The Break Up of the Beatles: Top-50 Quotes ...

Mostly From Those Who Were There at the Time of the Events

  1. "Nobody knew for sure that it [Abbey Road] was going to be the last album - but everybody felt it was. The Beatles had gone through so much and for such a long time. They'd been incarcerated with each other for nearly a decade, and I was surprised that they had lasted as long as they did. I wasn't at all surprised that they'd split up because they all wanted to lead their own lives - and I did, too. It was a release for me as well."
    - George Martin
  2. "Look, if you weren't there you can't begin to understand the pressure and their way of life. I can't convey to you what it was like. It was unbearable and they just had to do something. Imagine, you can't walk down the street, you can't go out in a car, you can't do anything without being torn to shreds, day in, day out, you know?"
    - Alistair Taylor
  3. "It’s a lot for four bigheads like The Beatles to stay together for such a long time, and in the early days there was the thing of making it big or breaking into America and we had a goal together. But when we reached about 28 or 29 it began to be: “What’s the goal? We’ve made it.”"
    - John Lennon
  4. "By the end, none of us enjoyed touring. You couldn’t really. When we started, it was about making good music. That’s why I wanted to be in the Beatles, because they were the best band around. Once you have to go out and play your biggest hits and you’ve got to manufacture it, it doesn’t work. I think of it as the worst time and the best time of my life. The worst part was that 24 hours a day you had press and people fighting over you, as well as fans climbing up and down the drainpipes, trying to get into your rooms, knocking on your windows and doors. It was insane. If it had gone any further, I would have gone crazy."
    - Ringo Starr
  5. "When we started to get famous and did our own songs more it was very exciting. Then we started doing these big tours and we had to play our records to promote them and sing our hits and stuff. By the time of our last tour, we were in a rut. We just played the same stuff to different people all over the place. It got boring. Nobody could hear us and we felt little satisfaction. We always hated the hotels, the guards, the police escorts, the press, and many other things, but we always loved the fans and performing … Worst of all, we became terrible musicians because we couldn’t hear ourselves and we didn’t really care anymore. Then we got into a big political thing, with all that "bigger than Christ" and Manila and things and I just got sick of it. I think we were nervous wrecks, being flown around everywhere, with press conferences everywhere we went."
    - George Harrison
  6. "It wasn't that that made us stop touring, it wasn't the woman who predicted Kennedy's death saying we were going to die on a flight into Denver; we still got on the plane. We didn't listen to stuff like that, we still went ahead. But at the end of that particular tour it had started to become less enjoyable. There were all these other things to contend with, plus the screaming rather than someone watching the chords, and the craftsmanship going a bit. We began to lose respect for the live act, and everyone started to become a bit disgruntled. I was holding on, thinking, no, no, no. You can't just not do it, you know? You should just do it and work it all out."
    - Paul McCartney
  7. "But in the end there was one lousy concert [St Louis, Missouri, 21 August 1966]: it was raining and we had a couple of bits of corrugated iron over us. It looked like a mud hut in the middle of somewhere and there were people miles away cheering. They were all in the rain, we were in the rain, it was a really miserable day. There was danger of the stuff all blowing us up with the water on the amps, and it was like, 'Oh, God, who needs this?' And finally, we finished the show. Everyone was in a bit of a mood, but we did the show, I'm not sure how much the audience would have known we were in a mood. We did the show and piled into the back of one of these chrome-lined panel trucks; they were always empty, and we'd pile into this terrible empty space, on this tour which had become spiritually rather empty, and this empty playing, and on that one occasion, I said, 'Okay,' and I let off a bit of steam, swore a bit and said, 'Oh, well, I really fucking agree with you. I've fucking had it up to here too!' And the guys said, 'Well, we've been telling you for weeks, man!' But finally they had my vote."
    - Paul McCartney
  8. "We’d had enough of performing forever. I couldn’t imagine any reason that would have made us do any sort of tour again. We were all really tired. It did nothing for us anymore. That was really unfair to the fans, we knew, but we had to think of ourselves."
    - John Lennon
  9. "The Beatles made it, stopped touring, had all the money and fame they wanted, and found out they had nothing. And then we started on our various LSD trips, the Maharishi, and all the other mad things we did. It's the old bit about money, power and fame not being the answer."
    - John Lennon
  10. "Well, I wanted to stop touring after about '65, actually, because I was getting very nervous. They kept planning these ticker-tape parades through San Francisco, and I was saying, "I absolutely don't want to do that." There was that movie The Manchurian Candidate [about a war hero who returns home programmed for political assassination]. I think in history you can see that when people get too big, something like that can very easily happen. Although at the time, it was prior to all this terrorism. We used to fly in and out of Beirut and all them places. You would never dream of going on tour now in some of the places we went."
    - George Harrison
  11. "I didn’t want to tour again, especially after having been accused of crucifying Jesus when all I’d made was a flippant remark, and having to stand with the (Ku Klux) Klan outside."
    - John Lennon
  12. "I remember being frightened many times. As we waited for an armored car to take us to our guarded hotel rooms, I would sit and say to myself, "I really don’t want to go through this any longer. We have the money. Let’s take off for Brighton!'"
    - Paul McCartney
  13. "Brian’s death was dreadful to everybody. I mean, it was actually shattering. No one could possibly conceive that it would happen and the boys were completely broken up by it. They were like a ship without a rudder for a while, and Magical Mystery Tour, which followed, was Paul’s attempt to try and pull everybody together. It was a real tough time."
    - George Martin
  14. "I knew that we were in trouble then. I didn't really have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music, and I was scared. I thought, ``’We've fuckin' had it’… After Brian died, we collapsed. Paul took over and supposedly led us. But what leading us, when we went around in circles? We broke up. That was the disintegration ….''
    - John Lennon
  15. "After seeing, the ‘Let it Be’ film, I felt sad, you know… Also, I felt . . . that film was set up by Paul for Paul. That is one of the main reasons the Beatles ended. I can't speak for George, but I pretty damn well know we got fed up of being sidemen for Paul. After Brian died, that's what happened, that's what began to happen to us. The camera work was set up to show Paul and not anybody else. And that's how I felt about it."
    - John Lennon
  16. "I think the troubles really began when we weren’t aiming anymore for the same thing, which began, I think when we stopped touring in 1966. By 1969 we hadn’t actually played for anyone in a long time. And being a good musician requires this contact with people all the time."
    - Paul McCartney
  17. "... during the White Album and ... Even the studio got a bit tense then ... by the time we made "Abbey Road", John and I were openly critical of each other's music, and I felt John wasn't much interested in performing anything he hadn't written himself... So I felt the split coming. And John kept saying we were musically standing still."
    - Paul McCartney
  18. "A team needs a leader ... John and Paul seemed to be very competitive over leadership of the band. … If there are 10 things, they both wanted to be in charge of nine of them. You're not gonna make a relationship like that work, are you?"
    - Mick Jagger
  19. "Personally I'd found that for the last couple of albums - probably since we stopped touring - the freedom to be able to play as a musician was being curtailed, mainly by Paul. There used to be situation where we'd go in, pick up our guitars, all learn the tune and chords and start talking about arrangements. But there came a time, possibly around the time of Sgt. Pepper, where Paul had fixed an idea in his brain as to how to record one of his songs ... it was taken to the most ridiculous situations, where I'd open my guitar case and go to get my guitar out and he'd say, 'No, no we're not doing that yet. We're gonna do a piano track with Ringo, and then we'll do that later.' It got so there was very little to do ... It became stifling, so that although this new album was supposed to break away from that type of recording (we were going back to playing live) it was still very much that kind of situation where he already had in his mind what he wanted. Paul wanted nobody to play on his songs until he decided how it should go. For me it was like: 'What am I doing here? This is painful!'"
    - George Harrison
  20. "I just spent 6 months producing an album of this fella Jackie Lomax, and hangin out with Bob Dylan and the Band, in Woodstock, and havin' a great time, and for me to come back into the 'winter of discontent' with the Beatles, in Twickenham, was very unhealthy and unhappy! I'm quite capable of being relatively happy on my own and I'm not able to be happy in this situation, y'know - I'm gettin out of here!"
    - George Harrison
  21. "It was just dreadful .... and bein' filmed all the time y'know, like that, I just wanted them to go away ... and we'de be there at 8 in the morning - and you couldn't make music at 8 in the morning, or 10, or whatever ... it was in a strange place with people filmin' ya and coloured lights ... the whole pressure of it finally got to us! So instead of, y'know, like people do when they're together, they start picking on each other y'know ... it was like 'its because of you - that you got the tambourine wrong - that my whole life is a misery', y'know ... it became petty, but the manifestations were on each other, because we were the only ones we had!"
    - John Lennon
  22. "Then superimposed on top of that was Yoko, and there were negative vibes at that time. John and Yoko were out on a limb. I don't think he wanted much to be hanging out with us, and I think Yoko was pushing him out of the band, inasmuch as she didn't want him hanging out with us."
    - George Harrison
  23. "The four of us had been through a lot together and we were very close... most of the time. We weren't close all the time. I don't know. I thought we were very possessive of each other in a way. The wives and the girlfriends never came to the studio... THAT was when WE were together. So, Yoko came in. And that was fine as John's relationship when we all said hello to her, because she was with John. But then she's sittin' in the studio on his amp. I mean, the pair of them were amazing... They suit each other, I think. So, we all got a bit weird, and I was wondering what was happening one day. So I was saying to John, 'What is going on here? You're always together all the time, you know. You're freaking me out a bit."
    - George Harrison
  24. "It must have been the White Album and Yoko just moved in. John moved in with Yoko or she moved in with him - and they were from that point on never to be seen without each other for the next few years, at least. And so - she was, suddenly, in the band! She didnt start singing or playing, but she was there just as Neil and Mal were there, or George Martin was there."
    - George Harrison
  25. "It wasn't just the idea of having a stranger sitting there. There was a definite vibe - thats what bothered me! It was like - a weird vibe!"
    - George Harrison
  26. "She didn't really like The Beatles because she saw The Beatles as something that was between her and John, and so the vibe I picked up was that she was kinda' like a wedge that was trying to drive itself deeper and deeper between him and us!"
    - George Harrison
  27. "Yoko attended every Beatles recording session and would encourage hostility by whispering conspiratorially into John's ear. She would sit on his amplifier and appear to preside over the session by openly criticising and suggesting changes to the music being recorded."
    - Mark Lewisohn (Beatles biographer)
  28. "She was in the studio with them all the time, I mean in the recording studio, not in the control room - with the Beatles! George ended up yelling at her, 'Why don't you get the fuck off my amps?', something like that."
    - Nat Weiss
  29. "Well, the fact that it was no longer the happy go lucky foursome - fivesome, with me - that it used to be! There was another person in the studio whose thoughts were, actually, even if they weren't spoken, they were impinging on what we were doing. So, it was uncomfortable!"
    - George Martin
  30. "When she referred to the Beatles, she called them "Beatles": "Beatles will do this. Beatles will do that." We said, "The Beatles, actually, love."
    "Beatles will do this. Beatles will do that" - I mean, she even took our personal pronoun off us, you know? [laughs]"
    - Paul McCartney
  31. "She would kinda' say things like 'I do not know Beatles!' so it was like 'Wow, here's one person who doesnt know about The Beatles, wow!!'
    That, I think, was very attractive to John ... trouble was, for us, it encroached on our framework that we had going - basically, it had always ever been the four of us in the studio ..."
    - Paul McCartney
  32. "... but at the time it was us - it was our careers! We were The Beatles, after all, and there was this girl - we'de never really had any other girlfriends or wives around - there she was ... either on the amp or in the bed or holding court in a way. It was like we were her courtiers! It was a very embarrassing kind of thing to do!"
    - Paul McCartney
  33. " ... One of the things I've done for years was keep everybody out of the studio because its not a playground - its a working environment! So, there'd never ever really been anybody in the studio that wasn't part of making the music... "
    - Neil Aspinall
  34. "We were pretty good mates until the Beatles started to split up and Yoko came into it ... At the beginning I was annoyed with John, jealous because of Yoko, and afraid about the breakup of a great musical partnership."
    - Paul McCartney
  35. "... none of us was stupid enough to say, 'Oh, you shouldn't love her.' We could recognize that, but that didn't diminish the hurt we were feeling by being pushed aside ... the thing is, in truth, I never really got on that well with Yoko anyway. It was John who got on well with her - that was the whole point."
    - Paul McCartney
  36. "The Beatles were having severe problems then, with Yoko Ono apparently having driven a wedge between Paul McCartney and the most important person in his life, John Lennon. And between John and the other Beatles as well."
    - Nat Weiss
  37. "Lennon's dark fate is entrapment by a woman who stalks him for months, desperate to exploit his celebrity and his millions. Yoko Ono is a she-wolf dressed in black and such a core of negativity that she sucked the air out of the room."
    -Tony Bramwell -- 'Magical Mystery Tours: My Life With The Beatles'
  38. "... did Yoko do her hypnotism thing, as some of John's friends thought she had, or did she have a powerful new drug in her arsenal? Nobody really believed that John fell in love overnight, because why hadn't he done so before? He'd been kicking Yoko in and out of his life for over a year. Mostly, he had given the impression that he resented and despised her."
    -Tony Bramwell -- 'Magical Mystery Tours: My Life With The Beatles'
  39. "So it must have been something pretty potent that made John fall headlong out of his casual affair with her into a mad obsession.... Overnight he no longer had a will of his own.... It was hardly surprising that everyone was confused by the way in which John did a complete somersault and fell madly in love with her almost to the point of obsession.... Shortly after this John started using heroin, to which Yoko had introduced him...."
    -Tony Bramwell -- 'Magical Mystery Tours: My Life With The Beatles'
  40. " ... when Allen Klein came in, I think he was kind of the final straw!"
    - Paul McCartney
  41. "Well, he’s the only one Yoko liked!’"
    - John Lennon (When asked why he hired Allen Klein as the Beatles manager)
  42. " And Klein, so I heard, had said to John ... 'What does Yoko want?' So since Yoko liked Klein because he was for giving Yoko anything she wanted, he was the man for John."
    - Paul McCartney
  43. "[Yoko] wanted an art exhibition and was having some difficulty maybe getting it on… So we all ended up paying for her Syracuse exhibition – a quarter each – and she wasn’t even in the group…. He’d do anything anyone wanted – if he needed to influence that person."
    - Paul McCartney (describing how Allen Klein used the Beatles assets to fund a Yoko Ono Exhibition)
  44. "I was living with Paul on Cavendish Avenue. John and Yoko were staying there too ... and everything addressed to John and Yoko came to the house ... ... there was a note on the mantle, addressed to John and Yoko, typewritten. It was not postmarked so it was suspicious immediately. The two of them opened it up and showed it to me. It said, 'You and your Jap tart think you're hot shit.' It was unsigned, just the one sentence, typed. Then Paul bopped into the living room. 'Oh, I just did that for a lark,' he said. As far as I'm concerned, that was the moment when John looked at Paul as if to say, 'Do I know you?' It was over, it was completely and totally over at that moment. They may have been able to work together, but it was never the same."
    - Francie Schwartz
  45. "... You can quote Paul, it's probably in the papers; he said it many times that at first he hated Yoko, and then he got to like her. But it's too late for me. I'm for Yoko. Why should she take that kind of shit from those people? They were writing about her looking miserable in the film Let It Be, but you sit through sixty sessions with the most bigheaded, uptight people on earth and see what it's fuckin' like and be insulted. And George, shit, insulted her right to her face in the Apple office at the beginning, just being ``straightforward,'' you know, that game of ``I'm going to be upfront, because this is what we've heard,'' and Dylan and a few people said she'd got a lousy name in New York. That's what George said to her! And we both sat through it. I didn't hit him; I don't know why. Ringo was all right, but the other two really gave it to us. I'll never forgive them, I don't care what fuckin' shit about Hare Krishna and God and Paul with his ``Well, I've changed me mind.'' I can't forgive 'em for that, really. Although I can't help still loving them either."
    - John Lennon
  46. "... I always thought there was this underlying thing in Paul's 'Get Back.' When we were in the studio recording it, every time he sang the line 'Get back to where you once belonged,' he'd look at Yoko."
    - John Lennon
  47. "They despised her. They insulted her and still do... they can go stuff themselves."
    - John Lennon
  48. "I hope you realise what s**t you, and the rest of my kind and unselfish friends, laid on Yoko and me since we have been together. It might have sometimes been a bit more subtle or should I say 'middle class' - but not often."
    - John Lennon
  49. "Personal differences, musical differences, business differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family."
    - Paul McCartney
  50. "I started the band. I disbanded it. It’s as simple as that."
    - John Lennon

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