On This Day: Why it took The Beatles 4 years to officially break up

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
The Beatles pop group performing on stage at a television studio. Left to right: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon. Circa 1964. (Photo by Syndication/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
The Beatles in 1964. (Getty)

This article is part of Yahoo's 'On This Day' series.

The Beatles were officially legally dissolved on this day in 1974 – more than four years after Paul McCartney initially announced they would split.

McCartney’s bombshell press release on 10 April 1970, marked the end of the world’s favourite band when he said he could see no future with John Lennon, George Harrison and Sir Ringo Starr.

But it would take until 1974 for the band to dissolve due to the Fab Four fighting it out in court over a settlement.

It was finally over when Lennon signed a legal document on 29 December during a holiday at Disney World – the next day, The Beatles were officially no more.

But even this landmark date had been put in doubt, after Lennon missed an initial appointment to sign an agreement at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan on 19 December.

McCartney and Harrison were waiting for the late Beatle to show up, with Starr on the phone, but he missed the meeting and later said "the stars weren't right" at that point.

Watch: Yoko Ono posts article that said that she did not break up The Beatles

The Beatles performing on stage, circa 1963. Left to right: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison (1943 - 2001) and John Lennon (1940 - 1980). (Photo by King Collection/Photoshot/Getty Images)
The Beatles performing circa 1963. Left to right: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon. (Getty)
The Beatles at a recording session in London. Left to right- George Harrison, Ringo Starr, John Lennon and Kneeling Paul McCartney.   13/09/2003: The Beatles record label Apple is suing Apple Computers over its iTunes online music store, it emerged Friday September 12 2003. It has accused the US computer giant of breaching an agreement by using the apple logo and Apple name to promote music products. Apple Corps, the London-based company owned by Sir Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and the widows of John Lennon and George Harrison, has begun legal proceedings in the High Court. It is seeking damages and an injunction to enforce the terms of an agreement made in 1991.   (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)
The Beatles at a recording session in London. (Getty)

The group's last live performance was on the roof of Apple Corps on 30 January 1969, in Soho, central London.

McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr had met that month to write 14 songs, record a new album and arrange the live performance, which was the first in three years.

Later that year, Lennon brought an end to the band when he told the others: "I want a divorce."


What are the longest-running stage plays in the world?

How George Michael still funds his local community five years after his death

What happened to Psy after the success fo Gangnam Style?

Speculation about what caused the demise of the world's most famous pop group has ranged from artistic differences and legal disputes to Lennon's marriage to artist Yoko Ono.

McCartney has since said he wanted to continue performing with the Beatles when the band split in 1970 and Lennon instigated the breakup.

"John walked into a room one day and said I am leaving the Beatles," McCartney told BBC Radio 4’s This Cultural Life.

"And he said, 'It's quite thrilling, it's rather like a divorce'. And then we were left to pick up the pieces."

Musicians John Lennon (left) and Paul McCartney of English beat group the Beatles hold a press conference at the Americana Hotel in New York City to announce their new venture, Apple Corps, 14th May 1968. (Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
John Lennon and Paul McCartney at a press conference at the Americana Hotel in New York City in 1968. (Getty)
LONDON - January 30:  (L-R) American photographer Linda McCartney (1941-1998) sitting beside English musician, singer and drummer Ringo Starr, English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Paul McCartney, English musician, singer-songwriter and guitarist George Harrison (1943-2001), and English singer, songwriter and guitarist John Lennon (1940-1980) of the Beatles as they play their final live performance on the roof of 3 Savile Row, Apple Corps headquarters, January 30, 1969 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Jeff Hochberg/Getty Images)
The Beatles as they play their final live performance in Soho, London on 30 January 1969. (Getty)
Broadcast to 26 countries and watched by 400 million, the programme was broadcast via satellite on June 25, 1967. The BBC had commissioned the Beatles to write a song for the UK's contribution. 'All You Need Is Love' a song written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon/McCartney was first performed by The Beatles at this event & released as a single the following month. Pictured left to right: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon at Abbey Road Studios. 24th June 1967. (Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
The Beatles in 1967. Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL - FEBRUARY 1961:  Rock and roll band
The Beatles perform at the Cavern Club in February 1961 in Liverpool. (Getty)

McCartney added the band would have continued if Lennon had not walked away.

He claims after Lennon announced he wanted to leave, the remaining members of the group were advised by their new manager, Allen Klein, to keep their impending disbandment a secret while he tied up some loose ends.

"So for a few months we had to pretend," McCartney added.

"It was weird because we all knew it was the end of the Beatles but we couldn't just walk away."

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01:  The Beatles Singing Hello Goodbye At The Tv During Sixties  (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
The Beatles singing Hello Goodbye in the 1960s. (Getty)
Beatles Files 1963 John Lennon Paul McCartney George Harrison and Ringo Starr on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 15th September 1963 (Photo by mirrorpix/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
The Fab Four on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 15 September 1963. (Getty)
25th November 1963:  A group shot of the Beatles, Ringo Starr (in the background), George Harrison (1943 - 2001), Paul McCartney and John Lennon (1940 - 1980), pictured during a performance on Granada TV's Late Scene Extra television show filmed in Manchester, England on November 25, 1963.  (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
The group during a performance fin Manchester on 25 November 1963. (Getty)

The Beatles recorded their last song before the split, I Me Mine, at Abbey Road Studios in January 1970.

The final studio session for the last record Let it be took place at the studios in April that year but with only Ringo there.

The 13th and last album was then released on 8 May.

Following the split, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr went their separate ways, pursuing successful solo careers while the band’s music continued to grow.

Lennon was shot dead aged 40 in 1980 as he left his apartment in The Dakota building, in New York.

Harrison, 58, died at McCartney's home in Los Angeles on 29 November, 2001, after being diagnosed with cancer.

Watch: Paul McCartney: I never got round to telling John Lennon I loved him

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting