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The Beatles
The Beatles in 1964.
Top (left to right): John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Bottom (left to right): George Harrison, Ringo Starr
Background information
Also known as "The Fab Four," "The Lads from Liverpool"
Origin Liverpool, England
Genre(s) Rock, pop rock
Years active 1960–1970
Label(s) EMI, Parlophone, Capitol, Odeon, Apple, Vee-Jay, Polydor, Swan, Tollie, UA
Associated acts The Quarrymen, Plastic Ono Band, The Dirty Mac, Wings, Traveling Wilburys, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band
John Lennon
Paul McCartney
George Harrison
Ringo Starr
Former members
Pete Best
Stuart Sutcliffe

The Beatles, a pop and rock group that formed in Liverpool, England in 1960, were one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music. During their years of stardom, the band consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). Although their initial musical style was rooted in 1950s rock and roll and skiffle, the group worked with different musical genres, ranging from Tin Pan Alley to psychedelic rock. Their clothes, style and statements made them trend-setters, while their growing social awareness saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s. After the band broke up in 1970, all four members embarked upon successful solo careers.

The Beatles have sold over one billion records internationally.[1] In the United Kingdom, The Beatles released more than 40 different singles, albums, and EPs that reached number one, earning more number one albums (15) than any other group in UK chart history. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, The Beatles have sold more albums in the United States than any other band.[2] In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked The Beatles number one in its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.[3] According to that same magazine, The Beatles' innovative music and cultural impact helped define the 1960s, and their influence on pop culture is still evident today. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of top-selling Hot 100 artists to celebrate the chart's fiftieth anniversary, with The Beatles at #1.[4]



To find related topics in a list, see The Beatles timeline.


In March 1957, Lennon formed a skiffle group called The Quarrymen.[5] McCartney met Lennon on 6 July 1957, and agreed to join the group a few days later.[6] On 6 February 1958, Harrison was invited to watch the group by McCartney,[7] and Harrison joined The Quarrymen as lead guitarist after a rehearsal in March 1958.[8][9] After original Quarrymen drummer, Colin Hanton, left the group in 1959, they had a high turnover of drummers. Lennon's art college friend, Stuart Sutcliffe, joined on bass in January 1960.[10][11]

From The Quarrymen, the group went through a progression of names, including "Johnny and the Moondogs", and "Long John and The Beetles". Sutcliffe suggested the name "The Beetles" as a tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets, and the group changed their name to "The Beatles" in 1960. The band's lack of a drummer posed a serious problem, as the group's unofficial manager/concert promoter, Allan Williams, had arranged for them to perform at a club in Hamburg, West Germany.[12]


The group auditioned Pete Best on 12 August 1960, and he agreed to join the group and play in Hamburg.[13] Four days after hiring Best, the group left for Hamburg, beginning a 48-night residency in at Bruno Koschmider's Indra Club, but moved to the Kaiserkeller in October 1960, after the closure of the Indra. They later accepted an offer to play at the rival Top Ten Club, which broke their contract with Koschmider.[14] He reported Harrison to the German authorities for being under-age, which led to Harrison's deportation on 21 November 1960.[15] McCartney and Best were arrested for arson a week later, after setting fire to a condom which they hung on a nail in their room, so they were arrested and also deported.[16] Lennon returned to Liverpool in mid-December while Sutcliffe stayed behind in Hamburg with his new German fiancée, Astrid Kirchherr. The reunited group played an engagement on 17 December 1960 at The Casbah Coffee Club, with Chas Newby substituting for Sutcliffe.[17]

The Beatles returned to Hamburg in April 1961, performing at the Top Ten Club again. They were recruited by singer Tony Sheridan (who also had a residency at the club) to act as his backing band on a series of recordings for the German Polydor Records label,[18] produced by famed bandleader Bert Kaempfert.[19] Kaempfert signed the group to a Polydor contract at the first session on 22 June 1961, and on 31 October Polydor released the recording "My Bonnie (Mein Herz ist bei dir nur)"—lead vocals by Sheridan—which appeared on the German charts.[20] A few copies were also pressed under the American Decca Records label.[21] When the group returned to Liverpool, Sutcliffe stayed in Hamburg with Kirchherr,[22] so McCartney, unwillingly, took over bass duties.[23]

Cavern Club and Brian Epstein

On Tuesday, 21 February 1961, The Beatles made their first lunchtime appearance at The Cavern Club. From 1961 to 1962, they made 292 appearances at the club, culminating in a final appearance there on 3 August 1963.[24] On 9 November 1961, Brian Epstein saw The Beatles for the first time in the club,[25] signing a five-year contract with Epstein on 24 January 1962.[26] Kaempfert agreed to release The Beatles from their Polydor contract, but Decca Records A&R executive, Dick Rowe, turned Epstein down, informing him that "Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein."[27] (See The Decca audition.) Epstein then approached an EMI marketing executive, Ron White,[28] who contacted EMI producers Norrie Paramor, Walter Ridley, and Norman Newell, all of whom declined to record the band. White could not contact EMI's fourth staff producer, George Martin, as he was on holiday at the time.[29] The Beatles returned to Hamburg from 13 April to 31 May 1962, where they performed at the opening of The Star Club.[30] Upon their arrival, they were informed of Sutcliffe's death from a brain haemorrhage.[31]

Record contract and Beatlemania

Epstein went to the HMV store on Oxford Street in London to transfer the songs recorded at Decca's studio to discs. He was referred to Sid Coleman, who ran EMI's publishing department. Epstein eventually met with Martin, who signed the group to EMI's Parlophone label on a one-year renewable contract.[32]

After the first recordings with Martin, he complained to Epstein that he had a problem with Best's drumming,[33] and suggested that the band use a session drummer in the studio.[34] In addition to Martin's comments, Epstein had become became exasperated with Best's refusal to adopt the groups's unified look onstage. After The individual Beatles heard about Martin's feelings they asked Epstein to dismiss Best, which he did on 16 August 1962.[35] They then asked Richard Starkey, known as Ringo Starr, to join the band; Starr was the drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, and had performed occasionally with The Beatles in Hamburg, when Best was too ill to play.[36] 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.[37] White's only released performances were recordings of "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You", found on The Beatles' first album.

The Beatles' first EMI session, on 6 June 1962, did not yield any recordings considered worthy of release, but the September sessions produced a minor UK hit, "Love Me Do", which peaked on the charts at number seventeen.[38] "Love Me Do" would reach the top of the U.S. singles chart in May 1964.

On 26 November 1962, the band recorded their second single, "Please Please Me", which reached number two on the official UK charts, and number one on the NME chart. Three months later they recorded their first album, also titled Please Please Me. The follow up single, "From Me to You", became their first #1 song. The group's first TV performance was on the People and Places programme, transmitted live from Manchester by Granada Television, on 17 October 1962.[39] As The Beatles' fame spread, the frenzied adulation of the group was dubbed "Beatlemania". In 1963, The Beatles' iconic logo (referred to as the "drop-T" logo) was first used on the front of Starr's bass drum.[40][41]

American releases

The Beatles experienced huge popularity in the UK in early 1963, but record companies in the USA did not immediately follow up the UK successes with releases of their own,[42] and even once they began to do so, The Beatles' commercial success in the USA was hampered by obstacles including issues with royalties,[43] and derision for the Beatle haircut.[44]

It was nearly a year before a 5-minute news shot about Beatlemania in the UK was shown on the CBS Evening News on 10 December 1963, which led to a teenaged girl making an airplay request to a local radio station, which in turn sparked a sequence of events leading to the rush-release of the single "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and the long-awaited commercial breakthrough.[45]


On 7 February 1964, a crowd of four thousand fans at Heathrow Airport waved and screamed at The Beatles as they took off from the UK for their first trip to the United States as a group.[46] After failures with earlier releases, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" sold 2.6 million copies over the previous 2 weeks, but The Beatles were still nervous about how they would be received in the United States.[47] Their arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport was greeted by another large vociferous crowd of people, estimated at about 3,000 fans.[48]

Two days after arriving in the USA, they made their first live American television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, which was watched by (approximately) 74 million viewers; a number representing about half of the American population at the time.[49] The morning after the show, one newspaper wrote that The Beatles "could not carry a tune across the Atlantic",[50] but the next day, 11 February 1964, at Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C., Beatlemania also affected the USA.[51]

The Beatles’ success in America launched the "British Invasion"; a collection of British bands that became popular in the United States after The Beatles' arrival.[52]

Australia and New Zealand

In mid-1964 the band undertook their first appearances outside of Europe and North America, to promote their first motion picture A Hard Day's Night. By the time they reached Australia, Starr had tonsillitis, and was temporarily replaced by session drummer Jimmy Nicol. In Adelaide, The Beatles were greeted by over 300,000 people at Adelaide Town Hall.[53] Ringo rejoined by the time they had arrived in New Zealand, on 21 June 1964.[54]

MBE, Elvis and Rubber Soul

In June 1965, Queen Elizabeth II appointed the four Beatles "Members of the Order of the British Empire", MBE. They were nominated by the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.[55] The appointment—at that time primarily bestowed upon military veterans and civic leaders—sparked some conservative MBE recipients to return their insignia in protest.[56]

On 15 August 1965, The Beatles performed the first major stadium concert in the history of rock 'n' roll at Shea Stadium in New York to a crowd of 55,600.[57] On 27 August 1965, the group arrived at a Bel Air mansion to meet Elvis Presley.[58] Biographer Peter Guralnick maintains that Presley was at best "lukewarm" about playing host to people he did not really know.[58] Paul McCartney later said: "It was one of the great meetings of my life ... I only met him that once, and then I think the success of our career started to push him out a little, which we were very sad about, because we wanted to co-exist with him."[59] Marty Lacker, a friend of Presley's, recalls the singer saying, "'Quite frankly, if you guys are going to stare at me all night, I'm going to bed. I thought we'd talk a while and maybe jam a little.' And when he said that, they [The Beatles] went nuts."[60] The group and Presley told stories, joked and listened to records, and had an impromptu jam session:[59] "They all went to the piano," says Lacker, "and Elvis handed out a couple of guitars. And they started singing Elvis songs, Beatle songs, Chuck Berry songs. Elvis played Paul's bass part on "I Feel Fine", and Paul said something like, 'You're coming along quite promising on the bass there, Elvis.' I remember thinking later, 'Man, if we'd only had a tape recorder.'"[60]

The Beatles' sixth album, Rubber Soul, was released in early December 1965, and was critically hailed as a major leap forward in the maturity and complexity of the band's music.[61]

Backlash and controversy

In July 1966, during a tour of 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.[62] When presented with the invitation, Epstein politely declined on behalf of the group, as it had never been his policy to accept such official invitations.[63] The group soon found that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to accepting "no" for an answer; the resulting riots endangered the group which managed to escape the country with difficulty.[64]

Almost as soon as they returned from the Philippines, an earlier comment made by Lennon in March of that year launched a backlash against The Beatles from religious and social conservatives in the USA. In an interview with British reporter Maureen Cleave,[65] Lennon had offered his opinion that Christianity was dying and that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now".[66] When the interview was reprinted in a teenage fan magazine in the USA, a backlash developed in the American South's "Bible belt."[67] Lennon apologised,[68] but South Africa banned airplay of their records until 1971.[69]

Capitol Records release of the Beatles album Yesterday and Today (which used a publicity shot also used in a poster promoting the UK release of "Paperback Writer") created an uproar, as the cover featured the group dressed in butchers' overalls, draped in meat, and with mutilated plastic dolls. A popular, though apocryphal, rumour was that this was meant as a response to the way Capitol had "butchered" their albums.[70] Thousands of copies of the album had a new cover pasted over the original. Uncensored copies of Yesterday and Today command a high price today, with one copy selling for $10,500 at a December 2005 auction.[71]

Elvis Presley apparently disapproved of The Beatles's anti-war activism and use of drugs, later asking President Richard Nixon to ban all four members of the group from entering the United States. Peter Guralnick writes, "'The Beatles', Elvis said, [...] 'had been a focal point for anti-Americanism. They had come to this country, made their money, then gone back to England where they fomented anti-American feeling.'"[72] Guralnick added: "Presley indicated that he is of the opinion that The Beatles laid the groundwork for many of the problems we are having with young people by their filthy unkempt appearances and suggestive music while entertaining in this country during the early and middle 1960s."[73] Despite Presley's remarks, Lennon still had some positive feelings towards him, saying: "Before Elvis, there was nothing."[74] McCartney later remarked that he "felt a bit betrayed [by Presley's views] ... The great joke was that we were taking drugs, and look what happened to [Elvis]. ... It was sad, but I still love him. ..."[75] Bob Dylan, however, recognised The Beatles' contribution, stating: "America should put up statues to The Beatles. They helped give this country's pride back to it."[76]

Studio years

In August 1966, The Beatles performed their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco,[68] returning to the studio in November to record Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The album was released in June 1967, and in the same month, they performed "All You Need Is Love" for the first live global television link to TV viewers worldwide.[77]

Two months after "All You Need Is Love", The Beatles met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for the first time, in August 1967.[78] While The Beatles were at a weekend Transcendental Meditation retreat with the Maharishi in Bangor, Epstein's assistant Peter Brown called to tell them that Epstein had died.[79] The coroner ruled Epstein's death an accidental overdose, but the press speculated it was a suicide at least in part because of a rumour that a suicide note was discovered among Epstein's possessions.[80]

Lennon said that Epstein's death marked the beginning of the end for the group: "I knew that we were in trouble then ... I thought, We've fuckin' had it now".[81] Epstein was in a fragile emotional state due to issues surrounding his personal life and stress related to his business relationship with The Beatles: his management contract with them was due to expire in the fall of 1967.[82] Epstein worried that The Beatles might not renew his contract based on their discontent with his handling of business matters including Seltaeb, the company that handled Beatle merchandising rights in the United States.[80]

Their visit to the Maharishi's ashram in Rishikesh, India, was revealed in the music they composed there,[83] which was one of their most creative periods. While they were in Rishikesh during February, March and April of 1968, they (together or indidually) composed between 23 and 48 songs; 17 of which were recorded for The White Album (although technically called The Beatles).[84] On returning from India, The Beatles formed Apple Corps,[85] and in the winter of 1967-1968, they received their first major negative reviews for the TV film Magical Mystery Tour.[86]

Divisions and dissent now started to drive the band members apart from each other, and Starr quit the band for a period, leaving McCartney to perform drums on several of the album tracks then recorded.

Let It Be, Abbey Road, and breakup

In January 1969, The Beatles began a film project documenting the making of their next record, originally titled Get Back. During the recording sessions, the band undertook their final live performance on the rooftop of the Apple building at 3 Savile Row, London, on 30 January 1969. Most of the performance was filmed and later included in the film Let It Be. The project was temporarily shelved, and The Beatles recorded their final album, Abbey Road, in the summer of 1969. The completion of the song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" for the album on 20 August 1969 was the last time all four Beatles were together in the same studio. Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group on 20 September 1969, but agreed that no announcement was to be publicly made until a number of legal matters were resolved. Their final new song was Harrison's "I Me Mine", recorded 3 January 1970 and released on the Let It Be album. It was recorded without Lennon, who was in Denmark at the time.[87]

In March 1970, the Get Back session tapes were given to American producer Phil Spector, who had produced Lennon's solo single "Instant Karma!". Spector's Wall of Sound production values went against the original intent of the record, which had been to record a stripped-down live performance. McCartney was deeply dissatisfied with Spector's treatment of "The Long and Winding Road" and unsuccessfully attempted to halt release of Spector's version of the song. McCartney publicly announced the break-up on 10 April 1970, a week before releasing his first solo album, McCartney. Pre-release copies included a press release with a self-written interview explaining the end of The Beatles and his hopes for the future.[88] 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 not dissolved until 1975,[89] though McCartney filed a suit for the dissolution on 31 December 1970, effectively ending the band's career together.[90]


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

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

John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman on 8 December 1980 in New York City. In May 1981, George Harrison released "All Those Years Ago"; a single written about his time with The Beatles. It was recorded the month before Lennon's death, with Starr on drums, and was later overdubbed with new lyrics as a tribute to Lennon. Paul and Linda McCartney later contributed backing vocals to the track.[91] In April 1982, Paul McCartney released his Tug of War album, containing his tribute song to John Lennon, titled "Here Today".

In 1988, The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during their first year of eligibility.[92] On the night of their induction, Harrison and Starr appeared to accept their award along with Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and his two sons. McCartney stayed away, issuing a press release saying, "After 20 years, the Beatles still have some business differences which I had hoped would have been settled by now. Unfortunately, they haven't been, so I would feel like a complete hypocrite waving and smiling with them at a fake reunion."[52]


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

Recent projects and developments

In the late 1990s, George Harrison was diagnosed with lung cancer, and died on 29 November 2001.[93]

George Martin and his son, Giles Martin, remixed original Beatles recordings to create a soundtrack to accompany Cirque du Soleil's theatrical production Love. The soundtrack album Love was released in 2006. In 2007, McCartney and Starr reunited for an interview on Larry King Live to discuss their thoughts on the show. Beatles widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison also appeared with McCartney and Starr in Las Vegas for the one-year anniversary of Love. Also in 2007, reports circulated[94] that McCartney was hoping to complete "Now and Then", the third Lennon track the band worked on during the Anthology sessions. It would be credited as a "Lennon/McCartney composition" by writing new verses, and reworked by laying down a new drum track recorded by Starr and utilising archival recordings of Harrison's guitar work.

Lawyers for The Beatles sued on 21 March 2008 to prevent the distribution of unreleased recordings purportedly made during Ringo Starr's first performance with the group in 1962. The dispute between Apple Corps Ltd. and Fuego Entertainment Inc. of Miami Lakes stems from recordings apparently made during a performance at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany.[95] In November 2008, McCartney revealed the existence of a 14-minute experimental recording The Beatles made called "Carnival of Light", which he would like to see released but would require approval from Ringo Starr and Beatle widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.[96]

The Beatles: Rock Band, a video game in the style of Rock Band and based solely on The Beatles, is currently in development and scheduled for a release of 9 September 2009.[97] On the same day, remastered CDs of the twelve original albums (from Please Please Me to Abbey Road, plus Magical Mystery Tour and Past Masters) will be released in two versions, original Mono or Stereo. On 4 March 2009, the BBC reported that McCartney would headline a charity concert with one of the special guests listed as Ringo Starr. The concert took place on 4 April 2009 at Radio City Music Hall.[98] On 14 April 2009, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Eric Idle, Jim Keltner, Paul McCartney, and Joe Walsh joined George Harrison's wife, Olivia, and his son, Dhani, for the Hollywood Walk of Fame star dedication for George in Los Angeles.[99]

Musical evolution

See also: The Beatles' influence on music recording

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

The Beatles continued to absorb influences long after their initial success, often finding new musical and lyrical avenues by listening to their contemporaries. Other contemporary influences included Frank Zappa (Freak Out), the Byrds and the Beach Boys, whose album Pet Sounds was a favourite of McCartney's.[100][101] Beatles producer George Martin stated that "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds."[102] After hearing "Strawberry Fields Forever" from the Sgt. Pepper sessions, Beach Boys' leader Brian Wilson felt he had been usurped and he spent most of the next few years in bed.[103] Lennon also named Elvis Presley as a spark that interested him in music:

It was Elvis who really got me buying records. I thought that early stuff of his was great. The Bill Haley era passed me by, in a way. When his records came on the wireless, my mother used to hear them, but they didn’t do anything for me. It was Elvis who got me hooked on beat music. When I heard 'Heartbreak Hotel', I thought ‘this is it’ and I started to grow sideboards and all that gear....[104]

Along with studio tricks such as sound effects, unconventional microphone placements, tape loops, double tracking and vari-speed recording, The Beatles began to augment their recordings with instruments that were unconventional for rock music at the time. These included string and brass ensembles as well as Indian instruments such as the sitar in "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" and the swarmandel in "Strawberry Fields Forever".[105] They also used early electronic instruments such as the Mellotron, with which McCartney supplied the flute voices on the intro to "Strawberry Fields Forever",[106] and the clavioline, an electronic keyboard that created the unusual oboe-like sound on "Baby You're a Rich Man".[107]

Beginning with the use of a string quartet (arranged by George Martin with input from McCartney) on "Yesterday" in 1965, The Beatles pioneered a modern form of art song, exemplified by the double-quartet string arrangement on "Eleanor Rigby" (1966) and "She's Leaving Home" (1967). A televised performance of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 directly inspired McCartney's idea to include a piccolo trumpet on the arrangement of "Penny Lane".[108] The Beatles moved towards psychedelia with "Rain" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" from 1966, and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am the Walrus" from 1967.


The Beatles appeared in five motion pictures, all of which featured associated soundtrack albums. The band played themselves in two films directed by Richard Lester, A Hard Day's Night (1964) and in July 1965, The Beatles's second feature film, Help!, was released. The film was accompanied by the band's fifth British studio album Help!, which also functioned as the soundtrack for the movie. The group produced, directed, and starred in the hour-long television movie Magical Mystery Tour (1967). The psychedelic animated film Yellow Submarine (1968) followed the adventures of a cartoon version of the band; the members did not provide their own voices, appearing only in a brief live-action epilogue. Their final film, the documentary Let It Be, released in 1970, followed the rehearsals and recording sessions for the early 1969 Get Back project and won the Academy Award in 1971 for Best Original Song Score.

From 1965 until 1969, The Beatles were the subject of their own Saturday morning cartoon series, which loosely continued the kind of slapstick antics of A Hard Day's Night. Two Beatles songs were played in each half-hour show, with The Beatles' cartoon counterparts "lip-synching" the actual Beatles recordings. Some of the song performances, such as those from A Hard Day's Night, appeared to have been rotoscoped. The regular speaking voices of the characters were not supplied by The Beatles themselves, but rather by voice artists Paul Frees and Lance Percival.[109]


Influence on popular culture

The Beatles' influence on rock music and popular culture was—and remains—immense. They affected attitudes to fashion worldwide when in the 1960s there was widespread imitation of their haircuts and clothing. In the recording studio The Beatles took innovative approaches to the use of technology, treating the studio as an instrument in itself and working closely with recording engineers, urging experimentation and regularly demanding, "Just try it […] it might just sound good"[110]. At the same time they constantly sought ways to put chance occurrences to creative use, examples being accidental guitar feedback, a resonating glass bottle or a tape loaded the wrong way round so that it played backwards, and incorporated the resulting sounds into their music. They were also pioneers in the use of sampling, which along with their other experimentation created techniques which were widely adopted by others.

The Beatles redefined the album as something more than just a small number of hits padded out with "filler" tracks, and they were the originators in the United Kingdom of the now common practice of releasing video clips to accompany singles. The Beatles became the first entertainment act to stage a large stadium concert when they opened their 1965 North American tour at Shea Stadium. A large number of artists have acknowledged The Beatles as a musical influence or have had chart successes with covers of Beatles songs. References to The Beatles, and parodies involving them, are commonplace as a feature of TV shows, films and video games.


The arrival of The Beatles is seen in radio as a touchstone in music signalling an end to the rock-and-roll era of the 1950s. Program Directors like Rick Sklar of WABC in New York went as far as forbidding DJs from playing any "pre-Beatles" music.[111]

Recreational drug use

In Hamburg, The Beatles used "prellies" (Preludin) both recreationally and to maintain their energy through all-night performances.[112] McCartney would usually take one, but Lennon would often take four or five.[112] Bob Dylan introduced them to cannabis during a 1964 visit to New York.[113] McCartney remembered them all getting "very high" and giggling.[114] The Beatles occasionally smoked a joint in the car on the way to the studio during the filming of Help!, which often made them forget their lines.[115]

In April 1965, Lennon and Harrison were introduced to LSD by an acquaintance, dentist John Riley, who slipped some into their coffees.[116] McCartney was more reluctant to try the drug, but finally did so in 1966 and was the first Beatle to talk about it in the press, saying in June 1967 that he took it four times.

The Beatles added their names to an advertisement in The Times, on 24 July 1967, which asked for the legalisation of cannabis, the release of all prisoners imprisoned because of possession, and research into marijuana's medical uses. The advertisement was sponsored by a group called Soma, and was signed by 65 people, including Brian Epstein, Graham Greene, R.D. Laing, 15 doctors, and two MPs.[117]


Song catalogue

In 1963 Lennon and McCartney agreed to assign their song publishing rights to Northern Songs, a company created by music publisher Dick James.[118] The company was administered by James' own company Dick James Music. Northern Songs went public in 1965, with Lennon and McCartney each holding 15% of the company's shares Dick James and the company's chairman, Charles Silver, held a controlling 37.5%. In 1969, following a failed attempt by Lennon and McCartney to buy the company, James and Silver sold Northern Songs to British TV company Associated TeleVision (ATV), from which Lennon and McCartney received stock.

In 1985, after a short period in which the parent company was owned by Australian business magnate Robert Holmes à Court, ATV Music was sold to Michael Jackson for a reported $47 million[119] (trumping a joint bid by McCartney and Yoko Ono), including the publishing rights to over 200 songs composed by Lennon and McCartney.

In 1995, Jackson and Sony merged its music publishing businesses.[119] Since then Jackson and Sony jointly owned most of the Lennon-McCartney songs recorded by The Beatles. Meanwhile, Lennon's estate and McCartney still receive their respective songwriter shares of the royalties. Despite his ownership of most of the Lennon-McCartney publishing, Jackson only recorded one Lennon-McCartney composition himself, "Come Together" which was featured in his film Moonwalker and HIStory album.

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

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

Studio albums

US charting singles

CD releases

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

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

2009 CD remasters

On 7 April 2009, it was announced through The Beatles website and email newsletter that their entire back catalog is to be re-released in digitally remastered form for the first time on 9 September 2009, following an extensive remastering process that lasted four years.[120] All 12 original UK studio albums by The Beatles are currently expected to be released on Compact Disc in newly remastered versions, along with Magical Mystery Tour and a combined two-CD set of Past Masters plus stereo and mono box set collections.[121] The digital remasters will replace the outdated 1987 remasters.[122][123] Mojo magazine's Mat Snow was invited to hear 10 remastered tracks from the 1968 album The Beatles and stated that they were "better even than we'd hoped."[124] The stereo versions have been treated with gentle peak limiting, to keep the overall volume of each track consistent with that of the other tracks, but not to make the tracks louder. The mono versions have not been treated with peak limiting, however.[125]

Digital music licensing

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

Dhani Harrison recently stated that The Beatles are losing money every day by not having a digital outlet for sales and that he does not feel that the iTunes Store's 99 cent charge is a fair price for The Beatles songs. Harrison, who was an integral part in pushing for The Beatles: Rock Band video game, also announced that the remaining members of The Beatles are looking into creating their own website for digital downloads of The Beatles remastered catalogue, and expects it to be available in the near future.[126]

See also

The Beatles portal


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Further reading

External links

Citable sentences

Up to date as of December 11, 2010

Here are sentences from other pages on Paul McCartney, which are similar to those in the above article.

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