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The Beatles were an English rock-pop band, started in Liverpool, England in 1960. The members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Most people say they are the most successful and influential band in the history of popular music. The group were a main part of the creation of 1960s counterculture. They began as a skiffle and beat band and were influenced by 1950s American rock and roll. In their later years the band became experimental with genres such as different types of rock, avant-garde music and orchestral music. Some credit songs such as Helter Skelter and I Want You (She’s So Heavy) as being the origins of metal and punk music. Many bands look at the Beatles as influential with their music throughout their 10 years.
Their main songwriters were Lennon and McCartney. Before The Beatles became popular, they played in clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over three years between 1960 and 1963, with Stuart Sutcliffe playing bass. They went through many drummers, including Pete Best, before finally asking Ringo Starr to join in 1962. Sutcliffe also quit, meaning Paul McCartney started playing the bass instead. Brian Epstein was their manager and George Martin produced most of their music. Their first single was "Love Me Do", in late 1962. It was a hit and they became popular in the United Kingdom. As they became more popular, the press called the popularity "Beatlemania".
By 1964, the Beatles were worldwide stars and led the "British Invasion" of the United States. They brought out some of the best-selling albums of the 1960s, with twelve studio albums. They broke-up in 1970. John Lennon was later murdered in New York City in 1980 and George Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001. McCartney and Starr still make music.
History of the Beatles[change | change source]
Starting in 1956, John Lennon and several of his friends played in a British band called the Quarrymen. Over the next few years, the members of the band changed, and by 1960, the band was called the Beatles. They did not have their first hit until 1962. In February 1963 their song, "Please Please Me", reached the number 1 position on the British charts. This was the first of a record 15 British number 1 singles. They first came to the United States in 1964. They were met at the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City by thousands of screaming American teenagers. The Beatles were so popular that they were attacked by screaming fans everywhere they went around the world. The effect they had on their fans was known as 'Beatlemania'. The Beatles made their first live American television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on 9 February 1964. About 74 million viewers — about half of the American population — watched the group perform on the show. Beatles songs soon filled the top 5 places on the American top 40 chart - a record that has never been matched.
After the Beatles became so popular in the United States, other British bands, such as The Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Kinks and Gerry and the Pacemakers had songs become hits there as well. So many British bands became popular after the Beatles' success that this time became known in America as the "British Invasion".
Towards the mid 1960s, The Beatles became bolder with their style of music. This largely started in 1965, with the release of the album "Rubber Soul", and hit a peak in 1967 with the release of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", which was named as the greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine. They were also named the most influential artists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, because their music, clothing style, and attitudes shaped much of what was popular among young people in the 1960s.
The Beatles became so popular that no regular concert venue was big enough for their concerts. This led to them playing the first ever stadium rock concert at Shea Stadium in America, to around 50,000 people. The Beatles stopped touring and playing live music in 1966 because they were sick of audiences screaming so loudly that their music could not be heard. They were also tired of the pressures of touring. Among other things, they were so popular that thousands of people would gather outside the hotels they stayed in day and night meaning that they could never leave their rooms unless they were playing a concert.
The Beatles broke up in 1970 because of the pressures of fame and each member becoming more independent both in their personal lives and musically. In 1973 the two-disc sets "1962-1966" (the "Red Album") and "1967-1970" "(the "Blue Album") were released. These were both re-released on CD in 1993.
After breaking up[change | change source]
The band was still very popular all over the world after they broke up. They are the best-selling music acts of all time, with sales between 600 million to 1 billion records. Their music is still important and still influences many musicians. Musicians today perform cover versions of Beatles songs, and people everywhere still listen to their music. Their song 'Yesterday' has been recorded by more artists than any other song. It is also the song that has been played the most on radio ever.
The Beatles made thirteen albums and twenty-six singles together. They also started their own record label, Apple Records. They made two movies, A Hard Day's Night and Help!, where they appeared as actors. Later they made Magical Mystery Tour, a television special. Yellow Submarine was a cartoon movie based on their music. Let It Be showed them working on a new album.
After the Beatles broke up in 1969, all four members started their own solo careers.
John Lennon became a famous peace activist in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He wrote successful songs including "Give Peace a Chance", "Imagine", and "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)". John Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980 outside his home in New York. Part of Central Park in New York and an airport in Liverpool are named in his honor.
The other three Beatles got together in the 1990s to make two new records. They used demo recordings of two John Lennon songs and added their own new parts. Producer Jeff Lynne helped them so all four members could appear on the songs. The songs were "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love". Both were top 5 hits in the UK in 1995 and 1996.
Paul McCartney started the band "Wings" with his wife Linda. In 1977 his song, "Mull of Kintyre", became the biggest selling single in British history. It sold even more copies than the Beatles' singles. Paul McCartney was knighted in 1997.
George Harrison and Ringo Starr had early success as solo artists but were less successful later on. Harrison formed the group the Traveling Wilburys in the 80s with other rock legends Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. Harrison died of lung cancer on November 29, 2001. Starr still tours the world with his "All Starr Band" and was knighted in 2018.
Albums[change | change source]
The Beatles made 13 very successful albums during their active years from 1960-1970. Listed below are the albums made during their career.
- Please Please Me (1963)
- With the Beatles (1963)
- A Hard Day's Night (1964)
- Beatles for Sale (1964)
- Help! (1965)
- Rubber Soul (1965)
- Revolver (1966)
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
- Magical Mystery Tour (1967) (Double EP)
- Yellow Submarine (1968)
- The Beatles (better known as the "White Album") (1968)
- Let It Be (1969)
- Abbey Road (1969)
Compilations[change | change source]
- The Beatles 1962-1966 and The Beatles 1967-1970 (1973)
- Rock and Roll Music (1976)
- Love Songs (1978)
- Rarities (1980)
- Reel Music (1982)
- 20 Greatest Hits (1983)
- Past Masters (1987, two volumes)
- The Beatles Anthology (1995, three volumes)
- The Beatles: 1 (2000)
- Love (2006)
Movies[change | change source]
- A Hard Day's Night (1964), directed by Richard Lester, co-starred Wilfrid Brambell, Norman Rossington, John Junkin, Lionel Blair, Victor Spinetti, and Derek Nimmo
- Help! (1965), directed by Lester, co-starred Leo McKern, Eleanor Bron, Victor Spinetti and Roy Kinnear
- Magical Mystery Tour (1967), hour-long TV special, with Ivor Cutler and Jessie Robins
- Yellow Submarine, (1968) cartoon
- Let It Be (1969), documentary film about the making of the album with the same name; producer George Martin and road manager Mal Evans appear briefly on camera, as do Yoko Ono and Heather McCartney.
Children of the Beatles[change | change source]
- Paul McCartney's daughter Stella McCartney has had a successful career as a clothing designer.
- John Lennon's sons Sean Lennon and Julian Lennon have had successful musical careers. Sean has been involved in a number of bands: Cibo Matto, and Dopo Yume.
References[change | change source]
- Hasted 2017, p. 425. sfn error: no target: CITEREFHasted2017 (help)
- "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 31 May 2009. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
- "Rolling Stone's top 10 Beatles songs of all time". CNN Entertainment. 26 August 2010. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
- Vogue UK; Stella McCartney Biography
- Hopeful Romantics:Dopo Yume Wear their Hearts on Their Sleeves Archived 2007-08-04 at the Wayback Machine www.fashionfollower.com
Other websites[change | change source]
- The Beatles homepage
- Beatles Website Archived 2012-11-08 at the Wayback Machine
- Beatles Archived 2018-01-14 at the Wayback Machine
- Hear The Beatles (music and interviews) on the Pop Chronicles (1969).