Musician Biographies » The Beatles » And in the End - Paul Breaks Away, George's World, Ringo The Great, John The Dreamer, The Beatles And The Stones

And in the End - All My Friends Were Beatles

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Looking back on the breakup of the Beatles, George Martin, who as their record producer had seen so many events from the inside, felt that it was inevitable. “They'd always been having to consider the group,” he explained, “so they were a prisoner of that—and I think they eventually got fed up with it … They wanted to live life like other people.” Even though they had all outgrown the Beatles, each one would look fondly back at his time in the group. “I felt with us four it was magical and it was telepathy,” said Ringo. “When we were working in the studio sometimes it was just … it's indescribable, really.” Summing up the closeness of the four, John said, “All my friends were the Beatles, anyway.” Paul had similar feelings: “It helped that we were like a gang together. Mick Jagger [of the Rolling Stones] called us the Four-Headed Monster because we went everywhere together, dressed similarly.”

It is hard to imagine that if the Beatles had not been such good friends, their partnership would have lasted so long or been so successful. Being so close, and so musically like-minded, helped them to make some of the most timeless and important pop music ever recorded. Maybe all they had done was sing and play music, but they had also managed to change something in the way people saw the world. People who liked their music also saw something special in them; the Beatles felt right for their times. More than bringing long hair and Beatle boots to the world, they brought a sense of optimism and joy at a time when it was needed. “I think we gave some sort of freedom to the world,” Paul McCartney explained, “I meet a lot of people now who say the Beatles freed them up … I think that the brutal honesty the Beatles had was important. So sticking to our own guns and really saying what we thought in some way gave some other people in the world the idea that they too could be truthful and get away with it, and in fact it was a good thing.”

In the end, the Beatles got their wish to be the biggest rock act of all time. It may have cost them some of their own personal freedom—especially during the touring days when they were trapped in their hotel rooms—but to each of them it had been worth it. “I was glad things got as big as they did,” recalled John, “because when we got nearly big, people started saying to us: ‘You're the biggest thing since …’ I got fed up that we were the biggest thing ‘since.’ I wanted the Beatles to just be the biggest thing. It's like gold. The more you get, the more you want.”

The Beatles were a rare group whose popularity equaled their excellence as musicians and songwriters. Their music stands the test of time, and is still heard all over the radio today; “Yesterday” has been played on the radio a record seven million times since its release. Their popularity is almost unchanged since the time of their breakup. It is hard to imagine that there are places in the world that have never heard of the Beatles and their music. George Harrison sums up the Beatles’ continuing musical importance quite well: “If you listen to the music that's going on now, all the good stuff is stolen from the Beatles. Most of the good licks and riffs or ideas and [song] titles. The Beatles have been plundered for thirty years.” And, no doubt, they will continue to be plundered happily by musicians and fans everywhere, for as long as there is music.

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