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The Beatles
(left–right) Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.
(left–right) Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and John Lennon perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.
Background information
Origin Liverpool, England
Genres Pop, rock[1]
Years active 1960–1970
Labels Parlophone
United Artists Records
Associated acts Tony Sheridan, The Quarrymen, Plastic Ono Band, The Dirty Mac, Wings, Traveling Wilburys, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Ringo Starr All-Starr Band, Billy Preston
John Lennon
Paul McCartney
George Harrison
Ringo Starr
Past members
Stuart Sutcliffe
Pete Best

The Beatles were a pop and rock group from Liverpool, England. They are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music.[2] The band's principal members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

In the United Kingdom, The Beatles released more than 40 different singles, albums, and EPs that reached number one. This commercial success was repeated in many other countries; their record company, EMI, estimated that by 1985 they had sold over one billion records worldwide.[3] The Beatles are the best-selling musical act of all time in the United States, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.[4]

In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked The Beatles #1 on its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[5] According to that same magazine, their innovative music and cultural impact helped define the 1960s[2] and their influence on pop culture is still evident today.

The Beatles led the mid-1960s musical "British Invasion" into the United States. Although their initial musical style was rooted in 1950s rock and roll and homegrown skiffle, the group explored genres ranging from Tin Pan Alley to psychedelic rock. Their clothes, styles, and statements made them trend-setters, while their growing social awareness saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.

1957–60: Formation

Template:Main In March 1957, while attending Quarry Bank Grammar School in Liverpool, John Lennon formed a skiffle group called The Quarrymen.[6] Lennon and the Quarrymen met guitarist Paul McCartney at the Woolton Garden Fête held at St. Peter's Church on 6 July 1957 and added him to the group a few days later.[7] On 6 February 1958, the young guitarist George Harrison was invited to watch the group (who played under a variety of names) at Wilson Hall, Garston, Liverpool.[8] McCartney had become acquainted with Harrison on the morning school bus ride to the Liverpool Institute, as they both lived in Speke. At McCartney's insistence, Harrison joined the Quarrymen as lead guitarist, after a rehearsal in March 1958, overcoming Lennon's initial reluctance because of Harrison's young age.[9][10] Lennon and McCartney both played rhythm guitar during that period, and had a high turnover of drummers. The Quarrymen went through a progression of names — "Johnny and the Moondogs" and "Long John and the Beatles". Lennon's art school friend Stuart Sutcliffe joined on bass in January 1960, when they were called "The Silver Beetles" (derived from Larry Parnes' suggestion of "Long John and the Silver Beetles") — before settling on "The Beatles" in August 1960. Sutcliffe suggested 'The Beetles' as a tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets, which he and Lennon then thought of changing to 'The Beatals'. They changed their name again to the 'Silver Beats', The Silver Beetles, and the 'Silver Beatles', but Lennon shortened it to The Beatles, to avoid being introduced as "Long John Silver of the Silver Beatles", which was too similar to 'Johnny and the Moondogs'. After a tour with Johnny Gentle in Scotland, they changed their name to the 'Beatles'.[11][12] Cynthia Lennon suggests that Lennon came up with the name Beatles at a "brainstorming session over a beer-soaked table in the Renshaw Hall bar."[13] Lennon, who was well known for giving multiple versions of the same story, joked in a 1961 Mersey Beat magazine article that "It came in a vision — a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, 'From this day on you are Beatles with an A'".[14] During an interview in 2001, Paul McCartney took credit for the peculiar spelling of the name, saying that "John had the idea of calling us the Beetles, I said, 'how about the Beatles; you know, like the beat of the drum?' At the time, everyone was stoned enough to find it hilarious. It's funny how history is made."[15]

In May 1960, the Silver Beetles toured northeast Scotland as a back-up band with singer Johnny Gentle.[16] They met Gentle an hour before their first gig, and McCartney referred to the tour as a great experience for the band.[17] For the tour the often drummerless group secured the services of Tommy Moore, who was considerably older than the others.[18] Moore left the band soon after the tour and went back to work in a bottling factory as a forklift truck driver.[19] Norman Chapman was the band's next drummer, but was called up for National Service a few weeks later. His departure posed a serious problem as the group's unofficial manager, Allan Williams, had arranged for them to perform in clubs on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany.[20]

Musical influences

John Lennon said: "It was Elvis who really got me buying records. I thought that early stuff of his was great. The Bill Haley era passed me by, in a way. When his records came on the wireless, my mother used to hear them, but they didn’t do anything for me. It was Elvis who got me hooked on beat music. When I heard 'Heartbreak Hotel', I thought ‘this is it’ and I started to grow sideboards and all that gear...."[21] He also commented: "Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn't been an Elvis, there wouldn't have been a Beatles."[22] (See also the Beatles musical evolution, below.)

1960–70: The Beatles


Finding themselves drummerless before their upcoming engagement in Hamburg, on 12 August 1960 the group invited Pete Best to become their drummer. Best had played with The Blackjacks in The Casbah Coffee Club, owned by Pete's mother, Mona Best.[23] This was a cellar club in West Derby, Liverpool, where The Beatles played and often visited.[24] In the documentary The Compleat Beatles, Williams said that Best "played not too cleverly, but passable".

Four days after hiring Best, the group left for Hamburg. The Beatles began playing in Hamburg at the Indra Club and moved on 4 October 1960 to the Kaiserkeller. They were required to play six or seven hours a night, seven nights a week. On 21 November 1960, Harrison was deported for having lied to the German authorities about his age.[25] A week later, having started a small fire at their living quarters while vacating it for more luxurious rooms, McCartney and Best were arrested, charged with arson, and deported.[26] Lennon followed the others to Liverpool in mid-December while Sutcliffe stayed behind in Hamburg with his new German fiancée Astrid Kirchherr. The reunited group played an engagement on 17 December 1960 at the Casbah Club (with Chas Newby substituting for Sutcliffe).[27]

The Indra Club, where the Beatles first played on arriving in Hamburg, as it appears today.

The Beatles returned to Hamburg in April 1961, performing at the "Top Ten Club".[28] While playing at the Top Ten Club they were recruited by singer Tony Sheridan to act as his backing band on a series of recordings for the German Polydor Records label,[29] produced by famed bandleader Bert Kaempfert.[20] Kaempfert signed the group to its own Polydor contract at the first session on 22 June 1961. On 31 October Polydor released the recording "My Bonnie (Mein Herz ist bei dir nur)", which appeared on the German charts under the name "Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers", a generic name used for whoever happened to be in Sheridan's backup band.[30] In addition to the legend that this record led to the group's eventual meeting with Brian Epstein, it also resulted in their first mention in the American press.

Around the beginning of 1962, Cashbox mentioned "My Bonnie" as the debut of a "new rock and roll team, Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers". A few copies were also pressed under the Decca label for U.S. disc jockeys, as American Decca had a distribution deal with Polydor parent Deutsche Grammophon.[31] When the group returned to Liverpool, Sutcliffe stayed on in Hamburg with Kirchherr.[32] By then McCartney had taken over bass duties.[33]

In a meeting with the group at NEMS on 10 December 1961, Epstein proposed the idea of managing the group.[34] The Beatles signed a five-year contract with Epstein on 24 January 1962.[35] Epstein led The Beatles' quest for a British recording contract. Epstein had been manager of the record department at North End Music Store (NEMS), an offshoot of his family's furniture store. He played on the status of NEMS as a major record dealer to gain access to producers and recording company executives. In a now-famous exchange, Decca Records A&R executive Dick Rowe turned Epstein down flat, informing him that "Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein."[36] (See The Decca audition.) While Epstein was negotiating with Decca, he also approached EMI marketing executive Ron White.[37] White (who was not himself a record producer) in turn contacted EMI producers Norrie Paramor, Walter Ridley, and Norman Newell, all of whom declined to record The Beatles.[38] White did not approach EMI's fourth staff producer—George Martin—who was on holiday at the time.[39]

Their third stay in Hamburg was from 13 April to 31 May 1962, when they opened The Star Club.[20] Upon their arrival, they were informed of Sutcliffe's death from a brain haemorrhage.[40]

Record contract

File:Beatles Telegram.jpg
The telegram that Epstein sent to Mersey Beat magazine to announce that he had secured The Beatles their first recording contract.

After failing to impress Decca Records, Epstein went to the HMV store on Oxford Street in London to transfer the Decca tapes to discs. There, recording engineer Jim Foy referred him to Sid Coleman, who ran EMI's publishing arm. When Coleman heard the demo tapes he suggested taking the tapes to George Martin, who, Coleman explained, "does comedy records" and headed the Parlophone label at EMI. Epstein eventually met with Martin, who signed the group to EMI on a one-year renewable contract and scheduled their first recording session on 6 June 1962 at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in north London.[41] Martin had not been particularly impressed by the band's demo recordings,[42] but he instantly liked them as people when he met them. He concluded that they had raw musical talent, but said (in later interviews) that what made the difference for him was their wit and humour.[43]

Martin did have a problem with Pete Best,[42] whom he criticised for not being able to keep time. He privately suggested to Epstein that the band use another drummer in the studio. There was speculation by some that Best's popularity[44] with fans was another source of friction. In addition, Epstein had become exasperated with his refusal to adopt the distinctive hairstyle as part of their unified look. Best also had missed a number of engagements because of illness. The three founding members enlisted Epstein to dismiss Best, which he did on 16 August 1962.[45] They asked Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey), the drummer for one of the top Merseybeat groups, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, to join the band; Starr had performed occasionally with The Beatles in Hamburg.[46] The first recordings of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr together were made as early as 15 October 1960, in a series of demonstration records privately recorded in Hamburg while acting as the backing group for singer Lu Walters.[47] Starr played on The Beatles' second EMI recording session on 4 September 1962, but Martin hired session drummer Andy White for their next session on 11 September.[48] White's only released performances were recordings of Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You, found on The Beatles' first album.

File:Martin McCartney and Lennon.JPG
George Martin previewing a song by McCartney and Lennon in 1963.

Their recording contract paid them one penny for each single sold, which was split amongst the four Beatles — one farthing per group member.[49] This royalty rate was further reduced for singles sold outside the UK, on which they received half of one penny (again split between the whole band) per single. Martin said later that it was a "pretty awful" contract.[49]

The Beatles' first EMI session on 6 June 1962 did not yield any recordings considered worthy of release, but the September sessions a few months later produced a minor UK hit, "Love Me Do", which peaked on the charts at number 17.[50] ("Love Me Do" reached the top of the U.S. singles chart over 18 months later in May 1964.) On 26 November 1962, they recorded their second single "Please Please Me", which reached number two on the official UK charts and number one on the NME chart. Three months later, they recorded their first album (also titled Please Please Me). The band's first televised performance was on the People and Places programme, transmitted live from Manchester by Granada Television on 17 October 1962.[51] As The Beatles' fame spread, the frenzied adulation of the group, predominantly from teenage female fans, was dubbed Beatlemania.

The band also began to be noticed by serious music critics. On 23 December 1963, The Times music critic William Mann published an essay extolling The Beatles' compositions—their "fresh and euphonious" guitars in "Till There Was You", their "submediant switches from C major into A flat major", and the "octave ascent" in "I Want to Hold Your Hand", for example. The Beatles themselves were perplexed by this analysis by Mann: " gets the impression that they think simultaneously of harmony and melody, so firmly are the major tonic sevenths and ninths built into their tunes, and the flat-submediant key-switches, so natural is the Aeolian cadence at the end of 'Not a Second Time' (the chord progression which ends Mahler's 'Song of the Earth')."[52] In 1980, Lennon commented, "To this day I don't have any idea what [Aeolian cadences] are. They sound like exotic birds."[52]


Although the band experienced huge popularity on the UK record charts in early 1963, EMI's American operation, Capitol Records, declined to issue the singles "Please Please Me" and "From Me to You" (their first official number one hit in the UK).[53] Vee-Jay Records, a small Chicago label, issued the singles as part of a deal for the rights to another performer's masters. Art Roberts, music director of popular Chicago radio station WLS, placed "Please Please Me" into radio rotation in late February 1963, arguably the first time a Beatles record was heard on American radio. Vee-Jay's rights to The Beatles were later cancelled for non-payment of royalties.[54]

In August 1963, Philadelphia-based Swan Records released "She Loves You", which also failed to receive airplay. A testing of the song on Dick Clark's TV show American Bandstand produced laughter from American teenagers when they saw the group's distinctive hairstyles.[55] In early November 1963, Brian Epstein persuaded Ed Sullivan to present The Beatles on three editions of his show in February, and parlayed this guaranteed exposure into a record deal with Capitol Records. Capitol committed to a mid-January release for "I Want to Hold Your Hand".[56] On 10 December 1963, a 5-minute story shot in England about the phenomenon of Beatlemania was shown on the CBS Evening News. (The segment first aired on the CBS Morning News on 22 November and had originally been scheduled to be repeated on that day's Evening News, but regular programming was cancelled following the assassination of John F. Kennedy that day.) The segment inspired a teenage girl named Marsha Albert living in Silver Spring, Maryland to write to Carroll James, a disc jockey at Washington DC's WWDC radio station, requesting that he play records by The Beatles. Carroll James had seen the same news story and arranged through a friend to have a copy of The Beatles' new single "I Want to Hold Your Hand" sent over to him in Washington DC. Immediately after debuting the record on December 17, the station received overwhelming positive audience reaction and the station escalated airplay of the record. Made aware of the overwhelming listener response, Capitol Records president Alan Livingston decided a few days later to take advantage of the response and rush-release the already-prepared single three weeks ahead of schedule on 26 December 1963.[57]

Several New York radio stations—first WMCA, then WINS and WABC—began playing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on its release day. The positive response to the record that had started in Washington was duplicated in New York and quickly spread to other markets. The record sold one million copies in just ten days, and by 16 January 1964, Cashbox magazine had certified the record number one (in the edition datelined 23 January). Aware that the Ed Sullivan Show was scheduled to present The Beatles live in early February, the Jack Paar Show licensed a film clip of The Beatles performing "She Loves You" from Britain's BBC and aired the footage on 3 January 1964, enabling Paar to claim that he had beaten his rival Sullivan to showing The Beatles on a network TV show.

Beatlemania crosses the Atlantic

On 7 February 1964, a crowd of four thousand fans at Heathrow Airport waved to The Beatles as they took off for their first trip to the United States as a group.[58] They were accompanied by photographers, journalists (including Maureen Cleave), and Phil Spector, who had booked himself on the same flight.[59] The pilot had radioed ahead, and as they prepared to land, he was told, "Tell the boys there's a big crowd waiting for them." New York's newly-renamed JFK Airport had never experienced such a crowd, estimated at about 3,000 screaming fans.[60] After a press conference (where they first met Murray the K) they were put into limousines and driven to New York City. On the way, McCartney turned on a radio and listened to a running commentary: "They [The Beatles] have just left the airport and are coming to New York City...".[61] After reaching the Plaza Hotel, they were besieged by fans and reporters. Harrison had a fever of Template:Convert the next day and was ordered to stay in bed, so Neil Aspinall replaced him for the first television rehearsal.[62]

Their first live American television appearance was on the The Ed Sullivan Show on 9 February 1964. The next morning many newspapers wrote that The Beatles were nothing more than a "fad", and "could not carry a tune across the Atlantic".[63] Their first American concert appearance was at Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C. on 11 February 1964.[64]

After The Beatles' huge success in 1964, Vee-Jay Records and Swan Records took advantage of their previously secured rights to the group's early recordings and reissued the songs, all of which reached the top ten the second time around. (MGM and Atco also secured rights to The Beatles' early Tony Sheridan-era recordings and had minor hits with "My Bonnie" and "Ain't She Sweet", the latter featuring John Lennon on lead vocal.) In addition to Introducing... The Beatles, which was essentially The Beatles' debut British album with some minor alterations, Vee-Jay also issued an unusual LP called The Beatles Vs The Four Seasons. This 2-LP set paired Introducing... The Beatles and The Golden Hits Of The Four Seasons, another successful act that Vee-Jay had under contract, in a 'contest' (the back cover featured a 'score card'). Another unusual release was the Hear The Beatles Tell All album, which consisted of two lengthy interviews with Los Angeles radio disc jockeys (side one was titled "Dave Hull interviews John Lennon", while side two was titled "Jim Steck interviews John, Paul, George, Ringo"). No Beatles music was included on this interview album, which turned out to be the only Vee-Jay Beatles album Capitol Records could not reclaim.

The Vee-Jay/Swan-issued recordings eventually ended up with Capitol, which issued most of the Vee-Jay material on the American-only Capitol release The Early Beatles, with three songs left off this final US version of the album. ("I Saw Her Standing There" was issued as the American B-side of "I Want to Hold Your Hand", and also appeared on the Capitol Records album Meet The Beatles. "Misery" and "There's a Place" were issued as a Capitol "Starline" reissue single in 1964, and reappeared on Capitol's 1980 US version of the Rarities compilation album.) The early Vee-Jay and Swan Beatles records command a high price on the record collectors' market, and all have been copiously bootlegged.[65] The Swan tracks ("She Loves You" and "I'll Get You") were issued on the Capitol LP The Beatles' Second Album. (Swan also issued the German-language version of "She Loves You", called "Sie Liebt Dich". This song later appeared (in stereo) on Capitol's Rarities album.)

File:Buckingham Palace 2007 2.jpg
The Beatles received their MBEs at Buckingham Palace.

In mid-1964 the band undertook their first appearances outside of Europe and North America, touring Australia without Ringo Starr, who was suffering from tonsillitis and was temporarily replaced by session drummer Jimmy Nicol. In Adelaide they were greeted by over 300,000 people who turned out at Adelaide Town Hall.[66] Ringo had rejoined by the time they arrived in New Zealand on 21 June 1964.[67]

In June 1965, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed the four Beatles Members of the Order of the British Empire, MBE. The band members were nominated by Prime Minister Harold Wilson (who also was the M.P. for Huyton, Liverpool).[68] The appointment – at that time primarily bestowed upon military veterans and civic leaders – sparked some conservative MBE recipients to return their insignia in protest.[69] The first two were returned on 14 June 1965, before The Beatles received theirs on 26 October.[70]

On 15 August 1965, the Beatles performed the first major stadium concert in the history of rock 'n' roll at Shea Stadium in New York to a crowd of 55,600.[71] Their sixth album, Rubber Soul, was released in early December 1965. It was hailed as a major leap forward in the maturity and complexity of the band's music.[72]

Backlash and controversy

In July 1966, when The Beatles toured the Philippines, they unintentionally snubbed the nation's first lady, Imelda Marcos, who had expected the group to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace.[73] When presented with the invitation, Brian Epstein politely declined on behalf of the group, as it had never been the group's policy to accept such "official" invitations.[74] The group soon found that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to accepting "no" for an answer. After the 'snub' was broadcast on Philippine television and radio, all of The Beatles' police protection disappeared. The group and their entourage had to make their way to Manila airport on their own. At the airport, road manager Mal Evans was beaten and kicked, and the band members were pushed and jostled about by a hostile crowd.[75] Once the group boarded the plane, Epstein and Evans were ordered off, and Evans said, "Tell my wife that I love her."[76] Epstein was forced to give back all the money that the band had earned while they were there before being allowed back on the plane.[77]

Almost as soon as they returned from the Philippines, an earlier comment by Lennon made in March that year launched a backlash against The Beatles from religious and social conservatives in the United States. In an interview with British reporter Maureen Cleave,[78] Lennon had offered his opinion that Christianity was dying and that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now".[79] Afterwards, a radio station in Birmingham, Alabama, ran a story on burning Beatles records, in what was considered to be a joke. However, many people affiliated with rural churches in the American South started taking the suggestion seriously. Towns across the United States and South Africa started to burn Beatles records in protest. Attempting to make light of the incident, Harrison said, "They've got to buy them before they can burn them."[80] Under tremendous pressure from the American media, Lennon apologised for his remarks at a press conference in Chicago on 11 August 1966, the eve of the first performance of what turned out to be their final tour.[81]

The group's two-year series of Capitol compilations also took a strange twist in the United States when one of their publicity shots, used for a Yesterday and Today album and a poster promoting the UK release of "Paperback Writer", created an uproar, as it featured the band dressed in butchers' overalls, draped in meat and plastic dolls. A popular, though apocryphal, rumour said that this was meant as a response to the way Capitol had "butchered" their albums.[82] Thousands of copies of the album had a new cover pasted over. Years later, a commentator linked the cover shot with the group's interest in German expressionism.[81] Uncensored copies of Yesterday and Today command a high price today, with one copy selling for $10,500 at a December 2005 auction.[83]

Elvis Presley disapproved of The Beatles's anti-war activism and open use of drugs, later asking President Richard Nixon to ban all four members of the group from entering the United States. Peter Guralnick writes, "The Beatles, Elvis said, [...] had been a focal point for anti-Americanism. They had come to this country, made their money, then gone back to England where they fomented anti-American feeling."[84] Guralnick adds, "Presley indicated that he is of the opinion that The Beatles laid the groundwork for many of the problems we are having with young people by their filthy unkempt appearances and suggestive music while entertaining in this country during the early and middle 1960s."[85] Despite Presley's remarks, Lennon still had some positive feelings towards him: "Before Elvis, there was nothing."[86]

In contrast, Bob Dylan recognised the Beatles' contribution, stating: "America should put up statues to The Beatles. They helped give this country's pride back to it."[87]

Studio years

In April 1966, the group began recording what would be their most ambitious album to date, Revolver. During the recording sessions for the album, tape looping and early sampling were introduced in a complex mix of ballad, R&B, soul, and world music.

The Beatles performed their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on 29 August 1966.[81][88] McCartney asked Tony Barrow to tape the event, but the 30-minute tape he used ran out halfway through the last song. The concert lasted a little under 35 minutes.[89]

From then on, The Beatles concentrated on recording. Less than seven months after recording Revolver, The Beatles returned to Abbey Road Studios on 24 November 1966 to begin the 129-day recording sessions for their eighth album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released on 1 June 1967.

On 25 June 1967, The Beatles became the first band globally transmitted on television, before an estimated 400 million people worldwide. The band appeared in a segment within the first-ever worldwide television satellite hook-up, a show titled Our World. The Beatles were transmitted live from Abbey Road Studios, and their new song "All You Need Is Love" was recorded live during the show, albeit to the accompaniment of a backing track they had spent five days recording and mixing in the studio prior to the broadcast.[90]

The band's business affairs began to unravel after manager Brian Epstein died of an accidental prescription drug overdose on 27 August 1967 at the age of 32. At the end of 1967, they received their first major negative press in the UK with disparaging reviews of their surrealistic TV film Magical Mystery Tour.[91] Part of the criticism arose because colour was an integral part of the film, but in 1967 few viewers in the UK had colour televisions. The film's soundtrack, which features one of The Beatles' few instrumental tracks ("Flying"), was released in the United Kingdom as a double EP, and in the United States as a full LP (the LP is now the official version).

The group spent the early part of 1968 in Rishikesh, Uttar Pradesh, India, studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.[92] Upon their return, Lennon and McCartney went to New York to announce the formation of Apple Corps. The middle of 1968 saw the band busy recording the double album The Beatles, popularly known as The White Album because of its plain white cover. These sessions saw deep divisions opening within the band, with Starr temporarily walking out. The band carried on, with McCartney recording the drums on the songs "Martha My Dear", "Wild Honey Pie", "Dear Prudence" and "Back in the USSR". Among the other causes of dissension were that Lennon's new girlfriend, Yoko Ono, was at his side through almost all of the sessions, and that the others felt that McCartney was becoming too domineering.[93] Internal divisions had been a small but growing problem in the band; most notably, this was reflected in the difficulty that Harrison experienced in getting his songs onto Beatles albums.

On the business side, McCartney wanted Lee Eastman, the father of his then-girlfriend Linda Eastman, to manage The Beatles, but the other members wanted New York manager Allen Klein. All past Beatles decisions had been unanimous, but this time the four could not agree. Lennon, Harrison and Starr felt the Eastmans would put McCartney's interests before those of the group. In 1971, it was discovered that Klein, who had been appointed manager, had stolen £5 million from The Beatles' holdings. Years later, during the Anthology interviews, McCartney said of this time, "Looking back, I can understand why they would feel that he [Lee Eastman] was biased for me and against them."

Breakup: Let It Be


File:3 Savile Row.jpg
3 Savile Row in 2007.

Their final live performance was on the rooftop of the Apple building at 3 Savile Row, London, on 30 January 1969, the next-to-last day of the difficult sessions for what eventually became the Let It Be album, along with assistant engineer Alan Parsons.[94] Most of the performance was filmed and later included in the film Let It Be. While the band was playing, the local police were called because of complaints about the noise. Although the group was simply asked to end their performance, the band members later remarked in the Anthology video that they were disappointed they were not arrested – pointing out that the police hauling the band members off in handcuffs would have been "an appropriate ending" for the film.

The Beatles recorded their final album, Abbey Road, in the summer of 1969. The completion of the song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" for the album on 20 August 1969 was the last time all four Beatles were together in the same studio. Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group on 20 September 1969, but agreed that no announcement was to be publicly made until a number of legal matters were resolved. Their final new song was Harrison's "I Me Mine", recorded 3 January 1970 and released on the Let It Be album. It was recorded without Lennon, who was in Denmark at the time.[95]

In March 1970, the Get Back session tapes were given to American producer Phil Spector, who had produced Lennon's solo single "Instant Karma!". Spector's Wall of Sound production values went against the original intent of the record, which had been to record a stripped-down live performance. McCartney was deeply dissatisfied with Spector's treatment of "The Long and Winding Road" and unsuccessfully attempted to halt release of Spector's version of the song. McCartney publicly announced the break-up on 10 April 1970, a week before releasing his first solo album, McCartney. Pre-release copies included a press release with a self-written interview explaining the end of The Beatles and his hopes for the future.[96] On 8 May 1970, the Spector-produced version of Get Back was released as Let It Be, followed by the documentary film of the same name. The Beatles' partnership was finally dissolved in 1975.[97]

1970–present: After The Beatles

Shortly before and after the official dissolution of the group, all four Beatles released solo albums, including Lennon's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, McCartney's McCartney, Starr's Sentimental Journey, and Harrison's All Things Must Pass. Some of their albums featured contributions by other former Beatles; Starr's Ringo (1973) was the only one to include compositions and performances by all four, albeit on separate songs. Harrison showed his socio-political consciousness and earned respect for his contribution for arranging the Concert For Bangladesh in New York City in August 1971 along with sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. Other than an unreleased jam session in 1974 (later bootlegged as A Toot and a Snore in '74), Lennon and McCartney never recorded together again.

The Concert for Bangladesh

In the wake of the expiration in 1975 of The Beatles' contract with EMI-Capitol, the American Capitol label, rushing to cash in on its vast Beatles holdings and freed from the group's creative control, released five LPs: Rock 'n' Roll Music (a compilation of their more uptempo numbers), The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (containing portions of two unreleased shows at the Hollywood Bowl), Love Songs (a compilation of their slower numbers), Rarities (a compilation of tracks that either had never been released in the U.S. or had gone out of print), and Reel Music (a compilation of songs from their films). There was also a non-Capitol-EMI release entitled Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962, which was a recording of a show from the group's early days at the Star Club in Hamburg captured on a poor-quality tape. Of all these post-breakup LPs, only the Hollywood Bowl LP had the approval of the group members. Upon the American release of the original British CDs in 1986, these post-breakup Capitol American compilation LPs were deleted from the Capitol catalogue.

John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman on 8 December 1980 in New York City. In May 1981, George Harrison released "All Those Years Ago"; a single written about Harrison's time with The Beatles. It was recorded the month before Lennon's death, with Starr on drums, and was later overdubbed with new lyrics as a tribute to Lennon. Paul and Linda McCartney later contributed backing vocals to the track.[98]

The BBC has a large collection of Beatles recordings, mostly comprising original studio sessions from 1963 to 1968. Much of this material formed the basis for a 1988 radio documentary series The Beeb's Lost Beatles Tapes. In 1989, many outtakes from The Beatles sessions appeared on the radio series The Lost Lennon Tapes. Later, in 1994, the best of the BBC sessions were given an official EMI release on Live at the BBC.

In 1988, The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a group during their first year of eligibility.[99] On the night of their induction, Harrison and Starr appeared to accept their award along with Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and his two sons. McCartney stayed away, issuing a press release citing "unresolved difficulties" with Harrison, Starr, and Lennon's estate. Solo Beatles later inducted were Lennon in 1994, McCartney in 1999 and Harrison in 2004.

In February 1994, the three surviving Beatles reunited to produce and record additional music for a few of Lennon's home recordings. "Free as a Bird" premiered as part of The Beatles Anthology series of television documentaries and was released as a single in December 1995, with "Real Love" following in March 1996. These songs were also included in the three Anthology collections of CDs released in 1995 and 1996, each of which consisted of two CDs of never-before-released Beatles material. Klaus Voormann, who had known The Beatles since their Hamburg days and had previously illustrated the Revolver album cover, directed the Anthology cover concept. 450,000 copies of Anthology 1 were sold on its first day of release. In 2000, the compilation album 1 was released, containing almost every number-one single released by the band from 1962 to 1970. The collection sold 3.6 million copies in its first week (selling 3 copies a second) and more than 12 million in three weeks worldwide. The collection also reached number one in the United States and 33 other countries, and had sold 25 million copies by 2005 (about the ninth best selling album of all time).

In the late 1990s, George Harrison was diagnosed with lung cancer. He succumbed to the disease on 29 November 2001.

In 2006, George Martin and his son Giles Martin remixed original Beatles recordings to create a soundtrack to accompany Cirque du Soleil's theatrical production Love. In 2007, McCartney and Starr reunited for an interview on Larry King Live to discuss their thoughts on the show. Beatles widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison also appeared with McCartney and Starr in Las Vegas for the one-year anniversary of Love.

Also in 2007, reports circulated[100] that McCartney was hoping to complete "Now and Then", the third Lennon track the band worked on during the Anthology sessions, as a "Lennon/McCartney composition" by writing new verses, laying down a new drum track recorded by Starr, and utilizing archival recordings of Harrison's guitar work.

Towards the end of 2007, the surviving members of The Beatles and relatives of John Lennon and George Harrison were asked to go to Israel and be part of Israel's 60th anniversary celebration. This was 43 years after the group was banned from performing there.[101]

Lawyers for the Beatles sued on March 21 2008 to prevent the distribution of unreleased recordings purportedly made during Ringo Starr's first performance with the group in 1962. The dispute between Apple Corps Ltd. and Fuego Entertainment Inc. of Miami Lakes stems from recordings apparently made during a performance at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany.[102]

Musical evolution

See also: The Beatles' influence on music recording

The Beatles' constant demands to create new sounds on every new recording, combined with George Martin's arranging abilities and the studio expertise of EMI staff engineers such as Norman Smith, Ken Townsend and Geoff Emerick, all played significant parts in the innovative sounds of the albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).

The Beatles continued to absorb influences long after their initial success, often finding new musical and lyrical avenues by listening to their contemporaries. Among those influences were Bob Dylan, who influenced songs such as "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" and "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)".[103] Other contemporary influences included the Byrds and the Beach Boys, whose album Pet Sounds was a favourite of McCartney's.[104] Beatles producer George Martin stated that "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds."[105] After Sgt. Pepper was released, Beach Boys' leader Brian Wilson was so despondent that he went to bed for months.[106]

Along with studio tricks such as sound effects, unconventional microphone placements, tape loops, double tracking and vari-speed recording, The Beatles began to augment their recordings with instruments that were unconventional for rock music at the time. These included string and brass ensembles as well as Indian instruments such as the sitar as in "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" and the swarmandel as in "Strawberry Fields Forever". They also used early electronic instruments such as the Mellotron, with which McCartney supplied the flute voices on the intro to "Strawberry Fields Forever", and the ondioline, an electronic keyboard that created the unusual oboe-like sound on "Baby You're a Rich Man".

Beginning with the use of a string quartet (arranged by George Martin with input from McCartney) on "Yesterday" in 1965, The Beatles pioneered a modern form of art song, exemplified by the double-quartet string arrangement on "Eleanor Rigby" (1966), "Here, There and Everywhere" (1966) and "She's Leaving Home" (1967). A televised performance of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 directly inspired McCartney's use of a piccolo trumpet on the arrangement of "Penny Lane". The Beatles moved towards psychedelia with "Rain" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" from 1966, and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am the Walrus" from 1967.


Template:Refimprovesect Throughout their relatively short career, the Beatles set a number of world records— most of which have yet to be broken. The following is a partial list:



  • The Beatles have had more number one singles than any other musical group (23 in Australia, 23 in The Netherlands, 22 in Canada, 21 in Norway, 20 in the U.S., and 18 in Sweden). Ironically, the Beatles could easily have had even more number ones, because they were often competing with their own singles. For example, the Beatles' "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" were released as a "double A"-sided single, which caused sales and airplay to be divided between the two songs instead of being counted collectively. Even so, they reached number two with the singles. They even managed to hold separate releases by themselves off the top of the British chart in 1967 with "Hello Goodbye" at number 1 and the Magical Mystery Tour E.P at number 2.
  • In terms of charting positions, Lennon and McCartney are the most successful songwriters in history, with 32 number one singles in the U.S. for McCartney, and 26 for Lennon (23 of which were written together). Lennon was responsible for 29 Number One singles in the UK, and McCartney was responsible for 28 (25 of which were written together).
  • During the week of 4 April, 1964, The Beatles held twelve positions on Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, including the top five positions, which has never been accomplished by any other artist. The songs were "Can't Buy Me Love" (Capitol Records), "Twist and Shout" (Tollie Records), "She Loves You" (Swan Records), "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (Capitol), and "Please Please Me" (Vee-Jay).[109] In addition, seven other singles occupied lower places on the chart: "I Saw Her Standing There" (Capitol), "You Can't Do That" (Capitol), "All My Loving" (Capitol of Canada), "Roll Over Beethoven" (Capitol of Canada), "From Me To You" (Vee-Jay), "Do You Want To Know A Secret" (Vee-Jay) and "Thank You Girl" (Vee-Jay).[109] Furthermore, two Beatles tribute records appeared on the chart: "We Love You Beatles" by The Carefrees (at #42), and "A Letter to the Beatles" by The Four Preps (#85).[109]
  • The next week, 11 April, 1964, the Beatles held fourteen positions on the Billboard Hot 100. Before the Beatles, the highest number of concurrent singles by one artist on the Hot 100 was nine (by Elvis Presley, 19 December, 1956).
  • The Beatles are the only artist to have 'back-to-back-to-back' number one singles on Billboard's Hot 100 in the modern chart era. Their "Can't Buy Me Love" single supplanted "She Loves You", which had in turn taken the #1 spot from "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Boyz II Men, Nelly and Outkast have directly succeeded themselves atop the chart, but the Beatles are the only artist to 'three-peat'. (In 2004, Usher came within a week of matching this feat, with three of his singles ("Yeah!" "Burn" and "Confessions") holding the top spot for 21 of 22 weeks; only a one-week interruption between "Burn"s 7th and 8th weeks atop the chart by American Idol singer Fantasia broke the streak. Billboard's current version of the "Hot 100" chart is considered to have begun in August 1958; before that, artists such as Elvis Presley, Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, and Bing Crosby had also had three consecutive #1 hits, but on earlier Billboard charts that preceded the "Hot 100".)
  • The Beatles' "Yesterday" is the most covered song in history, appearing in the Guinness Book of Records with over three thousand recorded versions. It is also the most played song in the history of international radio.
  • The Beatles had the fastest selling single of all time with "I Want to Hold Your Hand". The song sold 250,000 units within three days in the U.S., one million in 2 weeks. (Additionally, it sold 10,000 copies per hour in New York City alone for the first 20 days.)
  • The largest number of advance orders for a single, at 2.1 million copies in the U.S. for "Can't Buy Me Love" (it sold 940,225 copies on its first day of release in the U.S. alone).
  • The Beatles appear five times in the top 100 best-selling singles in the UK. No other group appears more than twice.


  • With their performance at Shea Stadium in 1965, The Beatles set new world records for concert attendance (55,600) and revenue. This was the first time in the history of popular music anyone had played in a proper stadium as opposed to a theatre or concert hall.
  • The Beatles broke television ratings records in the U.S. with their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show with over 70 million people viewing. Crime reportedly fell by a third during the duration of the transmission, although this eventually turned out to be false.
  • On 30 June, 1966, the Beatles became the first musical group to perform at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo. They performed five times in three days gathering audiences of about 10,000 per performance.

Influence on popular culture



The arrival of the Beatles is seen in radio as a touchstone in music signalling an end to the rock-and-roll era of the 1950s. Program Directors like Rick Sklar of WABC in New York went as far as forbidding DJs from playing any "pre-Beatles" music.[110]

Recreational drug use

In Hamburg, The Beatles used "prellies" (Preludin) both recreationally and to maintain their energy through all-night performances.[111] McCartney would usually take one, but Lennon would often take four or five.[111] Bob Dylan introduced them to cannabis during a 1964 visit to New York.[112] McCartney remembered them all getting "very high" and giggling.[113] The Beatles occasionally smoked a joint in the car on the way to the studio during the filming of Help!, which often made them forget their lines.[114]

In April 1965, Lennon and Harrison were introduced to LSD by an acquaintance, dentist John Riley, who slipped some into their coffees.[115] Lennon in particular became an avid "tripper", claiming in a 1970 interview in Rolling Stone to have taken LSD hundreds of times. McCartney was more reluctant to try the drug, but finally did so in 1966 and was the first Beatle to talk about it in the press, saying in June 1967 that he took it four times.

The Beatles added their names to an advertisement in The Times, on 24 July 1967, which asked for the legalisation of cannabis, the release of all prisoners imprisoned because of possession, and research into marijuana's medical uses. The advertisement was sponsored by a group called Soma, and was signed by 65 people, including Brian Epstein, Graham Greene, R.D. Laing, 15 doctors, and two MPs.[116]


On 24 August 1967, The Beatles met the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the London Hilton. A few days later they went to Bangor, in North Wales, to attend a weekend 'initiation' conference.[117] There, the Maharishi gave each of them a mantra.[118] The Beatles learned of the death of Brian Epstein while in Bangor with the Maharishi. Their time in early 1968 at the Maharishi's ashram in India was highly productive from a musical standpoint, as many of the songs that would later be recorded for The Beatles (White Album) and Abbey Road were composed there by Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison.[92]


Template:Main Template:See

Studio albums

CD releases

In 1987, EMI released all of The Beatles' studio albums on CD worldwide. Apple Corps decided to standardize The Beatles catalogue throughout the world. They chose to release the twelve original studio albums as released in the United Kingdom, as well as the Magical Mystery Tour U.S. album, which had been released as a shorter Double EP in the UK. All of the remaining Beatles material from the singles and EPs from 1962–1970 which had not been issued on the original British studio albums were gathered on the Past Masters double album compilation:

The U.S. album configurations from 1964-65 were released as a box sets in 2004 and 2006 (The Capitol Albums Volume 1 and Volume 2 respectively); these included both stereo and mono versions based on the mixes that were prepared for vinyl at the time of their original 1960s releases in the United States.

Song catalogue

Template:Main In 1963 Lennon and McCartney agreed to assign their song publishing rights to Northern Songs, a company created by music publisher Dick James. The company was administered by James' own company Dick James Music. Northern Songs went public in 1965, with Lennon and McCartney each holding 15% of the company's shares Dick James and the company's chairman, Charles Silver, held a controlling 37.5%. In 1969, following a failed attempt by Lennon and McCartney to buy the company, James and Silver sold Northern Songs to British TV company Associated TeleVision (ATV), from which Lennon and McCartney received stock.

In 1985, after a short period in which the parent company was owned by Australian business magnate Robert Holmes à Court, ATV Music was sold to Michael Jackson for a reported $47 million (trumping a joint bid by McCartney and Yoko Ono), including the publishing rights to over 200 songs composed by Lennon and McCartney.

A decade later Jackson and Sony merged its music publishing businesses. Since 1995, Jackson and Sony/ATV Music Publishing have jointly owned most of the Lennon-McCartney songs recorded by The Beatles. Meanwhile, Lennon's estate and McCartney still receive their respective songwriter shares of the royalties. (Despite his ownership of most of the Lennon-McCartney publishing, Jackson has only recorded one Lennon-McCartney composition himself, "Come Together" which was featured in his film Moonwalker and HIStory album)

Although the Jackson-Sony catalogue includes most of The Beatles' greatest hits, four of their earliest songs had been published by one of EMI's publishing companies prior to Lennon and McCartney signing with Dick James — and McCartney later succeeded in personally acquiring the publishing rights to "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me", "P.S. I Love You" and "Ask Me Why" from EMI.

Harrison and Starr did not renew their songwriting contracts with Northern Songs in 1968, signing with Apple Publishing instead. Harrison later created Harrisongs, which still owns the rights to his post-1967 songs such as "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Something". Starr also created his own company, called Startling Music. It holds the rights to his two post-1967 songs recorded by The Beatles, "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden".

The Beatles are one of the few major artists who have not released their recorded catalogue through online music services (for example, iTunes and Napster). Apple Corp's dispute with Apple, Inc. (the owners of iTunes) over the use of the name "Apple" has played a particular part in this. An uneasy truce between the two companies broke when Apple Computers opened the iTunes Store, after which Apple Corp sued Apple, Inc. This was resolved in February 2007, with Apple Computer owning the Apple name but licensing it back to Apple Records. Following the resolution, several solo albums by Lennon and McCartney were released to the iTunes Music Store. As of November 2007, all of the band members' solo catalogues have been released on iTunes.

On film


The Beatles appeared in several films, all of which featured associated soundtrack albums.

The band played themselves in two films directed by Richard Lester, A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965). The group produced and starred in the hour-long television movie Magical Mystery Tour (1967), while the documentary Let It Be (released 1970) followed the rehearsals and recording sessions for the early 1969 Get Back project and won the Academy Award in 1971 for Best Original Song Score. In addition, the psychedelic animated film Yellow Submarine (1968) followed the adventures of a cartoon version of the band; the members did not provide their own voices, appearing only in a brief live-action epilogue.

During 1965-1969, the Beatles were the subject of a Saturday morning cartoon series, The Beatles, which loosely continued the kind of slapstick antics of A Hard Day's Night. Two Beatles songs were played in each half-hour show, with the Beatles' cartoon counterparts "lip-synching" the actual Beatles recordings. Some of the song performances, such as those from A Hard Day's Night, appeared to have been rotoscoped. The regular speaking voices of the characters were not supplied by the Beatles themselves, but rather by voice artists Paul Frees and Lance Percival. (Alex McNeil, Total Television, 1996, Penguin Books, p.82)

Other projects



The Beatles Anthology was a project by Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Yoko Ono that was comprised of an eight-part documentary that aired in 1995, three albums of rarities, unreleased tracks, and two new songs released from 1995-1996, and a book of interviews and photographs, released in 2000.

Let It Be... Naked


Let it Be... Naked, released in 2003, is a remixed and remastered variation of the original Let It Be album. It excludes "Maggie Mae" and "Dig It" from the original album and adds "Don't Let Me Down". It also includes "Across the Universe" at its original speed and an alternate take of "The Long and Winding Road". A bonus "Fly on the Wall" disc contains 22 minutes of additional clips from the "Get Back" sessions.



Love is a joint venture between Cirque du Soleil and The Beatles' Apple Corps Ltd. It debuted at The Mirage in Las Vegas on June 30, 2006. The show features reproduced and reimagined music by the Beatles under the musical direction of Sir George Martin and his son, Giles Martin.




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  115. Retrieved: 08 March 2007
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  118. Miles 1998. p396


Further reading

See also


External links

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