April 1976: Sid Bernstein offering the Beatles $230 million for a reunion concert.
Two years before Lennon was gunned down, McCartney had formally paved the way for a Fab Four reunion. On New Year’s Day 1979, Sir Paul inked a $10 million deal with CBS Records, marking a split from The Beatles’ old label. (Capitol Records.)
With a clause in his never-before-made-public contract stated that he was permitted to make any recording with “John Lennon, Richard Starkey and George Harrison recording together as The Beatles.”
The man who made the offer, promoter Sid Bernstein, was the same one who promoted their early tours of America.
On Sept. 19, 1976 he decided to lay his wallet on the table, publicly offering the unprecedented sum for a one-time-only charity concert by taking out an ad in The New York Times.
In the clip below It’s March 1, 1975 and Grammy host Andy Williams introduces Paul Simon and John Lennon to announce the Record of the Year. (17th Annual Awards Show.)
During some joking around by Lennon, Simon and Garfunkel, Ringo Starr — sitting just a few rows away — is nearly coaxed into joining them.
And then when things couldn’t get any better, Paul McCartney and his wife Linda suddenly enter from the darkness of the audience and head for the stage.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all politely declined the offer, although McCartney later admitted they considered it.
This offer came after previous stabs from from promoter Bill Sargent, who had tossed around the figure of $10 million two years earlier. Sargent upped the ante in January 1976 to $50 million.
In the April 5, 1976 issue of People magazine, an unnamed ‘top-level rock functionary’ is quoted as saying “I know for a fact that George, John and Ringo have talked among themselves about a reunion.
Their attorneys say it is possible. But they would rather go with someone less carnival-like than Sargent.”
In a 2007 interview with the Radio Times, McCartney said, “There were phenomenal amounts of money being offered. Millions by Sid Bernstein, this New York promoter.
But it just went round and round. There might be three of us thinking, ‘It might not be a bad idea’ — but the other one would go,
‘Nah, I don’t think so’ and sort of veto it. Let’s put it this way, there was never a time when all four of us wanted to do it.
”And I’m actually glad of that now because the Beatles’ work is a body of work. There’s nothing to be ashamed of there.
The potential disappointment of coming on and not being as good as The Beatles had been, that was a risk we shouldn’t take.”
“Since you’re leading me down that flowery path, we could imagine that John would be this fantastic elder statesman, very much in command of his lifestyle.
I’d be alongside him singing magnificently. George would be playing like an angel on his guitar.
We’d be gelling, sounding like nothing anyone’s ever heard before with all the power of modern amplification. And, behind us, would be the world’s greatest drummer.
And it’d be fandabidozi! We could be introduced by the Krankies. Unfortunately, this is just pure imagination. But then what’s wrong with that?”
As legend has it, Lennon and McCartney momentarily considered taking him up on it. “Paul and I were together watching that show.” Lennon told author David Sheff in the book All We Are Saying,
“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. We nearly got into a cab, but we were actually too tired.” The event was dramatized in the 2000 film, Two of Us.