Biographies & Memoirs


On the first day of March, the Beatles returned, more or less, to The Ed Sullivan Show. Six years before, their first appearance on television’s most insanely eclectic variety series had been viewed by seventy-three million people—a colossal number then and later—and transformed the culture and a generation. Now, for one of his recurring thematic shows, Sullivan decided to dedicate a full hour to their music.

This time, though, there would be no actual Beatles present. Instead, viewers witnessed an oddball, largely non-rock parade of entertainers interpreting their songs: Dionne Warwick sang “We Can Work It Out,” Peggy Lee crooned “Something,” ballet star Edward Villella leapt to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” The lounge-lizard duo of Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, two of Allen Klein’s first clients, popped up as well. The show was a testament to the ways in which the Beatles, and rock itself, had become mainstream culture. But the Beatles themselves appeared only on film, performing “Two of Us” and “Let It Be” in a preview of their in-the-works movie, now retitled Let It Be. Even on their own show, they were a spectral presence.

No one seemed to notice, and to most of the world beyond the Apple Corps building on Savile Row, Beatle business continued as usual. In February, Klein had announced the imminent arrival of two movies: Let It Be and another called The Long and Winding Road, which he described as a documentary about their travels and escapades over the previous two years. With dreams of a financial windfall no doubt dancing in his brain, he confidently announced both would arrive in spring. By the penultimate day of spring, ads for “Let It Be,” their new single, were spotted in the States and the U.K. The Beatles were on their way back.

The Sullivan show even coincided with the release of a new Beatles album—but it too felt half-hearted, perhaps even quarter-hearted. Hey Jude was entirely given over to songs and singles that hadn’t made it onto previous Beatle albums, like the title hit and “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” Originally titled The Beatles Again, it had been spearheaded by Klein, who was eager to ship as much new Beatle product to stores as possible after he’d renegotiated their contract with EMI the previous fall. For a grab bag, the album was still exceptional—any record that contained both “Paperback Writer” and “Lady Madonna” couldn’t be anything but. Yet even the cover photo, taken the previous August at Lennon’s Tittenhurst estate, was dated. Dan Richter, Lennon and Ono’s friend, had accidentally walked in on the shoot and was surprised not only by their presence but their mood; they all seemed glum and morose.

Shortly after the Sullivan telecast, the Chicago chapter of the Beatle fan club—125 diehards, mostly women—congregated in a room at the Executive House Hotel on the Chicago River. They traded souvenirs and made contests out of remembering the dates of Brian Epstein’s death and the premiere of Help!

As hard as everyone tried to revive the spirit of 1964, the general mood was less than festive. One club member pulled out a photo of Lennon and Ono in their prisoner-of-war haircuts, which led to gaping, eye-rolling, and arguments. The original Beatlemaniacs, the ones who’d first watched them on Sullivan, dismissed Ono, while the new fans at the meeting, the twelve-year-olds, were more accepting of her quirks. As the meeting wound down, the club’s secretary, twenty-four-year-old Vikki Paradiso, called off plans for any further gatherings. Across the ocean, Beatle Book, a monthly London fanzine, announced it would be shutting down; circulation had plunged from 330,000 copies an issue to a mere 26,000.


In Apple’s Press Office, tucked away on the third floor of the Savile Row building, the newspaper clippings were beginning to pile up. When Richard DiLello was hired in the spring of 1968, the twenty-three-year-old American—who’d landed the job after meeting press department head Derek Taylor in Los Angeles, much like his coworker Chris O’Dell—was told to wade through the stacks of periodicals with articles on the Beatles. For a salary of ten pounds a week, DiLello cut them out and sorted them into piles: negative articles in one stack, positive in another, Apple Corps articles over there. When the frizzy-haired, freakflag-flying DiLello wasn’t slogging through those stacks, he’d roll joints for Taylor or make one of his weekly hash runs for the office.

New clippings arrived every day, but by now, no one was tending to them, and stacks began to sit uncollected in forlorn piles around the four desks in the office. Calls from the media kept coming in: What were John and Yoko up to now? Was the band available for a photo shoot? Taylor would gamely set up chats when he could, but few in the office knew what the individuals in the band were doing. Every so often, DiLello would look up from his desk and see a thickset, turtlenecked man with a dark pompadour of hair, staring at him as if he were an alien. The man’s colleagues—men who always seemed to be sporting brown suits with brown shoes—would be trailing right behind him. Like O’Dell and anyone else still gainfully employed at Apple, DiLello was plenty aware that the man everyone simply called “Klein” was in the house.

At thirty-eight, roughly a decade older than any of the Beatles, Allen Klein was a man of voracious appetites, whether he was wolfing down a steak at his desk or going after a record company that had failed to pay royalties to one of his clients. Around Apple, everyone knew he’d managed Sam Cooke, was now handling the Rolling Stones, and was financially entangled with the Who, the Animals, and the Kinks. They also knew McCartney didn’t like him very much and that the others did. And they knew that, at any moment, they could all lose their jobs.

Had they known he’d spent nearly five years in an orphanage after his mother died (his father couldn’t handle raising a son alone until he remarried), they would have known Klein always felt he had something to prove to himself and the world. He hated being known as an “orphan” and saw himself instead as both underdog and their champion. After college and a stint in the Army, Klein, born in Newark, New Jersey, had first worked as an accountant for small businesses in the New York City area—a paint store here, a health club there. When his college friend Don Kirshner, who’d started as a songwriter but moved into the far more lucrative business of song publishing, asked him to audit a client’s record company, Klein was off and running—or, rather, barking. By scouring the receipts of labels, Klein was able to find unclaimed sums of money for pop acts like Cooke and Bobby Darin. Klein then set his sights on the British Invasion bands. Eric Burdon, lead singer of the Animals, was walking down the street in New York when a man with a swirl of dark hair stuck his head out of a limo. “I’ll give you seventeen thousand dollars for your rights to the Animals catalog right now!” he yelled, holding a pen in his thumb and index finger. The traffic was moving so slowly that Burdon could have easily signed right there and then, but he kept on walking; he’d heard about Klein.

After Cooke was shot to death in 1964, Klein moved on to manage other acts—luring the Rolling Stones away from Andrew Loog Oldham—and negotiate record or publishing contracts for the Kinks, the Who, and the Dave Clark Five. Kirshner instilled in Klein the idea that the key to wealth in the music business was owning song copyrights, and Klein, a quick study, understood. In the fall of 1968, after purchasing the Stones’ catalog, he went hunting for an even bigger prize.

Beginning with his days as a clerk at the Essex County News in New Jersey, Klein wasn’t just savvy with numbers; he knew how to ingratiate himself with musicians using a combination of tough talk (the record companies were the Man!), an intimate knowledge of pop songs, and ego massaging. When he set up a meeting with Lennon and Ono at a London hotel in January 1969, the first of many steps in his plan to work his way into the Beatles’ fold, Klein ordered their favorite macrobiotic food and impressed Lennon by knowing precisely which Beatles songs he’d written and sung. Klein sensed how important it was for Lennon to differentiate himself from the others, especially now that he and Ono had become the butt of jokes and hostility. In one of his frequent snap decisions, Lennon knew Klein was his man. Wanting to maintain their own lifestyles, Harrison and Starr went along with the idea of Klein handling their business affairs. McCartney wasn’t so sure and preferred Linda’s father Lee Eastman (and his son John) to handle their money. Nonetheless, the other three signed a three-year contract with Klein on May 8, 1969.

To his credit, Klein renegotiated Brian Epstein’s contract with EMI, hoisting the Beatles’ royalty rate from 17.5 percent to 25. As always, Klein would make out exceptionally well himself: ABKCO, his company, would net 20 percent of their royalties and 25 percent of merchandise sales—both higher percentages than usual—and according to the deal, Capitol would send all payments to Apple by way of ABKCO from September 1969 through April 1972. He also began trimming Apple’s fat, doing the dirty work the Beatles themselves had no stomach for. (McCartney’s interest in chairing meetings and overseeing business details had gone the way of his clean-shaven face, and his desire to remain popular meant he didn’t want to fire anyone.) Numerous employees, including label head Ron Kass, were canned; Asher, having heard plenty about Klein, resigned. For DiLello, among others, the message was abundantly clear. “This was no longer an idealistic hippie dream, saving the world and giving people the chance to do whatever they want to do under the auspices of the Beatles,” he said. “This was now, ‘Okay, it’s all about money and turning this into a real business.’ They all had very lavish lifestyles. Jetting around the world for peace—someone had to pay for all that.”

From the start, Peter Brown—who cultivated the air of a refined British gentleman from his neatly trimmed beard to his tasteful suits—had a visceral dislike for the far less suave Klein. Brown was also offended by Klein’s assertions that Apple was in poor financial shape and saw them as Klein’s calculated way of winning over the band. Within months, he and Klein were barely on speaking terms. Brown’s job description remained the same, but Klein’s accountant began badgering him with questions. “I wasn’t happy at all, but I didn’t want it to appear that Klein had pushed me out,” Brown recalled. He stayed on, but when Brown and Neil Aspinall weren’t reelected to the board of shareholders that year, probably thanks to Klein, Brown knew his Apple days were numbered.

As another one of his early projects, Klein also lit a fire under Get Back, the movie of their recording sessions they’d filmed over a year before. After A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and Yellow Submarine, the Beatles owed United Artists one more feature, so Klein made a revamped deal for a release and a soundtrack album, both now called Let It Be. Although engineer Glyn John had taken a first crack at making sense of the tapes and even sequenced a finished album, Klein ultimately went with Phil Spector.

Spector seemed an odd choice to oversee this particular project. His Wall of Sound was now out of vogue (as proven by the chart flop of what he saw as his masterpiece, Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep—Mountain High” in 1966), and it also seemed the antithesis of the very idea of the consciously under-produced Get Back sessions. Still, he and Klein were natural cohorts: both sons of European immigrants, both rooted in the New York area (Spector was born in the Bronx, where Klein later worked). ABKCO also had a “financial participation” in hits Spector had cowritten, like “Be My Baby” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” When the two would meet up in recording studios, they’d unintentionally look and sound like a Noo Yawk comedy duo; Lennon and Klaus Voormann would be beside themselves with laughter.

When asked why he’d hired Spector to work with the Beatles, Klein was typically blunt. “Wouldn’t you want the number-one director to direct the number-one actor?” he told the New York Post. Klein was so confident in the unfinished Let It Be album that he ordered EMI to press up three million copies.


By spring, Klein had far stickier Beatle matters to sort out. McCartney’s own album was no longer a secret, especially when he made it known he wanted it out fast, on April 17. Klein knew releasing it at the same time as a new Beatles album (and Starr’s now completed Sentimental Journeyrecord) could potentially dilute the sales of each. In his particular way, Klein went about solving the problem. After discussions with Harrison, Lennon, and Starr, he sent a letter on March 20 to Ken East, the managing director of EMI Music, which distributed Apple, asking to delay the release of McCartney’s album. The only person he didn’t bother to inform about his decision was McCartney.

EMI had little choice in the matter. The power of the Beatles was such that the corporation had an arm’s-length relationship with Apple, which supplied EMI with release dates, finished artwork, and tapes. Other than employees of the studio on Abbey Road, hardly anyone at the company saw or worked alongside a Beatle. The imminent release of something called Let It Be embodied the lack of interaction between the two companies. When EMI marketing director Paul Watts heard about it, he was confused: What was it, exactly? And had it been recorded before or after Abbey Road?

The beginning of the end started on March 23. At one studio, Spector began sorting through the pile of tapes from the Twickenham and Apple group sessions; on the same day, he also managed to stretch out “I Me Mine,” the song McCartney, Harrison, and Starr had cut in January, by thirty seconds by repeating the chorus. The same day, “Billy Martin” logged his final day at EMI Studios. And also on March 23, Klein met with East to repeat his demands to postpone McCartney’s album, and East agreed. In a sign of how badly communication had broken down inside the band—and how much resentment had built up toward McCartney after he’d insisted on having the Eastmans represent them—eight days went by after Klein and East’s meeting before anyone reached out to McCartney.

Finally, on March 31, Lennon and Harrison sent their own letter to East, saying “it would not be in the best interests of the company” for McCartney’s album to be released April 17. The same day, they dashed off another piece of correspondence, this one to McCartney himself. “To: You, From: Us,” it began, followed by: “Dear Paul: We thought a lot about yours and the Beatles LPs—and decided it’s stupid for Apple to put out two big albums within seven days of each other. So we sent a letter to EMI telling them to hold your release date till June 4th (there’s a big Apple-Capitol convention in Hawaii then). We thought you’d come around when you realized that the Beatles album was coming out on April 24th. We’re sorry it turned out like this—it’s nothing personal.” It was signed “Love, John and George.” Extending a particularly thorny olive branch, Harrison added his own postscript: “Hail Krishna. A mantra a day keeps ‘Maya’ away. I hope my friend gets joy from that.”

As it turned out, McCartney did take it personally. That day, Starr drove to McCartney’s home on Cavendish Avenue to hand-deliver the letter. McCartney greeted his bandmate coldly, then read the letter in his parlor as Starr stood by. As McCartney later affirmed in a court affidavit, “I got really angry when Ringo told me that Klein had told him my record was not ready.” That was an understatement. Appalled by the way Klein and his fellow Beatles had conspired behind his back—even though they only wanted to hold back his record for two months, not kill it altogether—McCartney exploded in a way Starr had rarely seen. “I’ll finish you now!” he yelled. “You’ll pay!” Starr had barely taken his coat off when McCartney told him to put it back on and leave.

Simultaneously, John Eastman, who had taken over handling McCartney’s day-to-day dealings from his father, heard about the plans to postpone the record during a meeting with executives at Capitol Records in Los Angeles. Furious himself, Eastman calmed a nerve-wracked McCartney, telling him the record would come out one way or another; in fact, Eastman was already thinking about contacting Clive Davis to see if Columbia would take it. When McCartney mentioned this possibility to Harrison, Harrison shot back, “You’ll stay on the fucking label. Hare Krishna.” (As a Beatle associate of the time noted, Harrison, when angry, had a distinct way of making “Hare Krishna” sound like “fuck you.”) In the end, McCartney got his wish: When Starr checked in with Harrison and Lennon after his confrontation with McCartney, he argued they should grant McCartney his wish and release his album on his schedule, and they did.

Shortly after, Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner flew to London to interview McCartney about the impending album. McCartney asserted Klein wasn’t managing him, talked about the good time he had making a record on his own, and downplayed any rifts with Lennon. Instead of talking about specific songs, he told Wenner that those details and more would be included in a special announcement accompanying the record. “I just filled it out like an essay, like a school thing,” he said. When pressed by Wenner to divulge its contents, McCartney demurred. “It’s much nicer as a surprise,” he said.


The week of April 6 began inauspiciously enough in the land of the Beatles. In America, “Let It Be,” the elegiac ballad McCartney had written for his mother—a song with the instantly timeless feel of a church hymn composed centuries before—easily floated up to number 1. On Tuesday, April 7, John and Lee Eastman announced that their client Paul McCartney had formed his own production company, sporting the not terribly original name of McCartney Productions. Its first two projects would be an animated film based on Rupert the Bear, a children’s cartoon celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, and the release of an album of his own, McCartney. That day, a meeting was scheduled at Apple Corps for April 10, at which the four Beatles would finally face each other—after months apart—to discuss plans for the release of Let It Be, which would be in theaters in a little over a month.

That Tuesday, DiLello was in the Press Office at Apple when Derek Taylor casually handed him a typed, four-page letter on Apple stationery. “What’s this?” DiLello wondered.

The document in DiLello’s hand was an “interview” with McCartney, albeit in description only. McCartney enjoyed being the jovial salesman for the band more than any of the other Beatles, but the thought of having to answer questions about the state of the Beatles appealed to him as much as seeing the frontal nudity on the cover of Lennon and Ono’s Two Virgins. Taylor and Brown suggested McCartney write up his own question-and-answer session and supplied him with typically banal questions: “Why did you decide to make a solo album?” “Did you enjoy working as a solo?” “Were you pleased with Abbey Road?” As Brown watched, McCartney wrote out the answers in the living room of his St. John’s Wood home, after which they were quietly typed up for distribution with the first one hundred British promotional copies of McCartney.

On the morning of Wednesday, April 8, Ray Connolly, a young music columnist and reporter at the Evening Standard, was at his desk when he received a call from Taylor. Taylor said he was about to messenger over a statement from McCartney, but asked that Connolly and the paper hold off publishing it until Friday, April 10. When the envelope arrived, Connolly flipped through it. The bulk of it was innocuous enough. In it, McCartney talked up his record and commented elliptically on where the Beatles stood as people and creative partners. McCartney said the band was split over “personal differences, business differences, musical differences,” but added, “Temporary or permanent? I don’t know.”

The document hardly knocked Connolly out of his desk chair. Along with a group of other writers, he’d been granted much access to the Beatles over the previous few years, conducting interviews with them and spending considerable time at Apple headquarters. He’d witnessed his share of bickering and had been in the Press Office when Lennon had bolted from the meeting in Brown’s office the previous September. Connolly had flown to Toronto to cover Lennon’s appearance at the Rock & Roll Revival concert. Arriving at the house of rockabilly icon Ronnie Hawkins, who was lending his home to the Lennons, Connolly heard Lennon shout out his name and ask him to an upstairs bathroom. Still washing his long hair in a sink, Lennon had breathlessly told Connolly he was leaving the Beatles. Stunned by the news, Connolly realized he had the pop scoop of the decade, but Lennon told him not to write about it just yet; he’d tell him the appropriate time to break the story.

At his desk, Connolly flashed back to that and other tumultuous moments. Thinking McCartney’s statement was simply of a piece with the band’s increasingly public grousing, he filed it away until publication three days later. Besides, it was hard to imagine a world without the Beatles.

The next morning, Thursday, April 9, Connolly received a call at home from his editors: The Daily Mirror was announcing the Beatles were over. Where was his story? Daily Mirror writer Don Short, a longtime friend of the band, had received the same packet but, unlike Connolly, saw McCartney’s statement as inflammatory. Short particularly focused on one back-and-forth: To the question “Do you foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney become an active songwriting partnership again?” McCartney tersely wrote out, “No.” McCartney never came out and said the band was over or that he was leaving, but Short felt otherwise. “Paul is quitting the Beatles,” he wrote. Disregarding Taylor’s request, his editors ran Short’s piece a day early. Taylor had no comment, while Mavis Smith, who worked in the Press Office with Taylor and DiLello, denied any breakup.

With the news out prematurely, McCartney went into damage-control mode. For the first time since the fall, he called Lennon at home, telling him he’d finished his album and was leaving the group. By then, Lennon had already heard about the article; Connolly had called him for comment. To McCartney, Lennon sounded relieved, and to another reporter, Lennon joked, “I was happy to hear from Paul. It was nice to find out that he was still alive. Anyway, Paul hasn’t left. I’ve sacked him.”

Privately, though, Lennon was peeved: He’d wanted to be the first to tell the world the Beatles—and the ’60s, with which he was increasingly disillusioned—were over. Instead, it was McCartney, of all people, who’d done that—the same McCartney so intent on breathing life into the band all those years. To Lennon, the gesture felt like an ambush and a betrayal. The same process took place with Starr and Harrison: McCartney called them, but they too had already heard the news. Mal Evans, another member of the Beatles’ inner circle, was at Friar Park with Harrison and Boyd that night. He left to drive back home—and then returned to the house soon after, ashen faced. A news report on the radio announced McCartney was breaking up the Beatles. Harrison took the news stoically, saying he wanted to write his own songs anyway and retreating upstairs to his bedroom. As if to drive it home further, a London variety show aired a clip of McCartney performing “Maybe I’m Amazed” from his album that night.

The next morning, Chris O’Dell, then living with the Harrisons at Friar Park, came downstairs to find Harrison and Boyd glumly reading the morning’s papers. Lennon soon came by, and O’Dell watched as the two men talked in the backyard. It was the first time she’d ever seen Lennon without Ono.

The British music newsweekly Melody Maker called the announcement “the non-event of the year.” After all, so many in the music business knew the Beatles were out of touch with each other. The previous November 11, Connolly had written an Evening Standard article headlined “The Day the Beatles Died,” about the events of the previous fall. The same month, a Life magazine spread meant to put a halt to all the “Paul Is Dead” stories of the time quoted McCartney as saying, “The Beatle thing is over, it has been exploded.”

Few in the media had picked up those comments then, but not this time. The New York Times’ story, “McCartney Breaks Off with Beatles,” made it into section one, normally the domain of the most urgent national and international stories. Fans converged on Apple, spilling out on Savile Row and casting blame on Klein or, in some cases, Linda McCartney. (“You can’t let a woman do that to a man, can you?” explained one female fan to a reporter, as if Linda had been manipulating her husband far more than Ono had Lennon.) On the front steps of the building, an Apple employee handed out copies of McCartney’s press release. Wearing his usual carefree smile along with a red frilly shirt and jacket, Starr dashed out into a waiting car and was gone. One of many earnest, somber television reporters standing outside Apple intoned, “The event is so momentous that historians may mark it as a landmark in the decline of the British Empire.”

McCartney was spotted in the backseat of a dark green Rolls Royce tooling around London with Linda, Heather, and their sheepdog Martha, but no further comments were forthcoming from him or the other Beatles. Instead, their colleagues were left trying to explain what had happened. To a Times reporter, Klein asserted that McCartney’s reasons for issuing such a statement were “personal problems.” To another, he twisted a knife: “Unfortunately, he’s obligated to Apple for a considerable number of years.” Past the wrought-iron gates and inside Apple Corps, Taylor sat in his wicker chair and, looking increasingly besieged and sleep deprived, conducted one interview after another to explain the events of the day. “It is certain that at the moment they could not comfortably work together,” he told one camera crew. Taylor wanted to remain optimistic, though: At one point he looked straight into the camera and said, “If the Beatles don’t exist, you don’t exist.”

Away from the cameras, Taylor sat behind his typewriter, stuck a cigarette in his mouth, and banged out an Apple statement. “Spring is here and Leeds play Chelsea tomorrow and Ringo and John and George and Paul are alive and well and full of hope,” he wrote. “The world is still spinning and so are we and so are you. When the spinning stops—that’ll be the time to worry, not before. Until then, the Beatles are alive and well and the beat goes on, the beat goes on.” Reading it, DiLello had no idea what Taylor meant, but it was so Derek; it said nothing, but with flair. No one knew what to say or how to react, anyway. “It was just another dismal day in a year full of them,” Peter Brown recalled.

“You didn’t need to do that, you know,” Brown told McCartney the next day.

“But I wanted to,” McCartney replied. Brown realized the statement was McCartney’s way of explaining the situation to the other Beatles; given the communication breakdown between them, he couldn’t do it any other way. It was also McCartney’s savvy way of promoting his album. EMI was preparing to ship 480,000 copies of McCartney , far less than the last few Beatle albums. How better to publicize it than this?

Not surprisingly, the scheduled April 10 reunion of the Beatles at Apple Corps failed to materialize. The day before, Eastman cabled Apple to inform the company his client would not be able to make the meeting.


When Vivian Janov answered the phone in her Los Angeles home, the voice on the line announced it was Yoko Ono, calling from London. Unsure whether it was a prank, Janov handed the phone to her husband, Arthur. Arthur listened as Ono explained to him that someone at his publisher had mailed her and John Lennon a copy of Janov’s three-monthold book, The Primal ScreamPrimal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis. Janov had no idea how that would have happened; he didn’t have the Lennons’ home address. Ono was saying her husband was in need of therapeutic work, and could Janov fly out to London as soon as possible to help him? Janov curtly told her he had seventy-five patients depending on him and hung up.

A certified psychologist, the curly-haired, movie-star-handsome Janov was riding the wave of the new self-help movement coming into vogue. (Also on the West Coast, another psychologist, Werner Erhard, was about to launch EST, for Erhard Seminars Training.) Forty-six years old, Janov had received a master’s in social work at the University of California, where he met his future wife, Vivian. Starting in the early ’50s, Janov had a private practice but was thinking bigger. Searching for clues to behavior through childhood memories wasn’t Janov’s idea, but he took it one thunderous step further, advocating patients unlock their inner pain and repression by screaming it out. In 1968, the Janovs opened the Primal Scream Institute on Sunset Boulevard. “In the beginning we had so many applications, we couldn’t see all the people who wanted to come,” recalled Vivian. After his book was published in January 1970, Janov was greeted at his office by what he called “all the druggies and lost kids who’d been in the protests against the Vietnam War.”

Ono immediately called back and made the invitation harder to resist. She and Lennon would pay for the Janovs and their children to fly to London, all expenses covered. When the Janov children heard about the offer, they were so excited they ran up and down the stairs of their home for twenty minutes. With that, the Janovs began making their way to Tittenhurst in early April.

When their town car dropped them off at the estate, the Janovs were stunned by Tittenhurst’s opulence and expansiveness. Lennon struck Vivian Janov as funny and charming, although her husband sensed he was also in deep psychic pain. Together, Ono and Lennon appeared earnest and serious, not quite the same playful couple who, on April 1, had issued a fake press release saying they were planning to have “dual sex change operations.” After they all took seats in the kitchen, the Lennons and Janovs mutually decided to start the sessions—$6,000 for three weeks—in the recording studio being built next to the kitchen.

Still living in one of the estate’s cottages, Dan Richter heard the screams whenever he walked into the kitchen. Richter was cynical about primal scream, but also knew Lennon and Ono needed some form of help—-and that primal scream was probably tied in with their desire to stop snorting smack. “Heroin isn’t easy to kick,” he recalled. “You don’t just stop. It leaves you very empty. You’re left with yourself. That’s why they felt they had to do the Janov thing.” Even with the studio builders coming in and out as he spoke, Lennon talked about his wayward father, the death of his mother, and how upset he was with McCartney and the breakup of the Beatles. “The drugs blew out his defense system,” Janov recalled. “The sessions with the workers going back and forth in this sound room were amazing.” To Janov’s surprise, Lennon’s father, Fred, who seemed like a sad, broken man, showed up one day; Lennon gave him some cash and sent him on his way.

When the construction noise became too much, the sessions shifted to the London hotel where the Janovs were installed. Janov also welcomed a change in cuisine: He didn’t love what he called the “strange, uncooked fish” the Lennons would serve in their kitchen and was starving most of the time. But the Janovs couldn’t stay in London forever, so it was agreed that the Lennons would visit Los Angeles for several months to continue their therapy. Although Lennon had earlier been denied a visa as a result of his drug bust in 1968, the therapy—medical reasons—allowed him to reenter the States. On April 23, he and Ono boarded a plane for California, leaving the rest of Apple and the world to decipher what had happened about two weeks earlier.


Just when McCartney thought he was done with the Beatles, he wasn’t. In early April, he received an advance acetate of the Let It Be album from Spector. Only then did he learn that, on April 1, Spector had overdubbed a string section, choir, harp player, and additional drums (by Starr) onto “The Long and Winding Road,” his once fairly naked ballad. An accompanying letter from Spector, addressed to all the Beatles, noted that if they had any concerns, they could contact him at his room at the Inn at the Park. (In an aside, Spector also said he thought the album should be titled The Long and Winding Road, not Let It Be.) “If there’s anything you’d like done to the album,” he wrote, “let me know, and I’ll be glad to help.” He added, though, that major changes could be a problem given the album’s imminent release.

Spector had long been known for his gloriously over-the-top production style, the way he built dense, almost orchestral tracks by using multiple musicians. But even knowing what he did about Spector’s approach, McCartney was livid. On April 14, he phoned the Apple office and dictated a letter to Klein by way of Apple employee Bill Oakes. In the letter, McCartney admitted he’d once considered orchestrating “The Long and Winding Road” but had “decided against it.” Then he let loose: “In the future, no one will be allowed to add to or subtract from a recording of one of my songs without my permission,” he decreed. His list of demands included reducing the volume of the strings, horns, and voices and mixing the Beatles’ own playing higher; “harp to be removed completely at the end” and “original piano notes to be substituted.” As his fourth and last condition, he spat over the phone, “Don’t ever do it again,” which Oakes also added into the letter.

Ultimately, McCartney’s suggestions were ignored; it was either too late or no one wanted to bother to make him happy. (He later claimed he left a message for Spector at his hotel but received no response.) The backlash to McCartney’s surprise announcement to the world was making itself known, especially to McCartney himself.

Two days later, Thursday, April 16, he tracked down Connolly at his home in Kensington. McCartney needed to talk, on the record, and told Connolly to meet him for lunch at Wheeler’s, a fish restaurant in Soho. Given the time of day and the restaurant’s busy lunchtime crowd, Connolly thought it an odd location. As expected, Wheeler’s was crowded, and he, McCartney, and Linda settled into a table—of all places, right in the middle of the restaurant. As Linda ordered vegetarian meals for them all, McCartney talked about how shocked he was that his press release had been interpreted the way it had. “I didn’t leave the Beatles,” he told Connolly. “The Beatles have left the Beatles. But no one wanted to be the one to say the party’s over.” McCartney felt he’d been made the heavy in the situation, and being disliked clearly rattled him. In a stinging irony, Lennon, who was always giving him a hard time about the future of the band, was now seen as a victim.

Over the clatter of conversations at nearby, close-quarter tables, McCartney gave Connolly the first blow-by-blow of events of the previous six months. Lennon, he said, had dismissed McCartney’s idea of live performances the previous fall. McCartney admitted Ono’s constant presence was a factor in the breakup and that he had had to throw Starr out of his house the month before. He talked about the letter he’d sent to Klein about “The Long and Winding Road” and how he hadn’t yet received a response. Even to an insider like Connolly, all of it was startling—as it was no doubt to the lunching businessmen around them, who craned their necks to hear what was being said. In that regard, the setting was McCartney’s clear-cut attempt at public damage control.

At the luncheon’s end, McCartney made one unexpected request: He wanted to read the article before it was published. Normally, Connolly would never allow his subjects to approve his text, but knowing the importance of the interview, he acquiesced.

After Derek Taylor sent him a copy of the lengthy piece, McCartney called Connolly yet again. The article was fine, he said, except for one comment he’d made about Starr. “He’s not the best drummer in the world,” McCartney said.

Connolly pointed out that, in the quote, McCartney had said Starr was “the best drummer in the world for the Beatles.”

“Oh,” McCartney said, “okay, right.” Connolly could leave that part in the story.

As they spoke, Capitol, the Beatles’ U.S. label, was preparing to release a 45 of “The Long and Winding Road,” complete with the choir and orchestral overdubs McCartney hated so much. (When he read Connolly’s interview, which included McCartney’s digs at the female choir tacked onto his song, Lennon cracked, “Is that what this is all about—those bloody girls?”) The following Sunday, April 19, McCartney finally returned to The Ed Sullivan Show, but this time alone, by way of the promo video for “Maybe I’m Amazed.” The circle was complete.


James Taylor couldn’t yet afford a band, so Russ Kunkel, who’d drummed on Sweet Baby James, went where he could for work. On May 1, Kunkel found himself in New York, doing a session for another one of

Peter Asher’s clients. In his room at his hotel on Central Park South, he was preparing to return to Los Angeles when Asher called. Had Kunkel packed away his drums yet? No, Kunkel replied; they were in storage. Good, Asher said: George Harrison and Bob Dylan need a drummer, immediately. Kunkel reclaimed his drums, threw them into the back of a taxi, and headed to a Columbia Records studio.

No sooner had Kunkel arrived and begun setting up his kit when, sure enough, Dylan and his producer, Bob Johnston, strolled in; Harrison, dressed head to toe in denim, his hair and beard long, followed behind. The bass player was a hulking but affable Nashville session man named Charlie Daniels, who’d already worked with Dylan. Along with Boyd and Derek Taylor, Harrison had flown into Manhattan on April 28 to meet with Allen Klein. One night, the three of them visited Dylan at his new home in the Village, on MacDougal Street, and Dylan invited Harrison to the studio the following day.

Beyond its financial rewards, Harrison hadn’t seemed to enjoy being a Beatle during the last few years. The day Lauren Bacall visited Apple, DiLello watched in horror as Harrison recoiled and bolted up the stairs as if being stalked. Yet around other musicians, particularly those who weren’t the Beatles, Harrison’s demeanor noticeably lightened. Such was the case as the musicians settled in with their instruments and began playing whatever came to mind. With Dylan cradling an acoustic guitar and Harrison an electric, they ambled through songs from their childhood (Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” and a wobbly take on the Everly Brothers’ “All I Have to Do Is Dream”), rockabilly standards (Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox” and “Your True Love”), and a cowpoke classic (“Ghost Riders in the Sky”).

Neither Kunkel nor Daniels was ever told the goal of the sessions—an album or not?—but it was clear Dylan and Harrison had the shared, unspoken rapport of those who’d seen it all, as well as a mutual respect Harrison found refreshing. The afternoon was the polar opposite of the stressful Get Back sessions. “George would say, ‘Let’s do “Rainy Day Women,”’” recalled Kunkel. “Usually when someone asks Bob to do a request, he’s caustic to them. That wasn’t the case there. They were very courteous to each other.” Harrison even gamely played along when Dylan began crooning “Yesterday,” McCartney’s song. (As if he’d always wanted to, Harrison played a solo on it.)

No one asked Harrison how he felt about McCartney’s press statement nearly three weeks before. The only time it remotely came up was when he turned to Daniels, who was playing bass, and cracked, “You want to be a Beatle?” It was just a joke, but everyone knew the context.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!