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The Beatles' Solo Careers

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When it comes to The Beatles, the most iconic, revered, legendary, rock band, the planets and stars certainly had lined up all in their favor after many hard years of work and rejection. Even today, in 2021, 50 years after their breakup in 1970, new generations continually discover the magic they produced between 1964-69. Even if you do not like them musically, you have heard of them. Just like the greats in classical music, whether its Beethoven, Back or Mozart, even if you are not a fan of them, you have heard of them and these greats have been dead hundreds of years. The Beatles fall into this realm for rock music.

But like all legends, we all know that they are human. So, when the band broke up and went on with their solo careers, one can clearly see what Brian Epstein meant and had predicted should they be no longer The Beatles. He said that none of them would be as great as the sum that made up the band. He was 100% correct.

The Solo Careers

John Lennon

Between 1960 and 1966, The Beatles were his band. Lennon's best songwriting remains when he was with them. His early rock numbers, despite him disparaging his own works later, still are some of the best with his unique voice. Even his slower songs for the most part, were his best songwriting years. His prolific songwriting did wain from 1967-70, but these still are his best numbers, too many to name. After 1970, John seemed to be in a therapeutic angst about his former band and Paul McCartney. His early solo LPs are filled with mostly songs he might call, B-side, all similar in his bluesy, bare bones, no harmony, style akin to his Yer Blues, off the Beatles White LP of 1968. His obsession with Yoko and his love for her is reflected in most of his solo career LP's, all very boring for a listener. Even his last LP in 1980, was like a guy trying to get his mojo back in songwriting after a hiatus and just missing the mark. The songs are just so-so and lack that Lennon drive he had with the Beatles. Some of his slower songs were beautiful, no doubt, but one wonders what else he might have produced had he not been murdered.

Paul McCartney

The only thing he ever wanted to do was to play rock music and be more famous than Elvis. Once he and John hooked up, they truly were a band of brothers from 1958 onward. As Paul stated in 2021, they truly loved hanging around together with their guitars, singing and harmonizing at the Liverpool docks, creating songs, long before fame arrived. It was a solid relationship in love of music and each one fed off the other in a healthy competition. This drove their songwriting skills to great heights.

It would be fair to say that most, not all, of Paul's best songs and execution of them were during the Beatle years. The years when both Lennon-McCartney were at their zenith in creativity. Paul's solo career is the most successful of any of the Beatles. After the Beatles, he did solo releases but also with his new band in the 1970's. Most of the material produced, while good, cannot be compared to his music with the Beatles. It is much less serious but did provide revenue. Even today, in 2021, he continues producing catchy tunes and has a following on social media but it is all because of his legacy with the Beatles. He can still rock for an 78 yr. old, but he is just riding on the legacy tail, which is fine, because he truly loves it. He is a great musician and songwriter but you can tell that he does miss having John around to bounce off song ideas. He needed that input, just as John need Paul's input. Paul is worth something like over $500 million dollars today.

Ringo Starr

Ringo's role in the Beatles was his comedic timing and sometimes wit. For instance, it was Ringo that named one of the Beatles epic rock songs, A Hard Day's Night. John had a different title until Ringo offhandedly said to him, "it's been a hard day's night". Of course, his drumming style is unique and copied. Drums can make a song and when Paul introduced his "Get Back" song to the band, it was Ringo that would create the galloping horse pace of the drums unique in any song. Ringo also had a nice country-western sounding voice, so those are the numbers John and Paul wanted him to sing. It was a great fit and added variety to Beatle LPs.

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Ringo's solo career produced only a few memorable singles and a few LPs. His early singles were usually co-penned by McCartney or Harrison. The former band members would frequently play on his LPs. It didn't seem to help. Sales were always mediocre. Ringo's great success came later when he started to tour with the Ringo Starr band. The only reason for its success, even today, is the legacy effect of the Beatles. Ringo is now 80, and like Paul, still plays. But, people go see Ringo because of his ex-Beatle status. He certainly has never been a great singer nor songwriter, so most of his concerts are on Beatle songs, and the ones that he sung back in the day. His most famous is his, "Boys" from 1963 and later with "A Little Help From My Friends" in 1967.

George Harrison

Never really prolific during the Beatle years, not the best singer either when compared to John and Paul, his best Beatle era songs are Taxman, Something, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. George got a bit lost with the Indian music and some experimental stuff.

His post-Beatle years were prolific in the early seventies with his All Things Must Pass LP set. Oddly, this song was worked on by the Beatles in 1968, but then discarded as a not worthy song. George had some #1 singles also with "My Sweet Lord", which later became a copyright infringement case that he lost. Much of his post Beatle music was focused on religious things or more profound lyrics about life. None of them are really rockers like his Beatle rendition of, "Roll Over Beethoven". Like Paul, he had some catchy tunes but nothing that will be remembered much. He also produced a few movies that did not fare well and was part of the Traveling Wilberry band with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and others. They produced a few great songs. George even kept a secret from his son until he was a teen, that he was part of the infamous Beatles! He was a great lead guitar for all the bands he was in and close friend of Paul. He died from lung cancer in the early 2000's.


perrya (author) on March 05, 2021:

One of the best cover bands of the Beatles is right there in the Philippines, the REO Brothers, which covers their songs with near perfection as originally recorded. A great female band that covers their songs is The Mona Lisa Twins , both are on FB. The general rule about who wrote what song is whoever the lead singer is generally wrote all or most of the song.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on March 04, 2021:

It was very nice reading about the Beatles as they pursued their individual careers. It was a pleasant surprise too to hear which Beatle created which song. A great way to start the morning, reading about the most famous band in the world.

perrya (author) on March 01, 2021:

Taxman is a timeless rock rock song that when others do it, they stay close to the original. Revolver was really a Paul, George LP. Lennon was away doing his one film, How I Won the War in Spain, which flopped. It was when Paul became the leader of the band and the creative director.

CJ Kelly from the PNW on February 28, 2021:

Great topic. Endless:)

George really came into his own on Revolver. Lennon had writer's block and George ended up getting extra songs on an album. Never been the biggest Harrison fan, but his work on that album was phenomenal.

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