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DR. SPIN
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
What caused the Beatles to break up?

by Dr. Spin
May 17, 2004

Who originally coined the term "Rock and Roll"?

Elvis fan

Dear EF,
 
Officially legendary disc jockey Allan Freed is credited to coining the term “Rock ‘n’ Roll,” though the term’s origin is as muddied as the origin of the genre itself. Rumor has it that “Rock ‘n’ Roll” was originally a euphemism for sex; surely such a rumor, true or not, would appeal to the “rebellious” youth of the ‘50’s.
 
“Rock” as term describing music predates Rock ‘n’ Roll by several years. Even Bing Crosby uses the word in “Now You Has Jazz” (“take a box [piano], one that rocks”), a song used in the 1953 movie “High Society.”  Music that “rocked” in the forties and fifties was usually the boogie-woogie beat of jazz or blues. Two of the first songs credited as Rock ‘n’ Roll are “Rock Around the Clock” and “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.”
 
But it was Allan Freed, a Cleveland disc jockey who played Rhythm & Blues tunes in the early fifties, that began referring to his music as “Rock and Roll.” Because Rock ‘n’ Roll is pretty much an offshoot of R&B and Country, it was appropriate. Whatever the origin, Rock ‘n’ Roll, which became Rock, has been one of the most enduring forms of music, now almost 50 years running.

 
Why did the Beatles break-up?
 
Dear unnamed Beatles fan,
 
There are many “theories” as to why the Beatles broke up. A common myth is that Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles. Because John insisted she be around him all the time, including recording sessions, Yoko became an unwelcome presence to the Beatles. Add to that the fact that John seemed more and more distracted by her presence, and less and less interested in the Beatles as a whole, Yoko became an easy villain early on as to why the Beatles broke up. John Lennon became “John and Yoko,” causing many Beatles fans to be convinced Yoko had some sort diabolical pull on John which made him “quit” the Beatles and become “weird.”
 
Linda McCartney too, received some of the blame, believed to have a similar effect on Paul; this idea was further fueled by Paul’s insistence on putting the untalented Linda in Wings. Many fans thought Linda wanted Paul to put her in the band, but the truth was really the opposite; despite Linda’s protests, Paul put her in the band because he wanted her near him.
 
Another belief or contributing factor to the Beatles’ demise was the death of their manager Brian Epstein. Brian crafted the Beatles’ image as the four scruffy lads from Liverpool, and was a shrewd businessman, who knew how to market his talented group. After his death in 1967, it can be argued, that the Beatles made quite a few bad business decisions, including the creation of Apple Studios.
 
Apple was created with the idea that the Beatles would help struggling young musicians, filmmakers, etc., with their projects by backing them financially, and handling distribution. Only the music side really flourished, with the Beatles, Badfinger, Mary Hopkin, and others recording on the Apple label. Created in 1968, Apple had all sorts of financial problems, as the Beatles themselves could not decide who would run Apple. Three of the Beatles chose Allan Klein, one time manager of the Rolling Stones, while Paul insisted on his father-in-law, Mr. Eastman. The others won (that too became a source of contention), but even Klein couldn’t help them, as Apple Studios closed in 1974.
 
Finally, there was the tension of being the most popular band in the world. The Beatles stopped touring in 1966, but this did not diminish their popularity one bit. Rather, they gained even more fame, releasing their breakthrough album, Sgt. Pepper, in 1967. Tensions within the band heightened, as the partnership of Lennon & McCartney turned into a rivalry. Add to that the frustration of George Harrison, who had to lobby to get two cuts per album. Ironically, with three talented songwriters clashing over content, it was Ringo Starr who was always on the verge quitting. Ringo was constantly frustrated by the demands of the others on his drumming talent and actually walked out during the “White Album” recording sessions for several days.
 
In the end, only four people can really say why the Beatles broke up, the Beatles themselves. Some people, like myself, like to believe that if the Beatles gave themselves an open-ended hiatus, perhaps after blowing off some steam with a few solo projects, they would reunite and record again. But the Beatles chose to break up officially in 1970, and never reunite.
 
Perhaps there was too much pressure; perhaps they could never fully resolve their differences. Perhaps the experience of “living in a fishbowl” for seven years made them resolve to never live through that experience again. Whatever the reason, the Beatles went out on top and left their fans wanting more. What better way to end?


About the Author:
Dr. Spin knows the real final straw for the Beatles was when Ringo Starr ate the last jelly doughnut during the Abbey Road sessions.


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