Just Like Starting Over: An Alternate Beatles Timeline

Welcome to Just Like Starting Over! A new pop culture timeline that asks, “What if John and Paul just couldn’t resist $3,000?”

I joke, but I truly hope I can bring a great pop culture timeline to you all, starting right here, right now. Some information before we begin:

  • If you have an idea for the timeline, feel free to send me a Conversation/DM about it. I can’t confirm I will add it to the timeline, but i’m always open to new ideas.
  • The timeline
  • After each final year in a decade (Not counting 1979), I will take a short break from developing the timeline any more. The break should last about a month or so. After that, we will begin the next decade.
  • Feel free to speculate, discuss, or whatever in this thread. There are threadmarks for a reason, and I'd love to see discussion of the timeline.
  • The POD: https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/the-beatles-reunion-snl-saturday-night-live-paul-mccartney/
And with that out of the way, let’s begin our journey.
 
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Live from New York...
“I truly could not guess where John and I would be if we had not accepted that offer, if we had not gone down and played that show.”

“Well, we’d be $3,000 poorer.”

“That’s true, yes.”

- Paul McCartney and John Lennon during an interview on the Tonight Show with Joan Rivers, May 1989


“That performance…that three-song, acoustic, makeshift performance…it brought Saturday Night Live from here, to here. After that, everyone was talking about the show, and watching the show, too!” - Lorne Michaels, creator of SNL, in the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special, 2015

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April 24, 1976

Paul McCartney and John Lennon, two former members of The Beatles, were sitting in John’s living room, watching the television, when the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live returned from a commercial break.

Lorne Michaels greeted the viewers. “Hi. I'm Lorne Michaels, the producer of "Saturday Night." Right now, we're being seen by approximately twenty-two million viewers, but please allow me, if I may, to address myself to just four very special people; John, Paul, George, and Ringo: the Beatles. Lately, there have been a lot of rumors to the effect that the four of you might be getting back together. That would be great. In my book, the Beatles are the best thing that ever happened to music. It goes even deeper than that. You're not just a musical group, you're a part of us. We grew up with you. It's for this reason that I'm inviting you to come on our show. Now, we've heard and read a lot about personality and legal conflicts that might prevent you guys from reuniting. That's something which is none of my business. That's a personal problem. You guys will have to handle that. But it's also been said that no one as yet has come up with enough money to satisfy you. Well, If it's money you want, there's no problem here. The National Broadcasting Company has authorized me to offer you this check to be on our show.” He held up a check. “A certified check for $3,000. Here it is, right here. Dave…can we get a close-up on this? Which camera? Oh, this one.” The camera moved in. “Here it is, a check made out to you, the Beatles, for $3,000. All you have to do is sing three Beatle songs. ‘She loves you, Yeah, yeah, yeah’...That's $1,000 right there. You know the words. It'll be easy. Like I said, this is made out to the Beatles. You divide it up any way you want. If you want to give Ringo less, it's up to you. I'd rather not get involved. I'm sincere about this. If it helps you to reach a decision to reunite, it's well worth the investment. You have agents. You know where I can be reached. Just think about it, okay?” He held up the check for the last time.

“Thank you.”

The two former bandmates looked at each other, before laughing. Paul laughed so hard, that he fell off the couch.

John ran to his room. He returned back with his acoustic guitar strung around his body. “Let’s do it!”

“What do you mean?” Paul asked. “It’s 11 O’Clock at night! We can't just put on a show at 11 O'Clock at night!”

“So?” John responded. “We can get coffee on the way if you're tired, I know a place in Brooklyn. C’mon, Paul. We should go down, just you and me. We’ll just show up. There are only two of us, so we’ll take half the money.”

Paul thought of it for a minute. It was their day off, and the meetup would be work. He didn’t want to go to work…but what else did they have to lose? It would be a fun little joke, to crash the show and play three songs.

He sighed. “I’m in.”
 
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...It's Saturday Night!
“I was outside my dressing room, right? Phoebe Snow was just finishing her second song of the night, and then, boom! I saw John Lennon pass by in the corner, and I was just like…’Holy shit? Was that John Lennon?’ And I know Lorne put out a joke offer earlier for the Beatles and I was just thinking, ‘Did he actually accept that joke offer Lorne put out? Are Paul and George and Ringo there too?’ And…well, Paul was.” - John Belushi, an SNL cast member at the time, in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, June 1976.

“I remember having to negotiate with NBC for extra airtime. And lucky for me, they agreed. Reluctantly, at first, but they agreed.” - Lorne Michaels in a Reddit AMA, 2018
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April 24, 1976

John had just parked his car just outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Both him and Paul were about to perform for an audience of millions of people, as a joke. Was he really going to do this?

He was.

“Are you ready, Paul?” he asked.

“I’m ready if you are.”

And with that, they headed into the studio.

-

That night, like any other night, Saturday Night Live returned from a commercial break. Normally, this would be the end of the show, but not tonight.

Instead, Lorne Michaels stood on stage, grinning from ear to ear.

“Hello, viewers of Saturday Night.” He began with an excited tone. “Earlier in the show, I sent a generous offer to the four Beatles (John, Paul, George, and Ringo), to play our show for a hefty sum of $3,000. I am very proud to announce that that offer was taken. Performing live for you, right here at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, please welcome John Lennon and Paul McCartney!”

The crowd screamed as a spotlight was shone on the two boys. They began their first song with just an acoustic guitar.

“Oh yeah.” Paul began singing. “I’ll tell you something. I think you’ll understand…”

-

BEATLES REUNITE ON NBC SHOW

Paul McCartney and John Lennon, the two lead songwriters of rock band The Beatles, reunited today on NBC’s new sketch comedy, Saturday Night, after a 6 year hiatus following the band’s breakup in 1970. The performance was in response to an offer for them to perform by Lorne Michaels, the producer of Saturday Night, earlier in the broadcast. The offer, a sketch on the program, was deliberately meant to be a joke, with a pitifully low value of $3,000 offered for all four Beatles.

Lennon and McCartney played three songs from the band’s repertoire: “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, “Help”, and “Let it Be”.

- An article from the New York Times dated April 25, 1976.

-

Joan: "So why did you two do it? What made you think, “Oh, let’s play along and perform?”

Paul: "Well, we were both in New York at the time, which is also where Saturday Night Live is filmed, and we really had nothing to lose. Now, I was very tired, but John…he convinced me to get up and do it, just for a bit of fun."

John: "That I did."

Paul: "So we went down to the studio, just me, John, and an acoustic guitar, and everyone was just starstruck."

John: "So we chose the three songs to perform off the top of our heads, and we just did quick run throughs of the three songs. And after we were done with that, we performed. I wouldn’t say the performance is one of our best, but it could be worse. It could be lot worse. We had just practiced just one...maybe two times."

Paul: "I'm sure it was only once."

John: "So it was once. After the show, we just went back to my apartment and fell asleep."

Paul: "I remember when we woke up in the morning. We were all over the news. I expected the performance to be at least a little big…but not as big as it was."

- Excerpt from John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s interview on the Tonight Show with Joan Rivers, 1989

-
After the SNL performance, Paul and John clarified that the performance was not the official reunion of the Beatles, and that it was simply a joke.
Paul was touring with Wings, John was caring for his son, George was recording an album, and Ringo was sorting out his record label. The Beatles were not reuniting, and this was just a one-off performance.

Which makes the next three albums a bit awkward.

- Taken from Mic the Snare's Deep Discog Dive: The Beatles, November 19, 2021
 
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I am a huge Beatles fan, and I sent you some ideas for an album plus a live setlist, this looks promising. If you like, I could post it here too to get other people's feedback
 
Early 1977: Pre-album buzz
(Thanks to pls_no_steal for help on the album)
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PLAYBOY: “Will you be returning to Saturday Night Live any time soon?”

LENNON: “No. I don’t have enough time. I’m a bit busy caring for my son and all that. I’m also working on my next album. I know my fans have been waiting for a new one.”

PLAYBOY: “Is it a new Beatles album?”

LENNON: “...Who’s to say? I don’t want to deconfirm the possibility of a new Beatles record. It’s a fun idea to entertain.”

- John Lennon in an interview with Playboy Magazine, October 29, 1976

-

In late 1976 and early 1977, Beatles fans started to speculate the possibility of a new album. John’s interview with Playboy, as well as other factors (Such as alleged sightings of the Beatles out in public together), only added fuel to the speculation. By January, fans of the Beatles were united and ready for a new release. It was the perfect time for Beatles news, or, in the case of one band, the perfect time to start a rivalry.

- From Rock and Roll True Stories’ The Story of the Weirdest Rivalry in Rock, March 2, 2018

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“When ‘God Save the Queen’ was made, that was the final straw for Glen. He said the song made us out to be fascists. To him, anti-royalty was fascism. That pissed off Johnny to no end. The tension between him and Johnny got so tense, we had to led him go. That January, we fired him from the band. He was a good writer, and he played the bass well, but he just couldn’t cut it as a Sex Pistol. He was too normal, too clean cut. Too nice. He never got into any drama like the rest of us did. He didn’t fit in with the rest of us. Not just that, but he and Johnny’s dislike for each other was reaching an all-time high, and we could only choose one of them if we wanted to stay around.”

“Of course, that wasn’t the reason we told the papers. We were the Sex Pistols, and a reason that mundane wouldn’t fly. Instead, we made up a story about sacking him for liking the Beatles…we told them that he was going on too much about Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and that was too much for us. When we sent out the story to NME, we thought nothing of it. Someone out there might be offended by our decision, but so what? We were the Sex Pistols. We were used to controversy. We just put out ‘Anarchy in the UK,’ we were used to the contempt we had been getting, but…this was a different kind of contempt.”


- Steve Jones in an interview with NME, 2004

-

Devoted fans of the Beatles responded swiftly and angrily to the news that Glen had been fired from the Sex Pistols for liking their music. They started off by holding signs at Sex Pistols shows proclaiming “Pistols never, Beatles forever,” “Bring Glen Back,” and “Dirty Rotten Punks”, among other. After the release of their second single, “God Save the Queen”, “God Save the Sex Pistols” was a popular anti-Pistol slogan, and would later become the title of the band’s first album.

Part of the reason why the rivalry became as infamous as it is can be attributed to the Pistols themselves. Instead of cooling down the rivalry, they taunted and mocked both the band and its fans at shows. Johny Rotten famously started many Sex Pistols shows around this era with:

“To all of you faggots who came here just to defend your shitty pop band…fuck the Beatles, and fuck you!”

This only aggravated Beatles fans more. Now, even non-devoted fans started to hate the Sex Pistols.

In April of 1977, Glen Matlock reported to NME the real reason he left the band, which was a mix of inner-band turmoil, not fitting in with the other members, and being too clean cut for the band’s dirty image. Unfortunately, this did nothing to stop the feud.

- Taken from thebeatlesbible.com, written December 19, 2009

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May 14, 1977

Spring is here and it’s been seven years since Paul and John and George and Ringo broke apart.

The world kept spinning and so did you. But we stopped spinning along with you.

But the Beat goes on, the Beat goes on.

Now Paul and John and George and Ringo are whole again.

We are spinning along with you once more.

The Beat goes on, the Beat goes on.

Apple Records

- Apple Records’ Press Release, May 14, 1977
 
Apologies again, but electricity is out on my street following a storm. This will have to be delayed more.

If you’re wondering how electricity can be out at my house despite no worse than a thunderstorm happening last night, a lot of the infrastructure in my town is really old, and even just a strong gust of wind can break it and send my street into darkness.
 
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Apologies again, but electricity is out on my street following a storm. This will have to be delayed more.

If you’re wondering how electricity can be out at my house despite no worse than a thunderstorm happening last night, a lot of the infrastructure in my town is really old, and even just a strong gust of wind can break it and send my street into darkness.
I live in Texas, so sadly this isn't that weird to me
 
Summer and Fall 1977: Pre-Release New
This is the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

“Good evening. We have breaking news. The plane used by hard rock band Aerosmith on their current world tour has crashed in a field near Bernkastel-Kues, Germany. At this time, the status of the band members is unknown.”

-

(Later, CBS Evening News returns from a commercial break)

“We have an update on the breaking news story from earlier. All onboard the aircraft have been seriously injured. So far, five are dead, guitarist Joe Perry, touring keyboard player Scott Cushnie, manager David Krebs, and pilots Walter McReary and William Gray have been confirmed to be victims of the crash. Drummer Joey Kramer is also currently in critical condition.”

- From CBS Evening News, July 5, 1977

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When our flight operations manager at the time, Zunk Buker, came back that day, he told us what happened. When he went up to inspect the plane with his father, it wasn’t in great shape. The crew, on the other hand, was nice, and they acted professional, if a bit jokey. When Zunk met them at the cockpit, They were listening to an interview with George Harrison on the radio. He thought about it for a good while, and decided to rent the plane. For us. He knew how much we wanted that plane, and so he booked it with us in mind. That was a great, great mistake, and we caused it.

- Steven Tyler in his 2013 biography, Does the Noise in my Head Bother You? A Rock n Roll Memoir.

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DEAR BEATLE PEOPLE,

The fabulous four are back again with another album, and we’ve just received news of it’s title. The album is to be called Starting Over, and will feature John, Paul, George, and Ringo back at it again, together at last after 7 years of solo work. We also have a release date: October 1.

They will unfortunately not be touring for the album. Paul has a baby on the way, and he wants to care for them after the album releases as much as he can.

- From The Beatles Monthly Issue No. 83, from August 1977.

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“All of us here at Rolling Stone are awaiting the release as much as you are. It’s expected to come out in a little more than a week. October 1, to be exact.”

- From Rolling Stone’s September 1977 issue, September 22.

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“Fans of the band have been waiting outside record shops for the release. Some have been camping out for more than 24 hours. We’ve interviewed some of them at the recently opened Rough Trade East Record Shop in London.”

“Yes, I’m very excited for the record. The Beatles have been a hugely important part of my life. I’ve been a fan since ‘She Loves You’ back in '63.” - Susan Taylor, 27

“I just like their music. I was a bit of a hippie in 1966, and I didn’t really care for their earlier work, but when one of my friends bought Rubber Soul and played it on our record player…I was just amazed. I was hooked on them shortly afterward.” - Ricky Goodall, 36

“I’m here with my friends, we’ve got a little bet going on to where the first person to get the album, we’ll have to pay them £100 pounds each. I personally think I’ll win. I am Paul, after all.” - Paul Turner, 20

“My mum introduced me to the Beatles, she really liked them. I started with their earlier work, and then just went from there. They’ve been my favorite band for years now. I wish I could’ve lived to see them in their prime.” - Stacie Holland, 15

“For these people, tomorrow just can’t come fast enough. The album will be out starting Tomorrow, October 1.”

- BBC News broadcast, September 30.
 
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