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Who Split Up the Beatles: Paul McCartney or John Lennon?

Paul's been passionate about rock music since the age of 13 and played guitar in a band for many years.UK born, he now lives in Florida.

Which band member broke up the Beatles: Paul McCartney or John Lennon? Read on for my analysis...

Which band member broke up the Beatles: Paul McCartney or John Lennon? Read on for my analysis...

The break-up of the Beatles is still widely debated, despite the passing of more than fifty years since it happened.

They were the biggest pop band that has ever existed and much-loved around the world, so when they disbanded it's understandable that fans wanted to know why it had occurred and who was to blame.

However, the exact causes of the split have remained a mystery or been disputed over the decades. With John Lennon tragically killed in 1980, George Harrison gone, and Ringo Starr generally keeping quiet and out of the fray, it's mainly been Paul McCartney giving his public his account of events that has dominated the recent discussion.

This article examines the whether it was John Lennon or Paul McCartney who split up the Beatles.

Why People Believe That Paul McCartney Broke up the Beatles

The idea that Paul unilaterally broke up the Beatles stems from the answer he gave to a reporter's question in 1970. He told the journalist that the Beatles had been disbanded and he didn't know if the break was going to be temporary or permanent. This was read by some as McCartney announcing the end of the band.

Paul is also blamed for much of the legal ugliness that took place during the break-up period. He refused to deal with Alan Klein, the Beatles' manager at the time, and instead began using lawyers to get his way. Suing the other Beatles effectively killed off any remaining togetherness that the group had.

Why People Believe That It Was John Lennon Who Instigated the Split

Much of the evidence that points to John Lennon splitting up the Beatles comes from Paul McCartney.

This version goes that Lennon had clearly become more interested in his relationship with Yoko and that led to the Beatles disbanding. He also seemed increasingly dissatisfied with being a mainstream pop star and wanted to take on a more political role.

In a interview with BBC Radio 4 due to be broadcast October 23 2021, McCartney was asked about his decision to pursue a solo career and responded that, "I am not the person who instigated the split. John walked into a room one day and said I am leaving the Beatles. Is that instigating the split, or not?"

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McCartney also said in the interview that: "The point of it was that John was making a new life with Yoko. John had always wanted to break loose from society because, you know, he was brought up by his Aunt Mimi, who was quite repressive, so he was always looking to break loose."

Essentially, Ono gave Lennon an escape route from the Beatles, a way to explore a more experimental creative world, as well as use his fame to promote peace through political activism.

As McCartney put it in the BBC interview, John "wanted to go in a bag and lie in a bed for a week in Amsterdam for peace. And you couldn't argue with that."

The reason that the break-up of the Beatles was not announced straightaway, according to McCartney, was that Alan Klein had told them to keep quiet about what had happened until he'd fulfilled a number of business deals. However, McCartney ended up announcing the split, because he was tired of hiding it.

Why Did the Beatles Break up?


Much of the debate over the issue tends to revolve around who's account of events that you believe: Paul McCartney's or John Lennon's, it's a he-says-she-says sort of situation. John Lennon is at a disadvantage in that he's long-gone, whereas Paul has been able to give many subsequent interviews.

However, my own belief is that McCartney's version of events is the more believable of the two rival stories.

For one thing, McCartney has always described the break-up of the Beatles as a traumatic event. In the 2021 BBC Radio 4 interview, he described it as the "most difficult period of my life."

McCartney has also talked about how he believed that the Beatles would likely have created more great music had they continued. He doesn't sound like a man who wanted the band to end.

John Lennon, on the other hand, often described the split in terms of relief and escape. In the song "God," for instance, he described the break-up of the Beatles and his relationship with the media in direct terms:

"I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me
Yoko and me
And that's reality
The dream is over
What can I say?
The dream is over
I was the dream-weaver
But now I'm reborn"

It seems clear to me who instigated the disbandment of the Beatles.

Who Do You Believe Was to Blame for the Break-up of the Beatles?

© 2021 Paul Goodman

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