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By the end of the 1960s, John Lennon and Yoko Ono wanted to collaborate musically, and Lennon felt The Beatles were getting in the way. He would eventually tell his bandmates he wanted a divorce from them in 1969. He had been thinking about breaking up The Beatles for a while at this point. According to Let It Be director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Lennon resorted to surprising measures to show he was ready to be done with the group.

John Lennon wanted to make it clear he would rather collaborate with Yoko Ono than The Beatles

Lennon had known his Beatles bandmates for years, but he felt a deeper connection with Ono. He wanted to continue to develop his music career with her, not necessarily with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. According to Lindsay-Hogg, Lennon had an eyebrow-raising way of conveying this. He played an audio tape of him and Ono having sex.

“Well, he put it in the cassette player and he pressed the button,” Lindsay-Hogg told Rolling Stone. “And at first, you couldn’t be sure what it was, because you heard murmuring voices. But then you knew because of the intimate way they were talking, because of pauses, because of silences, because of murmurs of pleasure that that’s what was going on. I remember thinking it was an extraordinary salvo. And that it was him saying, ‘This is what’s going on now. And it is her and me. It’s not you, not the other three guys I have grown up with. It’s her and me, and this is an aspect of my life that isn’t going to change.’ So I think that was more like a calling card.”

A black and white picture of John Lennon with his arm around Yoko Ono in bed wearing pajamas.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono | Bettmann/Contributor via Getty

Lindsay-Hogg said the rest of The Beatles were present, and they weren’t quite sure what to make of Lennon’s tape.

“Weird! These were guys who had shared one-room apartments and a small bathroom in Hamburg for months at a time,” he said, adding, “And they knew each other and they’re all wildly heterosexual. And they kind of were silenced by this. And then one of them said, ‘Well, that’s interesting.’”

John Lennon was furious with his bandmates for their treatment of Yoko Ono

Lennon felt more aligned with Ono than his bandmates because of the way they treated her. He didn’t think they showed her the respect she deserved.

“You can quote Paul, it’s probably in the papers, he said it many times at first he hated Yoko and then he got to like her,” Lennon told Rolling Stone in 1971. “But, it’s too late for me. I’m for Yoko. Why should she take that kind of s*** from those people?”

He didn’t think he could ever forgive McCartney or Harrison for their behavior.

“Ringo was all right, so was Maureen [Starkey], but the other two really gave it to us,” he said. “I’ll never forgive them, I don’t care what f***in’ s*** about Hare Krishna and God and Paul with his ‘Well, I’ve changed me mind.’ I can’t forgive ’em for that, really. Although I can’t help still loving them either.”

Lennon admitted he expected the band to get back together

While he was angry at his bandmates and ready for a fresh start with Ono, Lennon admitted he didn’t think The Beatles’ break up would be permanent. He believed that they would reunite after some time apart.

A black and white picture of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison posing in front of a fireplace with their arms around each other.
The Beatles | John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images

Paul McCartney Said John Lennon Was so Angry With Him After The Beatles’ Split That Some of Their Phone Calls Were ‘Frightening’

“I’ve no idea if The Beatles will work together again, or not,” he said, per The Beatles Diary Volume 2: After the Breakup. “I never really have. It was always open. If somebody didn’t feel like it … that’s it! It could be a rebirth or death. We’ll see what it is. It’ll probably be a rebirth.”

As time went by, though, Lennon concluded that a permanent split was for the best.