British daily The Guardian’s story, picked up later by The Rolling Stone and others shines a completely new light on the legendary stories that John Lennon was the one that instigated the breakup of The Beatles. A renowned Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn has an unheard tape of three of the band’s members (Ringo Starr was in the hospital at a time) discussing their direction post-Abbey Road, that he is about to use in a stage show about the band called Hornsey Road.
As Lennon explains at the beginning of the recording, it was made to discuss what is ahead for The Beatles so that absent Ringo can hear what was discussed. As Lewisohn explains, the tape is a revelation as “the books have always told us that they knew Abbey Road was their last album and they wanted to go out on an artistic high. But no – they’re discussing the next album. And you think that John is the one who wanted to break them up but when you hear this, he isn’t. Doesn’t that rewrite pretty much everything we thought we knew?”
At the beginning of the discussion, Lennon proposes “a new formula for assembling their next album: four songs apiece from Paul, George and himself, and two from Ringo – “If he wants them.” John refers to “the Lennon-and-McCartney myth”, clearly indicating that the authorship of their songs, hitherto presented to the public as a sacrosanct partnership, should, at last, be individually credited.”
McCartney voices his disagreement, saying that until this album, “I thought George’s songs weren’t that good,” with Harrison responding, “that’s a matter of taste. All down the line, people have liked my songs.” Lennon interjects saying that many people didn’t like McCartney’s “Maxwell Silver Hammer”, with seemingly stoned McCartney saying, “I recorded it because I liked it.”
Lewisohn adds that during the recording of Abbey Road “they were in an almost entirely positive frame of mind. They had this uncanny ability to leave their problems at the studio door – not entirely, but almost.” He’s hoping that the tape and his stage show will change perceptions about major parts of The Beatles’ history.