Category Archives: Beatles

Beatles Officially Legally End

Beatles Officially Legally End

December 29, 1974

Beatles at Woodstock?

During my shifts at the Museum at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts one of the most common questions is: Why weren’t the Beatles at Woodstock?

My first response is that the Beatles had stopped touring and performing live in August 1966. They had chosen to became a studio band.

My second response that throughout August 1969, the Beatles were finishing recording and  mixing Abbey RoadThey didn’t know it,  of course, but August 20, 1969 was the last time the four would be together in the studio.

There is a story that Michael Lang had invited them. John Lennon had reportedly said they would not play unless Yoko and his Plastic Ono Band could also play. That story has never been authenticated,  but lives on with other Beatle ephemera.

Beatles Officially Legally End


Lennon did perform with the Plastic Ono Band in September at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival.

The Beatles released their “last” album,  Let It Be on May 8,1970, six months after Abbey Road’s release, but they had recorded Let It Be before Abbey Road, so…

Beatles Officially Legally End

Whimper not a bang

So, when did the Beatles break up. This section’s heading is the answer: they broke up gradually.

Ringo Walks Out

Beatles Officially Legally End

On August 22, 1968 Ringo had left the Beatles because he felt his playing had gotten sub-par and that he’d become an outsider to the other three.

He went on vacation to Sardinia, wrote “Octopus Garden,” and with the encouragement of John, Paul, and George, returned on September 3.

Beatles Officially Legally End

Solo Projects

They  had also begun working on solo projects before 1970 ended.  George Harrison was the first in November 1968 with his Wonderwall Music soundtrack. Harrison had frequently felt like the Beatles’ third wheel because most of his offered songs were dismissed in favor of the so-called Lennon/McCartney tunes.

Harrison Leaves

Of course, a solo album does not mean a break up, but frustration does. On January 10, 1969 Harrison walked out, unable to tolerate any longer the tensions within the group and the other’s talk about playing a live show.

John Lennon reportedly said that the group should call Eric Clapton, saying, “He’s just as good and not such a headache.”

Like Starr, Harrison returned (January 15), but had he made it clear that he would leave the group unless the idea of a live show before an audience was dropped. They did.

Beatles Officially Legally End

Lennon Leaves

In September 1969, John Lennon told the others he was leaving. The other three, resigned to the group’s collapse, said that they would keep the break-up out of the news.

McCartney Talks

Beatles Officially Legally End

On April 10, 1970, in The Daily Mirror, 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.”

Lennon was angry, especially since the breakup, already agreed upon by the group, was announced 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.”

Beatles Officially Legally End

Paul files

On December 31, 1970, Paul  filed a lawsuit in London’s High Court to dissolve The Beatles’ partnership. He filed it against “John Ono Lennon of Ascot, Berkshire; George Harrison of Henley-on-Thames, Berkshire; Richard Starkey of Highgate, London; and Apple Corps of Savile Row, London.”

The writ gave three reasons for the suit:

  1. The Beatles had ceased to perform together as a group, so       the purpose of their partnership was no more
  2.   secondly, the other three Beatles had, despite McCartney’s opposition and in breach of their partnership agreement, appointed Allen Klein and his ABKCO as their exclusive business manager
  3. and that McCartney had never been given audited accounts during the four years of their partnership. (see Beatles Bible site)
Beatles Officially Legally End

 Four Years of Red Tape

Beatles Officially Legally End

On March 31, 1972, The Beatles Official Fan Club closed. The Beatles Monthly magazine had ceased three years previously.

Now it was December 19, 1974 and four had finally agreed that all was in place for the official and legal end to the Beatles.  The meeting took place in New York City and Paul and George flew in just for the meeting. Ringo did not attend. He had already signed off.

Lawyers for each were present.  Cameras were ready. John, living in NYC, was late.  Well, not late,  absent. They made a phone call. Lennon’s then girlfriend May Pang (he and Yoko had separated) answered. She said he said he wasn’t coming.  “The stars weren’t right.”

It was George Harrison’s turn to explode.  It was unusual for such anger from him, but under stress from a poorly reviewed tour was the straw that broke his back.

He apologized to all the following day.

In fact the three amicably met the next night at a club.

Beatles Officially Legally End

Beatles Officially Legally End

John Lennon and May Pang, took John’s son Julian to Walt Disney World for the week of Christmas, 1974. They stayed at the Polynesian Village Resort.

Lennon was apparently finally ready.

On December 29, 1974 while ironically or appropriately at DisneyWorld, Apple lawyers met Lennon to sign off.

John told May to take a picture, but delayed signing until he spoke to Harrison’s lawyer by phone. According to May, he looked out his window at the Polynesian Village Hotel several moments before signing.

Thus ended the Beatles

Beatles Officially Legally End, Beatles Officially Legally End, Beatles Officially Legally End, 

December 18 Music et al

December 18 Music et al

Lion Sleeps Tonight

December 18, 1961 – January 12, 1962: a South African song from the 1920s, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by the Tokens #1 Billboard Hot 100.

Solomon Linda, a South African singer of Zulu origin wrote the original song, “Mbube” (Zulu: lion) in the 1920s. Many, including the Weavers, Jimmy Dorsey, Miriam Makeba and the Kingston Trio, covered the song before the Tokens’ success.

December 18 Music et al

Blue Hawaii

December 18, 1961 –  May 4, 1962 – Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii movie soundtrack the Billboard #1 album.

Blue Hawaii was the fourteenth album by Elvis. RCA had released it on October 20, 1961. It is a soundtrack for Presley’s film of the same name. The album spent 20 weeks at the number one slot and 39 weeks in the Top 10 on Billboards Top Pop LPs chart. (see April 21, 1962)

December 18 Music et al

I Want To Hold Your Hand

December 17, 1963: radio DJ Carroll James at Washington. D.C. station WWDC, played a U.K. copy of  “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on the radio after a 15-year-old girl from Silver Spring, MD wrote to him requesting Beatles music after seeing the CBS-news segment.  James Carroll became the first disc jockey to broadcast a Beatles record on American radio. He had obtained the record from his stewardess girlfriend, who brought the single back from the UK. Due to listener demand, the song was played daily, every hour.


The next day, Capitol Records threatened to sue WWDC to stop playing song, but then reversed itself and decided to rush-release “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Capital had previously scheduled the release for  January 13, 1964.  Capital cancelled Christmas breaks and made sure that pressing plants and staff could do an earlier release.

Capital succeeded and released the  song on December 26!  (next Beatles, see Dec 23)

Another Beatles Christmas Record

December 18, 1964, The Beatles: “Another Beatles Christmas Record” issued to UK fan club members.

They sing “Jingle Bells” which is followed by individual messages to the fans. John mocks the prepared statement.

When Paul asks John about it, John responds “No it’s somebody’s bad hand-wroter.” The conversation continues and the disc finishes with them briefly singing “Oh Can You Wash Your Father’s Shirt?”

American fans did not receive Another Beatles’ Christmas Record . They got an edited version of  the 1963 Beatle Christmas message. (next Beatles, see Dec 26)

December 18 Music et al


Acid Test

December 18, 1965: Big Beat Acid Test, The Big Beat Club, Palo Alto. The  poster/announcement for the event came in three colors: white, red, and yellow. The artists designed it to be cut in half (look at the “dotted” line down the middle) and the top of the right half attached to the bottom of the left.

December 18 Music et al

The recently re-named Grateful Dead were there. Tom Wolfe wrote about it in Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test , Owsley Stanley introduced manager Rock Scully to the Grateful Dead, and  Hugh Romney–known today as Wavy Gravy–first joined the festivities.

The Big Beat was the San Francisco Peninsula’s first “rock” club. Yvonne Modica owned it.

Timothy Leary

In 1966: Timothy Leary founded the League of Spiritual Development with LSD as the sacrament. (see Jan 8)

December 18 Music et al

The Family Way

December 18, 1966: with music by Paul McCartney, “The Family Way” movie premiered.

John Boulting produced the film. Roy Boulting directed it. John Mills and his daughter Hayley Mills starred. (NYT review) (next Beatles, see March 18, 1967; Family Way, see Jan 6, 1967)

December 18 Music et al

Busy Beatles December 17

Busy Beatles December 17

Professional Pictures

On December 17, 1961 Brian Epstein contacted a local wedding photographer, Albert Marrion, to have him take professional pictures of the group for the first time.

DJ Carroll James

On December 17, 1963 radio DJ Carroll James at Washington. D.C. station WWDC, a U.K. played copy of  “I Want to Hold Your Hand” after a 15-year-old girl from Silver Spring, MD wrote to him requesting Beatles music after she saw the CBS-news segment on December 10.

James Carroll became the first disc jockey to broadcast a Beatles record on American radio. He had obtained the record from his stewardess girlfriend, who brought the single back from the UK. Due to listener demand, the song was played daily, every hour.

Capital Records had planned on releasing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on January 13, 1964 and the next day (Dec 18), the company threatened to sue WWDC to stop playing song. Capital then reversed itself and decided to rush-release “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” Capital cancelled Christmas leaves and pressing plants and staff geared up for rush release.

Busy Beatles December 17

Busy Beatles December 17

Third Christmas Record

December 17, 1965: “The Beatles Third Christmas Record” released. Several off-key, a cappella versions of “Yesterday” were dispersed throughout the record, alongside Lennon’s “Happy Christmas to Ya List’nas”, “Auld Lang Syne”, a one-and-a-half-line version of the Four Tops’ “It’s the Same Old Song” (which they quickly stop before they violate the copyright) and an original poem titled “Christmas Comes But Once a Year”.

Members of the Beatles’ US fan-club did not receive this (or any) Christmas flexi-disc in 1965. Rather, they received a black and white postcard, with a photo of the Fab Four and the message “Season’s Greetings – Paul, Ringo, George, John.” The Beatle Bulletin, the publication of the US fan-club, explained in its April 1966 edition that the tape arrived too late to prepare the record in time for Christmas.

Busy Beatles December 17

Christmas Time Is Here Again

December 17, 1967:  mailing of the 1967 Christmas disc, Christmas Time Is Here Again to fan club members. Their fifth.

The Beatles created an elaborate production around the concept of several groups auditioning for a BBC radio show. The title song serves as a refrain throughout the record. The Beatles portray a multitude of characters, including game show contestants, aspiring musicians (“Plenty of Jam Jars”, by the Ravellers), and actors in a radio drama (“Theatre Hour”). At the end John reads a poem, “When Christmas Time Is Over.” This offering was likely a deliberate homage to/continuation of the broadly similar “Craig Torso” specials produced for BBC Radio 1 that same year by the Beatles’ friends and collaborators the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, and also shares much in common with their then-unreleased track “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)”, recorded six months previously.

For those of you with the interest, the money,  and the space, you can order a newly released box set from Apple Corps that includes  each Beatles Christmas disc.

Busy Beatles December 17