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Who really caused the Beatles split?

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Paul Breaks Up Beatles, screamed the headlines. No Beatles Without Paul. This onslaught of Beatleless-mania 24 years ago was set off by a provocative self-interview inserted into the sleeve of Paul McCartney’s first solo album, McCartney, which was released to the press on April 10, 1970:

Q: Is your break with the Beatles…due to personal differences or musical ones?
A: Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family

Q: Do you foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney become an active songwriting partnership again?
A: No.

Last month, the three surviving Beatles — Ringo, George, and Paul — reunited to record a new song for an upcoming documentary on the group, whose breakup caused a firestorm in the press. While McCartney is still widely blamed for the Fab Four’s split, in truth, the Beatles had been spinning off in their centrifugal ways since 1966. Ringo Starr had walked out for two days in ’68 while recording the White Album. During the Let It Be sessions in ’69, George Harrison bolted in a fit of pique over Paul’s ”superior attitude” toward him musically. He soon bolted back. John Lennon was getting antsy too. He disparaged Paul’s ”granny music” — particularly ”Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and ”Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” Later that year, John declared his intention to secede from the union. Ironically, it was Paul who pleaded for solidarity: ”When all is said and done, we’re still Beatles, aren’t we?”

”Ah f—!” John said. ”I ain’t no Beatle!”

”Of course you are!”

”I’m not! Don’t you understand? It’s over. Over! I want a divorce.”

Lennon held fast, but promised to keep his mouth shut at least until the May premiere of their film, Let It Be. Yet even Paul had come to see Lennon-McCartney as a marriage of inconvenience. He claimed he couldn’t collaborate with John’s wife, Yoko Ono, around. He was equally uneasy with the group’s new business manager, Allen Klein, as well as the 1967 contract that pooled the group’s income. When Klein and the others tried to postpone the release of Paul’s solo LP, McCartney said he wanted out. In March 1970, Ringo was sent to try to patch things up. But Paul wouldn’t listen, and he kicked his pal out.

Shrugging off the insult, Ringo persuaded the others to let Paul release his album. The bombshell sleeve notes, however, were a surprise to everyone. Months earlier, Paul had been rumored to be dead. He wasn’t — just the Beatles.

Time Capsule: April 10, 1970
David Reuben’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex was steaming up bookstores, M*A*S*H was mopping up at the box office, and Gunsmoke was blowing away the competition on the tube in its 15th year.

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