The Fab Four’s creative differences and personal animosity had been obvious for more than a year, and John Lennon had already let his bandmates know he was defecting in September 1969. But it took another seven months before Paul McCartney officially announced the breakup of the Beatles on April 10, 1970. He relayed his devastating news in a weird sort of “self-interview,” but the message was plain: the group of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr that had begun playing as the Beatles in 1962 was no more. The band would go on to become the highest-earning musical artists of all times, with 178 million units sold, but in April 1970, that just didn’t matter.

Anatomy of the Beatles’ breakup

The reasons were manifold, from Paul’s continued interest in pop music to George wanting to parlay his recent growth as a composer to the death of manager Brian Epstein in 1967. The Beatles had already stopped touring in 1966.

The most controversial explanation for the final break was the much-publicized animosity between McCartney and Lennon’s love, Yoko Ono. Broken-hearted fans were quite rude to her in their grief, a plight she later said might have only strengthened her spirit and drive. It took until 2013, 43 years after the split and 33 after Lennon was fatally shot, for McCartney to absolve Ono of any blame for the breakup.

John Lennon’s take on the end of the Fab Four

But when the breakup was still fresh, Lennon offered a philosophical explanation. In December 1970, he issued some feeling home truths about the breakup during an interview in Rolling Stone. The interview touched on his solo debut album, Plastic Ono Band. “I no longer believe in myth, and Beatles is another myth,” he said. “I don’t believe in it. The dream is over. I’m not just talking about the Beatles, I’m talking about the generation thing. It’s over, and we gotta – I have to personally – get down to so-called reality.”