Fifty years ago, the Beatles entered their final year as a working rock ’n’ roll band. And in the ensuing decades, the reasons for their eventual disbandment have been debated ad nauseam. Was it Yoko Ono’s constant presence in the studio? Paul McCartney’s increasingly controlling nature? John Lennon’s rage to break free of the partnership that he had brokered with McCartney after their meeting in a Liverpool churchyard in July 1957? Or simply Ringo Starr’s apathy or George Harrison’s need to strike out on his own and fulfill his promise as a songwriter in his own right?
In truth, although each of the above was a contributing factor, by January 1969 a much darker force had made its presence known in their world. During that fateful year, the Beatles suffered, as so many families do today, from the daily pain and bewilderment of an opioid addiction.