When the Beatles Were Offered $30 Million to Reunite
Six years after they called it a day, the Beatles were still in demand.
Each former member was immersed in highly successful solo careers, but the void of their existence as a band was still felt by fans across the globe. By the mid-'70s, rock had become big business – and the time was right, many seemed to think, for the Beatles to come together once again.
For a few years, Los Angeles-based concert promoter Bill Sargent had made motions towards the idea of a reunion, offering up $10 million in 1974, but on Jan. 16, 1976, he upped the ante to $30 million.
"One day I woke up and reached for my morning newspaper and read the story which said, 'The Beatles to reform, Sargent offers millions,'" Paul McCartney said in the 2009 book, The Beatles: Off The Record 2. "Then I got a telegram from Sargent, and it put the offer out straightforward."
Back then, George Harrison described it as a "sick offer. It's putting pressure on us and I don't like that," he added in The Beatles: Off The Record 2. "I'm not saying a Beatles reunion is never going to happen. It's not beyond the bounds of possibility, but we're so diversified now. We've gone our separate ways. I don't see us ever getting together just because of people bringing pressure on us."
By the spring, Sargent pushed the payday up to $50 million. In the April 5, 1976 issue of People magazine, an unnamed "top-level rock functionary" said: “I know for a fact that George, John [Lennon] and Ringo [Starr] 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.”
For McCartney, "it was never really for the money that we would do anything," he later added. "Obviously we did stuff to get paid, but we did it for the music, or for the group, or for the enjoyment."
By year's end, Sargent's gambit seemed like small potatoes. Promoter Sid Bernstein, who had previously worked with the band on their first visits to America, announced an astounding bid of $230 million.
One other offer would come in that year, as Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels famously promised the Beatles just $3,000 to reform: "You can divide it anyway you want. If you want to give Ringo less, that’s up to you.” They almost took him up on that one.
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