by Jason Gross
ED NOTE: After Apple Records had a fire sale of their items in April 1970, a collector named A.J. Weberstone came across a videotape labeled 'Final Meeting'. He was curious about this and told by Derek Taylor that he could view it and take notes only. Weberstone watched the tape and wrote down everything that he heard and saw there. Mysteriously, the tape was never seen or heard about after that. Weberstone died last year but in his papers were the notes that he carefully and thoroughly jotted down from the tape that he saw at the Apple offices. For the first time, we're pleased to present this important piece of Beatles history, looking into the dissolution of the band with an intimate, first-hand view.
September 1969- Savile Row office of Apple Records
Scene: meeting room filled with 30-40 loud talky people, some in business suits, some in hippy gear; mood is a little somber. In the middle of the room are John, Paul, George and Ringo, looking tired and distracted. Yoko is also there, quietly sitting next to John.
Lennon: (loudly) Alright, that's enough! That's enough! (room quiets down). Everyone who isn't in the band is going to have to leave NOW. Come on then! (loud grumbling and arguing) I mean it, NOW! Get going! (more grumbling) Let's start with the barristers- all lawyers gone, now! (a dozen suited men file out methodically). Right, now the hangers-on, get on now! (a dozen hippies shuffle out). OK, now the groupies! (two forlorn guys slowly leave).
Harrison: (shaking his head) Sad, isn't it? Used to have much more than that.
Lennon: (to Yoko, solemnly) Alright mother, you too.
McCartney: (protesting) But she's the fifth Beatle! We wouldn't all still be together if it wasn't for her!
Lennon: (sighs, annoyed) I know, I know...
read the full transcript below...
Ono: (to McCartney) Thank you but it'll be alright. I have to rehearse for a benefit show now anyway. It's for the victims who were traumatized from my last concert.
(She kisses Lennon and then slowly leaves as the only ones left in the room are now the four Beatles,each with a drink in front of them)
Lennon: (addressing the other three Beatles) So... I have something to say to you about the band. It's been on my mind for a while and it's come to a head where I have to just come out and say it. You know, we had a good run, a GREAT run and we've done everything. We can be really proud of it all too. Well, except for 'Magical Mystery Tour.' And that thing with the Mahareshi. And our last tour. And the 'bigger than Jesus' comment. And this whole mess with Apple. And that five-way we had with Brian. And... well, you get the point. We're not moptops anymore, you know.
Harrison: (impatient) So, what is it then? Are we finished?
Lennon: Well, that's it lads. Let's end it.
McCartney: (excitable) You're serious? The band's over?
Lennon: (calmly) Yes, that's it. Goodbye Beatles... (everyone sighs for a few moments and then he breaks in gleefully) And hello, Johnny and the Moondogs! (pans his hand across the air, like he's reading a marquee)
(The other three look at each other in confusion)
McCartney: What are you going on about??
Lennon: (proudly) Johnny and the Moondogs! That's what we'll be now. We're going back to our roots and doing skiffle music again.
(A few moments of awkward silence while Lennon is still beaming)
Harrison: (dour) You're joking, right?
Lennon: Dead serious. That's our future. We've run this whole Beatles thing into the ground and now it's time to start fresh.
McCartney: (still puzzled) ...With a skiffle band?
Lennon: (still excited) Yeah, that's it! We're turning a new page in our lives now. It'll be great. This is the best way to get us out of our rut.
Harrison (quietly): And out of our heads...
McCartney: (protesting, to Lennon) But nobody wants to hear that kind of music now.
Lennon: That's why it'll be something special. No one else will be in on it but us!
Harrison: (dryly) The fans won't be in on it either.
Lennon: The hell with them. We have enough money to buy fans now if we want!
Starr: They don't have drummers in skiffle bands, do they?
Harrison: (to Lennon) Yeah, you want him to just snap his fingers to the beat?
Lennon: No, he can play... washboard!
Starr: I've never done that before.
Lennon: Then you'll learn. It'll be easy and fun!
Starr: (groaning, taking a sip) I need a drink.
Lennon: Oh, get that out of your system now. No more libations or illicit substances, if you know what I mean. We're all going bushy tail.
McCartney: Now I know you're not serious! You want me to drop Mary Jane?
Lennon: We have to! It's too distracting. Come on now, I'm serious! Let's get rid of it now!
(Slowly, reluctantly, each of them piles on the table all of their paraphernalia, including bongs, joints, needles, pipes, etc until there's a huge pile)
McCartney: (pulling out a joint and lighting up) I'm having a last one now!
Lennon: That's fine. While you do, I've got some more changes that are gonna happen.
Harrison: (dryly) Lemme guess. We're all posing nudie with our wives on our album covers.
Lennon: (angry, sarcastic) No, we're all going to make albums of synthesizer farts that other people did but we'll put our name on it!
Starr: I need another drink. (takes a sip)
Lennon: Not too much though. You'll be writing all the songs from now on.
Starr: (spitting out his drink, almost choking) WHAT???
McCartney: (protesting) Oh come now! I've got plenty of songs still.
Lennon: (sighs) Yeah but they're mostly shite. I've heard 'em. It's kiddy stuff. Besides, we've been hogging up all the records with our songs so it's his turn now.
Starr: (frightened) But I can't write! You've always told me that and I really can't! There's only so many songs you can write about an octopus.
Lennon: It's OK. You'll learn. WE had to. (referring to him and McCartney)
Harrison: You know, I write songs too.
Lennon: Yeah, so I've heard. And they'll be great on your first REAL solo album! It'll be a triple record.
Harrison: (thinking) Well... maybe I have two albums in me if I stretch it.
Lennon: There you go! And you could make the third one into a jam record.
Harrison: I guess...
Lennon: I'm going to have my own solo career too, you know. I'll start it off slagging Paul and the band.
McCartney: (hurt) Hey!
Lennon: Oh lighten up, Macca. It'll be fine. You can slag me too. It'll be a fun war of words, and music. Anyway, it'll be mostly for press. They'll eat it up!
McCartney: Alright... I suppose...
Lennon: Right! And no more politics either- it's too depressing. I couldn't even make my mind up with “Revolution”- you know, 'you can count me in, out.'
McCartney: Yeah, you WERE kind of creasing your arse on the fence there.
Lennon: (quietly) At least I had some courage of convictions...
Lennon: (brushing it off) Now back to Georgie. Sorry, old man but that mystic shite is over.
Harrison: (seething) How do you figure that?
Lennon: It's played out. Done. It's got no place in the band anymore.
Harrison: (with contempt) You mean, 'Johnnny and the Moondogs.'
Lennon: Yeah, exactly! We're a happy skiffle band, not a bunch of long-faced artistes.
Harrison: I think we'll be an unhappy skiffle band.
Lennon: No, it'll be great. And no more bullocks about 'love.' Richards was right: 'try living off of it' (laughs).
McCartney: We're taking advice from Keith Richards? I'd rather take advice from Keith Moon!
Harrison: He's dead, you know.
McCartney: Moonie's gone?
Harrison: No, I meant Richards.
Lennon: (shocked) When did that happen?
Harrison: About a year ago. The problem is, his body's so embalmed with chemicals that the news didn't reach his brain yet. He's got a few decades until the news makes it up there and then he'll just drop dead for real.
Lennon: (shaking his head): Shame...
McCartney: Yeah, it's a drag.
Lennon (brightening up again): Anyway... There's more good news. We'll be touring like crazy!
McCartney: Hold on. You're the one who wanted to stop touring, remember?
Harrison: Yeah, we agreed on that.
Lennon: Yeah, we did but it's different now. We've been off the road for three years so it's time to get back there again. And none of that stadium crap. We'll go back to playing small clubs.
Harrison: If we do all this, we'll only be able to play in small clubs.
Lennon: Exactly, it'll work out then! And we'll be doing all-new material too. Won't that be exciting?
McCartney: So we won't do our old songs then?
Lennon: We can't. We'd need to haul an orchestra along to do that. It'll be like the old days- we'll start out with a bunch of cover songs and build up our own material.
McCartney: We can't give up on ALL of our songs!
Lennon: (sighs) Alright, alright. We'll throw a couple in there. I've already thought of a great acapella version of “Revolution #9”! And “Blue Jay Way” is perfect for skiffle too!
Harrison: (dryly) Thanks for that.
Lennon (looking around with concern): OK, I know this is a lot to take in at one time but you have to trust me on this. (looks to see that everyone's not convinced). Alright, I know what we need to do. Lighten the mood up a little. I have a great joke.
Harrison: You've been telling jokes here for a while now.
Lennon: Ha! Good one. OK, so here's my joke. A madman breaks into Jagger's home and kills him.
Harrison: You're already a stitch.
Lennon: (brushing it off) So the madman takes Jagger's body to the States and tracks down David Crosby and breaks into his home too. He bludgeons Crosby to death with Jagger's body. Then he hauls off to Roger McGuinn's home and does the same thing- he kills McGuinn with Jagger's body. The police catch this nutter and question him. “Why would you do such a horrible thing?” they ask him. And he says... (pausing dramatically) “I just wanted to kill two Byrds with one Stone!” (laughs hysterically)
(The other three are silent and stone faced)
Harrison: (to Lennon) So when are you going to tell the joke then?
Starr: I don't get it.
McCartney: Yeah John. You should stick with your day job.
Lennon: The hell with it. I was just trying to make this fun, you know.
McCartney: You know, we're not a dictatorship. Don't we have a say in this?
Lennon: Of course you do, but remember, I'm the leader here. If you don't like Johnny and the Moondogs, we can think up another name.
McCartney: What I meant was the whole idea...
Lennon: Oh, and I almost forgot. We're going to have to start make some duff albums.
McCartney: We're going to make bad albums on purpose?
Harrison: Sounds like we're already on the way there.
Lennon: Yeah, it'll be good 'cause then we can take the starch outta ourselves, you know? And then after people get sick of us with the bad albums and the constant touring, we'll break up, say around 1980. And then I plan to retire for a few years.
Starr: (sadly, to himself): I wanna retire now.
Lennon: And then we'll have a reunion around... 1991, when nothing else is going on in the music world.
McCartney: You planned THAT far ahead?
Lennon: Yeah, it came to me in a dream last night.
Harrison: More like a nightmare.
Lennon: (to Harrison) Oh piss off, with your little jabs! (back to being cheery) Anyway, here's another great idea- we're going to sell all of our music through a little portable player that looks like this. (pulls out a small white packet of cigarettes)
McCartney: We're going to sell our albums in a cigarette pack like that? No way son. Never doing that.
Lennon: Give it time Macca. You'll come around. This was Magic Alex's idea. He's brilliant!
McCartney: (shaking his head) It'll never happen...
Lennon: I know what it is. You're all stressed out. I thought of that too. That's why I'm having clones made up of all of us. (leans back on knocks on the door, calling out) Alright John 2, you can come in now.
(Another Lennon comes into the room, looking exactly like the other one and sits down next to John)
John 2: Hi mates.
McCartney: (shocked) What the hell is that?
Lennon: It's me! And here I am too.
John 2: (to Lennon) Brilliant.
Lennon: (to John 2) Thanks. How are you doing today?
John 2: Well, nobody understands me and I've got all kind of issues with me mum.
Lennon: (to the rest of the band) Listen to Mary Sunshine here!
John 2: (resigned) It's true though. I don't feel right.
Lennon: You know... neither do I.
John 2: We should talk more.
Lennon: That's a good idea. What are you doing later?
McCartney: Uh, John...?
Lennon, John 2: (answering together) Yes?
McCartney: (annoyed, pointing to Lennon) I meant THAT John. Listen, you're getting balmy with all these ideas!
Lennon: Don't you see the beauty of this? We can use our clones for all the unpleasant tasks that we have to do... you know, like talking to the rest of you.
Harrison: Thanks. We're having a grand time too.
Lennon: You know what I mean.
John 2: They might not. You should show them one of the others.
Lennon: That's a good idea, John.
John 2: Thanks, John!
Lennon: (knocking on the door again) Alright, Paul 2! Inside now!
(Someone walks in dressed the same way as Paul but who doesn't look anything like him- i.e. blonde hair, much bigger, different face. He sits next to Paul).
McCartney: (looking at Paul 2 in amazement) Who's this now?
Paul 2: I'm Paul. Don't know you me?
John 2: Hi Paul.
Paul 2: Oh, hi John. I remember you from the cloning.
John 2: Yeah, that was fun, wasn't it?
McCartney: Uh, John...?
Lennon, John 2: (answering together) Yes?
McCartney: (annoyed, pointing to Lennon) I meant THAT John. Did you notice that he's supposed to be me but he doesn't look ANYTHING like me?
Harrison: What gave him away?
Lennon: But that's the beauty of it. He can be you and he can be totally inconspicuous.
Lennon, John 2: (answering together) Yes?
McCartney: (really angry) THAT JOHN! I'm asking you again, what's this about?
Lennon: (sighs) Alright, alright... I kind of got a little lazy here and didn't do as good a job here. He could be a great tea boy.
Paul 2: (excited) You think so?
Lennon: Sure! And we can use him for another idea I have. “Paul is Dead!”
Paul 2: (worried) I am?
McCartney: Will you shut up? John... (raises his hand to stop John 2 from answering). What's THIS about now?
Lennon: Another great way for publicity. We start a rumor that you died and our albums will fly off the shelf.
Harrison: Won't they notice something's wrong when Paul starts walking around?
Paul 2: I won't though if I'm dead, right?
McCartney: (insistent) I don't want people to think I'm dead.
John 2: I'm not going to die, am I?
Harrison: I will... of boredom.
Lennon: Look, it's all just play and games, you know?
Paul 2: Oh... right! And then when I start making bad albums, I can just say 'well, I've died so that's why things aren't going well.'
McCartney: (to Paul 2) When YOU start making albums?
Lennon: Yeah, you see, this is what I meant by doing unpleasant things. He can put out all the crap albums that you would on our own.
Paul 2: Oh yeah, I can put out a lot of bad albums that sound like something I'd done with Beatles but TOTALLY watered down.
McCartney: (taking offense, to Paul 2): HEY NOW!
Paul 2: And I can have Linda singing in me band too.
McCartney: Linda in YOUR band??
Paul 2: Yeah, even though she sings worse than Yoko.
(everyone but Paul nods their heads in agreement)
McCartney: (to Paul 2) Look, first off, she's a photographer. Second, you're not the one with a Beatles solo career.
Lennon: Oh calm down, Macca. You can make your own crap albums if you like!
McCartney: Look, if I make albums, they'll be good ones!
Lennon: Sure Paul, whatever you say...
Paul 2: Thanks John.
McCartney: He's talking to ME!
Paul 2: Alright, make your own crap albums then.
McCartney: I'm not making crap albums!
Lennon: Alright, enough about Paul's crap albums. Back to the band. I spoke to Mitch Miller about producing us. You know him?
McCartney: The sing-a-long guy? What's wrong with George Martin?
Lennon: He's a Beatles producer. We need someone who can do happy, sing-a-long albums, like Mitch. He said that he's keen to do it.
Harrison: That makes one of us.
Lennon: He'd be great. Trust me.
John 2: I trust you.
Lennon: Well, thank you John.
Paul 2: Yeah, I trust you too.
Lennon (to Paul 2): Thank you Paul. (To McCartney) You know, he's much easier to work with than you. Less of a control freak.
Harrison: I like him better already.
McCartney: (flustered) HEY!
Lennon, John 2: (answering together) Yes?
Harrison (annoyed, pointing to Lennon): Aren't you missing ones for me and Ringo?
Lennon: Oh yeah, we're still working on that. Besides, let's face it, less people care about you too.
Harrison (sarcastically): Thanks.
Lennon: Just being honest.
Starr: How are we gonna tell the difference when we all have clones?
Paul 2: Yeah, I was wondering that too.
John 2: Yeah, me too.
Lennon: Hmm... hadn't worked that out yet. Maybe we'll all get our bums tattooed to tell the difference.
Paul 2: I want the queen on my bum!
John 2: I want Lewis Carroll on mine.
Lennon: That's a good idea. I might do that too.
Harrison: How are you going to tell the difference then?
John 2: He's right. We better get different bum tattoos.
Lennon: Alright, everyone gets different bum tattoos then. Oh... one more thing that's going to be new for the band.
Harrison: (to McCartney, Starr) Brace yourselves...
Lennon: We're going to open a theme park called... JOLLYWOOD!
Paul 2: I like it!
John 2: I like it too.
Lennon: It'll have rides and amusement stuff and games and prizes. We can run it year round and keep up the interest in the band.
Harrison: We'll be working there of course too, right?
Lennon: Well, the clones will, until we tire them out and then we can all pitch in, can't we? Ringo, you can mop when the kids throw up. Paul, you can man the ring toss game. George, you can separate the drunken gents when they start fighting.
Harrison: And what'll you be doing?
Lennon: I'll be taking tickets. “How many, sir? Two, then? Step right in and have a lovely time! Mind the sawdust.”
John 2: Can I get a discount?
Lennon: I suppose we might work something out.
(McCartney, Harrison, Starr sigh and shake their heads)
Lennon: I know, it's a lot to take in but you have to trust me. This is what we're meant to do! Just give it some time and you'll love it. What do you say?
Paul 2: I'm in! (McCartney, Harrison, Starr angrily glare at him as he sheepishly looks away)
Starr: I guess we could try it...
Harrison: Yeah, can't be any worse than all the lawyers now I suppose.
McCartney: (sighs) I don't know. This all sounds so...
Paul 2: (trying to finish his sentence) Stupid?
John 2: Asinine?
Paul 2: Insane?
John 2: Ridiculous?
McCartney (to the clones): Shut... up! Alright, alright, I guess we can try it...
Lennon: Great! I'll go tell Allen Klein that we'll all set then. He'll draw up contracts for all of this. He's such a nice guy, you know? Come on, Paul 2 and John 2- we'll take you out for a walk.
John 2, Paul 2: Yay!
(Lennon, Paul 2, John 2 leave the room together, happy and gleeful)
McCartney: (waits a moment after they're gone and then to Harrison, Starr) Right, so we're all agreed then that we're quitting?
Starr: Oh yeah.
(They all get up and leave, exhausted)