mum and Dad liked, hiring some great arrangers. It sold very well, still is selling. They critics didn’t like it. How many albums do critics buy?
George, Ringo and John seeing more of each other than of Paul, were also seen more by the public than was Paul. You just never saw Paul anywhere. He did go out and about, but he is a master of disguises. Came the death rumor, which, before it vanished, sold tens of thousands of albums.
The Beatles have been number one with group albums, solo albums, solo singles, group singles, songs sheets, pop movies, television appearances and whatever form 1964 until this very week. Barring one thing, the future looks extremely bright. The one thing is that there is no more Beatles: Paul was the last of them demonstrably to go it alone, though it may be that the minute he recorded the first note of his solo album he was opting out. And that was months ago.
In his only recent public statement, Paul said, “More than anything, I would love the Beatles to be on top of their form and for them to be as productive as they were. But things have changed. They’re all individuals. Even on Abbey Road we don’t’ do harmonies like we used to. I think it’s sad. On Come Together I would have liked to have sung harmony with John and I think he would have liked me to. But I was too embarrassed to ask him. And I don’t work to the best of my abilities in that situation.
“I must admit I don’t’ want to be the one to come out and say the Beatles are finished. I agree that they were an institution and I don’t’ want to go and break them up now I’m beginning to suffer because of all this and beginning to turn the other cheek.
“I suppose really I do believe now that we have finished performing together. I may not be right, but I must say I’m really enjoying what I’m doing at the moment. I didn’t leave the Beatles, the Beatles have left the Beatles – but no one wants to be the one to say that party’s over.”
I guess the way it stacks up now and the way it was around the time when Paul dropped the big on is that he wants right out of it all and they don’t. George was greatly disappointed that Paul should come off like he was injured by Klein (business manager) whom George believes to have greatly eased the effects of the present and insured the safety of the future.
George view is “Did you have to be so nasty. You can go so far but you can never get back, and you can say things which get in the way forever. For me, I would be glad to play with all of us again.”
John’s view is: “Okay. If this is it, this is it. We’ve all left the Beatles anyway.” If Paul were to approach him and say, “Let’s do it together again,” he probably would; with no more words, he probably would do it.
Ringo? He was the peacemaker for John, George and himself to Paul and was shaken to find Paul intransigent to the point of saying some pretty blunt things. But none of the Beatles is vindictive, and pettiness is their natural enemy, and when Paul released his album, Ringo sent a telegram congratulation him on “Maybe I’m Amazed” (one of the tracks) and meant it. Ringo has a lot of heart and more soul than most and since he knows he will be a Beatles to the grave, he will cooperate should it all come together again.
Around separation time, John was first to hear, by phone, and he told Paul he thought it had actually happened months ago. George and Ringo read the specifies of it in the London Daily Mirror, though they too had spoken by phone to Paul land they knew in general terms that he wanted to be his own man from now on.
The Beatles used to say, many times and long ago when age thirty was too far away from them to need to be accurate, they used to say, “We can’t be thirty-year old Beatles.” No more can they and Ringo is thirty in July and John in October and even baby George is in his twenty-eighth year with a beard like Abe Lincoln and the eyes of someone who is getting very deeply into the mysteries of life.
To say they have done it all is to beg the question: “What is life, if you’ve done it all?” But have they not done everything as a group that such a group can do without climbing aboard their own myth and riding it like a loop tape into vaudevillian oblivion?
In any case, it will be a long time before they are not contemporary. It is archive time at Apple and I am starting to chronicle what happened in the sixties when the moptops burst out of Liverpool. There are many words and pictures and a whole lot of music to shape their story and maybe The End will never be written. For who could really say “the End” to the Beatles? Not me man, not me.