Brian Epstein denies The Beatles are splitting

October 1966

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The Beatles ended their 1966 US tour on August 29, 1966, and went on hiatus. John Lennon was busy filming “How I Won The War,” George Harrison visited India, and Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were enjoying time off. In October, press speculation about a Beatles breakup was rampant.

To dispel the rumours, Brian Epstein denied The Beatles were splitting even if, in a Disc & Music Echo interview, he almost confirmed that the Beatles had stopped touring.

Epstein also announced that John and Paul had been signed to write the soundtrack together for the Boulting Brothers’ new film, “All In Good Time“. It was eventually released as “The Family Way“, with no involvement from John in the music.

There’s no real question of the Beatles retiring. Let’s face it, what is happening at the moment is that they’re simmering down. Making films, writing music, making records… that’s their future. While I know live appearances are of permanent importance to many people, the Beatles find themselves open to so much misinterpretation… like that appalling debacle in Manila and the comments about Christ. Be sure the Beatles themselves like singing and playing to a public, but it’s become so difficult and so tense that their enjoyment and pleasure — let alone finance — is taken away. Still, while they are creating albums like “Revolver,” I doubt if the public are entitled to expect much more of them.

Brian Epstein – From Disc And Music Echo – October 29, 1966

On November 9 I could no longer put off the worried phone calls from our English tour promoter, Arthur Howes, about booking future Beatles’ concerts. Brian, who couldn’t bear to admit the truth, finally called Howes and told him that the Beatles would no longer accept any bookings. Within the hour word leaked out to the press, and the office was deluged with calls. It was reported in most papers the next day that the Beatles intended to exist solely as recording artists. No entertainment act had ever attempted this before, and the implication of many of the articles was that that was the first step in their long-expected demise.

Peter Brown – From “The Love You Make: An Insider’s Story of the Beatles“, 2002

FILM PLANS STAY BUT… Beatles to split shock!

PERSISTENT RUMOURS that the Beatles would disband at Christmas were officially denied on Tuesday. Rumours have been sweeping London pop circles all week that the Beatles would “split up at Christmas to go their separate ways. But a Beatles office spokesman told Disc and Music Echo on Tuesday: “The Beatles are NOT splitting up. They’ll be writing material for their next film in the usual way.”

Meanwhile, the boys are carrying on their individual activities. John is still in Spain working on location for his film part in “How I Won The War.” He is not due back in Britain till mid-November. Ringo and his wife, Maureen, are also in Spain — on holiday. George Harrison is still in Bombay, where he has been studying the sitar. Paul McCartney is the only Beatle in London.

John and Paul have been signed to write the score for the Boulting Brothers’ latest film, “All In Good Time,” which stars Hayley Mills. Paul agreed on behalf of John to do the score after seeing the already-completed film with Beatles boss Brian Epstein.

From Disc And Music Echo – October 22, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – October 22, 1966

SHOULD THE BEATLES RETIRE? After the rumours of a split – what the stars think

JOHN LENNON is in Spain, making his solo film debut. George Harrison is in Bombay, studying the sitar. Ringo and his wife Maureen are holidaying in Spain. And Paul is alone in London. The Beatles have gone their individual ways, and there are no plans yet for a follow-up single to “Yellow Submarine.” No firm plans for a British tour. Retiring? The word sounds odd when applied to four men who have achieved so much and who have made popular music such a part of everyone’s lives. But should they retire as a group NOW, with a glorious history — so that people can say: “Ah—but there was nothing like the Beatles…?” Should they go their separate, brilliant ways? Or should they carry on as the Beatles, contributing their group genius to the world?

CLIFF RICHARD: Retirement is a personal thing. One day I’m going to retire to take up teaching. But as far as the Beatles are concerned I would say No. Why retire? Unless they have definite ideas about what they are going to do. If they came into the business with the idea of making a smash and getting out — then that’s fair enough. Fact is that they’ll never ALWAYS be on top. Really there’s no answer to the question “‘Should they retire?” If they want to retire at the top of their careers — then get out now. If they want to stay big in showbiz, then they should continue as they are!

HANK MARVIN (Shadows): I’m one of the “Never Say Die” people, actually. Whether the Beatles can get any higher than they are now, no one knows. If I was them, I wouldn’t pack it in unless I was really cheesed off. But if it was a case of personal happiness — then I would. I think they still have a lot to offer — both musically and entertainment-wise. But they have to face up to it—they’re not going to be teenage idols all their lives.

BRIAN EPSTEIN: There’s no real question of the Beatles retiring. Let’s face it, what is happening at the moment is that they’re simmering down. Making films, writing music, making records… that’s their future. While I know live appearances are of permanent importance to many people, the Beatles find themselves open to so much misinterpretation… like that appalling debacle in Manila and the comments about Christ. Be sure the Beatles themselves like singing and playing to a public, but it’s become so difficult and so tense that their enjoyment and pleasure — let alone finance — is taken away. Still, while they are creating albums like “Revolver,” I doubt if the public are entitled to expect much more of them. Their future together really lies as far as the moon. I’m not thinking of theatres, but a big record-buying market. With this, and more good films, they can only continue developing. I know the main contention of their critics is that they have become too flippant as far as their fans are concerned. But I don’t think many of the fans really feel this. And those that do just don’t consider the difficulties that the Beatles encounter through being who they are.

DEREK TAYLOR, Disc and Music Echo American writer and ex-Beatles Press Officer: No. The Beatles shouldn’t retire. There was once an eminent, witty and conceited professor named Joad who is now remembered for only three things: (1) be was bearded, (2) he was caught travelling on the railway without a ticket and (3) he used to say: “it all depends what you mean by…” Well it all depends what you mean by retire. The Beatles, clearly shouldn’t, won’t and can’t retire from writing music. No one ever retires from writing. Some become “written-out”; the well dries or the “ghost writer” dies. But the evidence is that McCartney and Lennon are only just now on the threshold of profoundly great words and music.

Their success has so compounded their confidence, their experiences as world-travelled, brutally exposed star-giants have so heightened their perception, and their increasing maturity is so deepening their lyrical and melodic resources, that hundreds of songs may tumble from their heads if John and Paul wish it to be so.

The next question is, probably, should they retire from recording and the answer is of course they shouldn’t and of course they won’t, because there would be no point. So John and Paul will continue to record. And so too, one assumes will Ringo and George whose creative contribution, though, on paper, smaller, is too closely attuned musically and spiritually to be lightly replaced. George, of course, is settling with determination to writing and when it becomes less of an effort for him, we may see some fine music.

Next then… should the Beatles retire from performing? This, I suppose, means should they retire from personal appearances, from concerts on television, from in-public appearances as a foursome—at presentations and so on. We’re now getting into the heart of the matter because to give up collective appearances is the nearest they could reasonably get to retiring. It might be a very good idea if the Beatles gave up touring at the end of this year. I’m thinking only of their prestige, because I know they enjoy many of their concerts — more, much more, than they did a couple of years ago. But I don’t want to be a witness to any furtively gleeful derision if there are empty seats at auditoriums. I don’t want their detractors to be given the satisfaction of detecting the slightest whiff of failure. I don’t want to see the level of excitement dwindle, nor the aura grow stale.

I used to suggest to the Beatles that the logical end to it all was for all four Beatles to die in an air crash in front of ten thousand fans at Liverpool airport after playing a final retirement concert at Wembley Stadium. They would have, I put it to them, a memorial service at Westminster Abbey (or St. Paul’s, which somehow, is more them) and a massive funeral procession to Liverpool Cathedral. But there were certain drawbacks to this proposal and it may well be that there is no rational end to the Beatles.

Certainly there is no parallel. Presley is not to be compared for he rarely toured (and never abroad) and he is content to live on his past undeniably stupendous-achievements, making a fortune out of three indifferent movies a year, producing very dull hit records, retaining his fans, sustaining his solitude and maintaining his mystique. The Beatles? It’s up to them. No. They shouldn’t retire. I don’t think so anyway.

JONATHAN KING: No. But they should definitely split up and go their own individual ways. As composers, producers and talents they each have a lot to contribute to the business; but as a group they have passed the peak of their success — they can only go down or stagnate.

Even now their search for originality is giving birth to unfortunate contrivances. Four people — three on guitars and one on drums — can only go so far musically and as a unit. Besides this there are the problems of age and taxes — in fact, there are rumours in the business already that the Beatles will have disbanded by the end of the year. Such a move would be wise indeed.

ERIC BURDON: Beatles retire? No. I think they’re just beginning to create. When ‘Rubber Soul’ came out, I thought: ‘Hell, mon. It’s starting to happen’ ‘Revolver’ is what they’ve arrived at. On this last album, the Beatles have reached the stage I want to get to. Another thing. If they pack up now, they’ll cripple one of the best talents to come out of them. George Harrison. He’ll be a great songwriter and singer, too. I was glad to see he hasn’t forgotten his roots. That ‘Taxman’ is a straight rocker — in the same way that ‘Drive My Car’ was. If the Beatles split it would be the worst thing that could happen.

CILLA BLACK: “I don’t think I’ve seen any of them for about five months. I probably know their wives better than them now,” she laughed. Did she think they should retire? Cilla hesitated and was interrupted by Beatles press officer, Tony Barrow. Said Tony: “Cilla, say: ‘If the Beatles were to retire — and I know they’re not going to …’” “They can’t retire. I’ve got my shares in them!” she exploded. “I don’t think they should retire as the Beatles. And I don’t think they should be under pressure from the public either. If they want to go into semi-retirement then they can’t expect people to buy their records.

“I think with John doing this film that Paul will probably do something exciting soon. Ringo? Well Ringo’s resting, isn’t he? John and Paul have always been the main feature of the group. But George, I feel, will be writing some good
songs as well. I liked what he did on their last album. I hope they don’t retire, though.”

MANFRED MANN: it is rather difficult to decide what someone else’s future should be — but obviously the Beatles should go on making records and writing songs because these are the talents that have come over best of theirs. One doesn’t know how good a film actor John Lennon will prove; one doesn’t know how good a writer of film music scores Paul will prove; one doesn’t know how good a sitar player George will prove; and one doesn’t know how much of an actor Ringo will prove. One can only say they definitely should continue making records and writing songs. As for the question of whether they should stop touring, this is a purely personal decision. I would not have thought touring was terribly important. In their position. I would certainly stop touring.

From Disc And Music Echo – October 29, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – October 29, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – October 29, 1966

BEATLES: Is it the end of the road?

IS IT the end of the road for the Beatles? That’s the burning question pop people are asking this week after fans demonstrated outside Brian Epstein’s London home demanding news about the group – ONLY TWO WEEKS after Disc and Music Echo posed the all-important question, “Should The Beatles Retire?”

The Beatles’ future has been a matter for conjecture for some months. With each of them ardently following separate interests and no definite news of either records, public appearances or tours fans are becoming restless.

At the weekend Beatle people picketed Epstein’s house in Chapel Street, near Buckingham Palace, demanding a group appearance and voicing complaints that they have not made a tour this year. The boys’ last full-scale tour was in September when they went to America for three weeks. Their last British tour took place just before Christmas, 1965. Manager Brian Epstein reiterated a non-committal “Nothing has been decided” when he talked to Disc and Music Echo on Tuesday about the rumours of retirement. But in a recent Disc and Music Echo interview he admitted: “The Beatles like singing and playing to a public, but it’s become so difficult and so tense that their enjoyment and pleasure — let alone finance — is taken away. Making films, writing music, making records — that’s their future.”

Mr Epstein confirmed that there was a demonstration of sorts outside his Belgravia house on Sunday afternoon. “I was out at the time, at the Prince of Wales theatre and then at the Beach Boys concert to see Sounds Incorporated — but I was told some fans did come round to complain.

Arthur Howes, who handles the Beatles’ British tours, commented: “I’m beginning to believe the rumours myself. We’ve been inundated with requests by fans for another tour and there used to be petitions, too. But now I think a lot of them are giving up hope.

In Disc and Music Echo’s probe on October 29, the Beatles’ fellow artists — people like Cliff Richard, Eric Burdon, Manfred Mann and Cilla Black — were asked for their opinions on the retirement question. Now it’s the turn of YOU, the readers and the fans. Here’s what a Disc and Music Echo snap pop panel inquiry revealed. […]

From Disc And Music Echo – November 12, 1966
From Disc And Music Echo – November 12, 1966


RINGO STARR told the NME on Tuesday: “We’ve no thoughts of splitting up. I think all this talk started because we weren’t working together — well John’s been busy doing his film and Paul’s written the music for the Hayley Mills film. “Me ? I’m just having a good time.” Ringo said they were definitely not fed up with touring, but asked whether the Beatles would, in fact, definitely tour again in the future he commented: “I am not saying,” adding “but I can’t see why we shouldn’t.”

From New Musical Express – November 11, 1966
From New Musical Express – November 11, 1966

Last updated on April 27, 2024

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