Friday, September 20, 2019

Toppermost of the Poppermost - Lennon Leaves the Beatles

September 20, 1969 - The End

On this day in 1969, John Lennon told Paul and Ringo that he was leaving The Beatles. Lennon said, "I want a divorce" and "the group’s over." George Harrison was visiting his "mum" and wasn't there to hear Lennon's declaration.

The meeting took place at Apple headquarters at 3 Savile Row where the Beatles had performed their impromptu rooftop concert just three months prior. On their way out of the offices, Lennon told his new wife Yoko Ono, "It's just you and me now."

In an interview with Sir David Frost for Aljazeera, Sir Paul said the departure of Lennon from the band was expected. "I think it was time for John certainly to leave. It was a bit of shock to all of us. He just announced, 'Oh, I'm leaving the group.' We all said, 'Are you sure about this?' We tried to keep it together, but he was definitely going to leave so that was basically what did it. But I think, in a way, then we realized that we had come full circle, we had kind of done everything we wanted to do…"

The Beginning - The Beatles Perform for 19

Paul said this about Yoko: "She certainly didn't break the group up. The group was breaking up and I think she attracted John so much to another way of life, that he then went on to, very successfully. It added a sort of second part to his career, writing things like ''Imagine' and ''Give Peace a Chance'. I don't think he would have done that without Yoko."

Indeed, they had done everything they wanted to do and more. The Beatles had reached the summit that John Lennon had envisioned for them: "The Toppermost of the Poppermost," a paraphrase from The Wild Ones, the Marlon Brando film from 1954 (Stu Sutcliff's favorite).

"Where're we goin' fellas?" "To the top, Johnny!" "And where's that fellas?" "To the toppermost of the poppermost!"

Sutcliff would also come up with the band's name, changing the second E to an A and dropping the "Silver" from The Silver Beetles. The mythology tells it a bit differently. In an interview in 1964, John said, "Well, I had a vision when I was twelve. And I saw a man on a flaming pie, and he said, 'You are the Beatles with an A.' And so we are." Flaming Pie would be used as the title for a Paul McCartney solo LP in 1997, recorded during the Anthology sessions.

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