In their own words: were The Beatles ever ready to reunite?

Paul McCartney recently gave an interview where he addressed why The Beatles never reunited after the band broke up in 1970. Here’s what Paul had to say:

We’ve been through all the sort of joys and the horrors of being in a band. We’ve done everything we’ve wanted to do and if we now sort of get back together again, it could fall flat. We might not enjoy it, so why do it? As we say in England, ‘Leave ‘em laughing.’

For the legacy of the group, perhaps it’s best that they remained apart. However, it’s tantalizing to think of what the group may have been able to do if they had gotten back together at any point between their breakup and John Lennon’s death in 1980.
While Paul recently spoke about what was going through the heads of the broken up Beatles , John, Paul, and George in particular all addressed reunion questions in the years following the breakup…
John Lennon in 1975

It’s strange, because at one period when they’re asking me, I say ‘no, never, what the hell? Go back? Not me. And then it came to a period when I thought, ‘well, why not?’…everyone always envisions the stage show. To me, if we worked together (it would be) the studio again…when I’m saying that, I turn the paper and George is saying ‘not me.’ It’s never got to a position where each one of us has wanted to do it at the same time…the other question is ‘would it be worth it?’ That would be answered by if we wanted to do it. If we wanted to do it, then it’d be worth it.

George Harrison in 1976

We’re all leading our own lives. It’s been eight years, really, and I don’t think an ad in the paper is going to do the trick. We have to want it, personally, ourselves. And not just to make $50 million dollars or whatever the figure may be. We must do it because we want to be together as people first, and secondly, to be together for the music – and then everything else would fall into place. But at the moment everybody is doing their own lives, and it feels to me a bit like saying ‘please go back to school.’ You know, that (the first stint as Beatles) was like our apprenticeship.

Paul McCartney in July of 1980

For a long time now, the Beatles have been split up and – just the way things are – certain ones of us like playing together and stuff, but I don’t think John would ever be interested in kind of getting the group back together again. And the four of us individually wouldn’t be really interested in doing it, just because it’s – you can’t reheat a soufflé, as someone once said. Three of us got up at Eric Clapton’s wedding, with Eric and Ginger Baker and a bunch of loonies, but we’ve never played the four of us together since we’ve split up…I definitely know it’s not on…it’s not anything that would ever happen.

After John Lennon’s death, any potential reunion sadly became impossible.
Last year, Ringo Starr weighed in on whether or not the group would’ve gotten back together if John hadn’t been taken so violently in 1980 –

Don’t know. It’s a crazy question. But…I’d like to think, yes, we would. Paul still goes out with his band, I go out with mine and John would probably have been going out with his. George was not big on touring so I’m not sure about him. But who knows… it could have come together.

Of the four Beatles, it seems that John – at least in the interview he gave in 1975 – was the one who was most interested in a reunion. While listening to John speak, there are reservations, but he seems genuinely excited about the possibility.
George was a bit more cagey than John, but after listening to him speak, it felt as if he would’ve been open to the band getting back together as long as he felt the time was right.
Interestingly, it’s Paul – who seemed to be attached to the group the most while together – who was close to dismissive about there ever being a reunion. Perhaps Paul was letting his then-cold relationship with John get in the way of his true feelings. Perhaps he wasn’t.
Listening to John and George speak about a potential reunion, and reading about how Ringo felt, it seems that if John had lived and he and Paul had gotten over their differences, a reunion ultimately would’ve happened.


15 thoughts on “In their own words: were The Beatles ever ready to reunite?

  1. This is ultimately a question that will never die. It will always be a part of our dreams, because the Beatles were such an intricate part of our culture and our musical journey. They were the pied pipers and we all danced to their tune. But that was many years ago under much different circumstances. The world was awakening to new experiences. Love and peace were in the air. Everyone wanted the Beatles then. Now, I don’t know. I often ask myself that musical question…what more would the Beatles contribute???…would they be relevant even in the 70s before John’s death??? I don’t know. I think we all need to keep in mind that it had been almost 10 years since the Beatles were making magic in the studio, and 14 years since they had been on tour together. That’s a long time for a band, no matter how good, to be apart. Musicians say that to be really really good, you have to spend many long hours together. To get the sound the Beatles had, they practically lived together for nearly 10 years, even before the breakup. Would the Beatles be good again??? What if they had gotten together and taken heat from the public and media for even wanting to get back together??? Would they have wanted to risk their rich legacy??? I don’t know. These are always going to be nagging questions. Maybe sometime someplace somehow, in another land, perhaps in Pepperland, we can find the answers to these and many other questions that plague us all. Until that day, all I can say is…love the Beatles for who they were, and who they are, and like Paul suggested, learn to just let it be…

  2. During the 70’s I ALWAYS held out hope for a Beatles’ reunion…. Every year on New Year’s Eve the newspapers would predict that this would be the year for the Beatles to get back together…. Then one time, John Lennon said, that if they did get back together, they would have to go in the studio and see how it sounded and if they still had the magic. I thought, “is he crazy? Of course they will sound good, they are the Beatles”. And then I went to see Godfather III and about mid way through the movie, I turned to my wife and said, “now I know what John Lennon meant.” If it’s going to tarnish what was done before, then don’t do it. I think they way they did Anthology was a great way to come full circle and tie off the ends.

  3. It started soon after their breakup, the more time pasted, the more a Beatles reunion was hyped and year after year it became bigger and bigger. By the late 1970’s anything they did would not have lived up to the hype and I think they knew it (Let it Be was savaged by critics). I think they may have got together for a recording like they did with Anthology but I doubt they would have toured or played live. Even though I would have loved to see what they could have done it is better that they never attempted a reunion. They are the only big time band that never reunited and that is a big part of why they are still highly regarded, they went out on top and never looked back.

  4. I dont think thy,ever has wonted
    to go gack togheter.
    maby it”s god,thy dident
    I dont now
    I now i miss john lennon
    and his mucik,seen him in the paper
    we are going to,liverpool again this year

  5. Think the guys got it right. After all they did, from The Cavern, Love Me Do, to Abbey Road there seemed little reason to remain together just because the fans wanted them to. It isn’t like the needed the money from reuniting. They were entitled to their own lives like the rest of us. When John died I felt like all of us lost a very creative and soulful sibling. Paul’s quote still resonates to this day: “The world will miss him”…we still do and George as well. They went out on top as the greatest entertainment phenomenon of all time and they still are.

  6. There never would have been a Beatles reunion. It became a job they hated and wanted to get out of. Once it was over, it was over. It never could have lived up to the hype anyhow and would have ruined the group’s legacy. Think of it rationally — they were four middle class English guys who suddenly couldn’t walk down the street, have a girlfriend/wife without getting harassed, so on. Who in his right mind would want a life like that forever? The real story with The Beatles is that it lasted as long as it did. It could have ended as early as 1966.

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  9. Thanks for sharing the article.Think the guys got it right. After all they did, from The Cavern, Love Me Do, to Abbey Road there seemed little reason to remain together just because the fans wanted them to. It isn’t like the needed the money from reuniting.

  10. The Beatles would’ve came back, they were the biggest band in the world and all the fans wanted them to come back so why wouldn’t they have? All the members never truly said they wouldn’t have come back. I can already imagine a 80s Beatles album.

  11. No one wished for their reunion more than I. The Beatles were so special and the music was so great. It sounds ridiculous to say this but in a way I felt like I knew them personally. In a reunion I never truly knew what I was looking for. Perhaps the release of more great songs or maybe just to see them together in a friendly manner again was my biggest hope of all. Now with all the years passed by, suppose any new music would have disappointed and tarnished their past works. This I doubt would have been the case in these ears of one huge Beatle nut.However, some critic would jump at the chance to get ugly. All in all it is probably best it never happened.

  12. They would’ve been great. I think all of their combined experience being on their own would’ve brought new energy into the studio. Each one went off in different musical directions. Paul was pretty “poppy” John too on some of his, but it was a weird time. Their music is relevant again, and never gets old. Yoko would’ve had to stay out of the studio tho. And why isn’t that guy in prison? He should be in Riker’s serving time. Treat him for his mental issues and send his ass to Riker’s Island, or a state prison. My opinion folks , that’s all.

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