“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…”
A Beatles expert has revealed how a little-heard tape from the band has revealed the tensions that marred their final days together – and that they were in talks to make another album after ‘Abbey Road’.
Renowned rock historian Mark Lewisohn gave The Guardian access to a tape of a meeting held 50 years ago this week, which seemingly shows The Fab Four at loggerheads. Having finished the recording of ‘Abbey Road‘, it features audio of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison meeting together at Apple HQ in Savile Row.
The meeting was recorded by Lennon for the benefit of drummer Ringo Starr – who was undergoing hospital tests for an intestinal complaint.
The first major revelation comes when Lennon discusses the prospect of their next album after ‘Abbey Road’. Although their last record as a band (although ‘Let It Be’ was the last to be released), it was previously considered that Lennon played a major role in the band’s split.
“It’s a revelation,” Lewisohn told The Guardian. “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?”
Elsewhere, tensions are present when Lennon speaks of “the Lennon-and-McCartney myth” and argues that the authorship of their songs should be individually credited.
In turn, McCartney then criticises the songwriting talents of guitarist George Harrison.
“I thought until this album that George’s songs weren’t that good,” he says. Harrison responds: “That’s a matter of taste. All down the line, people have liked my songs.”
The revelations feature in Hornsey Road – a new musical from Lewisohn which tracks the creation of Abbey Road and its place as the final farewell from The Beatles.
The 50th anniversary of ‘Abbey Road’ will take place on September 26. Check out the new Giles Martin remix of ‘Oh! Darling’ here.