Why Did The Beatles Break Up? A Long And Winding Story

Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Paul McCartney in the audience at the London Pavillion for premiere of 'Yellow Submarine,' July 17, 1968. (Photo by Cummings Archives/Redferns)

John Lennon and Paul McCartney were the greatest rock songwriting duo of the '60s, and the Beatles were the biggest band on the planet -- so why did the Beatles break up? Other acts with less critical and commercial success than the Beatles (which is all other acts) have stayed together for decades, yet the celebrated Fab Four only made it about 10 years. And even as they were falling apart, the music they were creating was classic stuff.

People often reduce the breakup of the Beatles to simple forces, such as Yoko Ono’s machinations or the divisive nature of their manager, Allen Klein, who John Lennon liked, but Paul McCartney did not. The causes, however, were much more complicated than that, and rooted in the history of the band and band members own struggles.