It is November 2, 2023, and The Beatles are, theoretically, as alive as they ever were. We have a brand-new Beatles song. Well, sort of. “Now And Then,” otherwise referred to as “the last Beatles song,” was a long time coming and features contributions from all four members. The process overlapped with Peter Jackson’s 2021 The Beatles: Get Back documentary series, as Sir Paul McCartney explained this summer.
“[Jackson] was able to extricate [John Lennon’s] voice from a ropey little bit of cassette,” McCartney told Radio 4’s Today Programme, later clarifying his comments on X (formerly known as Twitter). “We had John’s voice and a piano and he could separate them with AI. They tell the machine, ‘That’s the voice. This is a guitar. Lose the guitar.’”
He continued, “So when we came to make what will be the last Beatles’ record, it was a demo that John had [and] we were able to take John’s voice and get it pure through this AI. Then we can mix the record, as you would normally do. So it gives you some sort of leeway. We just finished it up and it’ll be released this year.”
Jackson and McCartney (and whomever else) needed to go through so much trouble to get Lennon’s vocals for “Now And Then” because Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980.
Below is an overview of what happened to each member of The Fab Four.
Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman on December 8, 1980, while outside of his apartment in New York City’s Upper West Side. Forty years later, on December 8, 2020, McCartney and Ringo Starr reflected on the horrific tragedy.
And on October 26, Apple TV+ announced its forthcoming three-part documentary series, John Lennon: Murder Without A Trial, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland. A release date has not yet been confirmed, but Apple TV+’s press release provided an ample description, as excerpted below:
“The docuseries features exclusive eyewitness interviews and previously unseen crime scene photos, shedding new light on the life and murder of music and cultural icon John Lennon, and the investigation and conviction of Mark David Chapman, his confessed killer.
John Lennon: Murder Without A Trial is the most thoroughly researched examination of John Lennon’s 1980 murder, which shocked and saddened the world. The production was granted extensive Freedom of Information Act requests from the New York City Police Department, the Board of Parole and the District Attorney’s office; and the series includes exclusive interviews with eyewitnesses — speaking for the first time — along with some of Lennon’s closest friends, revealing shocking details of Lennon’s tragic murder. John Lennon: Murder Without A Trial also features interviews with Chapman’s defense lawyers, psychiatrists, detectives, and prosecutors.”
If Instagram is an accurate indicator — and is it ever? — McCartney appears to be thriving at 81 years old. There’s also plenty of real-life evidence. In 2022, the Beatle-turned-solo-superstar staged his US tour, Got Back, and headlined the Glastonbury Festival. This January, McCartney announced his 1964: Eyes Of The Storm Beatles photo archive, published as a book and exhibited at London’s National Portrait Gallery. Not to mention, he recorded “Let It Be” with Dolly Parton and Ringo Starr for Parton’s Rockstar covers album.
Sort of gave it away there, but yes, Ringo Starr is very much alive. In October, the 83-year-old former Beatles drummer released a solo EP, Rewind Forward, and just yesterday (November 1), he celebrated the release of “Now And Then” with an Instagram video. Starr also spent a good chunk of 2023 on tour — most recently staging a North American run throughout September and October.
Sadly, George Harrison died on November 29, 2001, after battling lung cancer and a brain tumor. He was 58 years old. At the time of his death, The New York Times noted that Harrison had also undergone surgery to treat throat cancer in 1998.
On October 31, The Beatles’ official website published an essay by Peter Jackson explaining how he came to make his music video directorial debut for “Now And Then.” In his lengthy essay, Jackson wrote, “Dhani Harrison [George’s son] happened to be visiting NZ at this time. I discussed the ending with him and described one vague idea I’d been toying with. His eyes immediately filled with tears, so that is the way we went.”