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Did the Beatles break up at the right time? What would have happened if they stayed together?
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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
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RonnieRIG
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Joe
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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
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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
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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.

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11 February 2014
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tulane
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11 February 2014
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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.

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