The Beatles were an English rock band that became arguably the most successful act of the 20th century. They contributed to music, film, literature, art, and fashion, made a continuous impact on popular culture and the lifestyle of several generations. Their songs and images carrying powerful ideas of love, peace, help, and imagination evoked creativity and liberation that outperformed the rusty Soviet propaganda and contributed to breaking walls in the minds of millions, thus making impact on human history.
In July of 1957, in Liverpool, 'Paul McCartney (I)' met John Lennon. Both were teenagers. Paul impressed John with his mastery of acoustic guitar, and was invited to join Lennon's group, The Quarrymen. George Harrison joined them in February of 1958. In 1959 they played regular gigs at a club called The Casbah. They were joined by vocalist Stuart Sutcliffe, and by drummer Peter Best, whose mother owned The Casbah club. Early incarnations of the band included The Quarrymen, Johnny & the Moon Dogs, and The Silver Beetles. John Lennon dreamed up the band's final name, The Beatles, a mix of beat with beetle. In 1960 The Beatles toured in Hamburg, Germany. There they were joined by Ringo Starr, who previously played with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. In Hamburg, The Beatles made their first studio work as a backing band for singer Tony Sheridan's recordings for the German Polydor label, however, in the credits the band's name was changed to The Beat Brothers. From February 1961 to August 1963, The Beatles played a regular gig at the Cavern. They were paid five pounds for their first show, rising to three hundred pounds per show in 1963. In two and a half years The Beatles gave 262 shows at the Cavern in Liverpool.
Brian Epstein was invited to be the manager of the Beatles in November 1961. His diplomatic way of dealing with the Beatles and with their previous manager resulted in a December 10, 1961, meeting, where it was decided that Epstein would manage the band. A 5-year management contract was signed by four members at then-drummer Pete Best's home on January 24, 1962. Epstein did not put his signature on it, giving the musicians the freedom of choice. At that time McCartney and Harrison were under 21, so the paper wasn't technically legal. None of them realized this and it did not matter to them. What mattered was their genuine trust in Epstein. He changed their early image for the good. Brian Epstein made them wear suits and ties, classic shoes, and newer haircuts. They were advised to update their manners on stage and quit eating and drinking in public. Brian Epstein worked hard on both the Beatles' image and public relations. He improved their image enough to make them accepted by the conservative media. Most if not all of their communication off-stage was managed by Brian Epstein.
On January 1, 1962, The Beatles came to London and recorded fifteen songs at the Decca Records. They were not hired, but the material helped them later. During the year 1962, they made several trips to London and auditioned for various labels. In May of 1962 Epstein canceled the group's contract with Tony Sheridan and the German label. Brian Epstein was persistent in trying to sign a record deal for the Beatles, even after being rejected by every major record label in UK, like Columbia, Philips, Oriole, Decca, and Pye. Epstein transferred a demo tape to disc with HMV technician Jim Foy, who liked their song and referred it to Parlophone's George Martin. On June 6, 1962, at the Abbey Road studios, they passed Martin's audition with the exception of Pete Best. George Martin liked them, but recommended the change of a drummer. Being asked by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison; Epstein fired Pete Best. After a mutual decision the band was completed with Ringo Starr, who duly became the fourth Beatle. In September of 1962 The Beatles recorded their first hit Love Me Do, which charted in UK, and reached the top of the US singles chart.
London became their new home since 1963. On February 11, 1963, The Beatles recorded the entire album 'Please, Please me' in one day, working non-stop during ten-hour studio session. In May and June, 1963, the band made a tour with Roy Orbison. In August of 1963, their single She Loves You became a super hit. Their October 1963 performance at the London Palladium made them famous in Great Britain and initiated the Beatlemania in the UK. The show at the London Palladium was broadcast live and seen by twelve million viewers. Then, in November 1962, The Beatles gave a charity concert at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London. There, performing for the rich and famous, John Lennon made his famous announcement: Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry.
In early performances the Beatles included popular songs from the 40s and 50s. They played rock-n-roll and R&B-based pop songs while they gradually worked on developing a style of their own. Their mixture of rock-n-roll, skiffle, blues, country, soul, and a simplified version of 1930s jazz resulted in several multi-genre and cross-style sounding songs. They admitted their interest in the music of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Little Richard and other entertainers of the 40s, 50s and early 60s. Beatles' distinctive vocals were sometimes reminiscent of the Everly Brothers' tight harmonies. By 1965 their style absorbed ethnic music influences from India and other Oriental cultures, and later expanded into psychedelic experiments and classical-sounding compositions. Their creative search covered a range of styles from jazz and rock to a cosmopolitan cross-cultural and cross-genre compositions.
Initially the Beatles were a guitars and drums band. In the course of their career every member became a multi-instrumentalist. George Harrison played the lead guitar and also introduced such exotic instruments as ukulele, Indian sitars, flutes, tabla, darbouka, and tampur drums. John Lennon played a variety of guitars, keyboards, harmonicas and horns. Paul McCartney played bass guitar, acoustic and electric guitars, piano and keyboards, as well as over 40 other musical instruments. The Beatles were the first popular band that used a classical touch of strings and keyboard instruments; their producer George Martin scored Baroque orchestrations in several songs, such as Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, In My Life, and a full orchestra in Sgt. Pepper. John Lennon and Paul McCartney played piano in many of their songs. Their jamming on a piano together led to creation of their best-selling hit I Want to Hold Your Hand in 1963.
At first the Beatles were rejected by Dick Clark after testing a recording of their song on his show. Then Brian Epstein approached Ed Sullivan, who discussed them with Walter Cronkite after seeing them on his CBS Evening News in 1963. Brian Epstein also managed to get their music played by influential radio stations in Washington and New York. The US consumer reaction was peaking, a single 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' was released in December 1963 by the Capitol Records. Their sensational tour in the USA began with three TV shows at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, in February of 1964. After that The Beatles endured several years of extremely intensive recording, filming, and touring. They stopped public performances after 1966, but continued their recording contracts. By 1985 The Beatles had sold over one billion records. Music became their ticket to ride around the world. Beatlemania never really ended since its initiation. It still lives as a movable feast in many hearts and minds, as a sweet memory of youth, when all you need is love and a little help from a friend to be happy.
The Beatles' first two feature films, A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help (1965), were made in collaboration with an American director, Richard Lester. Their humorous, ironic, and farcical film performances are reminiscent of the Marx Brothers' comedies. Later The Beatles moved into the area of psychedelic innovations with the animated film Yellow Submarine (1966). Their surrealistic TV movie The Magical Mystery Tour (1967) became the cause for the first major criticism of their work in the British press. Their film music was also released as studio albums. Original music by The Beatles as well as re-makes of their songs has been also used, often uncredited, in music scores of feature films and documentaries. Some of The Beatles concert and studio performances were filmed on several occasions and were later edited and released after the band's dissolution. In 1999 the remastered and remixed film The Beatles Yellow Submarine Adventure (2000) delighted a younger audience with incredible animation and songs.
All four members were charismatic and individually talented artists, they sparked each other from the beginning. Eventually they made a much better group effort under the thorough management by Brian Epstein. His coaching helped consolidate their talents and mutual stimulation into beautiful teamwork. Paul McCartney had the privilege of a better musical education, having studied classical piano and guitar in his childhood. He progressed as a lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, as well as a singer-songwriter. McCartney wrote more songs for the Beatles than other members of the band. His songs Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, Blackbird, When I'm 64, Let It Be are among the Beatles' best hits. Yesterday is considered the most-covered song in history with over three thousand versions of it recorded by various artists. McCartney accepted the agreement that was offered by John Lennon in 1957, about the 50/50 authorship of every song written by either one of them. Most of The Beatles' songs are formally credited to both names, regardless of the fact that many of the songs were written individually.
On June 25, 1967, The Beatles made history becoming the first band globally transmitted on TV to an estimated 400 million people worldwide. The Beatles were a segment in the first-ever worldwide satellite hook-up and their new song "All You Need Is Love" was broadcast live during the show. Two months later The Beatles lost their creative manager Brian Epstein, whose talent for problem-solving was unmatched. "That was it, the beginning of the end", said Lennon. Evolution of each member's creativity and musicianship also led to individual career ambitions.
John Lennon was experimenting with psychedelic poetry and art. His creativity was very unique and innovative. Lennon wrote Come Together, Girl, Revolution, Strawberry Fields and many other Beatles' hits. An out-of-context reprinting of Lennon's remarks on the Beatlemania phenomenon caused problems in the media. His comparison of Beatles' popularity to that of Jesus Christ was used to attack them publicly, causing cancellations of their performances and even burning of their records. Lennon had to apologize several times in press and on TV, including at a Chicago press conference. In 1967 John Lennon met Japanese artist Yoko Ono, whom he later married. George Harrison was the lead guitar player and also took sitar lessons from Ravi Shankar. Harrison had his own inner light of creativity and spirituality, he wrote Something, Taxman, I me mine, and other hits. Ringo Starr sang 'Yellow Submarine' and a few other songs. He has made a film career and also toured with his All Stars Band and released several solo albums. His 1973 release "Ringo" was the last album to feature all four living Beatles, although not on the same song.
The Beatles created over 240 songs, they recorded many singles and albums, made films and TV shows. Thousands of memorable pictures popularized their image. In their evolution from beginners to the leaders of entertainment, they learned from many world cultures, absorbed from various styles, and created their own. Their cross-style compositions covered a range of influences from English folk ballads to Indian raga; absorbing from Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Elvis Presley, Everly Brothers, Little Richard, and others. The songwriting and performing talents of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, fused in the Beatles' music. Lennon and McCartney initiated changes in music publishing industry by breaking the Tin Pan Alley monopoly of songwriting. Their legacy became possible due to highly professional work by Brian Epstein and George Martin. In 1994 three surviving members reunited and produced Lennon's previously unknown song 'Free as a Bird'. It was preserved by Yoko Ono on a tape recording made by Lennon in 1977. The song was re-arranged and re-mixed with the voices of three surviving members. The Beatles Anthology TV documentary was watched by 420 million people in 1995.
The Beatles represent the collective consciousness of several generations. Millions of viewers and listeners across the universe became conditioned to the sounds and images of The Beatles. Their influence on the modern world never stopped. Numbers may only show the tip of the iceberg (record sales, shows admissions, top hits, etc.). As image-makers and role models they pushed boundaries in lifestyle and business, affecting customers behavior and consumption beyond the entertainment industry by turning all life into entertainment. A brilliant blend of music and lyrics in their songs made influence on many minds by carrying messages like: give peace a chance and people working it out. A message more powerful than political control, it broke through second and third world censorship and regulations and set many millions free.
Steve Jobs, being a big fan of Paul McCartney and The Beatles, referred to them on many occasions and also was interviewed on a showing of a Paul McCartney concert. When asked about his business model, Steve Jobs replied: My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each other's negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. Great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by a team of people.
The Beatles made impact on human history, because their influence has been liberating for generations of nowhere men living in misery beyond the Iron Curtain. Something in their songs and images appealed to everybody who wanted to become free as a bird. Their songs carrying powerful ideas of real love, peace, help, and imagination evoked creativity that outperformed the rusty Soviet propaganda and contributed to breaking chains and walls in the minds of millions. The Beatles expressed themselves in beautiful and liberating words of love, happiness, freedom, and revolution, and carried those messages to people across the universe. Their songs and images helped many freedom-loving people to come together for revolutions in Prague and Warsaw, Beijing and Bucharest, Berlin and Moscow. The Beatles has been an inspiration for those who take the long and winding road to freedom.
Even after The Beatles had gone, the individual members continued to spread their message; from the concert for Bangladesh by George Harrison and Ringo Starr in 1971, to 2003 "Back in USSR" concert by Paul McCartney on the Red Square in Moscow, and his 2004 show near the Tsar's Winter Palace in St. Petersburg where the Communist Revolution took place, just imagine.
In 2005 the Entertainment magazine poll named The Beatles the most iconic entertainers of the 20th Century. In July of 2006, the guitar on which Paul McCartney played his first chords and impressed John Lennon, was sold at an auction for over $600,000.
In July 2012, Paul McCartney rocked the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He delivered a live performance of The Beatles's timeless hit "Hey Jude" and engaged the crowd of people from all over the world to join his band in a sing along finale. The show was seen by a live audience of 80000 people at the Olympic Park Stadium in addition to an estimated TV audience of two billion people worldwide.
The most successful pop group of the 20 century; they changed popular culture forever. From their first studio contract in 1962 until 1970, the Beatles lineup consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. This famous lineup is also known as the "Fab Four" while many other musicians claimed the "Fifth Beatle" status. Those other musicians who performed with The Beatles on various gigs, tours, recordings, and on part-time basis were: singer Tony Sheridan, bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, guitarist Eric Clapton, drummers Pete Best, Andy White, Tommy Moore, Jimmy Nicol, and Neil Aspinall on harmonica and percussion, assistant and Hammond organ player Mal Evans, electric piano player Nicky Hopkins, and pianist Billy Preston, the only artist to receive joint credit on a Beatles record. The four Beatles sometimes referred to Brian Epstein as the fifth Beatle, albeit the label is now more often applied to George Martin, who produced nearly all the Beatles recordings, made arrangements and orchestrations, and played piano on several songs.
Both Ringo Starr and George Harrison were singled out for praise for their performances in the first Beatles movie, A Hard Day's Night (1964); manager (and former drama student) Brian Epstein predicted that Starr would turn out to have considerable acting ability. He did indeed begin a second career in movies as the Beatles broke up, while bandmate Harrison first befriended the Monty Python comedy troupe, then became a movie producer after he financed the Pythons' Life of Brian (1979). (John Lennon and Paul McCartney had briefer movie careers, with Lennon appearing in How I Won the War (1967) and McCartney making Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984).)
The Beatles stopped touring in 1966. To promote their new albums, they made "promos" - a predecessor of music videos. Individual members of The Beatles sometimes appeared on TV to give interviews. Their few live performances were for cameras, and invited audiences. Their 1969 rooftop show in London was for whoever could hear them, on the street below, and was their last-ever public performance.
Their initial 1962 recording contract with Parlophone Records in England (a division of EMI) was for a series of singles, at a minimal royalty rate. After "Please Please Me" became a hit, EMI gave them a full five-year contract for singles and albums, and better royalties. Brian Epstein negotiated a new contract for them in 1967 just before he died; with its basic terms fulfilled by late 1969, Allen Klein was able to renegotiate with EMI, and got the band the highest royalty rate ever paid to a recording artist or group up to that time - a whopping 69¢ per album. John Lennon had already effectively quit the Beatles, but agreed to keep mum about it until the deal was complete; Paul McCartney announced the debut of his first solo album a few months later. The official dissolution of The Beatles was final in 1975.
Their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show actually wasn't the first time the Beatles had been seen on American television. The CBS Evening News (hosted by Walter Cronkite) ran a story about their popularity in England, and a film clip of them performing aired on "The Jack Paar Program" (1962). Sullivan gave them their first live TV appearance in America, after personally contacting Cronkite to ask about them.
George Harrison nearly missed their first Ed Sullivan show, because he'd come down with the flu. He spent much of their rehearsal time sick in bed at the hotel, and only made the show after a doctor came to their suite with enough medications to get him through the performance. He was substituted by Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall during rehearsals. Ed Sullivan jokingly threatened to put on a Beatle wig himself and appear with the band, if Harrison wasn't able to perform.
Their infamous "butcher cover" for the "Yesterday and Today" album came about from the Beatles' disdain for photo sessions, and also the way Capitol Records in America tended to "butcher" their British LPs in repackaging. (Capitol's producers used to skim tracks off two or three albums, add a stereo mix of their newest single, and issue the results as their "latest album", ignoring the work the Beatles and producer George Martin had put into crafting the earlier ones.) Protests from fans, parents, and radio DJs over the cover design forced Capitol to change the photo - and soon after, they changed their issuing and packaging policies.
"Saturday Night Live" (1975) had a running joke in the 1970s, where producer Lorne Michaels would appear on camera, and invite the Beatles to reunite for one more set on the show, for the handsome sum of $3200 (later upped to $3500). The joke spoofed both the grandiose offers made by Sid Bernstein and other promoters to the Beatles to perform again through those years, and the relatively small budget SNL was given to bring on top musical acts. On one show night, John and Paul (who was visiting John in New York) happened to be watching, and joked about going down to the studio, just for a laugh. George Harrison did actually appear on another night; a mock argument happened on camera when he was told he couldn't collect the whole fee, since the offer was only for the whole band.
Three of the Beatles married their wives because they became pregnant: John (to Cynthia Lennon, mother of Julian Lennon) in 1962, Ringo (to Maureen Starkey, mother of Zak Starkey) in 1965, and Paul (to Linda McCartney, mother of Mary McCartney) in 1969. George Harrison was the only Beatle who had a child born out of wedlock, his son, Dhani Harrison, was born one month before he married second wife, Olivia Trinidad Arias, who became Olivia Harrison. George was previously married to Pattie Boyd from 1966 - 1977; they did not have children.
One of the reasons their 1968 "White Album" (whose formal title was simply "The Beatles") was a double album with thirty-three songs was because the band had misinterpreted their 1967 contract renewal. Since the deal with EMI was for a minimum of seventy recorded songs within nine years (either as a group or as solo artists), they sought to deliver those seventy recordings as early as possible, then look for another deal. Allen Klein, their manager, pointed out to the band that however early those songs were delivered, each member was still under exclusive contract to EMI until 1976. The fact that they had submitted the required number of songs (between the "White Album", "Abbey Road", the in-progress "Let It Be", recent singles, and solo projects) by the fall of 1969, however, gave them a bargaining chip for renegotiations.
Ranked #25 on VH1's 100 Sexiest Artists.
Ranked #1 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Rock & Roll.
At the time of writing (2008) they remain the only band to have won two Brit (British Phonographic Industry) Awards for their Outstanding Contribution to Music, in 1977 and in 1983. In addition, they are the only band which has had two members receive the Outstanding Contribution Award individually, John Lennon posthumously in 1982 and Paul McCartney in 2008.
Geoff Emerick, a principal recording engineer on The Beatles' classic "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (1967), estimates that the entire album took 700 hours to complete over a period of 129 days. First track to be recorded was "When I'm Sixty-Four" (December 6, 1966 at Abbey Road studio two).
When "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was released in 1967, it was the first album to feature printed lyrics of all songs on its sleeve.
The band's performance of their 1965 number one hit song "Ticket to Ride" on "Top of the Pops" (1964) was wiped by the BBC and the only footage of it that is known to still exist features in "Doctor Who: The Executioners (#2.30)" (1965).
The Beatles were best known from early on for their stage performances, but they came to dislike performing live, as their popularity increased. They were used to playing whatever music they chose, but had to stick to their own songs to promote record sales. What had been an hour-plus show was cut to 20-30 minutes, not allowing the band their usual interaction or showmanship. Their stage amplifiers were suited to nightclubs and theaters, not the stadiums or amphitheaters public demand required, and it was impossible for the Beatles to hear each other onstage - even without the nonstop screaming from the crowds. (In-house sound systems were rare, primitive, and also lacking in volume.) Higher-powered amplifiers were not yet available. The music suffered under these conditions, and sometimes became a pantomime, with Ringo Starr playing only every other beat, and the rest of the band trying to just start and end songs at the same time. The backstage atmosphere was usually a rowdy party scene, and lost its appeal over time. After the Beatles stopped touring in 1966, their few live performances were for cameras, and invited audiences. (Their 1969 rooftop show was for whoever could hear them, on the street below, and was their last-ever public performance.).
Even though their 1966 "Revolver" album came out while they were on tour, the Beatles performed no songs from it onstage, and mostly stuck to their 1965 set list. Not all the big shows were sold out, partly from the remaining controversy over John Lennon's "more popular than Jesus" remarks. The band played their last show on August 29, 1966 in Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California. The band had already decided not to tour again.
The Beatles resolved not to visit America to perform until they had a #1 hit single there. They had seen many popular British stars, like Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard, have little success in the American market, and did not want to follow suit. After "I Want To Hold Your Hand" topped the American charts, the band gave the nod to appearing in the States.
John Lennon was asked by a news reporter in 1964 "How long do you think the Beatles will last?" Lennon answered "About five years." The Beatles began to break up in 1969.
The recording "Eight Days a Week" (1964)) commenced with a fade-in - a first in pop music - when most contemporary recordings concluded with the commonplace fade-out.
The landmark recording "Yesterday" (1965) featured Paul McCartney on vocals and acoustic guitar accompanied by a string quartet. McCartney agreed to the strings only on condition that the players not use vibrato, a finger-jiggling technique usually applied to the strings of bowed instruments.
"I Feel Fine" (1964), according to John Lennon, featured the first intentional use of guitar feedback on a pop song. This is heard at the very beginning of the track.
Female backing vocals (Yoko Ono and Linda Eastman) can clearly be heard on "Birthday" from The Beatles "White Album" in 1968.
After years of legal disputes, The Beatles' music finally becomes available for the first time on iTunes, America's largest purveyor of online music after just 10 years in business. First day of sales saw single "Here Comes the Sun" and album "Abbey Road" racking up the most sales for the launch of the band's vast music library. [16 November 2010]
'The Beatles' (gv)' album "The Beatles (The White Album)" (1968) contains the longest recording in the band's entire repertoire: "Revolution 9" (8:22). Their subsequent album "Abbey Road" (1969) contains the shortest: "Her Majesty" (0:23).
(2006) Release of the book, 'The Beatles: Unseen Archives" by Tim Hill and Marie Clayton.
(2005) Release of the book, "The Beatles: The Biography" by Bob Spitz.
(2007) Release of the book, "Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America" by Jonathan Gould.
|You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.|
|With our Resume service you can add photos and build a complete resume to help you achieve the best possible presentation on the IMDb.|
Click here to add your resume and/or your photos to IMDb.