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Did the Beatles break up at the right time? What would have happened if they stayed together?
21 October 2008
4.18am
Wahlroos
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Did the Beatles end the '60s or did the '60s end the Beatles? Or what if the '60s had ended in time but the Beatles hadn't? What kind of records would they have put out during the seventies?

Naturally, continuing as a band would have required different circumstances. But if the dilemmas with Lennon lyrics, Harrison as an equal composer, G. Martin's dislike towards experimental music, Yoko and Apple-Klein had been fruitfully solved that could have been possible.

Maybe Lennon's Plastic Ono Band and Harrison's All Things Must Pass give some hints about the hypothetically possible new directions for the Fabs. But it's very uneasy to extrapolate the issue any further, or is it? If I fantasize a little, stuff like Roxy-Bowie, Krautrock ascetism or even post-punk before punk might have been within their reach.

Note by Ahhh Girl 31 May 2014: this thread is a combination of three threads.

1. Posts 1-4 and 26 were in a thread titled "What if" in the Albums section.

2. Posts 5-10 were in a thread titled "Imagine: What If" in the Songs section.

3. Posts 11-25 were in a thread titled "Did the Beatles break up at the right time?" in the Yesterday and Today section.

Update 22 June 2014: The thread titled "What if Beatles lasted till 1975" (posts 27-34) were merged into this thread. Popular topic.

The following people thank Wahlroos for this post:

Into the Sky with Diamonds
28 February 2010
10.37am
Marcelo
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Really heavy thread, man...

 

Let me think of it.

I'd like to say "thank you" on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we passed the audition. John Lennon
28 February 2010
2.16pm
mjb
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Imaging getting this an an examinastion question - it'd make you think.

"If we feel our heads starting to swell.....we just look at Ringo!"
28 February 2010
6.15pm
skye
AZ
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It just makes me think about this episode of the Simpsons,

OLD HIPPIE: "In a way, the sixties ended the day we sold that van, December 31, 1969".

If they had wanted to, they could have continued and would have helped to define the seventies as they did the sixties. But they seemed to do that anyway indivually so I don't know.

Tough question.

Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo! So little time! So much to know!
29 April 2010
5.15pm
RonnieRIG
The Mitten State!
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Do you think the Beatles would have remained popular / relevant in the '70's up to now if they hadn't broken up or perhaps gotten back together? Do you think they would be so iconic now if they didn't break up or if Lennon hadn't been killed?

I wonder about these things sometimes. I'm curious what you guys think!

Note by Ahhh Girl 31 May 2014: this post began a new thread titled "Imagine: What if". Posts 6-10 were also in that thread.

29 April 2010
6.07pm
Joe
Pepperland
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I'm kind of glad they split up when they did. Music was fragmenting hugely by the end of the 1960s, and it continued to do so in the 1970s. The Beatles would have been hopelessly irrelevant among funk, disco, glam rock and 70s heavy rock - you can see them trying to fit in with some of those styles in the 70s and 80s as solo artists, and normally they didn't do it well.

John Lennon admitted as much, that he couldn't find a way to be relevant amid all the young people coming through (this was around the Mind Games era when he dabbled a bit with trying to be glam in his image, before giving it up).

Although I'd love to know what else they could have come up with had they stayed together, if they'd made a truly duff album it would have destroyed the dream. As it is, they owned the 1960s. They'd never have done the same for another decade.

Yes, they'd be iconic now if Lennon hadn't died.

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3 May 2010
6.37pm
Happy Nat
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What if The Beatles had summer of 1964 to do over? Would they still have begun their Eurasia tour without Ringo, or would they refuse and postpone it a couple weeks? I know George Harrison had commented once or twice on how he resented being told they could not cancel their scheduled tour even though Ringo had been suddenly hospitalized with tonsillitis. I think in general he was upset over how often they could not (or were not very effective at) make decisions for themselves at that early point in their careers. Jimmy Nicol didn't do too bad though. If you like, have a listen to Jimmy with John, Paul & George playing in Holland.

http://www.thebeatlesrarity.co.....mmy-nicol/

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3 May 2010
6.40pm
Happy Nat
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Joe said:

I'm kind of glad they split up when they did. Music was fragmenting hugely by the end of the 1960s, and it continued to do so in the 1970s. The Beatles would have been hopelessly irrelevant among funk, disco, glam rock and 70s heavy rock - you can see them trying to fit in with some of those styles in the 70s and 80s as solo artists, and normally they didn't do it well.

John Lennon admitted as much, that he couldn't find a way to be relevant amid all the young people coming through (this was around the Mind Games era when he dabbled a bit with trying to be glam in his image, before giving it up).

Although I'd love to know what else they could have come up with had they stayed together, if they'd made a truly duff album it would have destroyed the dream. As it is, they owned the 1960s. They'd never have done the same for another decade.

Yes, they'd be iconic now if Lennon hadn't died.


 

I think they are iconic anyway.

Bringing you the best and worst of The Beatles, since 2007.
4 May 2010
11.34am
McLerristarr
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I think The Beatles would be just as iconic but Lennon wouldn't be because he wouldn't be the martyr he is today if he hadn't died (by definition obviously, but hopefully you know what I mean). I think John would have eventually got over the whole peace thing, he would have kept wanting peace of course but he would've got over telling everyone about it all the time. I think he was just starting a new point in his life when he died. I think there definitely would have been a Beatles reunion which would have changed The Beatles and John's legacies completely, perhaps for the worse. But saying that, that doesn't mean I'm glad John died – quite the opposite.

4 May 2010
8.26pm
Zig
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Joe said:

I'm kind of glad they split up when they did. Music was fragmenting hugely by the end of the 1960s, and it continued to do so in the 1970s. The Beatles would have been hopelessly irrelevant among funk, disco, glam rock and 70s heavy rock - you can see them trying to fit in with some of those styles in the 70s and 80s as solo artists, and normally they didn't do it well.

As it is, they owned the 1960s. They'd never have done the same for another decade.


While I am sad to this day that they split up (I was 7 years old and crushed!!), I agree that the break up was well timed. As far as iconic, consider this. Here in the US, The Beatles outsold every act, past or present in the decade of 2000 through 2009 except for Eminem (go figure).

That said, do you think there will be a video game 40 years from now calld "Rock Band: Eminem"? Doubt it.  

To the fountain of perpetual mirth, Let it roll for all its worth.

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11 February 2014
11.14am
tulane
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Would you have preferred for the Beatles to have carried on longer with the possibility that they could have made more great music
together or are you glad that they split up when they did and didn't risk damaging their legacy by going on to possibly make mediocre music
together?
A good point of comparison I think is the Rolling Stones who have now been together for over 50 years.
Would the Rolling Stones legendary status/legacy have been even better if they had split up at their peak?  Do you feel the Stones damaged
their legacy by carrying on so long and, I think its fair to say, past their best or do you feel that the Stones longevity has enhanced
their legacy?
I don't want this thread to turn into a Beatles versus Stones thread - I am just using the Stones as an example of a band that has had
longevity.  I don't want to know whether you like or hate the Stones.  What I would be interested to hear is whether you prefer
bands that you love to stay together as long as possible and make as much music together as possible or to quit while they're ahead as it
were, even though this will most probably mean you miss out on at least some good music.

Note by Ahhh Girl 31 May 2014: this post originally began a new thread with the title "Did the Beatles break up at the right time?" Post 12-25 were part of that thread.

11 February 2014
12.41pm
meanmistermustard
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Don't we have a thread on here about this or was that touring?

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
11 February 2014
12.44pm
fabfouremily
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Well I thought so, but I can't find it. Did you look first, tulane?

''We're just knocked out. We heard about the sell out. You gotta get an album out, you owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.''

11 February 2014
12.50pm
Ron Nasty
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There have certainly been discussions about what would have made up another album (or other albums) had they continued.

"I only said we were bigger than Rod... and now there's all this!" Ron Nasty
11 February 2014
4.17pm
Mr Bellamy
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I think the Beatles did break up at the right time. They have an almost perfect discography of songs unlike other bands such as the stones and the who who made mediocre music throughout the 80's. I do think this enhanced their legacy although a reunion concert in the 70's would haven been nice to see.

"We can do what we want, we can live as we choose"

11 February 2014
4.23pm
fabfouremily
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Yeah, I agree. There's plenty of examples of artists who've kept on going just for the sake of it (too many), and the Beatles aren't one of them luckily. It's sad they broke up, but I'm glad they did as I'd rather have 7/8 year's worth of good stuff than that plus another 5, 10 years of not-so-good stuff.

''We're just knocked out. We heard about the sell out. You gotta get an album out, you owe it to the people. We're so happy we can hardly count.''

11 February 2014
4.24pm
ivaughan
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Historically it has worked out in their favour. Ultimately, while we can say that we like some albums better than others, it is difficult to say that the band ever put out anything less than great albums. Whether they would have is hard to say, though it is difficult to believe that they could have kept up that pace for another decade. In comparison to other bands, though, The Beatles stand up so well in part because they never had their embarrassing weak period. 

With that in mind, though, while they seemed to have a hard time finding unity and therefore focus in the post-Pepper era (doesn't mean that they DIDN'T find it, just that it seemed harder), they still had it in them to create great albums. I'm always a bit unsatisfied with the proposed lists of what-if Beatles albums circa 1970 or 1971 because those collections of solo songs cannot possibly take into account the "feel" that each individual Beatles album tended to have, which occurred because they worked together and worked hard at establishing a new sound with every album.

11 February 2014
5.00pm
Von Bontee
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Also, we can never know what those solo songs may have sounded like with 3-part Beatles harmonies spicing up some of the drearier material.

One day, a tape-op got a tape on backwards, he went to play it, and it was all "Neeeradno-undowarrroom" and it was "Wow! Sounds Indian!" -- Paul McCartney
11 February 2014
6.23pm
ivaughan
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Von Bontee said
Also, we can never know what those solo songs may have sounded like with 3-part Beatles harmonies spicing up some of the drearier material.

Exactly and also just the tight playing of all four of them. It's actually quite remarkable just how well they played together. There may have been bands who had members who were more technically proficient at their instruments but it's pretty hard to find another band who could play as well as a unit. I think the closest you'd find would be the studio musician bands like The Funk Brothers or Booker T. & The MGs or The Wrecking Crew. Eventually The Band did a nice job of this as well. Ultimately though, The Beatles sounded great when they all played together. 

And it is also worth noting that the band probably never sounded better than on their last recordings together - Abbey Road. There, they seemed to have all matured perfectly as individual musicians playing within a unit. To listen to the sound of Abbey Road and then to listen to, say, McCartney or Plastic Ono or All Things, you hear the remarkable difference in the band sound. They may all be great albums but the Beatles sound had changed (though at the very least the latter two albums had Ringo). And the kind of influence they still had on each other was significant - such as George suggesting to John that they arrange Sun King like Fleetwood Mac did Albatross.

With all that in mind, then, it is quite something to imagine what a Beatles album in 1970 might have sounded like. Unfortunately not even the solo albums necessarily give us any indication.

11 February 2014
6.49pm
4or5Magicians
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While I'd love to have a few more Beatles CDs on my shelf, I'm glad they were able to go out making some of the best music they'd recorded up to that point. Really, they don't have any albums I can't stand to listen to, or albums with one or two good tracks, and the rest is garbage. I can't say that about many other bands.

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