How John Lennon’s impulsive decision to play a 1969 concert in Toronto helped speed the Beatles breakup
July 4, 2014
Over the next two months, more than five million foreigners will come to Canada on their summer vacation. For the rest of the summer, the National Post presents this series on the revolutionaries, luminaries and criminals who have taken time out from shaping world events to pay us a visit — and how that visit shaped them. Today, how a Toronto rock concert killed the Beatles:
In August of 1966, the Beatles had just arrived in Toronto for a pair of appearances at Maple Leaf Gardens that, unbeknownst to the world, would be among their last. Prior to the shows, in a press conference at the arena’s Hot Stove Lounge, a reporter asked John Lennon if the band — who had failed to sell out the 16,00-seat venue — would ever split up.
“We obviously are not going to go around holding hands forever,” he replied, eliciting laughter from the assembled press.
John Lennon playing in Toronto in 1969, where he discovered that there was “life beyond the Beatles.”
Lennon added, more seriously, “we’ve got to split up or progress … it might happen. It’s quite possible.”
The Toronto reporters could not have known, but by the end of the decade, their budding metropolis would soon become the catalyst for the destruction of the greatest band of all time.
In September, 1969, a very different John Lennon stepped into the arrivals lounge at Toronto International Airport.
The 28-year-old had traded his moptop for long hair and a bushy beard, he had married a Japanese artist seven years his senior and the Beatles were now barely on speaking terms.
Lennon himself had grown particularly disillusioned with the Fab Four. He had been showing up to recording sessions blasted on drugs, he had lambasted Paul McCartney’s contributions to the album Abbey Road as “granny music” and he had begun to openly resent the Beatles’ entire rise to fame as a colossal sellout.
“It’s torture every time we produce anything. The Beatles haven’t got any magic you haven’t got. We suffer like hell anytime we make anything,” he would tell music columnist Howard Smith in a Canadian interview.
By 1969, the Beatles were hardly speaking to each other.
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