Time and time again, one band has been revered as “the greatest musical act in the history of popular music.” The Beatles were formed when John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s talents converged on Liverpool in 1962. Their immense popularity gripped the lives of every teenager in the early 60s as the phenomena known as Beatlemania stormed the world, and their later music experimentation and maturity produced many historic albums like “Rubber Soul” (1965), “Revolver” (1966), “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967), “The Beatles (The White Album)” (1968), “Abbey Road” (1969), and “Let it Be” (1970).
When The Beatles released “Abbey Road” on the 26th of September, 1969, it seemed as if the band was in the peak of their game. The album quickly rose to the number one position in most charts, and their popularity was just as strong as in the mop-top days. It was for these reasons that the news on April 10, 1970 came as such a shock—Paul McCartney was quitting the Beatles.
Most fans questioned as to why it had happened. Was Yoko Ono to blame? Or was it their struggle to recuperate from the death of their manager, Brian Epstein? Whatever it was, it was clear that the voice of the 60s generation had died, and mourning was all that was left to do.
All throughout the 70s, rumors of a potential Beatles reunion were spread everywhere. Their fans wanted it to happen, but years passed and it never did. Any hope for a comeback was destroyed the day John Lennon was assassinated in December, 1980. The Beatles’ catalog was officially finished.
Now, most fans would think the end of the Beatles was a tragedy. Those who would’ve wanted the Beatles to last as long as the Rolling Stones just need to look and analyze the Rolling Stones’ career. It’s been 55 years since the Stones were founded in London in 1962. They dub themselves as the “greatest rock and roll band” ever, but let’s really look at their musical output throughout the years. The 60s were good to them, with hits like “Satisfaction,” “Paint It, Black,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Gimme Shelter,” and much more. However the 70s weren’t as good. The band seemed all but dead after the release of the album “Exile on Main St.” They made some decent albums, but the reality is that their musical quality and fame diminished. Take a look at them now—those grandpas who still play don’t resemble the badass Stones’ they once used to be. For them, it’s time to quit. And the same thing happened to Elvis after his stint in the army.
It’s not completely their faults. The music world changes, and it’s very difficult for artists who made their name playing one genre of music to adjust to the changing musical tastes of society. Physical factors also play a role. As they get older, they can’t sing or play as well as when they were in their younger primes. The truth is, there comes a point when it’s time to call it quits and check-out. And it’s best if artists do this before their careers take a turn towards pathetic.
Therefore, was it really that bad for the Beatles to have broken up in 1970? Come to think of it, they quit while they were ahead. Their catalog is almost exclusively filled with hits, classics, and deep tracks that rival even the greatest hits of other bands. They never experienced any decline in musicianship or songwriting. Their prolific hit making approach to songwriting has yet been matched. One can imagine the many hit singles and albums the Beatles still had in them, and that leads us to think that breaking up the band was bad. But in reality, all Paul did was seal the Beatles’ perfect legacy as “the greatest musical act of all time."
By Guillermo Almodovar on Nov. 10, 2017, 3:01 p.m.