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The one event John Lennon blamed for The Beatles’ breakup: “That was the disintegration”

No group is meant to play together forever. For all of the great music that four or five people can make when they get together in a room, there is bound to come a time when everyone will want to drift towards something different or try out what they can do without their bandmates. Although The Beatles’ breakup is still being mulled over by fans to this day, John Lennon thought that the loss of Brian Epstein was where everything started to fall apart.

Then again, it’s hard to really place blame on any one person when it comes to the Fab Four’s breakup. There’s a good case to be made for a scoundrel like Allen Klein not helping matters towards the end, but it was only natural for every one of them to drift apart and work on their own music. The world had seen them go from boys to men, and each of them had different interests in where their career was supposed to go.

In those early years, though, Epstein was one of the few who could justifiably claim to be ‘The Fifth Beatle’. While that honour has been bestowed upon many different artists throughout the years, Epstein’s proper approach to rock and roll and his insistence on turning the group into a more sophisticated version of the genre with their matching suits help endear them to both parents and kids alike.

For someone who just had the manager role, what Epstein did in the midst of Beatlemania was nothing short of heroic. Since everyone started losing their minds the minute Lennon said that the group was bigger than Jesus, their manager was the one to diffuse the situation, putting on the best front for the press and ensuring the band were on their best behaviour in interviews.

Once they got off the road, it wasn’t clear if The Beatles needed Epstein anymore. Although his contract was still up in the air going into 1967, his tragic passing due to a drug overdose shook the group to their core.

When talking to Rolling Stone, Lennon thought that Epstein’s death was the first bad omen for the group, saying, “After Brian died, we collapsed. Paul took over and supposedly led us. But what is leading us when we went around in circles? We broke up then. That was the disintegration. I was in my own pain. I wasn’t noticing, really. I just did it like a job. The Beatles broke up after Brian died.”

Epstein’s death may have contributed to their spiral, but as they were in free fall, The Beatles still pumped out the greatest music of their career. Because of that constant tension between bandmates, projects like The White Album and Abbey Road brought out the best in all of them, almost like they were trying to continue working to keep the dream alive.

That didn’t mean it came without some hardship, and looking through documentaries like Get Back, it’s easy to see why McCartney’s way of leading the group caused a lot of bad blood between everybody. The idea of The Beatles was still perfectly fine for the rock world, but once Lennon released the song ‘God’, we all knew that we had to face reality. The dream was officially over.

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