The short but winding road that made the Beatles the greatest recording act and pop-culture sensation of all time ended publicly on this day in history, April 10, 1970.
Paul McCartney announced a “break with the Beatles” in press materials that accompanied the scheduled release of his first solo album a week later.
His announcement confirmed months of rumors about the band’s dissolution.
“Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family,” McCartney said in the statement.
Not one of the Liverpool lads had yet turned 30 when the Beatles imploded after a brief but spectacular seven-year period of prolific creative genius perhaps unmatched in human history.
“Our World” with the Beatles was the first live global television link. The program was broadcast via satellite to 26 countries and seen by 400 million people on June 25, 1967. (Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
John Lennon and Ringo Starr were 29 years old in April 1970; George Harrison and Paul McCartney were only 27.
“For all their intimacy on the road, performing together and in each other’s pocket constantly, it was in essence an adolescent relationship,” Jordan Runtagh, host and producer of the pop-culture podcast “Too Much Information” on iHeartRadio, and lifelong Beatles enthusiast, told Fox News Digital.
“Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family.” — Paul McCartney on Beatles’ breakup
“Everyone was growing up and growing apart from each other. It’s just the nature of the way things happen. Think of your own roommates from college. I love those guys. But I don’t want to live with them again.”
Beatles “Abbey Road” billboard on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. The Beatles released the album in late 1969, after they broke up but before it became public. (Robert Landau/Corbis via Getty Images)
The Beatles would come together in 1960, toiling largely in anonymity for three years, playing live gigs in the U.K. and in Germany, honing their stage act.
They became a sensation in the United Kingdom with the release of their first chart-topping hits “From Me to You” and “Please Please Me” in the spring of 1963.
They conquered the United States in 1964, first with their landmark appearance in February on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
By April their recordings held the top five spots on the American pop charts — a feat unmatched in the decades since.
“It was in essence an adolescent relationship.”
A global tour in 1964 quickly followed their American debut. The Beatles were greeted by the same fanfare around the world they found when landing in the U.S.
The Beatles sold hundreds of millions of records. They wrote, recorded and released in their few years together an incredible compendium of musical masterpieces known the world over still today as global standards of songcraft.
Yoko Ono and John Lennon at their “Bed-In for Peace” taken at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam, March 26, 1969. They were married six days earlier. (Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
The did all of it in a single decade — then their act suddenly fell apart.
The source of the Beatles breakup has sparked heated debate since 1970.
“It’s not just the most legendary music split ever — it’s the world’s favorite story about how things fall apart.”
Fans have long blamed Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono for disrupting the band’s creative relationship. Lennon and Ono met at an art show in London in late 1966 and married in March 1969.
McCartney concurred that Lennon broke up the Beatles in a 2018 interview with Howard Stern.
“There was a meeting where John came in and said, ‘Hey guys, ‘I’m leaving the group,'” McCartney told Stern, after Lennon “found Yoko.”
That meeting took place sometime in September 1969 — seven months before McCartney made it official in the press.
American TV host Ed Sullivan smiles while standing with the Beatles on the set of his television variety series, New York, Feb. 9, 1964. Left to right: Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Sullivan, John Lennon, Paul McCartney. (Express Newspapers/Getty Images)
Yet the Beatles continued to dominate global music. They released “Abbey Road” in September 1969, featuring masterpieces such as “Come Together, “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun.”
It was the No. 1 album on the U.S. charts for 11 weeks in late 1969 and early 1970 as the Beatles breakup drama unfolded.
A testament to the band’s enduring impact is this fact: “Abbey Road” was the 12th best-selling album in America in 2022.
Their last studio album, the fittingly named “Let It Be,” debuted in May 1970. It contained classics including the title anthem, “Get Back” and the Fab Four’s last chart hit, “The Long and Winding Road.”
John Lennon and Ringo Starr were 29 years old when the Beatles broke up in April 1970; George Harrison and McCartney were only 27.
Either “Let It Be” and McCartney’s individual debut, “McCartney,” claimed the No. 1 spot on the American album chart for seven consecutive weeks in the spring and summer of 1970.
The release of McCartney’s solo project, weeks before his final album with the Beatles hit stores, sparked years of legal disputes.
There appears to be little animosity among the two surviving band members, McCartney and Starr, over the Beatles breakup all those years ago.
“Looking back on it, you think the guy [John] was totally in love with her [Yoko],” McCartney said in the same Stern interview.
The Beatles perform “Rain” and “Paperback Writer” on the BBC TV show “Top of the Pops” in London on June 16, 1966. (Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns)
“And you know, you just gotta respect that. So we did. And I do. We got over it, luckily. I feel very blessed that we got over it. Because, if we hadn’t and then John goes and gets killed [in 1980], I don’t know how I would have dealt with it. We got it back together and it was beautiful.”
“It’s not just the most legendary music split ever — it’s the world’s favorite story about how things fall apart,” Rolling Stone Magazine wrote in April 2020, in a 50th anniversary retrospective of the implosion of the band universally proclaimed as the most influential in history.
“The Beatles have come to symbolize the whole concept of breaking up, along with the idea of turning all that pain and despair into passionately soulful music … four friends struggling to hold on to each other in dark and confusing times, searching for a way to shine on till tomorrow.”