So today, just as George had returned from Greece, Ringo up and quit the band. Many years later, he would explain his thinking this way:

I left because I felt two things: I felt I wasn’t playing great, and I also felt that the other three were really happy and I was an outsider. I went to see John, who had been living in my apartment in Montagu Square with Yoko since he moved out of Kenwood. I said, “I’m leaving the group because I’m not playing well and I feel unloved and out of it, and you three are really close.” And John said, “I thought it was you three!”

So then I went over to Paul’s and knocked on his door. I said the same thing: “I’m leaving the band. I feel you three guys are really close and I’m out of it.” And Paul said, “I thought it was you three!”

I didn’t even bother going to George then. I said, “I’m going on holiday.” I took the kids and we went to Sardinia.

It’s possible that Ringo may have felt the tension surrounding The Beatles at this point more than anyone. He was always trying to hold things together, but the turmoil was beyond his control. I imagine it was very stressful.

He would be back. In the meantime, the other three carried on with The Work, recording five takes of “Back in the U.S.S.R.” Paul took over on the drums, while John played bass and George guitar. The finished product does not seem to have suffered much; some people say that Paul was the best drummer in The Beatles, and technically they may have a point, though I get my hackles up when they start talking shit about Ringo.

In addition to Ringo’s “quitting,” there was another piece of breakup-related news today: Cynthia Lennon officially filed for divorce from John. I don’t fully understand the legalities here — apparently John had already filed, accusing Cynthia of adultery, which was not true; Cynthia countersued, also accusing John of adultery, which was true. In any case, there were now no more legal impediments to the divorce, which would become official in November, freeing John to marry Yoko.

And that’s your As the Beatles Turn for today. Same time tomorrow.

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