“We didn’t realize we were breaking up as it was happening”: The Beatles intended to go back to their roots on Let It Be – instead, they documented the collapse of their magical creative partnership

The Beatles perform on the rooftop of the Apple Organization building on January 30, 1969
(Image credit: Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

As 1968 came to a close, the Beatles were for the first time in a state of creative limbo. In late November of that year, they’d released The Beatles, their sprawling double-disc effort popularly known as the White Album. The record showed an impressive creative breadth, yet it revealed the band’s lack of focus with its assortment of disparate songs, many of which were recorded without the participation of the full band. 

While the White Album was an unqualified success at retail, critics were sharply divided in their estimation of it. Nowhere was this more evident than in the New York Times, where it was deemed a “major success” by one reviewer and “boring beyond belief” by another.

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Alan di Perna

In a career that spans five decades, Alan di Perna has written for pretty much every magazine in the world with the word “guitar” in its title, as well as other prestigious outlets such as Rolling Stone, Billboard, Creem, Player, Classic Rock, Musician, Future Music, Keyboard, grammy.com and reverb.com. He is author of Guitar Masters: Intimate Portraits, Green Day: The Ultimate Unauthorized History and co-author of Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Sound Style and Revolution of the Electric Guitar. The latter became the inspiration for the Metropolitan Museum of Art/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibition “Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll.” As a professional guitarist/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist, Alan has worked with recording artists Brianna Lea Pruett, Fawn Wood, Brenda McMorrow, Sat Kartar and Shox Lumania.