Internationally renowned English rock band, The Beatles are unforgettable in the music industry due to their immense success. They are often regarded as pioneers when it comes to songwriting, recording and artistic music presentation, and as front-runners of their era’s sociocultural movements. This rock band is particularly remembered for its contribution to the progress of 1960s counterculture as well as the recognition of pop music as a distinct art form.
Active from 1960 to 1970, their music style was largely ingrained in 1950s rock and roll, skiffle and beat with elements of traditional pop and classical music. They later explored other music styles including Indian music, psychedelia, ballads and hard rock. The brand’s staunch Four-man line-up consisted of the following:
- John Lennon
- George Harrison
- Ringo Starr
- Paul McCartney
John Lennon formed a skiffle group in March 1957, with a number of friends who were together attending Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool. The group first called themselves the Blackjacks. After discovering that the name had already been in use by another group, they changed their band name to the Quarrymen. John, who was 16 at the time met a fifteen-year old Paul McCartney in July that same year. Paul then joined the Quarrymen as their rhythm guitarist. Paul in February 1958, invited his friend named George Harrison to check out the band. Harrison soon auditioned to play with the band and was selected as their lead guitarist after performing the song, “Raunchy” on a Liverpool bus.
Lennon’s Quarry Bank friends had left the group by January 1959, and he had also begun studying at the Liverpool College of Art. Now left with a three-man band, they named themselves Johnny and the Moondogs and played rock and roll whenever they were able to get a drummer. Stuart Sutcliffe joined them in January 1960 as their bass guitarist. He was the one who suggested that the band changed its name to Beatals, in honor of Buddy Holly and the Crickets. They maintained that name until May, 1960 when they were now addressed as the Silver Beetles. The name soon changed to the Silver Beatles and finally in Mid-August of 1960, the band shortened its name to the Beatles.
After completing a second residency in Hamburg, and becoming increasingly popular in Liverpool, the band met music columnist and record-store owner, Brian Epstein during a performance at The Cavern Club. Epstein was appointed their manager in January 1962, and soon earned the title of “the fifth Beatle” due to his immense contributions to the group’s success and fame. Sutcliffe, who had left the band earlier to focus on his paintings, passed away within that same period from a brain haemorrhage.
Epstein, through several negotiations secured a record deal with producer George Martin who signed the band to EMI’s Parlophone label in 1962. The band’s first recording session was on June 6, 1962 at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios. Martin suggested that Pete Best who had been the drummer for the band until this point be replaced by a session drummer. He was soon replaced by Ringo-Starr who initially played for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.
By 1963, all four band members were allowed to contribute their vocals to their albums. John Lennon and Paul McCartney had strengthened their songwriting partnership, limiting George Harrison’s performances as the lead vocalist. Epstein had also developed a strategy that would increase the band’s commercial potential, which mainly involved them performing with a more professional approach.
The Beatles have held the title as the best-selling music act of all time with estimated sales of about 600 million records globally. In the US, they are also touted as the best-selling act with approximately 183 million units of certified sales.
The band is recognized as having the most number-one albums on the UK Albums chart, the most sold singles in the UK. They are also recognized as the ones with the most number-one hits on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. They topped Billboard’s list of the most successful artists of all-time in 2008.
Queen Elizabeth II appointed the band’s main line-up as Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1965. In 1988, the group was honored with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Furthermore, all four members were individually inducted into this prestigious hall of fame between 1994 and 2015. The Beatles were the recipients of seven Grammy Awards, fifteen Ivor Novello Awards, four Brit Awards, and an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for the film, Let It Be (1970). They also have six Gold albums in the US, six Diamond albums, 16 Platinum albums and 20 Multi-Platinum albums to their name.
Rolling Stone labeled them as number one on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists, and Time magazine has listed them among the 20th century’s 100 most important people.
In 2014, the Beatles received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Beginning in 2001, people celebrate the World Beatles Day on each January 16, under UNESCO. The band became the first to feature on a number of UK postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail.
Five asteroids, namely 8749 Beatles, 4147 Lennon, 4148 McCartney, 4149 Harrison and 4150 Starr are named after the rock band and its members.
Interesting Facts about The Beatles
The Beatles were once rejected by Decca Records.
Bob Dylan was the one who introduced the band to smoking marijuana on a frequent basis. He is said to have offered them cannabis when they met during their 1964 tour of the US.
Two members of the Beatles were left-handed, i.e. Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney.
The Beatles’ songs make mention of a lot of food, including cornflakes, marshmallows, honey, truffles, eggs, pies, peppers, strawberries, octopus and turkey. The band was initially known to eat on stage before Brian Epstein began managing them.
The band stopped performing live shows in 1966, because their fans (Beatlemania) had become too much for them to handle.
“The Fab Four” was a nickname given to the band by their fans. Meanwhile the band’s fandom itself used the name, “Beatlemania”.
The Beatles finally broke up in 1970, with each of them pursuing and enjoying success as a solo artist. In 1980, John Lennon was shot and killed. In 2001, George Harrison died of lung cancer. Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney remain active in their music scene as of this writing.
Indeed, the Beatles cannot be erased from the world’s music history due to their unmatched level of influence. It is no wonder that numerous bands and artists continually cite them as their greatest influences.
The band was instrumental in the development of the Counterculture of the 1960s and the appreciation of popular music as a form of art. Credited with pioneering the British Invasion of the United States pop industry, the band became an international hit by 1964. In the course of that, they produced such hit albums as the following:
- “Revolver” (1966)
- “ Rubber Soul” (1965)
- “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967)
- “ Abbey Road” (1969)
- “The Beatles” (1968)
Notable Beatles’ Songs
- “Getting Better“
- “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!“
- “When I’m Sixty-Four“
- “A Day in the Life“
- “With a Little Help from My Friends“
- “Within You Without You“
- “Fixing a Hole“
- “She’s Leaving Home“
- “Eleanor Rigby“
- “I Am the Walrus“
- “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds“
- “Hey Jude“
- “The Ballad of John and Yoko“
- “Lovely Rita”
- “Penny Lane“