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Old 11-07-2019, 12:58 PM
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Is it for the best that The Beatles broke up when they did?


The official break up was in May 1970.

By the time they were exiting their hold on rock's throne was starting to loosen - Abbey Road kicked out of the number one spot by Led Zeppelin's debut. Their main competitors, the Rolling Stones' had returned to active touring in 1969 after a two year hiatus with a guitarist who George couldn't hope to have touched live. IMO, The Beatles, had they returned to live performance - and that's a big if - wouldn't have been able to compete with the 70s era Stones or Zeppelin in terms of pure energy, or in terms of acts like Alice Cooper in shock value. And most of the hard rock market was dominated by who was best live. Besides the rapidly changing musical tastes in the studio, could The Beatles have really competed in live performance with the bands I mention? I can't see any way for George to compete with Mick Taylor, Jimmy Page or Brian May. When it was the 60s and rock lead guitar was simpler, George and Brian Jones made for great competition. But now? When epic pentatonic solos were a huge deal?

Spring of '70 you have this whole heavy return to roots rock thing. The Doors release Morrison Hotel. You have heavy metal becoming more and more mainstream with Black Sabbath releasing their debut this year.

Obviously there were still some residual Hippie era elements left and any Beatles record in 71 or 72 would've sold well.

But does anyone honestly have wanted to see the Beatles in the Disco age? Fighting 40 and doing what they could to remain relevant as the 80s came on?

I mean, just try to imagine what a Beatles record in 1978 or 1980 would've sounded like.

Last edited by Kennedy1960; 11-07-2019 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 11-07-2019, 01:04 PM
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While I do not worship the Beatles...

No, if they could have worked out their differences, they could still be making music as a band. And it could be good.

Take the prime example - the Rolling Stones. Not everything they did since 1970 sucked.

(I like Wings...) half of Wings output could be "Beatles" songs and no one would notice. Ringo's Photograph or most of George's output could fit on a 70s version of the White Album, and it would be an improvement on the original White Album.

The eighties might have gone anywhere. Maybe like Queen, but maybe they would have defined alternative instead. Beatles influence on the early 80s "new Wave" could have been gigantic. They could have redefined themselves and shaped the entire decade.

or they could have made albums like Double Fantasy and McCartney II.

Last edited by Just Asking Questions; 11-07-2019 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 11-07-2019, 01:06 PM
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There is good evidence that the Beatles were planning a relaunch when they broke up. They had a vision of Let it Be* that (at least as Paul was concerned) was a return to their roots until Phil Spector remixed it with his "Wall of Sound". The rooftop concert was a practice session - remember they had not been in concert since 1966. A lot of the last day that we thought we knew changed very recently with a recording John, Paul and George made just as Abbey Road had been finished.



*Yes i know let it be was not a separate session from Abbey Road.
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Old 11-07-2019, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions View Post
While I do not worship the Beatles...

No, if they could have worked out their differences, they could still be making music as a band. And it could be good.

Take the prime example - the Rolling Stones. Not everything they did since 1970 sucked.

(I like Wings...) half of Wings output could be "Beatles" songs and no one would notice. Ringo's Photograph or most of George's output could fit on a 70s version of the White Album, and it would be an improvement on the original White Album.

The eighties might have gone anywhere. Maybe like Queen, but maybe they would have defined alternative instead. Beatles influence on the early 80s "new Wave" could have been gigantic. They could have redefined themselves and shaped the entire decade.

or they could have made albums like Double Fantasy and McCartney II.
Difference is with the Stones, they were always a rougher act than The Beatles both in image and persona. They also had a brand new guitarist who solidified their sound as being 100% hard rock. The Beatles didn't have that infusion of new blood or energy....And I don't know how well Paul's poppy Maxwell's Silver Hammer type songs or George's religious numbers would've fared by 75, 76.
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Old 11-07-2019, 01:35 PM
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You seem to assume that if the Beatles had stayed together, they would have gone back to touring and live performances. I don't see any reason to think that would happen. Even the rooftop performance was a one-off.
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Old 11-07-2019, 01:40 PM
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I think breaking up was necessary, for them, as musicians.

Paul seemed to be stuck in his happy, silly little love song period, and Wings allowed him to continue in that direction. But that wasn't for John, he too was stuck in between creative phases. He kind of went into creative hibernation only to emerge from it right before he died, with Double Fantasy. That was the return of John's creativity.

George seemed to feel that his contributions were never appreciated and not often allowed, so he needed his own voice too.

Ringo would probably would still be playing with them had the group decided to stay together.

The Beatles influence on New Wave carried through with bands like The Cars. My Best Friends Girlfriend is basically a Beatles song, a return to simple, tight songs, right down to the yeah, yeah, yeahs.

I cannot imagine the awful dreck that the Beatles might have put out during the disco era. They were not equipped with the style or individual talent to compete with hard rock. Individually they were average+, as a group they were tight and awesome, but the rock era was about showmanship, which they had abandoned.

So yeah, yeah, yeah, it was right for them to leave at the top of their game.
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Old 11-07-2019, 02:17 PM
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Obviously there were still some residual Hippie era elements left and any Beatles record in 71 or 72 would've sold well.
Sold well in the sense of not losing money, sure. Not so well relative to the Stones, Pink Floyd, Zeppelin and The Who. And younger people just starting to become consumers of rock music would have seen them as dinosaurs. If they had persevered until '73, any album they released would have been crushed by Dark Side of the Moon.
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Old 11-07-2019, 02:25 PM
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They hated live perfomrances and in the 70s, and as it has already been said, they were key. Even if their music evolved, if they didn't hit the road hard, they would slowly disappear.

Last edited by Ají de Gallina; 11-07-2019 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 11-07-2019, 02:39 PM
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I think they still would have put out good music. The thing about the Beatles is that they constantly evolved and reinvented themselves. Lennon and McCartney pushed each other to be better and they would have seen what was going on around them and tried to outdo it.

The group would have had to have recorded more of George's songs, so albums would have to be divided among the three songwriters.

I think they would have eventually gone back to live performances; they definitely missed something in the group dynamic when they stopped playing together.
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Old 11-07-2019, 02:59 PM
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They hated live perfomrances
If Paul and Ringo hated live performances, they wouldn't still be doing them today. John and George would have been harder to convince, though.

When I look at videos of the Beatles playing together on YouTube, I realize that they really were a great band. And like RealityChuck said, I think they lost something when they stopped playing together as a performing, touring unit.
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Old 11-07-2019, 03:02 PM
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The OP seems to imply that "officially break up" or "keep on going the way the Rolling Stones did" were the only options. But I think they could have done well to take some time off, and then, over the years, every once in a while they could get together to record some new music or play a few gigs together. It's not impossible that something like that might have happened post-1980 if John Lennon had lived.
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Old 11-07-2019, 03:55 PM
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If you were sitting in 1964 listening to Meet the Beatles and wondering what the Beatles would be like in 1969, you'd be way off. And that was only five years.

I think we're underestimating how much the Beatles changed, soaked up diverse bits of culture and experimented with them. And we're forgetting about George... not Harrison, Martin. Can you imagine what kind of experimentation George (and Giles) would be encouraging in the studio?
I can't... I have NO idea what an 80's Beatles recording/mixing/jambalaya session would be like.

And if they weren't touring (a safe bet), the studio would be their creative canvas.
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Old 11-07-2019, 05:06 PM
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Things had gotten acrimonious.

If they had "broken up" earlier, then it would have been far more likely they would have gotten back together in just a few years. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The "best" would have been for them to take extended breaks between albums. The first would have to have been after the White Album at the latest.

Unfortunately, too many contractual decisions had been locked in too early and this really wasn't going to happen. They had to keep going until a Big Split happened.
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Old 11-07-2019, 05:15 PM
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I like to entertain an alternate fiction where they officially hired Billy Preston and continued on after that.

But as others have mentioned, you'd have to wave a wand to disappear all the conflict and burnout and personal struggles as well. By all accounts John was not well due to heroin addiction, Paul had become a musically self-indulgent pothead, Ringo was just over it all, George was bitter at having his own ideas neglected. All that would need to be resolved.
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Old 11-07-2019, 06:21 PM
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You seem to assume that if the Beatles had stayed together, they would have gone back to touring and live performances. I don't see any reason to think that would happen. Even the rooftop performance was a one-off.
I'm not so sure about that. Their main complaints about touring were about not being heard because of all the screaming and laughably PAs. In the seventies, teenage hysteria for early British invasion bands had waned, the Stones, Kinks and Who drew an audience that consisted of more male members who had grown up with the bands. Additionally, sound and stage equipment improved dramatically at that time. I expect the same would've happened to the Beatles' hypothetical 70s audiences and concerts.
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:48 PM
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The bay citty rollers. The knack were supposed to be the next Beatles
Not of these bands had a revolver.white album in them.George Martin and Brian epistein we're part of the glue that held.If you could keep Epstein around a little longer that mict keep the
Beatles around.what could help also help Lennon balances mcartneys silly songs with power to the people.some collaboration would help.when Harrison or ringo feel burned out put
In Clapton or Charlie watts.beatles in the 70s would put the stones.even led Zeppelin on notice and you mict have better music all way around.
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Old 11-08-2019, 12:24 AM
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I'd say that the conflict that broke them up was what made their memorable later albums actually memorable. Without it, everything Rubber Soul and after would probably be just a mess*. That method of operating had run its course, and they'd have to find yet another one to continue without straight up going after each others' throats.

So, like it or not, it looks like that band's course was completely run. The members themselves were so famous that they'd eclipse anyone else in a band they joined or formed, so it was medical experiments solo careers for the lot of them.


*And it kind of is, but it is a memorable one.
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Old 11-08-2019, 09:02 AM
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They would not have continued to be as toweringly great as they were in the 1960s, but would have kept making fine music.

Look at any great band that did last a long time; virtually all have a limited peak, no more than 5-7 years or so, and that peak is almost always when the primary band members are in their 20s. They may contnue making some fine songs, as did the Stones, U2, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, Floyd, and on and on, but they don't keep up the incredibly great stuff.
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Old 11-08-2019, 11:09 AM
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There's something to be said for the "Leave 'em laughing" ethos. And yeah, the Stones did some worthwhile songs in the 70s, but not as many in the 80s and even fewer from the 90s to the present.

There's some evidence that being a Beatle was difficult and even toxic. That poor bastard who replaced Ringo for two weeks on their 1964 tour still hasn't gotten over it. Six years at the "toppermost of the poppermost" might have been just the right amount of time.
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Old 11-08-2019, 11:23 AM
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They would not have continued to be as toweringly great as they were in the 1960s, but would have kept making fine music.

Look at any great band that did last a long time; virtually all have a limited peak, no more than 5-7 years or so, and that peak is almost always when the primary band members are in their 20s. They may contnue making some fine songs, as did the Stones, U2, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, Floyd, and on and on, but they don't keep up the incredibly great stuff.
I have a feeling that the 'incredible great stuff' isnt so great because of the musical quality of the songs and is great because they remind people of their younger years when their lives were carefree and fun. And lets be honest. Almost no pop music from any generation is incredibly great stuff. Mozart or Miles produced incredibly great stuff but not " the Stones, U2, Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, Floyd, and on and on". Also, when pop stars get rich their music can become less relatable to their audiences who arent rich.

A later iteration of the Beatles would have been just fine with Martin producing and the band collaborating on music like they did on their peak material.
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Old 11-08-2019, 11:45 AM
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I sometimes wonder if John, George and Ringo might have let Paul go his own way and had stayed together, possibly adding such "fifth Beatles" as Klaus Voorman or Billy Preston -- maybe having Pete Ham defect from Badfinger.

Would they have been able to continue as The Beatles? Or would Paul insist they not use that name, even if the three of them recorded together? Ringo might be okay with touring under "The Plastic Ono Band" name, but I'm not sure George would.
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Old 11-08-2019, 11:58 AM
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I sometimes wonder if John, George and Ringo might have let Paul go his own way and had stayed together, possibly adding such "fifth Beatles" as Klaus Voorman or Billy Preston -- maybe having Pete Ham defect from Badfinger.

Would they have been able to continue as The Beatles? Or would Paul insist they not use that name, even if the three of them recorded together? Ringo might be okay with touring under "The Plastic Ono Band" name, but I'm not sure George would.
As I understand it, when Brian Epstein died and John got absorbed into Yoko and heroin and whatever else he was into at the time, this created a leadership vacuum which Paul tried to fill, with mixed results, and this had a lot to do with the conflict and acrimony the band experienced toward the end. And I don't think just letting Paul go would have fixed that. Based on what happened in the 70s, I think Paul was the only one who really wanted to be in a band.
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Old 11-08-2019, 12:43 PM
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"Dancing in the Streets" would now have had Bowie, Jagger, and McCartney dancing badly in baggy pastel 80s attire.

They also would have had the foresight to jump on the World Wrestling Federation cross-over bandwagon and added some epic songs and videos to "The Goonies" soundtrack. In the video for "One Eyed Willie meets The Walrus", Ringo and Roddy Piper engage in an epic balloon animal fight in the back of the BigFoot monster truck.
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Old 11-08-2019, 04:35 PM
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If they had persevered until '73, any album they released would have been crushed by Dark Side of the Moon.
Slight Hijack: Dark Side would have never happened if Barrett hadn't disintegrated.
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Old 11-09-2019, 02:59 AM
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Slight Hijack: Dark Side would have never happened if Barrett hadn't disintegrated.
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