Fandom: Beatles RPF
Warnings: Mild swearing
Summary: The real reason George quit during the Let It Be sessions
Disclaimer: All my knowledge of these people comes from public sources
It was really Yoko who ruined it all. Everything changed when Yoko came into the studio.
When George was feeling fair – which did happen sometimes – he had to admit it wasn’t just Yoko. They had all changed. They all wanted different things. They didn’t seem to want each other quite so much.
Paul was definitely a case in point. Paul was the most vocal proponent of the Beatles remaining what they were, returning to what they had been. But George felt more and more irrelevant to Paul's vision of what the Beatles ought to be. As they became a studio-oriented post-touring band, Paul's idea of how a Beatles song was to be recorded was less about four talented musicians playing together and more about Paul coming in with very exact ideas about who would play what, when.
But years later, when George suggested that on the Anthology they blame George’s departure mid-Let It Be sessions on Paul, Paul balked.
“I just don’t want to keep coming across as the bad guy here,” Paul said. “I know we had our rows, but that’s not why you quit.”
“The argument between you and me is already in the Let It Be movie,” George said. “Everyone knows about it. The fight with John didn’t end up all over theatres. Can’t we keep it that way?” He added, “Filming everything we did was your idea.”
So for the documentary, they all blamed George’s leaving on a row with Paul, and Paul, with reluctance, supported the story.
But the truth, as is often the case, was more complicated.
It started with John, John and Yoko. George was frustrated with Paul for being controlling and condescending, for refusing to treat George like an adult musician. He'd had plenty of arguments and discussions with Paul, but nothing changed. No matter how many times Paul said he agreed with George that Paul was going too far, Paul would act the same way the next day.
But at least they could have discussions and arguments. At least Paul would talk about it.
John was different – that was the problem, John was different. Ever since he’d decided to fuse his identity with some weird wannabe artist, he hadn’t been the same person that he was.
George was thankful that the meeting where he finally lost all patience with John – with John and Yoko both – was unfilmed. He remembered it well. Paul was trying to herd everyone into enthusiasm, his own optimism forced, while John sat off in the corner, Yoko by his side, saying nothing.
“I think it’s a little late for the idea of doing our final concert in the Himalayas,” Paul said. “Anyone have any other ideas for a location?”
“A submarine would be great,” Ringo said, voice joking, and Paul laughed.
“What about you, John?” Paul asked, looking over at his songwriting partner.
It was Yoko who answered. “I think an ordinary stage would be just fine, but it should be different from a regular Beatles concert. There should be something unexpected, to make the audience think a little.”
Paul was clearly trying to conceal his annoyance, but it became increasingly evident as Yoko spoke, his smile flickering. Voice still cheerful, he said, “Like what?”
George cut them both off. “Look, right now I’m just concerned about what songs we’re going to be rehearsing today. The performance can come later.”
“I wanted to work on I’ve Got a Feeling,” Paul said, shooting a glance at John, who nodded vaguely.
“We still haven’t quite got it with I Me Mine,” George said.
He looked at John, too, and John sighed, eyes not focusing on anyone. It should have been Paul’s place to go on some pushy ramble about how it made no sense for any of them to be here if they didn’t actually want to be here. Instead, George heard himself speak.
“And why don’t you try speaking for yourself, John, instead of hiding behind your bird?”
That got John’s attention. He looked up. “Excuse me?” Yoko, looking at John, said nothing, but her face was tight.
“You heard me,” George said.
“Yoko’s an artist,” John said, sitting up straight, body language defensive. “She has as much right to be here as any of us!”
George rolled his eyes. “She’s not a Beatle. She doesn’t want to be here, she doesn’t even want you here!”
“George – ” Yoko began, but John and George were both raising their voices now, and cut her off.
“Damn straight she doesn’t want to be here after you – ”
“You don’t even want to be here with us anymore, all you want is her, and – ”
“ – treat her like such shit, who would settle for that treatment?”
“ – maybe you should just make up your mind, us or her!”
“George!” Paul snapped, but George was past listening.
John and George maintained eye contact, breathing heavily. “You’re just going to insult her to her face,” John said, “like you have since the day you met her.”
“She does have bad vibes,” George grumbled. “And so do you when you’re with her.”
“Thanks for your opinion, son,” John snarled. “Anything else you want to say before I punch you?”
“Everyone else agrees with me,” George said. “Everybody here thinks having her around all the time is hurting the group. Paul?” He turned towards Paul, but Paul averted his eyes and looked at John.
George turned back to John, his heart pounding. “You don’t leave her, I’m leaving the group. Because this is a joke.”
“Do what you want,” John said with a shrug.
George turned again towards Paul, trying to catch his bandmate’s eye, but Paul kept avoiding his gaze. I know you hate Yoko as much as I do, he thought, but Paul would not make eye contact.
George turned back to John, and saw that John’s face had hardened. He shot a glance at Ringo. Ringo wasn’t saying anything, just watching nervously. George realized that he was going to have to make good on his ultimatum.
He looked back at Paul, and finally Paul caught his eyes. Paul looked sorry, just sorry, nothing deeper than that. With increasing frustration, George saw how things stood. It didn’t matter what John did, and it didn’t matter what George did. No matter how pissed Paul was at John, no matter how obvious it was that George was right, no matter how obnoxious Yoko was, Paul would side with John every time, just because he was John.
“Fine,” George said. “Goodbye, Beatles. It was fun while it lasted.” He left the room without another word.
He was half-hoping someone would call him back. No one did.