Friday, March 25, 2011

Why Did The Beatles Break Up?

When people find out I'm a Beatles nut, they sometimes ask me this. I'd rather they ask 'What's your favorite album?' or 'What do you think of their movies?' because that's more fun to talk about.

But the simple answer to the 'break-up' question is that old saying:

'Familiarity Breeds Contempt'.

It wasn't Yoko or the death of Brian Epstein. And it wasn't drugs or that they were going in 'different directions musically'. It was that they were just plain sick and tired of each other. Like marriage and roommates, you start out like peas in a pod and can end up not being able to stand being in the same room with the other one.

And it's show-biz tradition. Whether it Dean and Jerry or Mick and Keith or Laverne and Shirley.

For those of us who were around during the Beatles' career, we saw it coming because they started doing 'solo' projects. But it didn't make it any less sad or diminish our hopes for a reunion.

I think the reason it seems tragic is because of what they represented. Not politically or as the spokesmen for the 'love generation', but because they had been so tight. 'The Four Headed Monster', Mick Jagger called them. They had the same haircuts, same clothes, and the same sense of humor. And even as they changed, they'd all morph at the same time. We, especially the male fans I think, envied that and wished we could be in a gang like The Beatles. So when they called it quits, we all thought, 'Sheesh. If those four end up bickering and suing each other, what hope is there for the rest of us?'

They initially were bonded by their tunnel vision focus on 'making it'. Then when they became the most famous act in the business, they bonded over the shared experiences and pressures. When they moved to London, there was the 'Liverpool' thing that kept them close and the 'Londoners' at arms length. Geoff Emerick talks about that in his book. And it was definitely true with the wives/girlfriends, too. Cyn and Maureen were a duo as were Jane and Patti.

But those things eventually fell away and became less important. John Lennon said that it got to a point with the Beatles, where it would be like 'My life is a misery because you got the tambourine part wrong!'. Like when you want to kill your roommate for leaving the butter out.

But the truly surprising thing about it is that it took them as long as it did to break-up. After years of spending nearly every day together, and factoring in the money and egos and yes-men whispering in their ears, it's amazing they didn't split even sooner.


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