John Paul George Ringo Breakup

John Paul George Ringo Breakup

April 10, 1970

John Paul George Ringo Breakup

It was 1970. We American Boomers had watched them on Ed Sullivan  six years earlier.  Six years during which we witnessed  assassinations, wars, a cultural revolution,  fear, and loathing,

Or as John Lennon had playfully sang in 1969: Everybody’s talking about, Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, This-ism, That-ism…

Many of us had literally grown up with the Beatles. We went from  innocent early teenage years to the brink of adulthood and its disruptive realities.

The Beatles had stopped touring in 1966. Getting to see them live was always too difficult anyway, so the fact that they weren’t appearing live wasn’t that  big a deal. We would always have their newest vinyl.

John Paul George Ringo Breakup

We’d had

…Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour in 1967.

The Beatles–in 1968–but we were such good friends by then we all simply call it their “White” album. 

Yellow Submarine and Abby Road in 1969, though there were rumors of another album already recorded.

John Paul George Ringo Breakup

We also had rumblings…

Ringo had briefly quit the Beatles in August 1968 and George had done the same in January 1969.

They gave us some solo stuff like George Harrison’s Wonderwall (1968) but that wasn’t real Beatles stuff. Was it even real George Harrison stuff?

John and Yoko’s Two Virgins the same year definitely wasn’t Beatles.

On January 30, 1969 they played on the roof of their Apple Building in London as part of their movie Get Back. Not knowing it, the impromptu live performance was their last.

John Paul George Ringo Breakup

Marriages and divorces

John got divorced. Paul got married.  Yoko got married.

On August 22, 1969, photographer Ethan Russell shot the final photos of the the four together.

photo by Ethan Russell…The thrill looks gone.


On September 20, 1969, John Lennon told the others that he was leaving the band, but agreed to keep it quiet until albums were released and the time was right.


Daily Mirror headline
John Paul George Ringo Breakup

Paul spills the beans

April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney made the Beatles’ secret breakup public by issuing a press release to announce that he had left the group, done in the form of a fake interview:

“Q: Is your break with the Beatles temporary or permanent, due to personal differences or musical ones?

PAUL: Personal differences, business differences, musical differences, but most of all because I have a better time with my family. Temporary or permanent? I don’t really know.”

John Lennon was furious, especially since Paul announced the breakup, already agreed upon by the group, just one week prior to the British release of McCartney’s first solo album. When a reporter tracked down Lennon for his thoughts, he replied, “Paul hasn’t left. I sacked him.

While the lives of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison occasionally crossed after 1970, the crossings were sometimes cordial, sometimes not.

Life without a Beatles album went on punctuated regularly by many solo offerings.

A piece of the sixties ended on April 10, 1970

Whatever happened to the life that we once knew
Can we really live without each other?
Where did we lose the touch
That seemed to mean so much
It’s always made me feel so


Not Yoko

You will notice that I haven’t said that “Yoko broke up the Beatles” –the oft sung sad shibboleth. That is because she did not break up the Beatles, but that’s another story for another time.

And the final final legal legal breakup was still nearly five years away.

John Paul George Ringo Breakup

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone

Happy birthday
April 10, 1948
Woodstock Performer Ira Stone
l-r Ira Stone, Bert Sommer, and Charlie Bilello at Woodstock

Ira Stone

Starting out, we may think our path will be a singular one. Simple. Straightforward.

Looking back we can see that there were many places where we made a choice or Fortune turned us in a direction that led to places we could never have anticipated.

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone

Queens, NY

In the early 1950s, when Ira Stone was a toddler growing up in Queens, NY and playing piano, how could he or anyone have predicted that in 1969 he’d play guitar on a damp stage in upstate New York in front of 400,000 people at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair?

In high school, Ira Stone met Jonny and Jeff Geist. They played guitar and Ira took lessons from Jonny. They had a band called the Fortunes and played behind acts that WMCA-AM’s DJs, the “Good Guys” produced.

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone
The Fortunes (l. to r. Ira Stone, Jon Geist, Jeff Portney, Jeff Geist)
Woodstock Performer Ira Stone

The Last Word

Other bands followed, including The Last Word, which released a single called “Hot Summer Days.” 

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone

Leslie West and Bert Sommer

In the mid-60s, Stone lived in Westbury, Long Island and had a band called the Stonehenge Circus.  As happens with most bands, while playing gigs he befriended other musicians. One of those musicians was Leslie West from the Vagrants. It was through that friendship that Stone met Bert Sommer who wrote some songs for the Vagrants.

Taking work from whence it came, Stone became part of The Music Explosion road band. Little did I realize that a band’s members not only have not played on their hit, but even if they had, they might not always be the band you saw at a concert.

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone

Road band


The Music Explosion had a “A Little Bit of Soul” hit and occasionally Stone was part of their road band. Later he became part of the Crazy Elephant road band.

In 1969, back in New York, he saw an ad in the Village Voice. Bert Sommer, a star in the play Hair, was looking for a guitar player. Capital Records (think Woodstock Ventures’ Artie Kornfeld) had just released Sommer’s first album and Kornfeld had invited Sommer to play at Woodstock.

Stone replied to the ad. Stone and Sommer hit it off. Stone got the gig.

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone

Woodstock Music and Art Fair

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone
Stone with Sommer (on guitar)

Bert Sommer’s appearance at Woodstock (and thus Ira Stone’s appearance at Woodstock) did not have the impact that others’ appearances had. He was not in the movie, nor on the album. Had either happened future paths might have changed.

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone

Ira Stone’s Woodstock story

But he did have his story to share:

“In 1969 I answered an ad in the Village Voice newspaper. They were looking for a guitar player to work with a Capitol Records recording artist. I had seen Bert around because he wrote a few tunes for the ‘Vagrants’; Leslie West’s band before ‘Mountain’. Leslie and I were friends, played guitar together and hung out back then. Bert met with us (my wife Maxine & I) before he had to go play ‘Woof’ in “HAIR”. We both took our guitars out and started to tune down to open ‘D’ at the exact same time. That was a magic moment because not many guitar players were using an open D tuning at that time. We then played ‘Jennifer’ from his first album. Little did I know that our very first gig would be at the Woodstock Festival and we’d open with that song!”

“We arrived in upstate New York on Thursday and hung out until Friday when we had to get to the festival site. The caravan of cars that we were in got caught in the traffic gridlock so we had to wait in a big field for a helicopter to fly us over the hill to the stage area. Can you imagine waiting in a field with (among others) the Maharishi, Tim Hardin, & Bert ~ not too surreal. None of us realized the scope of this event until the chopper cleared the hillside. Then we were in awe! All we saw were hundreds of thousands of undulating colors. So many people. It was a sight that I will never forget!”

“We went on stage and played a full 10 song set. The eighth song into the set, we did that cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘America’ and got the only standing ovation of the Festival. Looking into Bert’s eyes and hearing the roar of that huge audience… WOW!  We finished our set and were totally blown away. All of us were unaware at that time what this concert would later become!” The spirit of a generation… The Woodstock Generation!”

And regarding wife Max’s role at Woodstock: Maxine was on stage with us but did not sing. She wrote some of the guitar and Hammond parts that I played and was always helping us at the many rehearsals at the the studio and Bert’s apartment! She and I were helicoptered in together after waiting in the field with Tim Hardin, Bert and the Swami!”

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone
Other paths

Ira Stone

Stone continued working with Sommer. One of Stone’s most vivid memories is opening for Poco at Carnegie Hall on February 12, 1971.  He traveled to India for a couple of years performing and writing songs while living in there as well as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In 1982, Stone, his wife Maxine, and other formed Max. It stayed together until 1985 after which Ira and Maxine performed together. “We were still playing in many different incarnations. We did some solo gigs, just me and Maxine between 1985 and 1989.

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone


Since 1995 he, Maxine and others formed and continue to play as Stoneband.

Most of this information was gotten from Ira’s site. The site has lots of pictures, especially of his gear.

Also, if you’re looking to listen to Ira’s Stone Band, check out…

Ira Stone

Woodstock Performer Ira Stone