I am sure that I’m not the only one that’s wonders what life would have been like in the 1970s had The Beatles not broken up at the beginning of the decade. When looking back at what the four Beatles did as solo artists in the 1970s, it’s very clear that each one of the four Beatles had still so much more to give. With the exception of John Lennon who we lost tragically in 1980, the three remaining Beatles continued to release music as solo artists into the eighties and beyond. Sadly, we also lost George Harrison, but Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr continued to release new music. There are so many ifs and questions based on the thought of what The Beatles would have done if they stayed together. Of course, its pretty futile to ponder this question since we cant change history. Yet, I know I am only one of millions who has thought about this and argued that The Beatles should have never broken up
How many albums would The Beatles have released and what would they have sounded like? Would they have continued to lead the way in musical changes, musical directions and technical innovations like they did in the 1960s? Or would they have just started releasing albums that sounded like they were just coasting along. I think its fair to say that The Beatles would have never coasted, but we have seen other great bands stay together and not come close to what they released in their heydays. That’s a great starting point at answering the question,,,What Would Life And Music Be Like If The Beatles Had Not Broken Up?
While many will argue that The Beatles were in an entire league of their own, they did have competition from a few other bands in the 1960s, none more than The Rolling Stones. Often quoted as the bad boy alternatives to The Beatles, the history of The Rolling Stones may just well serve as the best example of the road The Beatles may have traveled if they had stayed together. The Rolling Stones pretty much stayed in lock step with The Beatles to a degree in the 1960s. The Rolling Stones released their UK and US album variations just like The Beatles, They also had their psychedelic period. And of course they released an amazing body of work from 1964 to 1970. There were of course some major differences in the sound of the band. Additionally, The Rolling Stones became an amazing live act while The Beatles could not even hear each other on the stage inevitably forcing them to quit touring. However, look at the body of work that The Rolling Stones released in the 1970s and it’s there where it hits you hard questioning what the Beatles might have released in the 1970s as a band. The Rolling Stones released the best albums of their career in the 1970s including records like Sticky Fingers, Let It Bleed, Exile On Main Street and Some Girls. Yeah, just think about that.
The Beach Boys also gave The Beatles some competition for radio airplay and that hard earned record buying dollar. The Beach Boys discography from 1962 to 1970 is incredible. Hit after hit, gold album after gold album. Ther 197os period is a far different story. With the exception of Surf’s Up and Holland both released in the early 1970s there are not many more Beach Boys albums released in the 1970s that are worth mentioning. The Beach Boys had literally become an oldies act by the mid 1970s, a far different road traveled than the Stones.
There are many more 1960s bands that we could examine in the way they evolved in the 1970s as opposed to their legendary 1960s years. Groups like The Kinks and The Moody Blues are two more bands that had a great run in both the 1960s and 70s. Of course there are so many great 1970s bands that got their start in the last 60s like Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Yes, Pink Floyd and so on. But those groups are really thought of as 70s groups and just did not have the body of work in the 1960s to utilize them in this argument. The Rolling Stones are in essence the group that we could use to argue that The Beatles would have stayed on track to continue to release amazing albums and who knows what else.
Comparing The Beatles to The Rolling Stones because of what The Rolling Stones did in the 70s and 80s is really the smaller part of our argument. The most telling evidence as to why we would argue The Beatles should have never broken up is the music all four Beatles released as solo artists. There were some pretty spectacular solo albums and songs released by Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr in the 1970s. From John Lennonn’s albums John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Imagine, Mind Games, Walls and Bridges to to Paul McCartney’s first solo album, Red Rose Speedway, Ram, Band On The Run, Venus and Mars to George Harrisonn’s All Things Must Pass, Living in the Material World, Dark Horse to Ring0 Starr’s Ringo, Goodnight Vienna and Ringo’s Rotogravure, Beatles fans were left with with some great music and many more albums that we didn’t mention.
Just think about the possibilities of so many of those great Beatles solo album songs in how they may have been altered if John Lennon had collaborated with Paul McCartney on the Band On The Run material. Just think how different some of the songs from Wings At The Speed Of Sound would have sounded with John Lennon writing with Paul. The lyrics to “Silly Love Songs,” or “Let Em In,” would have been dramatically different. John Lennon would had darkened some of Paul McCartney’s music that at times was just a bit too sweet. And of course Paul McCartney would have sweetened up some of John Lennon’s darker material. Is that a good thing? Well we will never know the answer to that, but its interesting to think about it.
George Harrison’s material would have probably still sounded the same from a melodic point. Yet The Beatles as a group would have made his songs sound like Beatles songs the way they did before with Harrison’s material. That leads us to another point… those Beatles vocal harmonies. Can you imagine Lennon, McCartney and Harrison singing harmony on “My Love,” or “My Sweet Lord,” or “Mind Games,” carried away by Ringo’s iconic grooves in lock with McCartney’s bass and George Harrisonn’s signature guitar lines. The harmonies, the arrangements, the productions all continuing to push the boundaries of recording technology inspiring countless musical artists just like they did in the 1960s, only now to an entire new level, a level we will never know.
The final argument is the hardest to prove. What about the songs that were never written. Would Paul McCartney and John Lennon continue to write so well together? Or would maturity, adulthood, their spouses and so much more get in the way. It never did for Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, but based on real history it may well have gotten in the way between Paul McCartney and John Lennon like it pretty much did in the real world. But if it didn’t, if The Beatles had stayed together and continued to record albums, the world may just be a very different places as it is now, just think about it .“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
Why The Beatles Should Have Never Broken Up article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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