Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Beatles Interview Series: 1969 - Beatles on the Brink of Splitting

In part eight of our Beatles Interview Series, we explore the beginning of the end of The Beatles.  

First up, a bit of an interview given by Ringo on January 21, 1969 to BBC Radio-One's "Scene and Heard" program:

DAVID WIGG: "Last week was quite a controversial week for the Beatles."
(In reference to John Lennon's remarks that had appeared in 'Disc and Music Echo' newspaper a few days before in which Lennon stated: "Apple is losing money. If it carries on like this, we'll be broke in six months.")
RINGO: "Yeah."
DAVID: "How close are you? We've had reports that you're not as close you used to be, and that the Beatles aren't as rich as everyone thought they were and they might have to close down Apple."
RINGO: "Well... shall we take them one at a time?"
DAVID: (smiling) "Yes."
RINGO: (chuckling) "Alright, what was the first one?"
DAVID: "Are you as close?"
RINGO: "Yes. You know, there's that famous old saying, you'll always hurt the one you love. And we all love each other and we all know that. But we still sort of hurt each other, occasionally. You know... where we just misunderstand each other and we go off, and it builds up to something bigger than it ever was. Then we have to come down to it and get it over with, you know. Sort it out. And so we're still really very close people. What was the second one?"
DAVID: "Do you see the Beatles going on like they are at the moment for a long time in the future or do you see a split very soon?"
RINGO: "It depends what you mean as a split, I mean, we split..."
DAVID: "Go your separate ways."
RINGO: "Completely, no. We'll never go... Oh, I can't say never. But I mean, we won't go our separate ways after this album. And we'll always be tied up with each other in some way, because we signed a lot of papers. It says we stay together for 20 years or something. And Apple closing, you know, is... is silly. We have spent a lot of money, because we don't earn as much as people think. 'Cuz if we earn a million then the Government gets 90 percent and we get 10,000. And we, we didn't sort of realize how much we were spending, you know. Like, someone pointed out, to spend 10,000 you have to make a 120. But we just spent it as 120. So what we're doing now is tightening up on our own personal money and on the company's money, you know. We're not just giving as much away on handouts and things like that, you know, and as many projects. We're gonna cut down a bit till we've sorted ourselves out again and do it properly as a business."


Then, on September 19, 1969, David Wigg conducted an interview with Paul McCartney at the Beatles' Apple Offices in London, for the same program, BBC Radio-One's "Scene and Heard."  Here is a snippet from that interview:

Paul McCartney and David Wigg, 1969, Photo Credit:

DAVID WIGG: "How much interest and how much control do you have over Apple, now that you have a new manager in Mr. Klein?"
PAUL: "The four of us have it."
DAVID: "Are you like businessmen?"
PAUL: "No, I don't like doing the business bit that much. But you can't avoid it. See, the thing is like, we were once a band, just a band. But then, because we were successful, you can't help it being successful. Money comes in. You can't help that, again. When money comes in, income tax is to be paid. So you can't really help just turning into a businessman 'cuz someone says to you, 'Where's your income tax, mate?' You say, "well, I better go on to someone,' you know. 'I hope I've got a bit to pay you' and stuff. So you got to get all that together, you know. So, it's just force of circumstance. You can't help it."
DAVID: "Paul, what about the future of Beatles? I happen to know that the organizers of the 'Isle Of Wight' pop festival are going to ask you and the rest of Beatles if you will top the bill next year at the Isle Of Wight. Now, what's your reaction to a thing like that? Are you likely to go back on stage and perhaps do a show like that?"
PAUL: "I don't know, you know."
DAVID: "Does it appeal?"
PAUL: "I've never known. I didn't know when we were playing the Cavern that we'd be on the Royal Variety Performance. And after that all the papers said, 'Well, what's left for them.' So then we went to America. They said, 'What's left for 'em' then, you know. And we got into making better albums and stuff. I mean, I just don't know what's gonna happen. It'll be alright though."


Finally, December 13, 1969, John Lennon gave an interview to New Musical Express, entitled, "Beatles Are On The Brink Of Splitting."  Here are a few excerpts from that interview:

JOHN: “The Beatles split up? It just depends how much we all want to record together. I don’t know if I want to record together again. I go off and on it. I really do.

“The problem is that in the old days, when we needed an album, Paul and I got together and produced enough songs for it. Nowadays there’s three if us writing prolifically and trying to fit it all onto one album. Or we have to think of a double album every time, which takes six months.

“That’s the hang-up we have. It’s not a personal ‘The Beatles are fighting’ thing, so much as an actual physical problem. What do you do? I don’t want to spend six months making an album I have two tracks on. And neither do Paul or George probably. That’s the problem. If we can overcome that, maybe it’ll sort itself out.

“None of us want to be background musicians most of the time. It’s a waste. We didn’t spend ten years ‘making it’ to have the freedom in the recording studios, to be able to have two tracks on an album.

“It’s not like we spend our time wrestling in the studio trying to get our own songs on. We all do it the same way… we take it in turns to record a track. It’s just that usually in the past, George lost out because Paul and I are tougher.


“You have to realize that there’s a peculiar situation, in that if ‘Cold Turkey’ had the name Beatles on it, probably it would have been a No. 1.

“ ‘Cold Turkey’ has got Ringo and me on it, and yet on half the Beatles’ tracks of ‘Abbey Road,’ I’m not on, or half the tracks on the double album – and even way back. Sometimes there might be only two Beatles on a track. It’s got to the situation where if we have the name ‘Beatle’ on it, it sells. So you get to think: ‘What are we selling? Do they buy it because it’s worth it, or just because it says ‘Beatles’?

“George is in the same position. I mean, he’s got songs he’s been trying to get on since 1930. He’s got to make an album of his own. And maybe if he puts ‘Beatles’ on the label rather than George Harrison, it might sell more. That’s the drag.

“Of course we could each make an album and call it ‘The Beatles,’ but that would be cheating. And that’s not my scene."

Source: Transcribed by from radio interviews and original magazine issue

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