|People Weekly, April 1976: The Beatles - will they sing again for $50 million?|
Reunion rumours were strongest whenever two of the band members were seen together, and the first rumours got started around the Concert for Bangladesh. With two members participating, it's now known that Lennon was invited along too, but backed out.
The next time was probably in 1973, when three of them performed on Ringo's "I'm The Greatest" track on his Ringo album, with the fourth member, Paul McCartney appearing on a couple of other tracks on the album.
There were also rumours about a Beatles reunion in 1974, not because of Lennon and McCartney's jam session in Los Angeles in March, because that was not publicly known at the time, but on April 20, the rumours said that John, Paul, George and Ringo were all at the Beverly Wiltshire Hotel in LA for a business meeting.
The closest they ever got, was when Paul McCartney was visiting John Lennon in New York City in 1976, and they were contemplating going to the Saturday Night Live studios for a laugh, as the show had offered $3,000 for a Beatles reunion as a joke. This offer came just after promoter Bill Sargent had offered the Beatles $50 million for one reunion show.
Lennon later told Playboy, “Paul and I were together watching that show. He was visiting us at our place in the Dakota. We were watching it and almost went down to the studio, just as a gag … He and Linda walked in, and he and I were just sitting there, watching the show, and we went, ‘Ha-ha, wouldn’t it be funny if we went down?’”
McCartney later recalled, “[John] said, ‘We should go down there. We should go down now and just do it.’ It was one of those moments where we said, ‘Let’s not and say we did.’ “
Lennon said, “We nearly got into a cab, but we were actually too tired …”
|The New York Post September 21, 1979: THE BEATLES ARE BACK!|
Exclusive: Fab Four for big UN concert in New York.
At his Hurtwood Edge home in Surrey, Eric Clapton threw a party for 200 guests to celebrate his marriage to Patti Boyd, the couple having already been married in Tucson, Arizona, on March 27. At the end of the evening, Paul, George and Ringo, as well as the other celebrities present, including Mick Jagger, Denny Laine, Ginger Baker and Lonnie Donegan, joined Clapton for an impromptu concert on a stage set up in a large marquee tent in his grounds. They ran through various old rock'n'roll hits and even some Beatles' covers.
|Filling in for John Lennon: Lonnie Donegan|
Rumours were ripe during the night of the Wings performance that George, Ringo and John was to appear alongside Paul, speculations that compere Billy Connolly did nothing to qualm. But Paul told the audience that "they" were not here - and they weren't.
In 1980, The Beatles were planning their reunion, according to the record producer working with John Lennon during Double Fantasy recordings.
Jack Douglas, who produced Lennon's final album Double Fantasy, revealed in 2005 that Lennon and Paul McCartney were talking about working together on a Ringo Starr solo album.
Douglas said, "He and Paul planned to play on a Ringo album and that's how they were planning to do it, and George (Harrison) had not come aboard yet".
"George was already in a lot of hot water with John because of George releasing his autobiography and not really mentioning much of John in it. But I think they assumed that George would come along as soon as the thing got going."
The album Ringo was about to record was going to be called "Can't Fight Lightening". Paul helped produce and record several songs and George also came on board. In New York City in November, Lennon gave Ringo the demos for "Nobody Told Me". "Stepping Out" was another Lennon composition intended for Ringo to sing, as was "Life Begins at 40". With Lennon producing, they set a date for 14 January 1981 to record the song(s).
After John's death the album was reworked, and it was finally released in 1981 as "Stop and Smell The Roses", without any Lennon songs.
Douglas also claims Lennon's wife Yoko Ono actively blocked a Beatles reunion, saying "Let's just put it this way - Yoko discouraged Paul coming around".
"There was a writing session somewhere in the Dakota (building where Lennon and Ono lived) and there was one cancelled which John did not know about. He was told that Paul did not show. Paul was told that John was too busy to be working with him that day."
|Guitar Legends Presents the Beatles|
On November 28, 1980, Lennon submitted a sworn deposition against the producers of Beatlemania: "I and the three other former Beatles have plans to stage a reunion concert," an event to be filmed and included as the finale to The Long And Winding Road, an official Beatles produced documentary to be released in the mid-Eighties. John's deposition was not made public until the case was settled on June 4, 1986. An entertainment lawyer revealed later that a contract had been signed in August of 1980 for John to appear with the Beatles in this capacity.
This project was eventually going to become a reality in the mid-nineties without John, under its new title, "The Beatles' Anthology".
Jack Douglas, interviewed in "Guitar Legends Presents the Beatles," in 2009, says Lennon had already committed to touring using the musicians from the "Double Fantasy" sessions and had started doing drawings of stage sets.
Douglas claimed that John even was planning to do new versions of "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand". "He'd already played them for us."
According to reports, Paul McCartney insisted on a highly lucrative clause in a record label contract signed in 1979, that would allow him to work with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr again.
The £6 million contract with CBS was been made public in 2005.
Speaking about the deal, a record industry insider said: "This is the earliest evidence of any Beatle making formal overtures toward a reunion."
The terms of the contract stipulate that McCartney must be allowed to record under the name "The Beatles".
McCartney is said to have planned for the other members of the Beatles to join him in Montserrat, where he was set for recording a new album under the supervision of Beatles producer George Martin.
That album also became a reality, but the only other Beatle eventually participating in the recordings was Ringo Starr. It was released in 1982 as "Tug of War". Again, the reunion rumours were probably unfounded.
|Even after the death of John Lennon, the press continued their speculations|
Reunions that did happen: Ex-Beatles collaborations