Most rock fans who grew up in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s listened to, adored, admired and idolised The Beatles. It’s hard to imagine musical history without their inimitable style, which gave us innumerable nuggets. Even if you didn’t like their music, you couldn’t ignore The Beatles. They were virtually everywhere.
By the mid-1960s, the world had grown so used to the sensation that swept the world from the time of their debut album in 1962 that it was unthinkable not to know about their songs, controversies and escapades. By then, The Beatles were so entrenched in our musical psyche that the foursome splitting was akin to a dystopia that was beyond even the wildest imagination. However, split they did! May 1970 saw the release of their last album, ‘Let it Be’ even as they parted ways.
There are legends galore about the Fab Four, some of which refuse to die down even half a century later. What must Pete Best (their original drummer who was fired by their famous manager, Brian Epstein, at the behest of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison before they started putting music charts on fire) feel after putting in a lot of effort to make the unknown band acceptable? Were Lennon and McCartney paying a tribute to LSD when they wrote ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ or was it mere fanciful imagination, which McCartney later even refuted? Wasn’t their track ‘Sexy Sadie’ a stinging testimony of the ugly episode at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh, where they spent some time? Was Yoko Ono the last nail in the coffin of their already-strained relationship?
Despite all the controversies and infightings, The Beatles, in that short span of less than a decade, gave the world music to cherish for a lifetime. What would the music world be without ‘St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, ‘Yellow Submarine’, ‘Hey Jude’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ‘Yesterday’, ‘Penny Lane’ … Oh, the list is endless.
But the differences became too apparent by 1969, and a split seemed imminent. which eventually happened a year later. Though Lennon, McCartney and Harrison had successful solo careers, the spark still wasn’t there. Of course, there were occasional ‘Imagine’ and ‘Say Say Say’. In more ways than one, the music wasn’t pulsating the way it did.
When Lennon was tragically shot dead in 1980, Time magazine gave the headline, ‘When the Music Died’. Frankly, it was a decade late in coming. Death actually occurred in 1970. Sadly.
P.S.: Incidentally, February 3, 1959, is referred to in the US as ’The Day the Music Died’, the day when a plane crash killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. Richardson after Don McLean paid his tribute in his song ‘American Pie’.
Rajessh M Iyer, a storyteller who explores human relationships through meaningful anecdotes, parables, and stories, shares his work on www.rajesshmiyer.com.