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The Beatles: The Solo Years


The Beatles: The Solo Years

The Beatles continued to make great music, even after John, Paul, George and Ringo went their separate ways.

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The Beatles: The Solo Years (1970-80) 1970s Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all released solo albums in 1970. Further albums followed from each, sometimes with the involvement of one or more of the others. Starr's Ringo (1973) was the only album to include compositions and performances by all four, albeit on separate songs. With Starr's collaboration, Harrison staged The Concert for Bangladesh in New York City in August 1971 with sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. Other than an unreleased jam session in 1974 (later bootlegged as A Toot and a Snore in '74), Lennon and McCartney never recorded together again.

John Lennon

1970–73: First post-Beatles years

Following The Beatles' breakup in 1970, Lennon and Ono went through primal therapy with Dr. Arthur Janov in Los Angeles, California. Designed to release emotional pain from early childhood, the therapy entailed two half-days a week with Janov for four months; he had wanted to treat the couple for longer, but they felt no need to continue and returned to London. Lennon's emotional debut solo album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970), included "Mother", in which he confronted his feelings of childhood rejection, and "Working Class Hero", banned by BBC Radio for its inclusion of the word "fucking". The same year, Tariq Ali's revolutionary political views, expressed when he interviewed Lennon, inspired the singer to write "Power to the People". Lennon also became involved with Ali during a protest against Oz magazine's prosecution for alleged obscenity. Lennon denounced the proceedings as "disgusting fascism", and he and Ono (as Elastic Oz Band) released the single "God Save Us/Do The Oz" and joined marches in support of the magazine.

Imagine followed in 1971. Its title track would become an anthem for anti-war movements, while another, "How Do You Sleep?", was a musical attack on McCartney in response to lyrics from Ram that Lennon felt, and McCartney later confirmed, were directed at him and Ono. Although Lennon softened his stance in the mid-70s and said he had written "How Do You Sleep?" about himself, he revealed in 1980, "I used my resentment against Paul... to create a song... not a terrible vicious horrible vendetta... I used my resentment and withdrawing from Paul and The Beatles, and the relationship with Paul, to write 'How Do You Sleep'. I don't really go 'round with those thoughts in my head all the time". Lennon reflected on his jealous nature in the track "Jealous Guy", later immortalized by Roxy Music's chart-topping 1981 cover following Lennon's murder. Lennon and Ono moved to New York in August 1971, and in December released "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)". To advertise the single, they paid for billboards in 12 cities around the world which declared, in the national language, "WAR IS OVER—IF YOU WANT IT". The new year saw the Nixon Administration take what it called a "strategic counter-measure" against Lennon's anti-war propaganda, embarking on what would be a four-year attempt to deport him: embroiled in a continuing legal battle, he was denied a green card until 1976. Some Time in New York City was released in 1972. Recorded with the New York band Elephant's Memory, it contained songs about women's rights, race relations, Britain's role in Northern Ireland, and Lennon's problems obtaining a green card. "Woman Is the Nigger of the World", released as a US single from the album the same year, was described by Lennon as "the first women's liberation song that went out", and debuted on 11 May when it was televised on The Dick Cavett Show. Many radio stations refused to broadcast the song because of the word "nigger". Lennon gave two benefit concerts with Elephant's Memory in New York in aid of patients at the Willowbrook State School mental facility. Staged at Madison Square Garden on 30 August 1972, they were his last full-length concert appearances. 1973–80: Lost and found

While Lennon was recording Mind Games (1973), he and Ono decided to separate. The ensuing eighteen-month period apart, which he later called his "lost weekend", was spent in Los Angeles and New York in the company of May Pang. Mind Games, credited to "the Plastic U.F.Ono Band", was released in November 1973. Its title track, "Mind Games", was a top 20 hit in the US and reached number 26 in the UK. Lennon contributed a revamped version of "I'm the Greatest", a song he wrote two years earlier, to Starr's album Ringo (1973), released the same month. (Lennon's 1971 demo appears on John Lennon Anthology.) During 1974 he produced Harry Nilsson's Pussy Cats and the Mick Jagger song "Too Many Cooks (Spoil The Soup)". The latter was destined, for contractual reasons, to remain unreleased for more than thirty years. Pang supplied the recording for its eventual inclusion on The Very Best of Mick Jagger (2007). Walls and Bridges (1974) yielded Lennon's only number one single in his lifetime, "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night", featuring Elton John on backing vocals and piano. A second single from the album, "#9 Dream", followed before the end of the year. Starr's Goodnight Vienna (1974) again saw assistance from Lennon, who wrote the title track and played piano. On 28 November, Lennon made a surprise guest appearance at Elton John's Thanksgiving concert at Madison Square Garden, in fulfilment of his promise to join the singer in a live show if "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night", a song whose commercial potential Lennon had doubted, reached number one. Lennon performed the song along with "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "I Saw Her Standing There".

Lennon co-wrote "Fame", David Bowie's first US number one, and provided guitar and backing vocals for the January 1975 recording. He and Ono were reunited shortly afterwards. The same month, Elton John topped the charts with his own cover of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", featuring Lennon on guitar and back-up vocals. Lennon released Rock 'n' Roll (1975), an album of cover songs, in February. Soon afterwards, "Stand By Me", taken from the album and a US and UK hit, became his last single for five years. He made what would be his final stage appearance in the ATV special A Salute to Lew Grade, recorded on 18 April and televised in June. Playing acoustic guitar, and backed by his eight-piece band BOMF (introduced as "Etcetera"), Lennon performed two songs from Rock 'n' Roll ("Slippin' and Slidin'" and "Stand By Me", the latter of which was excluded from the television broadcast) followed by "Imagine". The band wore masks on the backs of their heads, making them appear two-faced, a dig at Grade, with whom Lennon and McCartney had been in conflict because of his control of The Beatles' publishing company. (Dick James had sold his majority share to Grade in 1969.) During "Imagine", Lennon interjected the line "and no immigration too", a reference to his battle to remain in the United States. Lennon's second son, Sean, was born in October 1975. Lennon now took on the role of househusband, beginning what would be a five-year break from the music industry during which he gave all his attention to his family. Within the month, he fulfilled his contractual obligation to EMI/Capitol for one more album by releasing Shaved Fish, a greatest hits compilation. He devoted himself to Sean, rising at 6 am daily to plan and prepare his meals and to spend time with him. He wrote "Cookin' (In The Kitchen of Love)" for Starr's Ringo's Rotogravure (1976), performing on the track in June in what would be his last recording session until 1980. He formally announced his break from music in Tokyo in 1977, saying, "we have basically decided, without any great decision, to be with our baby as much as we can until we feel we can take time off to indulge ourselves in creating things outside of the family. During his career break he created several series of drawings, and drafted a book containing a mix of autobiographical material and what he termed "mad stuff", all of which would be published posthumously.

He emerged from retirement in October 1980 with the single "(Just Like) Starting Over", followed the next month by the album that spawned it. Released jointly with Ono, Double Fantasy contained songs written during Lennon's journey to Bermuda on a 43-foot sloop the previous June, and took its title from a species of freesia, seen in the Bermuda Botanical Gardens, whose name he regarded as a perfect description of his marriage to Ono. The new material, according to Schinder and Schwartz, found Lennon "passionate and reenergized, having found fulfillment in the stable family life that he'd been deprived of in his own youth. During the Double Fantasy sessions, Lennon and Ono recorded sufficient additional material for a planned follow-up album. Milk and Honey was released posthumously in 1984.

December 1980: Murder

At around 10:50 pm on 8 December 1980, soon after Lennon and Ono returned to the Dakota, the New York apartment building where they lived, Mark David Chapman shot Lennon in the back four times at the entrance to the building. Earlier that evening, Lennon had autographed a copy of Double Fantasy for Chapman. Lennon was taken to the emergency room of nearby Roosevelt Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival at 11:07 pm.

Ono issued a statement the next day, saying "There is no funeral for John," ending it with the words, "John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him." His body was cremated at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. Ono scattered his ashes in New York's Central Park, where the Strawberry Fields memorial was later created. Chapman pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 20 years to life; he remains in prison, having been repeatedly denied parole.


* Unfinished Music No.1: Two Virgins (with Yoko Ono) (1968)
* Unfinished Music No.2: Life with the Lions (with Yoko Ono) (1969)
* Wedding Album (with Yoko Ono) (1969)
* Live Peace in Toronto 1969 (with Plastic Ono Band) (1969)
* John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)
* Imagine (1971)
* Some Time in New York City (with Yoko Ono) (1972)
* Mind Games (1973)
* Walls and Bridges (1974)
* Rock 'n' Roll (1975)
* Double Fantasy (with Yoko Ono) (1980)

Paul McCartney

Following his marriage to Linda Eastman on March 12, 1969, McCartney began working at his home studio on his first solo album. He released the record, McCartney, in April 1970, two weeks before the Beatles' Let It Be was scheduled to hit the stores. Prior to the album's release, he announced that the Beatles were breaking up, which was against the wishes of the other members. As a result, the tensions between him and the other three members, particularly Harrison and Lennon, increased and he earned the ill will of many critics. Nevertheless, McCartney became a hit, spending three weeks at the top of the American charts. Early in 1971, he returned with "Another Day," which became his first hit single as a solo artist. It was followed several months later by Ram, another homemade collection, this time featuring the contributions of his wife, Linda.

By the end of 1971, the McCartneys had formed Wings, which was intended to be a full-fledged recording and touring band. Former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine and drummer Denny Seiwell became the group's other members, and Wings released their first album, Wild Life, in December 1971. Wild Life was greeted with poor reviews and was a relative flop. McCartney and Wings, which now featured former Grease Band guitarist Henry McCullough, spent 1972 as a working band, releasing three singles -- the protest "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," the reggae-fied "Mary Had a Little Lamb," and the rocking "Hi Hi Hi." Red Rose Speedway followed in the spring of 1973, and while it received weak reviews, it became his second American number one album. Later in 1973, Wings embarked on their first British tour, at the conclusion of which McCullough and Seiwell left the band. Prior to their departure, McCartney's theme to the James Bond movie Live and Let Die became a Top Ten hit in the U.S. and U.K. That summer, the remaining Wings proceeded to record a new album in Nigeria. Released late in 1973, Band on the Run was simultaneously McCartney's best-reviewed album and his most successful, spending four weeks at the top of the U.S. charts and eventually going triple platinum.
Following the success of Band on the Run, McCartney formed a new version of Wings with guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton. The new lineup was showcased on the 1974 British single "Junior's Farm" and the 1975 hit album Venus and Mars. At the Speed of Sound followed in 1976, and it was the first Wings record to feature songwriting contributions by the other bandmembers. Nevertheless, the album became a monster success on the basis of two McCartney songs, "Silly Love Songs" and "Let 'Em In." Wings supported the album with their first international tour, which broke many attendance records and was captured on the live triple album Wings Over America (1976).
After the tour was completed, Wings rested a bit during 1977, as McCartney released an instrumental version of Ram under the name Thrillington and produced Denny Laine's solo album Holly Days. Later that year, Wings released "Mull of Kintyre," which became the biggest-selling British single of all time, selling over two million copies. Wings followed "Mull of Kintyre" with London Town in 1978, which became another platinum record. After its release, McCulloch left the band to join the re-formed Small Faces and Wings released Back to the Egg in 1979. Though the record went platinum, it failed to produce any big hits. Early in 1980, McCartney was arrested for marijuana possession at the beginning of a Japanese tour; he was imprisoned for ten days and then released, without any charges being pressed.
1970 McCartney
* Released: 17 April 1970

1971 Ram
* Released: 17 May 1971

1971 Wild Life
* Released: 7 December 1971

1973 Red Rose Speedway
(Paul McCartney and Wings)
* Released: 30 April 1973

1973 Band on the Run
(Paul McCartney and Wings)
* Released: 5 December 1973

1975 Venus and Mars
* Released: 27 May 1975

1976 Wings at the Speed of Sound
* Released: 25 March 1976

1978 London Town
* Released: 31 March 1978

1979 Back to the Egg
* Released: 8 June 1979

1980 McCartney II
* Released: 16 May 1980

George Harrison

Although never a strong singer, Harrison's vocals were always distinctive, especially when placed in the right setting. For his first solo record following the group's 1970 breakup, All Things Must Pass, he collaborated with producer Phil Spector, whose so-called "Wall of Sound" technique adapted well to Harrison's voice. All Things Must Pass and the accompanying single "My Sweet Lord" had the distinction of being the first solo recordings by any of the former Beatles to top the charts. Unfortunately, Harrison was later sued by the publisher of the 1962 Chiffons hit "He's So Fine," which bore a striking resemblance to "My Sweet Lord" -- he lost the case, in what was deemed an instance of unintended plagiarism. The album, however, was extraordinary in any context, built around some highly personal, topical songs, and some phenomenal rockers, but much of it also steeped in spirituality. It posed as many questions for the serious listener to ponder as it offered exquisite melodies and stunning production for the casual listener to revel in. And it sold about as well as any Beatles album, an even more impressive feat as a two-record set (with a bonus record, the "Apple Jam" -- which, itself, was historically important as the sessions that spawned Eric Clapton's band Derek & the Dominos).

In 1971, he organized rock's first major charity event, The Concert for Bangladesh, staged at New York's Madison Square Garden to aid that famine-ravaged nation, which yielded both a movie and a triple album. Rather ironically, for the man once known as "the quiet Beatle," Harrison found himself at the center of the international news media. What's more, he was having a decidedly easier time than his former bandmates selling his music. John Lennon's personal and political evolution yielded records that were sometimes difficult for fans to embrace; Paul McCartney was selling lots of records but was also being attacked by critics and fans for the superficiality of his work. In the most towering irony imaginable, the reluctant Beatle became the beneficiary of most of the lingering good will attached to the group.

In 1974, he organized Dark Horse Records, which -- following the end of his contract with EMI in 1976 -- became the imprint on which all of his subsequent solo work was issued. His albums from the '70s into the '80s always had an audience, but -- except for Somewhere in England (1981), released in the wake of the murder of John Lennon -- none attracted too many listeners beyond the core of serious fans. And some of his best musicianship was not in evidence on his own albums, so much as on recordings by such Dark Horse artists as Splinter. During this same period, Harrison co-founded Handmade Films, which produced such hit movies as Monty Python's Life of Brian, Time Bandits, Withnail and I, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.


Electronic Sound (1969)

All Things must pass (1970)

Living in the material world (1973)

Dark Horse (1974)

Extra Texture (Read all about it) (1975)

Thirty Three and 1/3 (1976)

George Harrison (1979)

Ringo Starr

After the announcement of the breakup of The Beatles on 10 April 1970, Starr released two albums before the end of that year. Sentimental Journey featured Starr's renditions of many pre-rock standards and included the arranger talents of Quincy Jones, Maurice Gibb, George Martin and McCartney, among others. His next album, Beaucoups of Blues, put Starr in a country context, and included renowned Nashville session musician Pete Drake. He scored hit singles with "It Don't Come Easy" (1971) (US #4) and "Back Off Boogaloo" (1972) (US #9), the latter of which was his biggest UK hit, peaking at #2. He achieved two #1 hits in the US, with "Photograph" (co-written with Harrison) and "You're Sixteen" (written by the Sherman Brothers of Mary Poppins fame).

He participated in The Concert for Bangladesh organised by Harrison in 1971, as well as drumming on Harrison's All Things Must Pass and Living in the Material World, Lennon's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, and Yoko Ono's early solo work. Starr then made his debut as a film director with the T. Rex documentary Born to Boogie. Starr became firm friends with T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan and during the period of filming the documentary, Starr released the single "Back Off Boogaloo".

In 1971, he started a furniture company with designer Robin Cruikshank. Starr's own avant-garde designs included a flower-shaped table with adjustable petal seats and a donut-shaped fireplace.

The 1973 album Ringo, produced by Richard Perry, with participation by the other three former Beatles on different tracks, was commercially successful. The album Goodnight Vienna followed the next year and was also successful. Hits and notable tracks from these two albums included "Photograph" and "You're Sixteen" both reaching number one on the US charts, "Oh My My" (US #5) and "I'm the Greatest" (written by Lennon) from Ringo, and "Only You (And You Alone)" (US #6) and "No No Song" (US #3) from 1974's Goodnight Vienna. In late 1975, these singles and others were collected for Starr's first greatest hits compilation, Blast from Your Past, which was the last album to be released on Apple Records. During this period he became romantically involved with Lynsey de Paul. He played tambourine on a song she wrote and produced for Vera Lynn, "Don't You Remember When", and he inspired another De Paul song, "If I Don't Get You The Next One Will", which she described as being about revenge after he missed a dinner appointment with her because he was asleep in his office.

Starr's recording career subsequently diminished in commercial impact, although he continued to record and remained a familiar celebrity presence. Starr signed with Atlantic Records in the mid-1970s, and in 1976 the album Ringo's Rotogravure was released. Although yielding two minor hit singles, "A Dose of Rock 'n' Roll" (US #26) and a cover of "Hey! Baby" (US #74) the album achieved moderate sales but reached a respectable #28. This caused the label to revamp Starr's formula; the results were a curious blend of disco and '70s pop. The album Ringo the 4th (1977) was a commercial disaster, reaching no higher than #162 on the charts. Afterward, Starr soon signed with Portrait Records. His stint with Portrait began on a promising note: 1978 saw the release of Bad Boy, as well as a network TV special. However, neither were very popular, with Bad Boy reaching a disappointing #129 on the US charts. Consequently, Starr did not release another album with Portrait Records.

In 1975, Starr founded his own record label called Ring O'Records, and four albums were released on the label between 1975 and 1978 (Startling Music by David Hentschel, Graham Bonnet by Graham Bonnet, Restless by Rab Noakes and a re-release of an Apple Records album, The Whale by John Tavener) as well as 16 singles by artists such as: Bobby Keys, Carl Grossman, Colonel Doug Bogie, David Hentschel, Graham Bonnet, Suzanne, Johnny Warman, Stormer, Rab Noakes and Dirk & Stig (the last being names of characters from The Beatles pastiche band "The Rutles", created by Eric Idle and Neil Innes).


* Sentimental Journey (1970)
* Beaucoups of Blues (1970)
* Ringo (1973)
* Goodnight Vienna (1974)
* Ringo's Rotogravure (1976)
* Ringo the 4th (1977)
* Bad Boy (1978)

Discussion Forum

Top 10 "Beatles"(1970-80)-songs 1 Reply

1. Happy Christmas (War is over) - John Lennon (My absolute favorite Christmas-song)2. Maybe I'm amazed - Paul McCartney3. Band on the run - Wings4. Imagine - John Lennon5. Give me love - George…Continue

Started by Niels (Mod). Last reply by RJhog (Admin) Jul 15, 2010.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of The Beatles: The Solo Years to add comments!

Comment by Mike Pell on May 22, 2016 at 10:13pm

Ringo is doing alright with his music, and he always has a song that looks back at the early days!

Comment by RJhog (Admin) on May 22, 2016 at 8:11pm

Comment by Mike Pell on January 14, 2015 at 8:02am

Maybe I have it, gotta check the newer stuff- things get lost in the brain.

That damned RJ, always making threats, LOL!

Comment by Niels (Mod) on January 14, 2015 at 7:46am

Hi Mike. I think it's from some new game, or something like that. I'm not sure. I posted it because it was a new video from my favorite Beatle, and because RJhog "threaten" to delete the group 

Comment by RJhog (Admin) on January 14, 2015 at 7:19am

We might need to look into re-naming the group.

Comment by Mike Pell on January 14, 2015 at 7:02am

Nice one Neils, must have slipped past me.

Thought I had just about all McCartney.

Where's it from?

Comment by Niels (Mod) on January 14, 2015 at 6:45am

Not from the periode 1970-80, but let's get rid of that time-frame:

Comment by Mike Pell on April 20, 2011 at 5:01am

I think one of the best ever Ringo albums was a few years ago.

Sounding very much like something Yogi Berra would say, it is called Time Takes Time, lol!
Check that one out.


Comment by Dave on April 20, 2011 at 12:14am

The last couple of Ringo albums were some of the best he's ever done: "Liverpool 8" and "Y Not"...but I don't think many people care about new albums by Ringo these days.


Comment by RJhog (Admin) on July 15, 2010 at 11:52am
I'm looking forward to checking this page out more. I've heard some Ringo tunes lately and I'm interested in hearing more.

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