The Beatles
Source: Getty Images

More Than 50 Years Later, Paul McCartney Reveals Why the Beatles Really Broke up

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Oct. 11 2021, Published 6:15 p.m. ET

Whether you were born in 1952 or 2002, you can likely name a handful of Beatles songs. Known to be one of the best and most successful rock bands of all time, the Beatles formed in 1960 and were international superstars — as well as the faces of the "British Invasion" phenomenon — by 1964.

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The four uber-famous rock stars, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon, stuck by each other's sides throughout the course of 10 overwhelming years and 12 historic studio albums (as well as loads of EPs, compilation albums, and live albums), but their time together came to an infamous end in 1970. Co-lead vocalist Paul was the one to announce the shocking crumbling of the Beatles on April 10, 1970, after releasing a cryptic "self-interview," which also detailed his solo album, McCartney.

Despite it not being an official statement, the world ran with it, and many blamed the breakup on Paul. But was there ever really one reason for the split? Well, over five decades later, Paul McCartney is speaking up and laying the blame on one person in particular. You'd think that the dust would've settled by now, but obviously, the Beatles' breakup will forever be a touchy subject. So, according to Paul, who was the instigator? He couldn't just "Let it Be."

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The Beatles Performing on Granada TV's Late Scene Extra in 1963
Source: Getty Images

The Beatles Performing on Granada TV's Late Scene Extra in 1963

Who is responsible for splitting up the Beatles?

At 79 years old, 18-time Grammy winner Paul McCartney is spilling piping hot British tea about the Beatles' breakup. See, after carrying the weight of the breakup heard 'round the world for so long, Paul needs to get something off his chest. There is a well-known theory that suggests Yoko Ono's relationship with John influenced the state of the Beatles, but perhaps that view is sexist... or is it?

"I didn’t instigate the split," Paul explained. "That was our Johnny."

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Speaking to journalist John Wilson for BBC Radio 4 (via CNN), Paul said, "John walked into the room one day and said, 'I'm leaving the Beatles.' And he said, 'It's quite thrilling. It's rather like a divorce.' And then we were left to pick up the pieces." John Wilson was quick to point out that Paul sued his bandmates to formally end the business partnership, but Paul explained he was particularly frustrated with becoming the world's punching bag for something he didn't instigate.

Yoko Ono, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney
Source: Getty Images
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Paul clarified John's reasoning for wanting a "divorce" from the Beatles, which centered around his desire to engage in acts of social justice. John and his wife, Yoko Ono, participated in several social justice movements, including "bagism," which saw the two artists wearing bags in public as a reminder not to judge others based on their outer appearance.

In response to the controversial Vietnam War, John and Yoko hosted seven-day "Bed-ins for Peace," aka nonviolent protests involving laying in hotel beds. They held one in Amsterdam and one in Montreal. "The point of it really was that John was making a new life with Yoko and he wanted to go in a bag, and he wanted to lie in bed for a week in Amsterdam, for peace. You couldn't argue with that," Paul said, clearly sarcastically.

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John Lennon and Yoko Ono Staging a Bed-in at Amsterdam's Hilton Hotel in 1969
Source: Getty Images

John Lennon and Yoko Ono Staging a Bed-in at Amsterdam's Hilton Hotel in 1969

Paul McCartney revealed that the Beatles' breakup was the most difficult period of his life.

Understandably, after twelve studio albums, "Beatlemania," loads of television appearances, one world tour, five movies, and much more, Paul thought things were going swell, and he had no plans to end the good thing they had. "The Beatles were breaking up and this was my band, this was my job, this was my life. I wanted it to continue, I thought we were doing some pretty good stuff — you know, 'Abbey Road,' 'Let It Be,' not bad," he continued, still trying to keep the mood light.

Well, maybe all good things really do come to an end (though we'd say Paul's solo career wound up working out just fine). Paul's episode of BBC Radio 4’s This Cultural Life airs on Oct. 23, 2021.

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