Beatles enjoy their place in history on 50th anniversary of split

When Paul McCartney suggested The Beatles were done, the future did not seem so rosy

2nd July 1964:  The Beatles (from left to right, John Lennon (1940 - 1980), George Harrison (1943 - 2001), Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr) arrive back at London Airport after their Australian tour.  (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
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For many, it was the day the music died, and was the end of an era.

On this day, 50 years ago, few fans felt any sense of hope on hearing the somewhat ambiguous announcement that The Beatles were going their separate ways.

But now, a lifetime from those dark days, the full genius of the rock band formed in Liverpool can be appreciated as the most influential of all time, having inspired musicians of all genres, spread creativity across the entertainment industry, and given rise to a tourist industry in their home city.

When Paul McCartney released an interview on April 10, 1970, in which he suggested that The Beatles were done making records together, the future did not seem so rosy.

Just before the release of his first solo album, McCartney stopped short of announcing the formal break-up of the band in a Q&A.

The Beatles are still celebrated and loved today.

But, when asked if he could see a time when his prolific songwriting partnership with fellow Beatle John Lennon would restart, his blunt reply - “no” - spoke for itself.

“McCartney Breaks Off With Beatles” was the resulting New York Times’ headline.

Still the best-selling artists

The acrimonious split of the Fab Four - McCartney, Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - left fans inconsolable, according to Philip Norman, who has written several books on The Beatles, including the official 2016 Paul McCartney biography.

“A whole generation had grown up with The Beatles - they had a Beatles album for every important stage in their life,” Norman said. “A lot of people thought it's just dreadful... it's just a bleak future without them. It truly did feel that way.”

They remain the best-selling music artists of all time, with enduring hits from “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Hey Jude” to “Yesterday” and “Let It Be” familiar to at least four generations of fans.

A few days ago, the music industry body revealed the most popular musical years for every decade of the rock and roll era, by analysing all the music streamed in the UK in 2019.

In the top10 songs of the 1960s, which will appear in the BPI yearbook: All About The Music 2020 out later this month, Here Comes the Sun (1969) was at number one with 25.3 million streams, and Come Together at four with 12.5 million streams.

“They're not over,” Norman contends. “They're still everywhere.”

On this 50th anniversary, a new, previously unpublished photo has been discovered showing McCartney, Lennon and Harrison playing as The Quarrymen a year before they became The Beatles.

Mark Lewisohn, a band historian, told AFP: “The Beatles were said to have been the 20th century's greatest romance, but no one then could have foreseen that such an already phenomenal accomplishment would extend into the next century.

“Fifty years now after breaking up, The Beatles remain an artistic ultimate, leading creative people everywhere to the limitless playing field open to all.”

In Liverpool, where a Beatles statue looks out on the Mersey, a tourist industry has grown up around the four superstars and the band’s performances at the now-famous venue where their popularity began.

Fans ride in yellow submarine coaches through the city streets on their way to a re-modelled Cavern Club – the original was demolished – where they can sing the hits they still love.