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Why the Beatles Broke Up: The New Issue of Rolling Stone

August 19, 2009 1:33 PM ET

On January 30th, 1969, the Beatles made their last public appearance, performing a gig on the roof of Apple Records. A year later, they were done for real: Paul McCartney sued to dissolve the band, concluding what Mikal Gilmore calls "one of the most mysterious and complicated end-of-romance tales of the 20th century."

 

But what really did the Beatles in? In our new issue, on stands today, Gilmore launches an exhaustive, fresh investigation into an oft-examined topic, recounting the last years of the world's greatest group — the tumultuous time during which they released their best work. Tracing the Beatles' artistic conflicts over the White Album sessions and Let It Be, as well as the management shifts that brought Allen Klein to power and changes in the bandmembers' personal lives, Gilmore comes to the conclusion that the demise of the Beatles was far worse than a "divorce," as John Lennon had referred to it. "The Beatles' end was an accident, a maneuver by John Lennon that went horribly wrong," he writes in our story behind the story.

 

"Why the Beatles Broke Up" is on newsstands now. Read Gilmore's essay explaining his conclusions — and how he arrived at them — plus flip through an illustrated guide to the Beatles' last days and photos of their entire career, as well as a guide to their full catalog, and hear audio from Jann S. Wenner's landmark 1970 Lennon interview at our Essential Beatles Coverage page.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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