36 Years Ago: Beatles Turn Down $230 Million Reunion Offer
Even though the Beatles had only disbanded a mere six years earlier, the public demand for them to ‘get back’ was peaking in 1976, leading to a mammoth $230 million reunion offer — which they turned down.
The man who made the offer, promoter Sid Bernstein, was no stranger to the “Fab Four,” having promoted their early tours of America, but in the fall of 1976 he decided to lay his wallet on the table, offering the unprecedented sum for a one-time-only charity concert. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all politely declined the offer, although McCartney admits they considered it.
This offer came after previous stabs from from promoter Bill Sargent, who had tossed around the figure of $10 million two years earlier. Sargent upped the ante in January of 1976 to $50 million. In the April 5, 1976 issue of People magazine, an unnamed ‘top-level rock functionary’ is quoted as saying “I know for a fact that George, John and Ringo have talked among themselves about a reunion, and their attorneys say it is possible. But they would rather go with someone less carnival-like than Sargent.”
In a 2007 interview with the Radio Times, Paul McCartney said “There were phenomenal amounts of money being offered. Millions by Sid Bernstein, this New York promoter. But it just went round and round. There might be three of us thinking ‘You know, it might not be a bad idea’ — but the other one would go, ‘Nah, I don’t think so’ and sort of veto it. Let’s put it this way, there was never a time when all four of us wanted to do it.”
Ultimately of course, the Fabs turned down both Sargent and Bernstein and a reunion never happened. There was, however, one other offer that the band actually did consider. During the April 24, 1976 episode of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ producer Lorne Michaels made a plea to the guys to reunite, saying that NBC “has authorized me to offer you a certified check for $3000.” He assured them, “you can divide it anyway you want. If you want to give Ringo less, that’s up to you.”
As legend has it, Lennon and McCartney momentarily considered taking him up on it. “Paul and I were together watching that show.” Lennon told author David Sheff in the book ‘All We Are Saying,’ “He was visiting us at our place in the Dakota. We were watching it and almost went down to the studio, just as a gag. We nearly got into a cab, but we were actually too tired.” The event was dramatized in the 2000 film ‘Two of Us.’