Who broke up the Beatles? More Americans name Yoko Ono than any Beatle

Taylor OrthSenior Survey Data Journalist
December 20, 2021, 8:25 PM UTC

Fifty years ago, the breakup of the Beatles divided American music fans. Recently, the debate over why the best-selling group broke up has been revived by Peter Jackson's new documentary series The Beatles: Get Back, which documents the making of the band's final album, Let it Be.

While half of Americans say they lack an opinion on the issue, those who hold one are most likely to attribute the British rock band's dissolution to Yoko Ono, the wife and collaborator of the group’s founder, John Lennon. 

Speculation regarding Ono’s role in the band’s split is not new. This narrative has been called into question in recent weeks, however, following an interview in which band member Paul McCartney attributed the band’s breakup to Lennon, rather than Ono. Lennon is the culprit for one in four Americans with an opinion on the breakup. Far fewer attribute the Beatles’ breakup to other members of the band, including Paul McCartney (5%), George Harrison (3%), and Ringo Starr (2%). About 10% say someone else is responsible for the dissolution.

Older and younger Americans with opinions on the breakup’s cause are highly divided on who caused it. Adults under 35 are most likely to say John Lennon caused the split; less than a quarter say it was Yoko Ono. In contrast, over half of Americans who are 45 and older attribute the split to Ono; less than a quarter say it was John Lennon. 

See the crosstabs from this YouGov Poll

Methodology: YouGov surveyed 6,335 U.S. adults for a poll on December 15, 2021. The samples were weighted to be representative of the U.S. population, based on gender, age, race, education, U.S. census region, and political party. 

Image: Getty