Paul McCartney files a lawsuit to dissolve The Beatles’ partnership

Although their solo project had largely been successful, 1970 was a dark year for The Beatles. Their group activities were limited to finishing off the Let It Be album, dealing with business activities at Apple, and giving occasional interviews to the press.

The year ended on perhaps its lowest point of all, with Paul McCartney filing a lawsuit in London’s High Court to dissolve The Beatles’ partnership.

Talk about traumas! Not only was the Beatles broken up, this fabbest of groups and these nicest of people, the other three Beatles, these true buddies of mine from way way back, these truest friends of mine were now my firmest enemies overnight. Ever since I was a child I’d been in this group, I’d grown up in this group, this was my school, my family, my life. John Eastman said, ‘You’ve got to do it this way, there’s no other way.’ I said, ‘I can’t do it! Can you imagine the perception of the world? I know what public relations I’m going to get. I know how the press will perceive it.” I was just trying to walk away from them and keep it low-key, but I couldn’t. I knew I had to do it. It was either that or letting Klein have the whole thing, all the fortune we’d worked for all our lives since we were children.

But we did rescue the Beatle millions. They had taken us long enough to earn and we hadn’t screwed anyone to earn them and I always thought it was very clean money compared to the shipbuilders and the great sugar fortunes. No one had to buy our records. We’d kept people in work at the vinyl factories, we’d worked for this, scraped our own fingers to the bone. So we felt good about that and I felt good about hanging on to it.

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The suit was filed against John Ono Lennon of Ascot, Berkshire; George Harrison of Henley-on-Thames, Berkshire; Richard Starkey of Highgate, London; and Apple Corps of Savile Row, London.

The writ was issued in the High Court’s Chancery Division, based at the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand. It sought:

A declaration that the partnership business carried on by the plaintiff and the defendants under the name of The Beatles & Co., and constituted by a deed of partnership dated 19 April 1967 and made between the parties hereto, ought to be dissolved and that accordingly the same be dissolved.

There were three reasons put forward for the dissolution: firstly, The Beatles had ceased to perform together as a group, so the purpose of their partnership was no more; secondly, the other three Beatles had, despite McCartney’s opposition and in breach of their partnership agreement, appointed Allen Klein and his ABKCO as their exclusive business manager; and that McCartney had never been given audited accounts during the four years of their partnership.

McCartney also asked for a receiver to be appointed until the case was settled, and requested that Klein was formally charged with mismanagement of Apple’s funds.

The other Beatles declined to comment. That night, Ringo Starr held a New Year’s Eve party at Ronnie Scott’s in London, where an all-star jam took place into the small hours with Charlie Watts, Eric Clapton, Bobby Keys, Klaus Voormann, Maurice Gibb and Georgie Fame.

Last updated: 9 December 2021
US single release: Mother by John Lennon
UK single release: Another Day by Paul McCartney
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