A newly emboldened George then asks if the next single can also be one of his. Paul is unsure, but John says “If it will stop him moaning all the bloody time, let him”. So, released in March 1971, the next Beatles single is George’s What is Life. The gamble pays off and it goes Top 3, suggesting the group is set up for the next decade.
Unfortunately rumours then rapidly spread that The Beatles have gone along with Ringo’s idea of making a country Beatles album…
June 1971 Walking a Country Mile is released.
- Heart of the Country
- Crippled Inside
- I’d Have you Anytime
- Long-Haired Lady
- If Not for You
- Beaucoups of Blues
- Oh My Love
- Behind that Locked Door
- I Live for You
- Oh Yoko
- Uncle Albert/ Admiral Halsey
- Wine, Woman and Loud Happy Songs
Reception to Walking a Country Mile is mixed and it becomes their lowest selling album. With hindsight, releasing Ringo’s “Wine, Woman and Loud Happy Songs” as the only single, was probably a mistake. It reaches 28 in the charts.
With this, John decides to regain leadership of the band again, announcing Imagine will be the next single. Paul rejects this idea, saying it’s too preachy. John storms out and releases it as a solo single.
September 1971 Imagine goes to Number 1. Paul suffers a crisis of confidence but tries to keep The Beatles together as a trio and they release a new single called Give Ireland Back to the Irish. Turns out ‘message songs’ is not Paul’s strength. It does not sell well.
With the Beatle brand in tatters, George walks out, becoming guest guitarist on John’s first official solo album, Imagine. It includes the follow up single, Jealous Guy, which also goes to Number 1.
Harrison states at the time, “We should have ended The Beatles with Abbey Road. It felt like the right time, but Paul wanted money so he could do his Farmer McCartney thingy.”
In late 1971, Paul, Linda, Denny and Ringo form a new band called Wings. Ringo leaves after a couple of months during the tense ‘Wings Wildlife’ sessions and writes a song about the experience called Back off Boogaloo. Meantime, George’s first official solo album “Wah Wah” is near completion.