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The Beatles 1980 Reunion: What Might Have Been?

Updated on May 2, 2012

Several rumors had circulated over the years since the Beatles 1970 demise that the former "Fab Four" had entertained the idea of reuniting. In virtually each and every interview they were constantly bombarded with that subject to ad nauseum. Even when they were individually promoting a new solo album, tour, film, etc they could not escape that inevitable topic.

Since the early 70s there was tentative plans for a Beatles film and record anthology to be made which would document them from their immodest beginnings, to the height of Beatlemania, and the gradual disintegration within the band. Then the unfathomable was announced during the fall of 1980 that the climax of the anthology was going to be the Beatles actually having a reunion concert which was going to take place in 1980. In fact, Yoko Ono has been quoted that John Lennon had a plane ticket destined to London to join the other three at a press conference to make that announcement.

Unfortunately, we know the events of December 8th, 1980, when crazed Mark David Chapman assassinated Lennon at nearly point-break range and was found across the street reading "Catcher and the Rye" by Lennon's security guard and he infamously proclaimed, "I just shot John Lennon". That unfolded on a Monday evening and Lennon was scheduled that weekend to fly out for that press conference which we obviously we never know what type of impact of a Beatles reunion would have if it all came to fruition.

Lennon finally got back into the spotlight again in 1980 with "Double Fantasy" and had several more songs in his vast catalog. He also hoped to launch Yoko into a serious artist and was in the studio the evening of his death putting the finishing touches on Yoko's "Walking On Thin Ice". What is so remarkable about the recording is Lennon's very innovative guitar work on the track. It was spell-bounding in several ways, something more technically in advance than he had ever done before. He also had plans to embark on his first ever solo World Tour to support "Double Fantasy". What prevented him from touring prior to that was the deportation case which was finally settled in 1976, but he was in the 2nd year of his 5-year hiatus when he essentially became "Mr. Mum" to Sean. He also had offers to do some movies and plays. But obviously it's what might have been.

Paul McCartney within that past year released his most innovative solo album, "McCartney II" and even Lennon was impressed with most of it, especially the hit single, "Coming Up". Paul and John had reconciled their differences and even recorded together in 1974 in an all-night session with several highly regarded musicians , however, it is marred by well let's just say "IMMENSE substance abuse". Then, in 1976 Paul visited John in NY and they both happened to be watching George Harrison's Saturday Night Live appearance and during the broadcast Lorne Michael offered them money if they happened to make an appearance, but unfortunately John and Paul were too tired to make the drive.

John though was insulted in 1980 when George forgot to mention him in his biography "I, Me, Mine", but I am certain they would have been able to overcome their differences. John also had been writing songs for Ringo's forthcoming solo album. Also, George had a song in mind for Ringo, but that later became George's very emotionally charged tribute to John, "All Those Years Ago". But all four had seem to set aside all their differences. What lead to their break-up was the dissolved venture of "Apple". Their demise of the band started when their manager, Brian Epstein, died of an OD in the fall of '67. By that time, Paul decided to dictate the direction of the band and the rest went along with it. However, the split came in form when John, George, and Ringo wanted Alan Klein to manage their business affairs, but Paul insisted that they have Linda's father, Lee Eastman. There were several ongoing legal battles that ensued throughout the 70s and they since were resolved.

If the band had reunited on what would have been a magical historical night, they would have performed several songs they never presented live before. The stage equipment was more advanced compared to their final touring concert, which was in August of '66 at San Francisco, CA, Candlestick Park. True, they had the roof-top gig in January of 1969 which was captured in its entirety in the "Let It Be" documentary.

What would have ensued would have been amazing. 1982 was their 20th Anniversary of their first single "Love Me Do" and first album "Please Please Me". In order to observe that milestone, I am certain they would have recorded some newer songs and appeared on several television programs. 1984 would have been another 20th Anniversary, of their first US television appearance ("Ed Sullivan") and then their first US tour. Certainly they would have toured the US that year and continued to record newer material and even videos for the vastly emerging MTV generation (something they even began doing with promotional videos way back when, such pioneers).

I could sit here and fantasize even further, but it just depresses me beyond belief to do so. Just one tragic event laid to rest all of that and then some. Then of course with George's passing in '02. Regardless, the final nail of the coffin was December 8th, 1980, which we never know what might have been.


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      Howard 2 years ago

      What a tragedy. Gone but never forgotten

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      Sam 2 years ago

      Why did he have to die :'( rip johnny