For a period of time, four friends from Liverpool, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, were sat atop the music industry. Without a care in the world, pop songs continued to fall out of their dreams and fast track itself to the top of the charts. However, like all those leading the way, the speed bumps often slow you down.
At a time when it looked as though the band could do no wrong, cracks began to show. The hysteria that followed their every move added an unfathomable about of stress, so much so that the live performances were no longer possible due to the screams of adoration seemingly drowning out the band themselves.
For The Beatles, it was ten prolific years which culminated in the forging of popular music as we know it today. Rubbing shoulders with some of the greats, the Fab Four would release 12 studio albums in an obscenely short space of time and the world would be whipped up into Beatlemania. The death of the band’s formidable and deeply influential manager, Brian Epstein, had rocked each member to the core and as Paul McCartney strengthened his grip as the leader of The Beatles, John Lennon was slipping away into a new life with Yoko Ono and his heroin use was even putting a strain on that. George Harrison, meanwhile, had his head turned by the great Bob Dylan who was one of the earliest to recognise his brilliance, one which even his own bandmates had failed to spot.
In truth, there’s no one singular point of reference to explain the demise of The Beatles. While fans and historians alike have their own theory as a potential reason for their break-up, it was a whirlwind of emotions and fractions which, eventually, caused chasm too wide to paper over.
In the years that followed their split, there was cautious hope that the old friends could let bygones be bygones and pick up where they left off. Harrison had immediately proven his worth out on his own in the solo world, McCartney was relentlessly releasing new music, Ringo was finally forging a creative name in his own right and, after a hiatus, even John Lennon was getting back in the saddle.
While we know tragic events would eventually call an end to a potential comeback, there was time beforehand for The Beatles to rule the roost once more. In fact, major television productions were doing their best to make it happen as Saturday Night Live ran a repeated feature calling for their comeback. The reality, however, was that the return of The Beatles was a non-starter from the get-go.
Speaking about that time of his life in a new interview with The Sunday Times, McCartney explained that all members of the band had agreed that a reunion was never likely to work out. “We made a decision when the Beatles folded that we weren’t going to pick it up again. So we switched off from the Beatles,” he explained.
“You talk about something coming full circle that is very satisfying; let’s not spoil it by doing something that might not be as good. It was a conscious decision to leave well enough alone, so I don’t really think we would have. But who knows? We could have.”
A major stumbling block in the potential reunion was always thought to be centred around McCartney and Lennon, it was no secret that their relationship had totally broken down in the years that followed the band’s split. In the same interview, however, he explained that their friendship was on the mend. “We had certainly got our friendship back, which was a great blessing for me, and I now will often think, if I’m writing a song, ‘OK, John — I’ll toss it over to you. What line comes next?’ So I’ve got a virtual John that I can use.”