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  1. Abbey Road (album)
  2. Abbey Road Studios
  3. Across the Universe
  4. A Day in the Life
  5. A Hard Day's Night (film)
  6. A Hard Day's Night (song)
  7. All My Loving
  8. All You Need is Love
  9. And I Love Her
  10. Apple Corps
  11. Apple Records
  12. The Ballad of John and Yoko
  13. Beatlemania
  14. The Beatles
  15. The Beatles Anthology
  16. The Beatles Bootlegs
  17. The Beatles' influence on popular culture
  18. The Beatles line-ups
  19. The Beatles' London
  20. The Beatles Trivia
  21. Blackbird
  22. Brian Epstein
  23. British Invasion
  24. Can't Buy Me Love
  25. Come Together
  26. Day Tripper
  27. Don't Let Me Down
  28. Eight Days a Week
  29. Eleanor Rigby
  30. Fifth Beatle
  31. For No One
  32. Free as a bird
  33. From Me to You
  34. George Harrison
  35. George Martin
  36. Get Back
  37. Girl
  38. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
  39. Hello Goodbye
  40. Help! (album)
  41. Help! (film)
  42. Help
  43. Here Comes the Sun
  44. Here, There and Everywhere
  45. Hey Jude
  46. I Am the Walrus
  47. I Feel Fine
  48. I Wanna Be Your Man
  49. I Want to Hold Your Hand
  50. John Lennon
  51. Lady Madonna
  52. Lennon-McCartney
  53. Let it be
  54. Let It Be (album)
  55. Let It Be (film)
  56. Love me do
  57. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
  58. Magical Mystery Tour (album)
  59. Magical Mystery Tour (film)
  60. Michelle
  61. Northern Songs
  62. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  63. Nowhere man
  64. Paperback Writer
  65. Paul McCartney
  66. Penny Lane
  67. Phil Spector
  68. Please Please Me
  69. The Quarrymen
  70. Real Love
  71. Revolution
  72. Revolver (album)
  73. Ringo Starr
  74. Rubber Soul (album)
  75. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  76. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (song)
  77. She Loves You
  78. Something
  79. Strawberry Fields Forever
  80. Taxman
  81. The Beatles discography
  82. The Fool on the Hill
  83. The Long and Winding Road
  84. The White Album
  85. Ticket to Ride
  86. Twist and Shout
  87. We Can Work It Out
  88. When I'm Sixty-Four
  89. With A Little Help From My Friends
  90. Yellow Submarine
  91. Yellow Submarine (album)
  92. Yellow Submarine (film)
  93. Yesterday
  94. Yoko Ono


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The Beatles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(Redirected from Beatles)

The Beatles, an English musical group from Liverpool, are the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful popular music artists in history.[1][2] They continue to be held in the highest esteem for their artistic achievements, their huge commercial success, their groundbreaking role in the history of popular music, and their contributions to popular culture. Although their initial musical style was rooted in the sounds of 1950s Rock & Roll, the group explored a great variety of genres, ranging from Tin Pan Alley to psychedelic rock. The innovative music and style of John Lennon (1940–1980), Paul McCartney (1942—), George Harrison (1943–2001), and Ringo Starr (1940—) helped to define the 1960s.

The Beatles were the best-selling popular musical act of the 20th century. In the United Kingdom alone, they released more than 40 different singles, albums and EPs that reached number one. This commercial success was repeated in many other countries: EMI estimated that by 1985, the band had sold over one billion discs or tapes worldwide.[3] The RIAA has certified The Beatles as the top selling artists of all time in America based on US sales of singles and albums.[4]

The Beatles were a major force behind the so-called "British Invasion" of UK-based popular bands in the United States in the mid-1960s and they helped to pioneer more advanced, multi-layered arrangements in pop music. The Beatles' impact extended well beyond their music. Their clothes, hairstyles, and statements made them trend-setters from the 1960s to this day, while their growing social awareness – reflected in the development of their music – saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.


John Lennon, vocals and rhythm guitar
John Lennon, vocals and rhythm guitar

Formation and early years

In March of 1957, John Lennon formed a skiffle group called The Quarrymen (fleetingly known as The Blackjacks[5]). On 6 July of that year, Lennon met Paul McCartney while playing at the Woolton Parish Church Fete. On 6 February 1958, the young guitarist George Harrison was invited to watch the group (then playing under a variety of names) perform at Wilson Hall, Garston, Liverpool[6] and he was soon a regular player. Paul had become acquainted with George (a year younger) at school, the Liverpool Institute and on the morning school bus-ride; they had also grown up in a common neighbourhood (Speke). A few primitive recordings of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison from that era have survived. During this period, members continually joined and left the lineup; Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison emerged as the only constant members.

The Quarrymen went through a progression of names -- Johnny and The Moondogs, Long John and The Beatles, The Silver Beetles (derived from Larry Williams's suggestion "Long John and the Silver Beetles"), The Beat Brothers -- and eventually decided on "The Beatles". There are many theories as to the origin of the name and its unusual spelling; it is usually credited to John Lennon, who said that the name was a combination word-play on the insects "beetles" (as a nod/compliment to Buddy Holly's band The Crickets) and the word "beat"[7] He also later said that it was a joke, meaning a pun on "Beat-less". In her book John, Cynthia Lennon suggests that John came up with the name Beatles at a "...brainstorming session over a beer soaked table in the Renshaw Hall bar...". In addition to being a fan of the Crickets, Lennon is paraphrased as having said: "If you turn it round it was 'les beat', which sounded French and cool."[8] Lennon, who became famous for giving multiple versions of the same story, also joked in a tongue-in-cheek 1961 article in Mersey Beat magazine 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'."[9] (This story was later the inspiration for the title of one of McCartney's solo albums, Flaming Pie.)

In May of 1960, The Beatles were hired to tour the north-east of Scotland as a back-up band with singer Johnny Gentle[10], who was signed to the Larry Parnes agency. They met Gentle an hour before their first gig, and McCartney referred to that short tour as a great experience for the band. For this tour the chronically drummerless group secured the services of Tommy Moore, who was considerably older than the others.[11] The band's van (driven by Gentle) had a head-on crash with another vehicle on their way back from Scotland; Moore lost some teeth and had stitches after being hit in the mouth by a guitar. Nobody else was seriously injured. (Shortly afterward, feeling the age gap was too great and following a girlfriend's advice, Moore left the band and went back to work in a bottling factory as a fork-lift truck driver.)[12]


Paul McCartney, vocals and bass guitar
Paul McCartney, vocals and bass guitar

Norman Chapman was their next drummer, but only for a few weeks, as he was called up for National Service. This was a real problem as their unofficial manager, Allan Williams, had arranged for them to perform in clubs on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany. (Paul McCartney has often said that if any of The Beatles had been individually called-up for National Service –– had it been extended for just a few more weeks –– the band would never have come into existence, because of the different ages of the key members.[13])

In August of 1960, McCartney invited Pete Best to become the group's drummer after watching Best playing with The Blackjacks [14] in the Casbah Club. This was a cellar club operated by Best's mother Mona, in Hayman's Green, Liverpool, where The Beatles had played and often used to visit[15].

They started in Hamburg by playing in the Indra and Kaiserkeller bars. They were told to play six or seven hours a night, seven nights a week. They went back a second time and played the Top Ten club for three months (April until June, 1961.) While they were playing at the Top Ten they were recruited by singer Tony Sheridan to act as his backing band on a series of recordings for the German Polydor Records label, produced by famed bandleader Bert Kaempfert. Kaempfert signed the group to its own Polydor contract at the first session in June 1961. On 23 October Polydor released the recording "My Bonnie (Mein Herz ist bei dir nur)", which made it into the German charts under the name "Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers".

Their third trip to Hamburg was when they opened The Star Club (April, 1962) and were there for two months.

Upon their return from Hamburg, the group was enthusiastically promoted by Sam Leach, who presented them for the next year and a half on various stages in Liverpool forty-nine times[16]. Brian Epstein, manager of the record department at NEMS, his family's furniture store, took over as the group's manager in 1962 and led The Beatles' quest for a British recording contract. In one now-famous exchange, an executive at Decca Records turned Epstein down flat and informed him that "Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein."[17]

Record contract

George Harrison, lead guitar and vocals
George Harrison, lead guitar and vocals

Epstein eventually met with producer George Martin of EMI's Parlophone label. Martin expressed an interest in hearing the band in the studio; he invited the quartet to London's Abbey Road studios for an audition on 6 June. Martin had not been particularly impressed by the band's demo recordings, 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 that day was their wit and humour in the studio. They were very likeable, and slightly cheeky, young men. When he asked them if there was anything they did not like, Harrison replied, "I don't like your tie". The remark typified the slightly surreal blend of wry humour and irreverence towards authority that eventually became the band's in-joke with a global audience. That day, however, their audience was a single person: a detail orientated, slightly stuffy looking Parlophone executive who had never worked with a rock 'n' roll band before. Fortunately for the band, Martin, whose background was in comedy and novelty records, appreciated the joke. He offered the band a contract.[12]

Martin did have a problem with Pete Best, whom he criticised for not being able to keep time. He privately suggested to Brian Epstein that the band use another drummer in the studio. Best had some popularity and was considered good-looking by many fans, but the three founding members had become increasingly unhappy with his popularity and his personality, and Epstein had become exasperated with his refusal to adopt the distinctive hairstyle as part of their unified look. Epstein sacked Best on 16 August 1962. They immediately asked Ringo Starr (real name: Richard Starkey), the drummer for one of the top Merseybeat groups Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, to join the band. The Beatles had met and performed with Starr previously in Hamburg. (In fact the first recordings of John, Paul, George and Ringo together were as early as 15 October 1960, in a series of demonstration records privately recorded in Hamburg as backing group for singer Lu Walters.) 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.

Their recording contract –– in common with how shabbily new artists were treated in that era –– paid them only one penny for every single sold, which was split among the four Beatles. This amounted to one farthing per group member. This royalty rate was further reduced for overseas sales, on which they received half of one penny (split between the whole band) for singles sales outside of the UK. George Martin said later that it was a "pretty awful" contract.[18] Their publishing contract with Dick James Music (DJM) was also standard for the time; each writer received the statutory minimum of 50% of the gross monies received, with the publisher retaining the other 50%.

The Beatles' first EMI session on 6 June did not yield any releasable recordings but the September sessions produced a minor UK hit, "Love Me Do", which peaked on the charts at number 17. ("Love Me Do" reached the top of the U.S. singles chart over 18 months later in May 1964.) This was swiftly followed by their second single "Please Please Me". Three months later they recorded their first album (also titled Please Please Me). The band's first televised performance was on a program called People and Places transmitted live from Manchester by Granada Television on 17 October 1962.


Ringo Starr, drums and vocals
Ringo Starr, drums and vocals

Although the band experienced huge popularity in the record charts in the UK from early 1963, Parlophone's American counterpart, Capitol Records (owned by EMI), refused to issue the singles "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me" and "From Me to You"[19] in the United States, partly because no British act had ever yet had a sustained commercial impact on American audiences.

Vee-Jay Records, a small Chicago label, is said by some to have been pressured into issuing these singles as part of a deal for the rights to another performer's masters. Art Roberts, music director of Chicago powerhouse radio station WLS, placed "Please Please Me" into radio rotation in late February 1963, making it possibly the first time a Beatles record was heard on American radio. Vee-Jay's rights to The Beatles were cancelled for non-payment of royalties.[20]

After The Beatles' huge success in 1964, Vee-Jay Records and Swan Records took advantage of their previously secured rights to The Beatles' early recordings and reissued the songs that they had rights to, which all reached the top ten of the charts the second time around. (Atco and Decca also secured rights to The Beatles' early Tony Sheridan-era recordings and had minor hits with "My Bonnie" and "Ain't She Sweet".) Vee-Jay ended up issuing some odd LP repackagings of the limited Beatles' material they had: as well as Introducing... The Beatles, which was essentally The Beatles' debut British album with some minor alterations, Vee-Jay also issued an unusual LP called The Beatles Vs The Four Seasons which put together songs from The Beatles and 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 mixed interviews with the same early Beatles' material. It has been claimed that both Vee-Jay and Swan attempted legal fights with Capitol/EMI to secure full American contractual rights to The Beatles, which may have contributed to the eventual demise of both labels. It has also been said this fight to secure The Beatles took attention away from each label's most successful artists, The Four Seasons (Vee-Jay) and Freddy Cannon (Swan), who decided to move to more-established labels. The Vee-Jay/Swan-issued recordings eventually ended up with Capitol, who promptly issued them on the American-only Capitol release The Early Beatles. Many of the early Vee-Jay and Swan Beatles' records command a high price on the record collectors' market.)

In August 1963, the Philadelphia-based Swan label tried again with The Beatles' "She Loves You", which also failed to receive airplay. A testing of the song on Dick Clark's TV show American Bandstand resulted only in laughter and scorn from American teenagers when they saw the group's Beatle haircuts. The famous radio DJ, Murray the K (Kaufman) featured "She Loves You" on his 1010 WINS record revue in October, to an underwhelming response.


The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show
The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show

In November 1963, The Beatles appeared on the Royal Variety Performance and were photographed with Marlene Dietrich who also appeared on the show. In early November 1963, Brian Epstein persuaded Ed Sullivan to commit to presenting 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",[21] but a series of unplanned circumstances triggered premature airplay of an imported copy of the single on a Washington DC radio station in mid-December. Capitol brought forward release of the record to December 26, 1963.

Several New York radio stations — first WMCA, then WINS and WABC — began playing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on its release day, and the Beatlemania 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 January 16, Cashbox Magazine had certified The Beatles record number one (in the edition published with the cover-date January 23).

This contributed to the hysterical fan reaction at JFK Airport on February 7, 1964. A record-breaking seventy-three million viewers — approximately 40% of the U.S. population at the time — tuned in to the first Sullivan appearance on February 9. During the week of April 4, The Beatles held the top five places on the Billboard Hot 100 (see The Beatles record sales, worldwide charts) - a feat that has never been repeated. They had an additional 7 songs at lower positions: 12% of the chart consisted of Beatles songs.[citation needed]

In the summer of 1964 the band undertook their first appearances outside of Europe and North America, touring Australia and New Zealand (notably without Ringo Starr who was ill and was temporarily replaced by session drummer Jimmy Nicol). When they arrived in Adelaide, The Beatles were greeted by what is reputed to be the largest crowd of their touring career, when over 300,000 people — about one-third of the population of the city — turned out to see them. In September that year baseball owner Charles O. Finley paid the band the then unheard of sum of $150,000 to play in Kansas City, Missouri.

In 1965 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon them the MBE, a civil honour nominated by Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The award, at that time primarily given to military veterans and civic leaders, sparked some conservative MBE recipients to return their awards in protest, which was widely reported in the British press and was even the lead item on the BBC television news. The first two were returned on June 14, before The Beatles received theirs on October 26 1965.[22]

On August 15 that year, The Beatles performed the first stadium concert in the history of rock, playing at Shea Stadium in New York to a crowd of 55,600.[23] The band later admitted that they had been largely unable to hear themselves play or sing, due to the screaming and cheering. This concert is generally considered the point at which began their disenchantment with performing live.

Backlash and controversy

John Lennon, 1969
John Lennon, 1969

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. 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. The group soon found that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to accepting "no" for an answer. After the snubbing was widely broadcast on Philippine television and radio, all The Beatles' police protection disappeared. The group and their entourage had to make their way to Manila airport on their own, with the authorities throwing up every road block they could to harass them as much as possible. At the airport, roadie Mal Evans was beaten and kicked, and The Beatles themselves were pushed and jostled about by a hostile crowd. Once the group boarded the plane, Epstein and Evans were ordered off, and Evans said, "Tell my wife that I love her..." (showing how seriously he thought the danger was of them both being shot). 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 (Anthology).

Almost as soon as they returned from the Philippines, an earlier comment by John back in March of that year launched a backlash against The Beatles from religious and social conservatives in the Bible Belt of the US. In an interview with British reporter Maureen Cleave Lennon had offered his opinion that Christianity was dying and that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now."[24] In many cities and towns across the United States (primarily in the South) and in South Africa, people banned and burned Beatles records. However, The Beatles observed wryly, "Hey, they've gotta buy 'em before they can burn 'em."[citation needed] Under tremendous pressure from American media, Lennon apologised for his remarks at a press conference in Chicago on August 11, the eve of the first performance of what turned out to be their final tour.

The studio years

The Beatles performed their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on 29 August 1966. Tony Barrow was asked to film the event, but it was a 30-minute film and it cut halfway through the last song. The concert lasted for only 35 minutes.

From then on, they concentrated on recording music. After three months away from each other, they returned to Abbey Road Studios on November 24, 1966, to begin their 129-day recording period in making their eighth album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released on June 1, 1967.

On 25 June 1967, The Beatles became the first band globally transmitted on television, in front of an estimated 400 million people worldwide. The band appeared in a segment within the first-ever worldwide TV satellite hook-up –– a show entitled 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.

Soon after the triumphs of the Sergeant Pepper album and the global broadcast, The Beatles' situation worsened. First, their manager Brian Epstein died of a drug overdose on 27 August 1967, at the age of 32, and the band's business affairs began to unravel. Next, at the end of 1967, they received their first major negative press criticism in the UK with disparaging reviews of their surrealistic TV film Magical Mystery Tour.[25] The film was also panned by the public. Part of the public's difficulty lay in the fact that colour was an integral part of the film but in December 1967 very few viewers had colour receivers (the colour service having only started in July) and repeatedly featured themes of angst, loneliness, and excessive whining [much of which the public criticized as being too trivial for any real sympathy]. 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 group spent the early part of 1968 in Rishikesh, Uttar Pradesh, India, studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Upon their return, Lennon and McCartney took a trip to New York to announce the formation of Apple Corps, initially an altruistic business venture which they described as an attempt at "western communism." The middle part of 1968 saw the band busy recording the double album The Beatles, popularly known as The White Album due to its stark white cover. These sessions saw deep divisions opening within the band.

George Harrison, 1968.
George Harrison, 1968.

McCartney gradually took greater charge of the group's production, growing dominant in that role. Internal divisions within the band had been a small but growing problem during their earlier career; most notably, this was reflected in the difficulty that George Harrison experienced in getting his own songs onto Beatles' albums, and in the growing artistic and personal estrangement between Lennon and McCartney.

On the business side McCartney wanted Lee Eastman – the father of his wife Linda Eastman – to manage The Beatles, but the remaining Beatles wanted New York manager Allen Klein to represent them. All Beatles decisions in the past were unanimous but this time the four could not unanimously agree on a manager. Lennon, Harrison and Starr felt the Eastmans would look after McCartney's well-being before that of the group. Paul was quoted years later during the Anthology interviews, saying that "Looking back, I can understand why they would feel that was biased against them."

Their final live performance was on the rooftop of the Apple building in Savile Row, London on 30 January 1969, the next-to-last day of the difficult Get Back sessions. Largely due to McCartney's efforts, they recorded their final album, Abbey Road in summer 1969. Rowan Ayers launched the album on his show Late Night Line Up on 26 September 1969. Rowan recalls, "we had a boozy lunch at Apple Studios and they showed me their latest album."


Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group in mid-September 1969 but was talked out of saying anything publicly. 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 signature "Wall of Sound" production was in direct opposition to the original intent of the record, which had been to record a stripped-down live studio performance. McCartney was deeply dissatisfied with Spector's treatment of some songs, particularly "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 of which included a press-release with a self-written interview explaining the end of The Beatles and his hopes about the future. 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 legally dissolved after McCartney filed a lawsuit on 31 December 1970.

After the break-up

Ringo Starr, 1968
Ringo Starr, 1968

Following the dissolution of the group, all four Beatles released solo albums in the early 1970s, including Lennon's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970), McCartney's Ram (1971) and Harrison's All Things Must Pass (1970). 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.

In 1971, it was discovered that Allen Klein had stolen £5m from The Beatles holdings, and, in 1973, Lennon admitted to McCartney that they should have gone with the Eastmans' management. This helped to mend the personal relationship between the two, although not entirely.[citation needed]

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

Collage of the various covers of the Anthology series
Collage of the various covers of the Anthology series

In February 1994, the then-three surviving Beatles reunited to produce and record additional music for a few of Lennon's old unfinished demos. "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 Voorman, who had known The Beatles since their Hamburg days and had previously illustrated the Revolver album cover, directed the Anthology cover concept.

The Beatles still remain enormously popular. 450,000 copies of Anthology 1 were sold on its first day of release, reaching the highest volume of single-day sales ever for an album.[citation needed] In 2000, a compilation album named 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 and more than 12 million in three weeks worldwide, becoming the fastest-selling album of all time and the biggest-selling album of the year 2000.[citation needed] The collection also reached number one in the United States and 33 other countries.

Musical evolution

The Beatles were fans of almost every kind of music that they heard on the radio, or heard on imported records from America.[citation needed] These early records were not officially imported to the UK, but were taken to Liverpool by sailors who had bought them in America.[citation needed] Early influences included Buddy Holly,[citation needed] Elvis Presley,[citation needed] Lonnie Donegan,[citation needed] ragtime,[citation needed] and English music hall.[citation needed]

Their constant demands to create new sounds on every new recording,[citation needed] and the imaginative[citation needed] – and ground-breaking[citation needed] – studio expertise of EMI staff engineers, including Norman Smith, Ken Townshend and Geoff Emerick all played significant parts[citation needed] in the innovative sounds of the albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). (In 1973, Smith had a hit as a singer under the performing name Hurricane Smith with "Oh Babe, What Would You Say". The role of producer George Martin is often cited[citation needed] as a crucial element in their success. He used his experience to bring out the potential in the group, recognising and nurturing their creativity rather than imposing his views. After The Beatles stopped touring, they increasingly came under pressure, and it was decided for the group to vent their artistic energy solely into recording.[citation needed] They had already shown a clear trend towards progressively greater complexity in technique and style[citation needed] but this accelerated noticeably on their Revolver album.[citation needed] The subject matter of their post-touring songs branched out as well, as a diverse range of subjects were written about.[citation needed]

The Beatles also continued to absorb influences throughout their career - long after their initial success - often finding new musical and lyrical avenues to explore from listening to the work of some of their contemporaries. Among those influences were Bob Dylan, on songs such as "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"[citation needed] (Help!) and "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" (Rubber Soul).[1] Dylan introduced The Beatles to marijuana (1964) in a New York hotel room when he offered the Fab Four pot as a consequence of his misconception that the lyrics in their hit song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (Meet the Beatles!) were "I get high" instead of "I can't hide".[citation needed] This initial partaking in drugs grew into heavier experimentation with LSD and various other substances whose psychedelic effects were commonly thought to have manifested themselves in the band's music.[citation needed] The Beatles, in turn, would influence Dylan's move into an electrified rock sound in his music.[citation needed]

In 1965, having recently become interested in Indian music, George Harrison purchased a sitar,[citation needed] which he played on the song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)", the first instance of such an instrument being used on a rock record.[citation needed] He later took sitar lessons from maestro Ravi Shankar,[citation needed] and implemented further elements of Eastern music and spirituality into his songs, notably[citation needed] "Love You To" and "Within You Without You". These musical decisions greatly increased the influence of Indian music on popular culture in the late 1960s.[citation needed]

Along with studio tricks such as sound effects, unconventional microphone placements, automatic double tracking and vari-speed recording, The Beatles began to augment their recordings with instruments that were unconventional for rock music at the time, including string and brass ensembles, Indian instruments such as the sitar and the swarmandel, tape loops, and early electronic instruments including the Mellotron, which was used with flute voices on the intro to "Strawberry Fields Forever".[citation needed] McCartney once asked Martin what a guitar would sound like if it was played underwater,[citation needed] and was serious about trying it.[citation needed] Lennon also wondered what his vocals would sound like if he was hanging upside down from the ceiling.[citation needed] Clearly their ideas were out-stripping the technology that was available at the time.[citation needed]

The Abbey Road album cover
The Abbey Road album cover

Lennon is portrayed as having played the major role in steering The Beatles towards psychedelia[citation needed] ("Rain" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" from 1966, and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am the Walrus" from 1967), but McCartney was also influential,[citation needed] being involved in the London avant garde scene, which was itself moving towards psychedelia during the same period.

Moreover, with his customary humorous irreverence, Lennon once quipped: "Avant-garde is French for bullshit."[26]

McCartney, who still lived in London, would often tell Lennon about any new 'happening' or 'movement',[citation needed] and Lennon was always keen to hear about it, and sometimes to endorse it.[citation needed] They created many of the tape loops used on the song "Tomorrow Never Knows" and experimented with musique concrete techniques and electronic instruments, as well as creating many experimental audio-visual works.

While most recording artists of the time were using two, three or four tracks in the studio, The Beatles had to use linked pairs of four-track decks, and ping-ponging tracks two, and even three times, became common.[citation needed]

EMI delayed the introduction of eight-track recording – already becoming common in American studios - until 1968, when American studios were already upgrading to 16-tracks. EMI were loath to spend any money on new equipment – even though The Beatles were earning vast amounts – and so Abbey Road was always (technically) one step behind every other studio.

Beginning with the use of a string quartet (arranged by George Martin) 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). Lennon and McCartney's interest in the music of Bach led them to use a piccolo trumpet on the arrangement of "Penny Lane" and a Mellotron at the start of "Strawberry Fields Forever".

The extreme complexity of Sgt. Pepper reached its height on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album,[citation needed] parts of which (for example, "It's All Too Much" and "Only a Northern Song") were left over from 1967, and were used because The Beatles themselves were disinterested in the animated film as a project.[citation needed]

Lennon and McCartney renewed their interest in rootsy forms towards the close of The Beatles' career - for example, "Yer Blues" and "Birthday" in 1968, and "Don't Let Me Down" in 1969.


Main article: The Beatles' influence on popular culture

The Beatles' influence on rock music and popular culture was—and remains—immense. Their commercial success started an almost immediate wave of changes—including a move from U.S. global dominance of rock and roll to UK acts, from soloists to groups, from professional songwriters to self-penned songs and to changes in fashion.


  • Rickenbacker, Gretsch, Epiphone, Gibson, and Fender guitars
  • Ludwig drums
  • Steinway, and Blüthner pianos
  • Höfner, Fender and Rickenbacker basses
  • Hammond, Vox and Lowrey electric organs
  • Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and Hohner Pianet electric pianos
  • Moog Modular synthesizer


A Neumann U87
A Neumann U87

Although microphone usage varied somewhat according to the requirements of each song, the group's recordings at Abbey Road most often employed Neumann U47 or U67 microphones for electric guitars and one or more Neumann U48s for vocals. Early in their recording career the drums usually were recorded with only two microphones: one overhead (an AKG D19 or STC 4038) and one for the bass drum (such as an AKG D20). Later, more microphones were used on the drums.

With the group's encouragement, recording engineer Geoff Emerick experimented with microphone placement and equalization. Many of his techniques were unusual for the time but have since become commonplace, such as "close miking" (physically placing the microphone in very close proximity of a sound source) of acoustic instruments or deliberately overloading the signal to produce distortion. For example, he obtained the biting string sound that characterizes "Eleanor Rigby" by miking the instruments extremely closely -- Emerick has related that the string players would instinctively back away from the microphones at the start of each take, and he would go back into the studio and move the microphones closer again.[27]

The AKG C28 is visible in the Let It Be film. Available studio documentation and interviews with their former recording engineers indicate that this microphone was not used for recording in the studio.[28]


Main article: The Beatles discography
Further information: List of Beatles songs by singer,  The Beatles record sales, worldwide charts, and The Beatles bootlegs

Studio albums

The original studio albums by The Beatles in their home market (the UK) are as follows:

Official CD catalogue

In 1987, EMI released The Beatles' original albums on CD. To allow the catalogue to be truly complete, EMI released an American-compiled album on CD in 1987 and two compilation CDs in 1988:

According to EMI and the Guinness Book of Records, The Beatles have sold in excess of 1,010,000,000 units (including cassettes, records, CDs, bootlegs). The only other artist to come close is Elvis Presley, with a similar number.

Song catalogue

Main article: Northern Songs

In 1963 John Lennon and Paul McCartney agreed to assign their song publishing rights to Northern Songs, a company created by music publisher Dick James in conjunction with Brian Epstein. 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 while 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), in which Lennon and McCartney received stock.

In 1985, after a short duration 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. (McCartney, who had two hit duets with Jackson, "The Girl Is Mine" and "Say Say Say", later told Rolling Stone that while he and Jackson were working together on the video for "Say, Say, Say", he told Jackson that there was money to be made in owning song publishing, referring to his ownership of the Buddy Holly song catalog, and Jackson reportedly told McCartney, "One day I'm going to buy your songs." The purchase later caused a rift between McCartney and Jackson.) A decade later Jackson and Sony merged their music publishing businesses. Since 1995, Jackson and Sony/ATV Music Publishing have jointly owned most of the Lennon-McCartney songs recorded by The Beatles. Sony later reported that Jackson had used his share of their co-owned Beatles' catalogue as collateral for a loan from the music company. 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.)

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 & 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, his own company 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".

Number One Singles

Song samples

The following samples are organized as per the year the song was originally released.



  • "Help!" 
  • "Yesterday" 
  • "Drive My Car" 
  • "Nowhere Man" 
  • "In My Life" 



  • "Taxman" 
  • "Eleanor Rigby" 
  • "I'm Only Sleeping" 
  • "Got to Get You into My Life" 



  • "Strawberry Fields Forever" 
  • "Penny Lane" 
  • "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" 
  • "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" 
  • "When I'm Sixty-Four" 
  • "A Day in the Life" 
  • "Magical Mystery Tour" 
  • "I Am the Walrus" 



  • "Blackbird" 
  • "Mother Nature's Son" 
  • "Helter Skelter" 
  • "Revolution 1" 



  • "Come Together" 
  • "Something" 
  • "Here Comes the Sun" 
  • "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" 

On film

The Beatles appeared in several films, most of which were very well received. The exception was the (mostly unscripted) television movie Magical Mystery Tour which was panned by critics and the public alike. All of their films had the same name as their associated soundtrack albums and a song on that album.

A Hard Day's Night

A Hard Day's Night poster
A Hard Day's Night poster

The Beatles had a successful film career, beginning with A Hard Day's Night (1964), a loosely scripted comic farce, sometimes compared to the Marx Brothers in style. It focused on Beatlemania, their hectic touring lifestyle and the black eyeliner they constantly wore, and was directed in a quasi-documentary style in black-and-white by the up-and-coming Richard Lester, who was known for having directed a television version of the successful BBC radio series The Goon Show as well as the off-beat short film The Running, Jumping and Standing Still Film, with Spike Milligan.


In 1965 came Help!; an Eastmancolour extravaganza, which was also directed by Lester and also featured black eyeliner, and was shot in exotic locations (such as Salisbury Plain, with Stonehenge visible in the background; the Bahamas; and Salzburg and the Tyrol region of the Austrian Alps) in the style of a James Bond spoof along with even more Marx Brothers-style zaniness: For example, the film is dedicated "to Elias Howe, who, in 1846, invented the sewing machine."

In 1966 Lennon took time off to play a supporting character in the film called How I Won the War, again directed by Lester. It was a satire of World War II films, and its dry, ironic British humour was not well received by American audiences.

Magical Mystery Tour

The Magical Mystery Tour film was essentially McCartney's idea, which was thought up as he returned from a trip to the US in the late spring of 1967, and was loosely inspired by press coverage McCartney had read about Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters' LSD-fuelled American bus odyssey.[citation needed] McCartney felt inspired to take this idea and blend it with the peculiarly English working class tradition of charabanc mystery tours, in which children took chaperoned bus rides through the English countryside, destination unknown. The film was critically dismissed when it was aired on the BBC's premier television network, BBC-1, on Boxing Day — a day primarily for traditional "cosy, family entertainment". The film appeared radically avant-garde by those standards, and instead of showcasing the lovable black eyeliner they had donned up until then, it portrayed them as sensitive superheroes replete with dyed black hair, which was at odds with the British establishment of that era.[citation needed] Compounding this culture clash was the fact that BBC-1, at that time, only transmitted programmes in black-and-white, while Magical Mystery Tour was in colour. The film was repeated a few days later on the BBC's second channel (BBC-2) in colour, receiving somewhat more appreciation than its initial reception.

Yellow Submarine

The animated Yellow Submarine followed in 1968, but had little direct input from The Beatles, save for a live-action epilogue and the contribution of four new songs (including "Only a Northern Song", an unreleased track from the Sgt. Pepper sessions). It was acclaimed for its boldly innovative graphic style and especially stinging pangs of heartbreak, along with the soundtrack. The Beatles are said to have been pleased with the result and attended its highly publicised London premiere, every one of The Beatles thought their own voices (narrated by actors) were not quite right, whilst saying that the other three were perfect.

In 1969, Ringo Starr took second billing to Peter Sellers in the satirical comedy The Magic Christian; in a part which had been written especially for him. Starr later embarked on an irregular career in comedy films through the early 1980s, and his interest in the subject led him to be the most active of the group in the film division of Apple Corps, although it was Harrison who would achieve the most success as a film producer.

Let It Be

The rooftop concert
The rooftop concert

Let It Be was an ill-fated documentary of the band that was shot over a four-week period in January 1969. The documentary — which was originally intended to be simply a chronicle of the evolution of an album and the band's possible return to live performances — captured the prevailing tensions between the band members, and in this respect it unwittingly became a document of the beginning of their break-up.

The band initially rejected both the film and the album - instead recording and issuing the Abbey Road album. But with so much money having been spent on the project, it was decided to finish, and release, the film and album (the latter with considerable post-production by Phil Spector) in the spring of 1970. When the film finally appeared, it was after the break-up had been announced.

Unlike the other Beatles films, Let It Be is not currently available to buy on DVD or any other media.


Approximately conciding with the release of the "Free as a Bird" single and Anthology 1 album (the first of three double-CD albums), The Beatles Anthology series of documentaries was broadcast on television in 1995. The series, which was made over five years of planning and production (1,760 minutes),[citation needed] collected together numerous film clips and interviews to present a complete history of the band from The Beatles' own personal perspectives. The series was later released on VHS, laserdisc and as a boxed set of five DVDs.


  1. ^ AMG biography
  2. ^ Rolling Stone biography
  3. ^ Biggest All-Time Sales For a Band. Guinness World Records. Retrieved on January 25, 2006.
  4. ^ Best Sellers: Gold & Platinum Top Artists. Updated July 31, 2006. Retrieved on September 16, 2006.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Ray O'Brien, There are Places I'll Remember, 2001
  7. ^ Record Music: Beatles.
  8. ^ Lennon, Cynthia (2005). John. Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.
  9. ^ Davies, Hunter. The Beatles (1981 edition). pp. 119
  10. ^ Coleman, Ray (1984). Lennon: The Definitive Biography. Pan Books. 212.
  11. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (1992). The Complete Beatles Chronicle. Chancellor Press. ISBN 1851529756.
  12. ^ a b Coleman, Ray (1984). Lennon: The Definitive Biography. Pan Books. 213.
  13. ^ McCartney, Paul (October 1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now. Secker & Warburg, 576. 0436280221..
  14. ^ From Blackjacks to Beatles: How the Fab Four Evolved. Retrieved on 2006-06-21.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ The Beatles Biography.
  18. ^ "Beatles History -- 1962" at Beatles Discography.
  19. ^ JPGR.
  20. ^ The Beatles on Vee Jay Records. Retrieved on August 19, 2006.
  21. ^ JPGR.
  22. ^ Napier Chronicles.
  23. ^ Badman, Keith (2000). The Beatles Off The Record. London: Omnibus Press. 193. ISBN 0711979855.
  24. ^ Cleave, Maureen (1966). "How Does a Beatle Live? John Lennon Lives Like This". London Evening Standard March 4, 1966. Retrieved on September 16, 2006.
  25. ^ Magical Mystery Tour.
  26. ^ Qtd. in the London Observer.
  27. ^ Emerick, Geoff, with Howard Massey (2006). Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles. ISBN 1592401791.
  28. ^
  29. ^ LP version originally released in the United States on 27 November 1967.


  • Bramwell, Tony (2005). Magical Mystery Tours. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312330439.
  • Braun, Michael (1964 [1995 Reprint]). Love Me Do: The Beatles' Progress. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0140022783.
  • Carr, Roy & Tyler, Tony (1975). The Beatles: An Illustrated Record. Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-52045-1.
  • Colonna, Roberto (2005). Dalla prospettiva degli scarafaggi. Napolipiù - La verità.
  • Cross, Craig (2005). The Beatles: Day by Day, Song by Song, Record by Record. iUniverse, Inc. ISBN 0595346634.
  • –––. The Beatles: Day-by-Day, Song-by-Song, Record-by-Record. Various webpages. Retrieved on January 26, 2006.
  • Davies, Hunter (1985). The Beatles [Second Revised Edition]. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 00070155267.
  • Emerick, Geoff, & Massey, Howard (2006). Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles. Gotham Books. ISBN 1592401791.
  • Goldsmith, Martin (2004). The Beatles Come To America. Turning Points. ISBN 0471469645.
  • Kubernik, Ken (October 16, 2005). Here, There & Everywhere. Variety Magazine's 100 Icons of the Century. Variety Magazine. Retrieved on January 28, 2006.
  • Lewis, Martin (October 16, 2005). The Apollonian Spirit of the Beatles. Variety Magazine's 100 Icons of the Century. Variety Magazine. Retrieved on January 28, 2006.
  • Lewisohn, Mark (1990). EMI's The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years. Hamlyn. ISBN 0681031891.
  • MacDonald, Ian (1995). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties. Vintage. ISBN 0712666974.
  • Martin, George (1994). Summer of love: The Making of Sgt. Pepper. Macmillan. ISBN 0333603982.
  • Norman, Philip (1997). Shout: The Beatles in Their Generation. MJF Books. ISBN 1567310877.
  • Schaffner, Nicholas (1977). The Beatles Forever. Cameron House. ISBN 0811702251.
  • Spitz, Bob (2005). The Beatles. Little Brown. ISBN 0316803529.

Further reading

  • The Gospel according to the Beatles. Westminster John Knox Press, 2006. ISBN 0664229832.
  • The Beatles. The Beatles Anthology. Chronicle Books, LLC, 2000. ISBN 0811826848.
  • Emerick, Geoff, and Howard Massey. Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles. New York: Gotham Books, 2006. ISBN 1592401791. [Memoir of one of the Beatles' main recording engineers.]
  • Spitz, Bob. The Beatles. Little, Brown, 2005. ISBN 0316803529.
  • Turner, Steve. A Hard Day's Write. 3rd ed. New York: Harper Paperbacks, 2005. ISBN 0060844094. [Discusses the inspiration or meaning for every Beatles song.]
  • Dimery, Martin. Being John Lennon. SAF books, 2002. ISBN 0946719438.
  • Alan J. Porter Before They Were Beatles: The Early Years 1956-1960. Xlibris. ISBN 1413430562.
  • Ryan, Kevin, and Brian Kehew. Recording the Beatles: The Studio Equipment and Techniques Used to Create Their Classic Albums. Los Angeles: Curvebender Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0978520009.

See also

  • The Beatles line-ups
  • The Beatles' London
  • The Beatles trivia

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and The Beatles
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
The Beatles
  • The Beatles (Apple Corps) Official site
  • The Beatles at Rolling Stone
  • The Beatles at MusicBrainz
  • Beatles Interview Database
  • Beatles Photo Sessions
  • Notes on... Series by Alan Pollack An analysis of The Beatles canon by musicologist Alan W. Pollack
  • The Beatle Timeline
  • Beatles Tour of Hamburg
  • The Internet Beatles Album
  • What Goes On The Latest Beatles News

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