THE BEATLES SOLO - From the Fab Four to four individual artists

THE BEATLES SOLO - Von den Fab Four zu vier Einzelkünstlern

After the failed attempt to rekindle the old fire during the "Get Back" sessions, the Beatles experienced a rapid process of disintegration: the cracks that had already opened up during the "White Album" became bigger and bigger. The separation in April 1970 led to chaos: The creative couple Lennon/McCartney was history, friendships were broken, but at the same time the four musicians were still contractually bound to each other. How did it continue for them? How can their solo work of the 70s be assessed from today's perspective? eclipsed tells the story of the end of the world's most famous band and a diverse new beginning.

Even if a certain lack of direction shaped the Fab Four solo albums throughout the 70s, their search for their own way also led to unique works of art that would not have been possible in the Beatles context. The appeal of the solo catalogue lies precisely in its incongruity, its breaks and misjudgements, through which the individual musical personalities could first develop - now that they had to manage without the support of their band colleagues. At the same time, the history of the solo beatles' artistic creation, which reached its first climax as early as 1970, is also that of a musical dialogue between estranged friends.

1970: Suddenly on its own

Two Beatles had already started to make music on their own before the official separation in April 1970: With "Wonderwall Music" (released in November 1968) and "Electronic Sound" (May 1969) George Harrison recorded two albums of instrumental music, the first a soundtrack combining rock elements with classical Indian music, the second a contribution to the short-lived Apple avant-garde sub-label Zapple consisting of two Moog synthesizer tracks. John Lennon, too, with his three experimental albums with Yoko Ono ("Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins" (1968), "Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions" (1969), "Wedding Album" (1969)), had rather let off steam than striving for serious songwriting that could compete with the Beatles. The recording of the Plastic Ono Band's hotel room peace song "Give Peace A Chance" in July 1969 was officially the first single by a single Beatle, but it was more of a political statement than a first attempt to break away from the band. But this began when Lennon presented his song "Cold Turkey" to the other three Beatles in 1969, which met with only moderate enthusiasm. Lennon, quite offended, because the raw song about the suffering of drug withdrawal was very important to him, finally recorded the song together with Ringo, Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann and released it in October 1969. In addition he announced: "There is not enough outflow in the Beatles. The Ono Band is my outlet, so to speak. How important it will be, the future will tell." In February 1970 his next step in his own career came with his third solo single, "Instant Karma!"

Actually John Lennon had already wanted to announce his departure and with it the dissolution of the Beatles publicly in the autumn of 1969, but was mainly prevented from doing so by Paul McCartney. On the one hand he feared a journalistic disaster and wanted to approach the matter more thoughtfully, but at the same time it is quite possible that he did not want to give up the band yet and hoped to be able to convince the old friend of the common cause again. After all, after the fiasco with "Get Back" (see box) they had found their way back on track and recorded the career highlight "Abbey Road" in a surprisingly disciplined way. Lennon was all the more perplexed when it was McCartney who announced his departure in April 1970 with media attention. Lennon felt taken by surprise and probably never forgave him for this. But McCartney had good reasons for this, as his recently articulated aversion to working with the windy manager Allen Klein had fallen on deaf ears among the others, which finally led to Klein taking over the business of the band, although McCartney had refused to sign. In retrospect, he was right and Klein should have taken the other three, who continued to be managed by him, over the barrel - but that's another story ...

Even beyond the upheavals surrounding Klein there were disputes in which Paul McCartney was not entirely innocent. At the instigation of his mother, Ringo Starr had recorded an album with old standards, which he called "Sentimental Journey". It must be remembered that in 1970 such an undertaking was more than unusual for a rock musician - whose role was actually to oppose the old establishment, not to sing the songs of that establishment. Ringo, however, wanted to release the record as soon as possible. But suddenly Paul also came around the corner with a solo work, the hastily recorded "McCartney", which he wanted to have on the market as soon as possible after his announcement that the band was finished. With the advance copies of the album he had sent a question-and-answer list to the press, explaining the reasons for his separation from the Beatles. An unusual move, which was not at all well received by the others, he had thus created a forum that was spontaneously not available to them, which annoyed Lennon in particular. Moreover, the old "Get Back" recordings under the title "Let It Be" were to be released at the same time; a kind of farewell album that McCartney hated deeply because of the post-production of Phil Spector, who in his opinion had overloaded the pieces with orchestral parts. Ringo says: "I was the one who had to tell Paul that we actually wanted to postpone his solo album because of 'Let It Be'. He's completely freaked out...

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