When Paul McCartney Filed a Lawsuit to Break up the Beatles
One of the reasons the Beatles defined the '60s is because they broke up shortly after the decade ended. Paul McCartney took the first step in dissolving the group on Dec. 31, 1970 by filing a lawsuit against his three bandmates and their parent company, Apple Corps.
John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had already temporarily left the band over the previous two years, only to eventually reconcile. When McCartney released his self-titled debut in April 1970, however, he issued a press release saying that he was leaving the group. The other three members would soon follow suit with their own recordings. This lawsuit officially confirmed for the world that, as John Lennon sang in "God," "the dream is over."
McCartney's main reason for wanting to legally break up the group, according to the court documents, stemmed from the decision taken by the others to to appoint Rolling Stones manager Allan Klein as their manager over McCartney's opposition. McCartney didn't trust Klein, and wanted new in-laws Lee and John Eastman to look after their affairs. The others balked, fearing that McCartney would get preferential treatment in what had previously been an equal partnership.
McCartney also stated that he'd never received audited accounts of Apple Corps' books since its founding in April 1967. Further, since the Beatles were no longer going to record or perform together, there was no need for the group to continue to carry on as a legal entity.
In addition to seeking the dissolution of the group, McCartney asked for a court-appointed receiver to look after Apple Corps for the duration of the suit, and for Klein to officially be charged with mismanagement of the group's funds.
The suit took more than four years to work its way through the courts, so the group didn't officially disband until January 1975. Along the way, McCartney's concerns about Klein proved to be correct, as it was discovered that he had screwed over the Stones for the rights to their pre-1970 material.
The other three Beatles eventually soured on Klein too: By 1977, all their litigation with Klein had been settled, with him receiving approximately $4 million. Klein died in 2009 from complications due to Alzheimer's disease.
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