The Beatles Songs That Were Surprisingly Recorded Without John Lennon

The Fab Four, the Mop Tops, the Lads from Liverpool — yes, The Beatles, the musicians who blew up TV viewership for The Ed Sullivan Show back in 1964, according to Mental Floss, who set the world of popular music on its ear and sent parents out of the room. Paul was the cute one, George the introspective, John the leader, and Ringo was goofy — also the oldest. Taken as a whole, though, they were pretty darned adorable, even by mid-1960s standards. They made records, and performed concerts, and finally gave us insight into their collective personal life as a band through the Richard Lester-directed A Hard Day's Night. Best mates. Beatles forever. Until they weren't.

At first, nearly everybody blamed John's wife, Yoko Ono, for the breakup of the band, as Biography reports. She was an easy target; everything was fine until she came along. Causal connection. Others, of course, see the John/Yoko relationship as one of the great romances of the late 20th century. But not at first.

The evidence, however, is pretty clear that The Beatles had their issues, individually and collectively, long before Yoko happened on the scene. It's a pleasant daydream — the lads gathering in the recording studio, amicably discussing potential tracks, deciding who'd do what on which song, everyone cooperating, everyone contributing a unique art and skill set.

Absent John predated John and Yoko

A quick examination of Beatle recordings tells a different story, particularly in terms of John Lennon's participation in the creation of specific songs. It wasn't at all unusual for Lennon to sit out a session or more if he didn't like a track, for whatever reason.

As Ultimate Classic Rock tells the story, as early as 1966, John took a pass on "Love You To" from the Revolver album. Two years later, McCartney did a solo recording on "Mother Nature's Son." The year 1968 also saw Lennon skip contributing to "Martha My Dear." "Blackbird" was McCartney's, and McCartney's alone. Even before all of those, 1965 saw McCartney recording one of the group's biggest singles, without Lennon: "Yesterday."

To be fair, Lennon wasn't the only one. For instance, Starr sat out "Back in the U.S.S.R." Starr and Harrison both skipped recording on "The Ballad of John and Yoko." McCartney famously preferred to record by himself from time to time — for instance, "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"

It all had to come to an end eventually. As Paul McCartney told interviewer David Frost, Yoko "certainly didn't break the group up, the group was breaking up." By 1968, says Biography, Harrison was ready to talk out and Lennon campaigned for Eric Clapton to take Harrison's spot. That didn't happen. But The Beatles split for good in 1970.