In early 1970, The Beatles were on the brink of splitting up for good. Their 13th and final album, Let It Be, was just weeks away from being released – but there was a massive problem. Paul McCartney had arranged to release his debut record – McCartney – a few weeks prior on April 17. As a result, the management at the Fab Four’s record label, Apple, was furious. So they sent Ringo Starr to solve the problem.
McCartney later recalled Starr arriving at his farm just weeks before the albums were due to hit store shelves. But, despite being extremely close to the band’s drummer, he brutally lashed out at his friend.
McCartney said: “Ringo came to see me. He was sent, I believe – being mild-mannered, the nice guy – by the others, because of the dispute. So Ringo arrived at the house, and I must say I gave him a bit of verbal.”
Starr reportedly tried to reason with McCartney. He said: “No, well, on behalf of the board and on behalf of The Beatles and so and so, we think you should do this.”
The Hey Jude singer did not take being strong-armed by his friend lightly, however.
McCartney raged: “You guys are just messing me around!” He recalled: “I was just fed up with that. It was the only time I ever told anyone to GET OUT! It was fairly hostile. But things had got like that by this time.”
He added that things were close to getting physical between the pair. He said: “It hadn’t actually come to blows, but it was near enough.”
However, McCartney did show some remorse that it was Starr who suffered his wrath on that particular day.
McCartney said: “Unfortunately it was Ringo. I mean, he was probably the least to blame of any of them, but he was the fall guy who got sent round to ask me to change the date – and he probably thought: ‘Well, Paul will do it,’ but he met a different character because now I was definitely boycotting Apple.”
Starr himself later reflected on the intense meeting between the former bandmates. He said: “I went to see Paul. To my dismay, he went completely out of control, shouting at me, prodding his fingers towards my face, saying: ‘I’ll finish you now’ and ‘you’ll pay’. He told me to put my coat on and get out. I did so.”
Ten days later, on April 10, 1970, The Beatles announced they were splitting up. And McCartney got his own way, as well; the band’s final album, Let It Be, was pushed back to May 8.
Starr looked back on the powerful altercation while writing his solo track, Early 1970.
Starr’s song takes aim at McCartney almost instantly, hitting out at the star’s comfortable life.
The drummer viciously crooned: “Lives on a farm, got plenty of charm, beep, beep / He’s got no cows but he’s sure got a whole lotta sheep / A brand new wife and a family / And when he comes to town I wonder if he’ll play with me.”
However, not every mention of McCartney in the song was spiteful. He went on to say: “And when he comes to town, I know he’s gonna play with me / Cause he’s always in town playing for you with me.”