Did The Beatles ever stand a chance of reuniting?

Almost as soon as The Beatles disbanded, talk of their imminent return began to circulate. Given the Fab Four’s popularity, it’s unsurprising that their climactic 1970 split was mourned by so many, and the rumour mill got into gear.

Rising to fame in the early 1960s, the Liverpool group shaped the decade in their own image, defined the tastes of countless young people and popularised the avante-garde in a way few had imagined possible. The Beatles’ decision to part ways didn’t come out of the blue, and it was a long time coming. Tensions had been mounting since the making of The White Album, with the group’s increasingly desperate personalities rupturing the homogeneity that had defined their early years.

Circumstances were made more difficult by the arrival of Allen Klein. His divisive managerial style and shady business tactics drove a wedge between the band, souring the relationship between Lennon and McCartney.

Then, of course, there was Lennon’s addiction, not to mention The Beatles’ collective realisation that the public wanted to hear their solo material. It all came crashing down in 1969, but the world could never quite accept it. Still, the question remains: was there ever a chance of them reuniting, or was it always wishful thinking?

John Lennon on The Beatles reuniting

Following the Abbey Road sessions, Lennon recorded ‘Cold Turkey’ with the Plastic Ono Band, a track rejected by the rest of The Beatles. It was recieved enthusiastically by fans, likely influencing Lennon’s decision to leave The Beatles during his flight back to London from a performance in Toronto. On the 20th of September 1969, Lennon informed Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and manager Allen Klein that he wanted to leave the group. Following a negotiation, it was agreed that The Fab Four would part ways, with Klein and McCartney urging Lennon to keep the news away from the press.

According to Lennon, The Beatles could well have reunited but only for a studio project. “Speaking in 1975 [quotes via The Fest For Beatles Fans] Lennon said: “It’s strange, because at one period when they’re asking me [to rejoin The Beatles], I say ‘no, never, what the hell? Go back? Not me. And then it came to a period when I thought, ‘well, why not?’…everyone always envisions the stage show. To me, if we worked together (it would be) the studio again…when I’m saying that, I turn the paper and George is saying ‘not me.’ It’s never got to a position where each one of us has wanted to do it at the same time…the other question is ‘would it be worth it?’ That would be answered by if we wanted to do it. If we wanted to do it, then it’d be worth it.”

Would Paul McCartney have reunited The Beatles?

Interestingly, Paul McCartney, who was unfairly blamed for The Beatles’ split, imagined Lennon would have been opposed to a reunion. “For a long time now, the Beatles have been split up and – just the way things are – certain ones of us like playing together and stuff, but I don’t think John would ever be interested in kind of getting the group back together again,” he said shortly before Lennon’s death in 1980.

“And the four of us individually wouldn’t be really interested in doing it, just because it’s – you can’t reheat a soufflé, as someone once said,” McCartney continued. “Three of us got up at Eric Clapton’s wedding, with Eric and Ginger Baker and a bunch of loonies, but we’ve never played the four of us together since we’ve split up…I definitely know it’s not on…it’s not anything that would ever happen.”

What did George Harrison think about a Beatles reunion?

see beyond himself,” Harrison told Guitar World in 2001. “He was on a roll, but… in his mind, everything that was going on around him was just there to accompany him. He wasn’t sensitive to stepping on other people’s egos or feelings.”

Discussing the probability of The Beatles reforming in 1976, Harrison said: “We’re all leading our own lives. It’s been eight years, really, and I don’t think an ad in the paper is going to do the trick. We have to want it, personally, ourselves. And not just to make $50 million dollars or whatever the figure may be. We must do it because we want to be together as people first, and secondly, to be together for the music – and then everything else would fall into place. But at the moment, everybody is doing their own lives, and it feels to me a bit like saying ‘please go back to school.’ You know, that (the first stint as Beatles) was like our apprenticeship.”

Did Ringo Starr want to reunite The Beatles?

The Beatles split hit Ringo Starr especially hard. The drummer hadn’t contributed many songs during his time with the band and wasn’t regarded as gifted a songwriter as his colleagues, who were able to pursue successful solo careers. That’s not to say Ringo didn’t try, it’s just that he was never quite as celebrated as he was with The Beatles.

That might explain why he always seemed keen for the Fab Four to reunite. In 1980, shortly after Lennon’s death, he was asked if The Beatles would have reunited, which seems a little cruel considering Lennon had been dead for a matter of weeks. “Don’t know,” he began. “It’s a crazy question. But…I’d like to think, yes, we would. Paul still goes out with his band, I go out with mine and John would probably have been going out with his. George was not big on touring so I’m not sure about him. But who knows… it could have come together.”

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