The Beatles were an English rock band from Liverpool, UK. They were influential in popularizing a soft style of rock music, selling around a billion records worldwide. The Beatles played and recorded many genres of rock and roll, from Tin Pan Alley and psychedelic rock to heavy metal and pop-rock. They were also key figures behind the 1960s counterculture, and some of their songs popularized harmful drugs.
The four Beatles were John Lennon (1940-1980), George Harrison (1943-2001), Paul McCartney (1942- ), and Ringo Starr (1940- ). Most of the Beatles' songs were co-written by Lennon and McCartney, though George Harrison penned one of their most critically acclaimed lyrics, "Something". In the latter half of the 1960s the majority of their songs were written individually, but retained the "Lennon/McCartney" (orig. "McCartney/Lennon") writing credit. Lennon's songwriting was harder in nature and often had a political bent, while McCartney primarily wrote lighter love songs. Harrison, who later converted to Hinduism, frequently utilized the sitar in his songs. Starr rarely wrote music, but would usually sing one song per album except A Hard Day`s Night and Let It Be. His most famous song is Yellow Submarine and is usually sang in schools.
Having evolved from the high school band known as The Quarrymen, around 1962 the Beatles began playing in Hamburg, Germany, and became very popular there. A year later, thanks to underground radio, they were the biggest band in their native land of the UK. In 1964, the Beatles made their historic trip to the United States to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. To date, this performance is one of the highest-rated television events in history.
The Lennon/McCartney ballads often displayed a personal vulnerability which was extraordinarily appealing to young teenage girls. For example, "Help" contrasts a man's younger macho attitude ("I never needed anybody's help in any way") with a more grown-up attitude ("I changed my mind, I'll open up the door. Help me if you can").
As the years passed, the Beatles' sound grew. From an old-fashioned rock and roll sound similar to the Beach Boys and Carl Perkins, the band put out a much more mature sound on Revolver. They even experimented with folk on Rubber Soul. In 1967, the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band changed music as we know it forever. The psychedelic sound reflected what was going on in the world at that time and also displayed brilliant use of new technologies (such as stereo sound and multitrack recording).
With the The Beatles (the "White Album"), the Beatles had evolved into hard rockers. The songs had become more personal, and the band was beginning to fall apart. Prior to Lennon hooking up with Yoko Ono, the lads had agreed that only the four of them would be in the recording studio (no lady friends of any type). Also, creative differences were creating tension among the Fab Four.
Their next project, originally to be titled "Get Back" and intended to "get them back" to recording songs the way they had in the earlier years and also to become a filmed documentary, exposed all the personal chafing and difficulties they were having. The tapes were shelved since none of the band wanted to deal with them.
At this point, although the public did not know it, the band had virtually broken up. However, at McCartney's urging, they assembled in the studio one more time and gave their fans what was to be their swan song, the splendid Abbey Road. The "Get Back" tapes and film were handed over to Phil Spector to do something with them, and he produced the album that was released as Let It Be, in conjunction with the release of the film, which was more a documentary of a band breaking up than one writing and recording new music in their studio.
It wasn't long before the lawsuits to dissolve the partnership were flying, and the band members were releasing solo albums. Although Lennon had made a few solo projects before the breakup, and Harrison one, they did not receive widespread notice.
In 2006, Cirque du Soleil opened a Beatle-themed show in Las Vegas, the aptly titled Love. The show has been an outstanding success, and so has the album put out of the same name, featuring new remixes of Beatles songs by Beatles producer George Martin and his son Giles. The album also features previously unreleased versions of Beatles classics such as "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Strawberry Fields Forever".
The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. As solo artists, all but Ringo have been inducted (Lennon in 1994, McCartney in 1999 and Harrison in 2004).
In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine ranked the Beatles #1 on its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Only two Beatles are currently alive - Ringo Starr and Sir Paul McCartney, who both still continue their recording and performing careers. John Lennon was assassinated in 1980 and George Harrison died due to cancer in 2001.
- Please Please Me (1963)
- With the Beatles (1963)
- A Hard Day's Night (1964)
- Beatles for Sale (1964)
- Help! (1965)
- Revolver (1966)
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
- Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
- The White Album (1968)
- Yellow Submarine (1968)
- Abbey Road (1969)
- Let it Be (1970)
"Paul is dead" urban legend
A myth, likely created by the Beatles in order to boost sales, circulated later in their career regarding a supposed death of Paul McCartney and substitution with an impostor. "Clues" were found in subliminal messages, backmasking, and imagery in their albums and songs.
Some of the many examples include:
- When held up to a mirror, their album Magical Mystery Tour would supposedly reveal the telephone number of a funeral home.
- The song "Strawberry Fields Forever" contained Lennon saying the phrase "cranberry sauce" which was interpreted as "I Buried Paul."
- "Revolution #9", a collage of samples, featured the repeating phrase "Number 9, Number 9..." When played in reverse, "Turn me on, dead man..." is supposedly heard.
Americans say Paul (27%) is their favorite Beatle, with John taking a distant second at 16%, and far fewer choosing George Harrison (10%) or Ringo Starr (9%) according to a September 2009 Zogby Interactive poll. However, 22% of Americans do not like the Beatles and 3% say they are not familiar enough to make a decision.
"Americans over 30 and those over 65 love Paul," said John Zogby. "It must be the crazy love songs and Yesterday." Born Again Christians are three times as likely to say Paul is their favorite Beatle (25%) than John (8%). Paul is also the favorite among Woodstockers (31%) and Nikes (27%), while First Globals (19%) prefer John.
Democrats (25%) are far more likely than Republicans (6%) and independents (15%) to say John is their favorite Beatle, while moderates (32%) are far more likely to prefer Paul. Liberals (14%) are more than twice as likely as moderates (7%) and conservatives (9%) to pick George as their favorite.
Conservatives (30%) are the most likely to say they don't like the Beatles, followed by moderates (19%) and liberals (9%).
- When John brought Yoko in to work on songs and insisted that she be treated as an equal, the others resisted the idea, and John and Yoko got the cold shoulder for the rest of the sessions. 
- For details see Zogby poll
- Beatle songs and lyrics
- Transcript of LES Lennon interview
- Listing of "clues" behind the "Paul Is Dead" hoax
| John Lennon • Paul McCartney • George Harrison • Ringo Starr|
Pete Best • Stuart Sutcliffe
|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 (U.S.-1967/UK-1976) / The Beatles (album) (1968) / Yellow Submarine (1969) / Abbey Road (1969) / Let It Be (1970)|
|A Hard Day's Night (1964) • Help! (1965) • Magical Mystery Tour (1967) • Yellow Submarine (1968) • Let It Be (1970)|