The Beatles began recording their final album in July of 1969, entitled Abbey Road, returning to the EMI studios in West London and the production team led by George Martin. It proved to be a relatively smooth and peaceful production and a highly acclaimed album. Lennon announced to the other Beatles that he was leaving the band just before that album's release but was persuaded to remain quiet in public.
In September of 1969, Russell Gibb, a radio DJ in Detroit, Michigan, announced that Paul McCartney was dead. Other DJs, television news reporters, newspapers and magazines picked up on the story and began to look for clues. This snowballed into what is commonly referred to today as the Paul Is Dead hoax. People that believed the rumors, claimed that McCartney had died in a car accident and was replaced by a look-alike named William Campbell. Numerous clues were supposedly hidden in album artwork, lyrics, and recordings themselves (fans even went so far as to play Beatles records backwards, for instance the words "number nine, number nine" on the song "Revolution#9" on The Beatles (a.k.a. "The White Album") became "turn me on, dead man, turn me on, dead man" when played counterclockwise). Another key clue apparently was the cover of the album Abbey Road in which Paul held a cigarette with his right hand, indicating his becoming reduced to ashes. Paul is left-handed. The legendary hoax has been the subject of several books.
The band officially broke up in 1970. The last Beatles studio session that included all four band members took place on August 20, 1969. The song they had finished had a fitting title: "The End". The final Beatles session was on January 4, 1970, with Paul, Ringo, and George recording "I Me Mine".
EMI released Let It Be, the result of the Spector rework of the Get Back sessions, in May of 1970, and the film of the same name shortly after (for the main purpose of fulfilling the group's contract with United Artists).
On April 10, 1970, McCartney announced that the band had officially broken up. The cause of the breakup has been debated by fans and historians ever since that day, and ultimately they came up with several factors that could have easily contributed to the breakup. It is likely that the world will never know what caused the break-up, following are some theories.
The end of touring
On August 29, 1966, the Beatles played their final live concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. It was the concluding concert in a series of short tours in the summer of 1966 that had several unhappy incidents. Viewed in hindsight, the occurrences were perhaps not as grave as they seemed at the time, but for a band that had toured almost without negative incident throughout 1964 and 1965 (although FBI files reveal an extortion threat in Denver, Colorado on August 26, 1964), the existence of troubles during their tours was a straw that broke the camel's back. Performing live was becoming a stressful chore rather than the satisfying experience it had been in their earlier days.
The problems started during their tour of Japan, where they were scheduled to play at the famous Budokan Hall, despite the large protests against it. The performance was in front of a very quiet audience. This was a change from the band's usual, in front of fans that couldn't hear the music.) Due to the sudden ability to hear the band, it seemed that their ability to perform had degraded; a majority of the fans who have the bootleg of the show agree with this.
Philippines. Problems started with the band being denied permission to leave the hotel by the police. Then, shortly after their concert, the First Lady Imelda Marcos 'invited' them to a social event for her family and friends; however, neither the band nor manager Brian Epstein had been informed of this invitation in advance, and Epstein sent away the guards sent to escort the band to the First Lady. This was perceived as a snub by Marcos.
The next morning the local newspaper headlines proclaimed that the Beatles had stood up the First Lady. Angry riots broke out as the band tried to escape the country, and drummer Ringo Starr received rib injuries trying to reach their airplane. Numerous other Beatles touring crew members were also injured. Their instruments were lost, they were 'taxed' all the money they were due to have received from their concert, and several members of the touring party were left behind in the airport scuffles.
After the band's summer tour of the US ended, George Harrison by some accounts informed Epstein that he was quitting the band. If this conversation did occur, his decision was obviously rescinded. The thought behind it may be attributed to the growing discontent arising from the conflict between the desire to create music and the technical limitations of playing music live in the mid-1960s owing to the primitive amplification equipment of the era. The Beatles decided to make a wholesale change in their lives.
Instead of continuing the standard pattern of an endless succession of recording and touring, they decided to give up live performance in favor of focusing on recording and other projects. Given the growing sophistication in their composing and recording, as evidenced by the albums "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver", they regarded this as a step forwards - an opportunity to devote whatever time was needed to creating music in the studio, without the usual pressures to record swiftly in order to meet commercial deadlines, or to have 'product' ready to promote on tour. The first results of this new philosophy were the single "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane" and their 1967 album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". The new music resulting from this commitment to spend unlimited time on creating music in the studio was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful.
The decision to give up live performance was quite a revolutionary step for successful musical performers in the 1960s, and was probably alarming to those who had a traditional view of how entertainers should conduct their careers. However the Beatles were clearly forging a new path as creative artists in which fulfilling their artistic urges was more important than toiling unhappily just because it was expected of them, or simply to make money. This approach was followed by many musical artists in the late 1960s and thereafter.
Eventually, the lack of live performance did lead to strains within the band. Paul McCartney in particular started to miss the positive aspects of playing live. This led to conflicts, especially with George Harrison, who came to believe that the Beatles iconic status with pop fans was incompatible with the band being able to play live as serious musicians in the same way as some of the newer progressive rock bands. Harrison wanted the Beatles to be appreciated for their newer music. He felt that live performances would be marred by fans screaming for their 'moptop' era pop songs. McCartney, however, felt that the essence of the band lay in live performance. Lennon and Starr vacillated between support of McCartney's and Harrison's viewpoints. After the issue of a possible return to live performance first surfaced, in late 1968, there was never a time that all four Beatles were in agreement on the topic. This factor probably contributed to their eventual break-up.
Brian Epstein's death
On August 27, 1967, the group's longtime manager Brian Epstein died of an overdose of Carbitol, a sleeping pill.
This marked the end of an era for the band; he had kept them together through the years of touring, and kept them doing something. From the time of his death onwards, the band was mostly aimless and drifted apart as a power vacuum was left open for who decided what the Beatles did, and when. This resulted in a struggle between Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Lennon himself stated that this was a major factor in the breakup of the band in a series of interviews for Rolling Stone magazine (1970):
"We got fed up with being side men for Paul, after Brian died that's what began to happen to us you know ... after Brian died we collapsed. Paul took over and supposedly led us, but what is leading us when we went around in circles. We broke up then"
Beatles Ltd. was a company founded by The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein, to handle merchandising and other business affairs for the band. The company was dissolved in 1968 to form Apple Corps Ltd. and its record division Apple Records.
Shortly after its founding, due to the band's lack of experience at business matters, John Lennon announced that in his opinion it would go broke in six months. The level of work required to run the company resulted in a lot of stress, frustration, and fracturing of their friendships as the company wasted money almost nonstop.