‘I was shattered’ – Paul Weller, Booker T and more on the day the Beatles split

Fifty years ago today, the counter-cultural whirlwind that was the Beatles ended. Musicians, fans and insiders relive the devastating day their era-defining story came to an abrupt close

‘They were a passageway to another world’ … the Beatles split 50 years ago today.
 ‘They were a passageway to another world’ … the Beatles split 50 years ago today. Composite: Fiona Adams/Redferns

On 9 April 1970, a press release about a 27-year-old solo artist was sent to the media. Taking the form of a Q&A, most of it explained what his debut album, McCartney, was about (“home, family, love”). Then came this: “Are you planning a new album or single with the Beatles?” “No.” “Do you foresee a time when Lennon-McCartney becomes an active songwriting partnership again?” “No.”

Paul McCartney never actually said in person that the Beatles had split, but these responses told journalists all they needed to know. “Paul quits the Beatles,” announced the front of the Daily Mirror the next day, as the story ricocheted around the world. Here, exactly 50 years on, we talk to Beatles fans and insiders about the day the band’s era-defining story finally came to an end.

Paul Weller: ‘They were my entire universe’

Then: 11, schoolboy, Maybury School, Woking. Now: 61, musician

My mum had a part-time job in the local newsagents and I can remember seeing a headline: “Paul – I Quit” on that fateful day. I couldn’t make sense of it. I was shattered. The Beatles were my entire universe.

I now see it as inevitable and also necessary, because in hindsight they couldn’t have gone on into the 70s. It wouldn’t have felt right. Bowie took their place, I think. But I also wonder what would have happened if they had continued. Would there have been 50 years of OK or shit records to lessen their meaning and impact? Would they still remain as important as they are now and will always be?

The Beatles will always be my guides. They were my four prophets from the north. They came to show us there’s another way to live – and to rejoice in what we have.
Paul Weller’s 15th solo album, On Sunset, is released 12 June on Polydor.

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