The Beatles Break Apart

Award-winning author and music industry veteran Bob Spitz joins Tim to discuss the break-up of The Beatles, a watershed moment in the history of rock and roll, and how it impacted the music and entertainment and American culture for decades to come.


The Beatles released “Love Me Do” on October 5, 1962, their first single. Their second single “Please Please Me” reached number one on nearly every chart in U.K.

“Please Please Me” was the first in a series of 11 of 12 Beatles albums that reached number one in the U.K. In the U.S., over six years, the Beatles had the top-selling single in one out of every six weeks, and the top-selling album in one out of every three weeks.

“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released in June 1967, and would eventually be ranked number one on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

British Invasion

  • The Beatles toured for four years in the 1960s, greeted constantly by screaming Baby Boomers, so much so that their music usually couldn’t even be heard by the crowd or the Beatles themselves.
  • Enthusiastically chaotic crowds became a signature of every Beatles performance.
  • The band members started to feel the pressure after four years.

The End of Touring and Brian Esptein

  • In August 1966, John Lennon was quoted in an article that the “Beatles are more popular than Jesus.” The reaction across America was extremely negative.
  • John Lennon appeared in a press conference for damage control.
  • Band members’ concerns over their own safety intensified.
  • Later that month, after a concert, George Harrison said he no longer wanted to tour. John Lennon agreed. Paul McCartney then became convinced and the touring came to an end.
  • On August 27, 1967, band manager and close mentor to every member of the Beatles, the “fifth Beatle” Brian Epstein dies as the result of an accidentally fatal mixture of drugs and alcohol.

Enter Yoko Ono

  • In May 1968, John brings Yoko Ono to a recording session unannounced.
  • She was an artist who John met while still married.
  • Yoko’s presence changes the dynamics of recording sessions and the dynamics of the band. Tensions rose.

No New Contract – The End

  • In January 1969,  John and Yoko meet with Allen Klein, who John entrusts with his own business affairs.
  • John lobbies for Allen Klein to serve as Brian Epstein’s replacement.
  • Paul McCartney wanted his wife Linda’s father/brother (both lawyers) to play the role.
  • A standoff ensues and Paul never signs on with Klein.
  • In September 1969, in a meeting over the future of the Beatles, it is said that John says it’s over, but Klein and the others convince him to stay through negotiations with a record company.
  • Band members had started to pursue solo projects
  • On April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney announces he’s leaving The Beatles.


About this Episode’s Guest Bob Spitz

Bob Spitz is the award-winning author of the biographies Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child and The Beatles, both New York Times bestsellers, as well as six other nonfiction books and a screenplay. He has represented Bruce Springsteen and Elton John in several capacities. His articles appear regularly in magazines and newspapers.