Yes, I know it wasn`t long ago since my last reprint of a Lennon interview, but this one was unavoidable. They absolutely were on the brink of splitting and they did make some very good albums solo after the Beatles. In a lot of ways that was a good thing as we got to have more great albums to listen to, but you always ask; “What if…?”
Beatles are on the brink of splitting
One group is just not big enough for all this talent
By Alan Smith
I MAY be wrong, and I hope I am, but these are dark days for the Beatles. I begin to wonder how much longer their association can stand the strain of their own individual talent.
JOHN LENNON pulls toward Peace and his Plastic Ono Band; RINGO Pulls toward a bigger and better film career; GEORGE HARRISON jumps toward his own prolific songwriting; and PAUL McCARTNEY pulls himself away to Scotland, his own songs . . . and silence.
Certainly, John and Paul are on opposite sides of a heavy wall of difference and self-inflicted gloom. And the bond between them can hardly have been more weak, or their opposing interests more strong.
A few days ago John and Yoko and I talked in a one-hour fifteen minute exclusive interview for NME (partly filmed for BBC-1’s look at the world of John and Yoko Lennon in ” 24 Hours”), and during that time he gave me frank answers to this mental rift with Paul and the present state of the Beatles.
He was pleasant, together, straightforward, mellow and resolute, and only in references to Paul did his voice drop in doubt.
He told me: “Paul and I both have differences of opinion on how things should be run. But instead of it being a private argument about how an LP should be done, or a certain track, it’s now a larger argument about the organisation of Apple itself.
“Whether we both want the same thing from Apple in the end is a matter of opinion. But how to achieve it — that’s where we digress.
“Mainly, we disagree on the Klein bit. But you know, I don’t really want to discuss Paul without him here. It’s just that as far as I can see, Paul was always waiting for This Guy to just appear and come and save us from the mess we were in.
“And we were in a mess, and only my saying it to the Press that time enabled Klein to hear about it and come over.
“I’m a quarter of this building, and it became a question of whether I should pull my money out if I could — which I probably can’t.
“I did say I wanted out at one time. It was just that all my income was going in to Apple and being wasted by the joy-riding people who were here. In fact, that was just the minute bit of it. I just wanted it to stop.
“It’s no use pretending we can be here all the time when that kind of thing is going on. We needed a business man. No Beatle can spend his days here checking the accounts.
“There was also the question of the four of us holding different opinions on different things, and the staff not knowing where they where or who to listen to.
“I know that’s what’s going on all the time. People come to me and say `Paul wants this done, what do you think?, `and they know damn well what I think and they say `alright,’ and then they go to Paul and say John wants this done, he’s off again.
“The result is that we kept sending in different instructions and nothing was being done. Like people anywhere, they were getting away with what they could. We were naive and stupid.
“What I want is for the freeloading to stop, but the old Apple spirit to remain. The spirit will be there, because if Apple is not a problem to the Beatles — which it was — it just can’t help but get better.
“Our job is to put the creative side into Apple. If the Beatles never recorded together again, but each put their creative efforts through Apple… that at least would be better than me having a company, Paul having a company, George having a company, and Ringo having a company. “Together we at least have that much more power.
“I know now that the original concept of helping everybody doesn’t work in its purest form. All you get are the bums and freeloaders everybody else turns down.
“The only way we can help other artists at Apple is the same way the Beatles helped other artists … by breaking new barriers. That’s what we didn’t get before. We sat back, and we started to believe our own publicity, to tell ourselves how the Beatles helped people get long hair, and the Beatles started off this, and the other.
“The Beatles split up? It just depends how much we all want to record together. I don’t know if I want to record together again. I go off and on it. I really do.
“The problem is that in the old days, when we needed an album Paul and I got together and produced enough songs for it.
“Nowadays, there’s three of us writing prolifically and trying to fit it all onto one album. Or we have to think of a double album every time, which takes six months.
“That’s the hang-up we have. It’s not a personal ‘The Beatles are fighting’ thing, so much as an actual, physical problem.
“What do you do? I don’t want to spend six months making an album I have two tracks on! And neither do Paul or George, probably. That’s the problem. If we can overcome that, maybe it’ll sort itself out.
“None of us want to be background musicians most of the time. It’s a waste. We didn’t spend ten years making it to have the freedom of recording studios, to be able to have two tracks on an album.
“It’s not like we spend our time wrestling in the studio trying to get our own songs on. We all do it the same way . . . we take it in turns to record a track. It’s just that usually in the past, George lost out. Because Paul and I are tougher.
“It’s nothing new, the way things are. It’s human. We’ve always said we’ve had fights It’s no news that we argue. I’m more interested in my songs. Paul’s more interested in his, and George is more interested in his. That’s always been.
“This is why I’ve started with the Plastic Ono and working with Yoko . . . to have more outlet. There isn’t enough outlet for me in the Beatles. The Ono Band is my escape valve. And how important that gets, as compared to the Beatles for me, I’ll have to wait and see.
“You have to realise that there’s a peculiar situation in that if ‘Cold Turkey’ had had the name ‘Beatles’ on it, probably it would have been a No. 1.
“‘Cold Turkey’ has got Ringo and me on, and yet on half the Beatles’ tracks of ‘Abbey Road,’ I’m not on, or half the tracks on the double album — and even way back. Sometimes there might be only two Beatles on a track.
“It’s got to the situation where if we have the name `Beatle’ on it, it sells. So you get to think: ‘What are we selling? Do they buy it because it’s worth it, or just because it says ‘Beatles?’
“George is in the same position. I mean, he’s got songs he’s been trying to get on since 1920. He’s got to make an album of his own. And maybe if he puts ‘Beatles’ on the label rather than George Harrison, it might sell more. That’s the drag.
“Of course we could each make an album and call it ‘The Beatles.’ But that would be cheating. And that’s not my scene.
“Anyway, folks, remember the Plastic Ono Band LP from Toronto released December the 12th, with a nice picture of the sky, and a fab calendar inside of a year’s events with John and Yoko, with poetry and fun.”