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Beatles, The

THE BEATLES

Formed: 1957, Liverpool, England; Disbanded 1970

Members: George Harold Harrison, lead guitar, vocals (born Liverpool, England, 25 February 1943; died Los Angeles, California, 29 November 2001); John Winston (later changed to Ono) Lennon, rhythm guitar, harmonica, vocals (born Liverpool, England, 9 October 1940; died New York, 8 December 1980); James "Paul" McCartney, bass, vocals (born Liverpool, England, 18 June 1942); Ringo Starr, drums (Richard Starkey Jr., born Dingle, England, 7 July 1940). Former members: Peter "Pete" Best, drums (born Liverpool, England, 24 November 1941); Stuart "Stu" Sutcliffe, bass (Stuart Fergusson Victor Sutcliffe, born Edinburgh, Scotland, 23 June 1940; died Hamburg, West Germany, 10 April 1962).

Genre: Rock, Pop

Best-selling album since 1990: The Beatles 1 (2000)

Hit songs since 1990: "Free As a Bird," "Real Love"


The Beatles were the most innovative, emulated, and successful music group of the twentieth century. The Beatles set in motion both the creative and marketing paradigms of the modern rock erathrough transforming hairstyles and fashion; evolving attitudes about youth, politics, and drug culture; writing their own songs and making the first music videos to accompany them; performing the first arena rock concerts; creating the first unified rock albums alongside hit singles; and being the first rock performers who were truly considered groundbreaking artists in their own time.


British Invasion

In January 1964 New York disc jockeys such as "Murray the K" began playing the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" virtually nonstop, introducing it with the cryptic adage, "The Beatles are coming." The record went to number one on the music charts in early February, and a fascination developed for this new "British" sound with its raw energy, wild electric guitars, and syncopated clapping. The next month, on February 7, 1964, a plane carrying the Beatles arrived at New York's Idlewildsoon to be renamed KennedyAirport. More than 3,000 screaming fans were there to greet the lads from Liverpool, England, as they got off the plane and waved, quickly to be ushered into a room of waiting reporters and photographers who were assigned to cover what was then negatively referred to as the "British Invasion."

The big news at the time was the group's "mop top" hairstyle. Men's crew cuts were still common and reporters had tremendous difficulty telling one Beatle from the other. Editors thought it was a funny story: the screaming girls, the foreign lads with the insectlike group name, and the long hair. Some forty-eight hours later, 73 million curious television viewers tuned in to Sunday night's Ed Sullivan Show to watch the Beatles perform live. The next day there was hardly a teenager in the country who did not want to go out and buy a guitar and scarcely a parent around who was not horrified at the prospect of his or her son emulating, or his or her daughter loving, the Beatles. The phenomenon, pejoratively dubbed "Beatle-mania," would only grow and by the time of the group's departure back to England in late February 1964, over 60 percent of all records sold in America were Beatles records.


Liverpool Roots and Early Recordings

The group's roots extend back to the Liverpool of the late 1950s, when then teenagers John Lennon and Paul McCartney had a chance meeting at a church fete. Lennon was performing with his group the Quarrymen and McCartney was brought by a mutual friend to hear them. McCartney loved that Lennon had a band, and Lennon loved that McCartney knew more than three guitar chords. McCartney's younger schoolmate George Harrison was soon recruited as another guitarist, as was Lennon's art college friend Stu Sutcliffe, to play bass. The group broke through the Liverpool club scene and eventually made its way to Hamburg, West Germany, to play clubs there, but not before hiring drummer Pete Best to accompany them. Liverpool record shop owner Brian Epstein was getting orders for a single of "My Bonnie" (1961) that the band had made with British rock pioneer Tony Sheridan and that had charted in West Germany, and decided to check out the Beatles at Liverpool's Cavern Club. Sutcliffe, who never really learned how to play bass, remained in Hamburg, where he later died of a brain hemorrhage related to a head injury; after his departure, McCartney began playing bass. Epstein was charmed by the quartet's charisma, energy, and humor, and took them on as a manager, immediately trading in their leather look for tailored suits and long, thin ties and helping the band to polish its overall presentation.

Epstein secured studio auditions for the Beatles, but these were unsuccessful until the record label EMI decided to sign them in 1962. Comedy and novelty producer George Martin agreed to work with the group, but wanted to use a session drummer rather than Pete Best. The band then fired Best, and Liverpool drummer Ringo Starr of Rory and the Hurricanes was successfully recruited for the spot. As the group began to record, the struggle was on to convince producer Martin that its own material was as good as the cover material it was recording. Martin, for instance, thought that the group's first attempt at a number-one hit should be a song by Mitch Murray called "How Do You Do It" and the Beatles did record that numberit was never released, but did show up on Anthology 1 (1995)but the group wanted one of their own songs to be their first big hit. Martin was skeptical, but told them that if they came up with something as good, he would consider it. The number they gave him was "Please, Please Me," which did indeed become the Beatles's first number one single, and subsequently the title of their first album (1963).

New Material, New Sounds

Martin kept his ears open, and as material warranted inclusion, the number of Beatles originals put to record kept expanding. A Hard Day's Night (1964) was the first Beatles albumindeed the first rock album by anyoneto be made up entirely of original compositions. Several had been written for the Beatles's film of the same name, which established the distinctive personalities and offbeat humor of the group in the public consciousness. The field scene of the group horsing around in fast and slow motion to "All My Loving" established a new visual language to accompany rock music that anticipated the heyday of MTV by two decades. For the acoustic ballad "Yesterday" on Help! (1965), Martin suggested the use of strings, and an arrangement for string quartet was made. This inaugurated a process in which the group took an unusual interest in the sound of its music: a constant drive to come up with new sounds, new textures. An Indian sitar, for instance, dominates "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" on Rubber Soul (1966), the Beatles's memorable take on the popular folk rock movement of the time. Revolver (1966), which many consider the Beatles's masterpiece, features the melancholic "Eleanor Rigby" accompanied by a bouncy string octet with no Beatles playing whatsoever, while "Got to Get You into My Life" features a soulful brass band; "Tomorrow Never Knows" incorporates the then common technique in avant-garde "serious" music circles of taking recorded bits of random sounds, committing them to tape, and then "looping" the bits of tape together into tape loops that could play the sound at will.

The developing complexity of the Beatles's music made it increasingly difficult for the band to reproduce what it was doing in the studio in live performance. This, combined with the incessant screaming and general chaos that accompanied Beatlemania, made the group give up touring in 1966 after setting box office records everywhere it played. The first Shea Stadium Concert (1965) was not only a record setter, but a prototype of the megaconcert spectaculars that are still commonplace among rock music's biggest acts.

No longer having to worry about reproducing their music live, the Beatles reached a climax in studio creativity with the groundbreaking Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), which took the drive for new sounds and textures to new heights. Expanding the same recording techniques that had been used on Rubber Soul and Revolver, Sgt. Pepper even incorporated a full orchestra rising to a psychedelic wall of sound in the climax of the urban melodrama "Day in the Life," banned by the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) because of its supposed drug references. Sgt. Pepper ushered in a new era not only for the Beatles, but for popular music in general with its colorful cover, double-sleeve printed song lyrics, and band cut-outs. It was not only the first rock concept album, but also the first rock album that was widely considered to be "art" by those outside the genre.


The Break-Up

The death of Beatles manager Brian Epstein in 1967 was a blow from which the group was never able to recover. Although the band continued to evolve artistically, business concerns that Epstein had always taken care of so efficiently were now left for the four to fight over. By the time of The Beatles (1968) double album, which came to be known as the "White Album" because of its plain white cover, the beginning of the end was clearly in sight. The Lennon-McCartney songwriting team was mostly writing apart, and George Harrison's own compositional style had evolved to a point where one or two tracks per album were no longer adequate to contain his talents. The creation of Apple Records, which was so mismanaged that the Beatles began hemorrhaging money, and Lennon's refusal to be anywhereincluding Beatles recording sessionswithout his future wife Yoko Ono, all added significantly to group tensions.

The low point came in early 1969 with sessions for the film Let It Be (1970), which showed the group literally coming apart at the seams. The band came back together that summer to record Abbey Road (1969), which turned out to be the last time the group would work together. John Lennon had privately indicated his intention to leave the group, but had hoped that the band members could continue to pool their individual creative efforts as Beatles projects. Without Lennon as a direct collaborator and with the group still unwilling to perform live, McCartney wanted to move on completely, and beat Lennon to the punch in "officially" quitting the group the following spring with the release of his McCartney (1970) album. Lennon was livid, as were Harrison and Starr, that the album was released mere weeks before the Beatles' long-dormant Let It Be (1970) was due out. Bitter litigation began, which lasted nearly a decade beyond Lennon's 1980 assassination by an obsessed fan outside of his New York apartment, and which effectively prevented any real possibility of a group reunion even while Lennon was still alive.


Compact Disc Configurations, a Reunion, and an Ongoing Feud

One of the burning issues of the 1980s involved deciding in which configurations Beatles albums should be re-released in the then-new compact disc (CD) format. In England, the Beatles had originally released material during the vinyl era on EMI singles, short albums (EPs), and long-playing albums (LPs) that rarely included the same songs. This was a bold move, as it meant that new Beatles albums were not dependent on previously known hit singles, which was in direct opposition to standard industry practice at the time. When the same Beatles piece did appear as a single and an album, the mixesand sometimes even the takes, solos, or arrangementswould be slightly different. The original American Capitol releases of Beatles material, however, often combined material from singles and albums and sometimes in configurations that, although shorter than the British albums, were often more logically organized. The longer British LP configurations won out in the end, along with leftover single and EP material released as two separate Past Masters collections (both 1988). The initial re-release of Beatles albums on CD in the mid- and late 1980s became an event that created booms in the purchase of CD players and helped propel CD sales across the board. Few considered the CD little more than a novelty until the Beatles catalog was finally available in the format.

When Northern Songs, the publishing company that owned the entire Lennon-McCartney song catalog, came up for sale in 1984, McCartney saw a unique opportunity to finally have control over his own music. While he was still attempting to set up a bid with Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, pop icon Michael Jackson made an offer of $47.5 million with the enormous profits from his Thriller (1984) album that in effect put him in control of how and when Beatles songs would be used. The result has been an influx of Beatles songs being used for commercial purposes. Although McCartney publicly complains about this, he continues to make a 25 percent profit from the licensing of any Lennon-McCartney song.

The speculation that a Beatles reunion might take place at the group's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 was dashed when McCartney was a conspicuous no-show. Harrison, Starr, Ono, and Lennon's sons, Julian and Sean, accepted the award together, but McCartney issued a statement that said that, with all of the unsettled legal matters that still existed between the surviving Beatles, he thought it would be hypocritical to participate in a "fake reunion."

The soundtrack to the film Imagine (1988) included all Lennon-penned Beatles numbers alongside Lennon's best post-Beatles solo material in a move clearly designed by Ono to minimize the McCartney side of the LennonMcCartney equation. McCartney responded by going out for the first time ever as a solo artist performing McCartney-penned Beatles material live alongside Wings and McCartney solo material on a gargantuan world tour that broke box office records everywhere, and which was subsequently released as a film (Get Back!, 1990) and a live double album (Tripping the Live Fantastic, 1990). All legal matters between the former Beatles having finally been settled after nearly two decades of wrangling, McCartney began speculating during the tour on the possibility of getting the Fab Three back together.

A reunion of sorts did finally occur in the mid-1990s when the surviving Beatles created music "around" some Lennon demos that were released to much anticipation and fanfare as part of The Beatles Anthology television documentary miniseries (1995) and the three-volume double CD Anthology sets (1995, 1996), which saw the group finally profiting from unreleased material, alternate takes, and demo recordings that had been available in bootleg form for years. A print account of The Beatles Anthology appeared just in time for Christmas 2000 and an expanded DVD version appeared in 2003 with unreleased footage of the truncated trio jamming together.

Harrison's death in late 2001the first Beatle to die of natural causeswas a sobering moment for aging baby boomers. As with Lennon's death in 1980, entire magazines and television specials were devoted to the late Beatle and the Fab Four, and Beatles albums sold out seemingly everywhere. This followed upon the enormous success of The Beatles 1 (2000), a collection of all of the Beatles's number one hits packaged together, which saw new generations of listeners discovering Beatles music. McCartney's postmillennial contribution to the longstanding Lennon-McCartney feud was to reverse the order of the songwriting credits for nineteen Beatles songs on his Back in the U.S. album (2002), from the traditional "Lennon-McCartney" to "Composed by Paul McCartney and John Lennon." In 2003 long-missing stolen tapes from the Let It Be sessions were recovered in Holland, revealing a trove of "lost" Beatles performances and uncovering even more group bitterness than the film had. The ongoing interest in this material served as a reminder that nearly four decades after they first appeared on the scene, the public appetite for anything Beatles-related continued to be insatiable.

Spot Light: The Beatles Reunion

"There will be no Beatles reunion as long as John Lennon remains dead," read George Harrison's much-publicized statement made in 1990, responding to Paul McCartney's media speculation that the surviving Beatles might get back together. Yet, ironically, it would be Harrison and Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, who would come up with the means to musically raise Lennon from the dead, so to speak. After Roy Orbison died of a heart attack in 1988, Harrison and fellow Traveling Wilbury band mates Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Jeff Lyne investigated using some solo tracks of Orbison's voice to complete a Wilbury album when an even more bizarre idea hit Harrison: to use the voice of Elvis Presley. Presley's estate loved the idea and was willing to allow the Wilburys to strip his voice electronically from some unreleased tracks and have the Wilburys record around it. Presley himself was to have been credited as "Aaron Wilbury." In the end, the band decided it was too gimmicky of an idea, but when Harrison shared the story with Yoko Ono, she indicated that she possessed unreleased Lennon songs that were so bare that they would not need to be stripped down. In the wake of the phenomenal success of Natalie Cole's "Unforgettable" (1992) duet with her dead father Nat "King" Cole, the option of using Lennon demos that would be reworked by the other Beatles began to take on greater appeal. In February 1994, behind locked doors, McCartney, Harrison, and Ringo Starralong with the electronic presence of John Lennonreunited in the studio to record "new" Beatles tracks. The first of these, "Free as a Bird," had its much-anticipated unveiling at the conclusion of the first part of the 1995 prime-time week-long television airing of The Beatles Anthology, the Beatles's own documentary that had been called The Long and Winding Road while it was a work in progress for more than two decades. Secrecy was paramount, as screeners and advance releases of The Beatles Anthology did not contain the song, which was released as part of Anthology 1 a few days later and as a single. Another spruced-up Lennon demo, "Real Love," appears at the conclusion of the series and was released on Anthology 2 (1996) and as a single. All of this was a far cry from the elaborate Beatles reunion that fans and promoters had desperately hoped for throughout the 1970s when Lennon was still alive, but in light of Harrison's death in 2001, it becomes the final chapter of the Fab Four, for better or worse.


In 1964 composers Richard Rodgers and Leonard Bernstein were among the few to see the Beatles not merely as captivating performers, but as great songwriters as well. Though the Lennon-McCartney song catalog is standing the test of time and continues to enchant generations of new listeners with an undiminished freshness, its overwhelming presence set a new standard in pop and rock music by which artists were suddenly expected to writeas well as performtheir own music, for better or worse. The six-year period when the Beatles were at the peak of their powers was one of those rare, brief, and wonderful moments when popular culture and high art converged. Their ultimate influence can be seen in the fact that no subsequent act has even remotely captured the public imagination as the Beatles did, and that the creative and cultural revolution that the group helped launch remains a work in progress.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Past Masters, Volume One (Capitol, 1988); Past Masters, Volume Two (Capitol, 1988); Please, Please Me (Capitol re-release, 1990); With the Beatles (Capitol re-release, 1990); Beatles for Sale (Capitol re-release, 1990); Rubber Soul (Capitol re-release, 1990); Revolver (Capitol re-release, 1990); Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol re-release, 1990); Magical Mystery Tour (Capitol re-release, 1990); The Beatles (Capitol re-release, 1990); Abbey Road (Capitol re-release, 1990); Live at the BBC (Capitol, 1994); Anthology 1 (Capitol, 1995); Anthology 2 (Capitol, 1996); Anthology 3 (Capitol, 1996); The Beatles 1 (Capitol, 2000). Soundtracks: A Hard Day's Night (Capitol re-release, 1990); Help! (Capitol re-release, 1990); Let It Be (Capitol re-release, 1990); Yellow Submarine (Capitol re-release, 1999).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

H. Davis, The Beatles: The Authorized Biography (New York, 1968); G. Martin with J. Hornsby, All You Need Is Ears (New York, 1979); P. Norman, Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation (New York, 1981); M. Lewisohn, The Beatles Live (New York, 1986); M. Lewisohn, The Beatles Recording Sessions (New York, 1988); G. Martin with W. Pearson, With a Little Help from My Friends: The Making of Sgt. Pepper (New York, 1995); A Kozinn, The Beatles (New York, 1995); The Beatles, The Beatles Anthology (New York, 2000).

WEBSITE:

www.thebeatles.com.

dennis polkow

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The Beatles

The Beatles

In the 1960s a new band known as the Beatles burst on the pop music scene and changed it forever. Band members included George Harrison (1943-), John Lennon (1940-1980), Paul McCartney (1942-), and Ringo Starr (1940-). With the release of three anthologies in the mid-1990s, the group remained one of the best-selling of all time.

On February 7, 1964, the Beatles arrived at Kennedy International Airport in New York City, met by 110 police officers and a mob of more than 10, 000 screaming fans. The British Invasion—and in particular, "Beatlemania"—had begun, and the "mop-topped" Beatles— John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr —wasted no time in endearing themselves to American fans and the media, though many adults remained skeptical. According to the February 24, 1964, Newsweek cover story, the Beatles' music, already topping the charts, was "a near disaster" that did away with "secondary rhythms, harmony, and melody." Despite such early criticism, the Beatles garnered two Grammy Awards in 1964, foreshadowing the influence they would have on the future of pop culture.

Inspired by the simple guitar-and-washboard "skiffle" music of Lonnie Donegan and later by U.S. pop artists such as Elvis, Buddy Holly, and Little Richard, John Lennon formed his own group, the Quarrymen, in 1956 with Pete Shotton and other friends. Expertise helped guitarist Paul McCartney, whom Shotton introduced to Lennon in 1957 at a church function, find a place in the band, and he in turn introduced Lennon to George Harrison. Only fourteen, Harrison, though a skilled guitarist, did not impress seventeen-year-old Lennon overmuch, but his perseverence finally won him a permanent niche in the developing ensemble. Stuart Sutcliffe, an artist friend of Lennon's, brought a bass guitar into the group a year later. Calling themselves Johnny and the Moondogs, the band eventually won a chance to tour Scotland, backing a little-known singer, Johnny Gentle. Renamed the Silver Beatles, they were well-received, but the pay was poor, and the end of the tour saw the exit of a disgusted drummer and the arrival of Pete Best.

With the help of Welshman Allan Williams, club owner and sometime-manager for many promising bands playing around Liverpool in 1960, the Beatles found themselves polishing their act at seedy clubs in Hamburg, West Germany. Living quarters were squalid, working conditions demanding, but instead of splintering the group, the experience strengthened them. Encouraged by their audiences' demands to "make show, " they became confident, outrageous performers. Lennon in particular was reported to have played in his underwear with a toilet seat around his neck, and the whole band romped madly on the stage. Such spectacles by the Beatles and another English band, Rory Storme and the Hurricanes, ultimately caved in the stage at one club. The Beatles' second trip to Hamburg, in 1961, was distinguished by a better club and a series of recordings for which they backed singer Tony Sheridan—recordings that proved critical in gaining them a full-time manager. At the end of that stay, Sutcliffe remained in Hamburg to marry, having ceded bass duties to McCartney. He died tragically the following spring, shortly after the Beatles joined up with Brian Epstein.

Intrigued by requests for Tony Sheridan's "My Bonnie" single, featuring the Beatles, record shop manager Brain Epstein sought the band at Liverpool's Cavern Club. Within a year of signing a managerial agreement with Epstein, the Beatles gained a recording contract from E.M.I. Records producer George Martin, and on the eve of success shuffled yet another drummer out, causing riots among Pete Best's loyal following. The last in a long line of percussionists came in the form of the Hurricanes' sad-eyed former drummer, Ritchie Starkey— Ringo Starr.

Despite initial doubts, Martin agreed to use Lennon and McCartney originals on both sides of the Beatles' first single. "Love Me Do, " released on October 5, 1962, did well enough to convince Martin that, with the right material, the Beatles could achieve a number one record. He was proved correct. "Please Please Me, " released in Britain on January 12, 1963, was an immediate hit. The biweekly newspaper Mersey Beat quoted Keith Fordyce of New Musical Express, who called the song "a really enjoyable platter, full of vigour and vitality, " as well as Brian Matthew, then Britain's most influential commentator on pop music, who proclaimed the Beatles "musically and visually the most accomplished group to emerge since the Shadows." The Beatles' first British album, recorded in one thirteen-hour session, remained number one on the charts for six months.

The United States remained indifferent until, one month before the Beatles' arrival, E.M.I.'s U.S. subsidiary, Capitol Records, launched an unprecedented $50, 000 promotional campaign. It and the Beatles' performances on The Ed Sullivan Show, which opened their first American tour, paid off handsomely. "I Want to Hold Your Hand, " released in the United States in January of 1964, hit number one within three weeks. After seven weeks at the top of the charts, it dropped to number two to make room for "She Loves You, " which gave way to "Can't Buy Me Love." As many as three new songs a week were released, until on April 4, 1964, the Beatles held the top five slots on the Billboard list of top sellers, another seven in the top one hundred, and four albums positions including the top two. One week later, fourteen of the top one hundred songs were the Beatles'—a feat unmatched before or since.

Also in 1964, long before music videos had become commonplace, the Beatles appeared in the first of several innovative full-length feature films. Shot in black-and-white and well-received by critics, A Hard Day's Night represented a day in the life of the group. Its release one month before the Beatles began their second U.S. tour was timely. Help, released in July of 1965, was a madcap fantasy filmed in color. Exotic locations made Help visually more interesting than the first film, but critics were less impressed. Both albums sold well, though the U.S. versions contained fewer original songs, and Help was padded with pseudo-Eastern accompanying tracks.

The 1965 and 1966 albums Rubber Soul and Revolver marked a turning point in the Beatles' recording history. The most original of their collections to date, both combined Eastern, country-western, soul, and classical motifs with trend-setting covers, breaking any mold that seemed to contain "rock and roll." In both albums, balladry, classical instrumentation, and new structure resulted in brilliant new concepts just hinted at in earlier works like "Yesterday" and "Rain." Songs such as "Tomorrow Never Knows, " "Eleanor Rigby, " and the lyrically surreal "Norwegian Wood" made use of sophisticated recording techniques—marking the beginning of the end of the group's touring, since live performances of such songs was technically impossible at the time. The Beatles became further distanced from their fans by Lennon's comments to a London Evening Standard writer: "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that, I'm right and will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus Christ now. I don't know which will go first, rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me." While the British dismissed the statement as another "Lennonism, " American teens in the Bible Belt took Lennon's words literally, ceremoniously burning Beatle albums as the group finished their last U.S. tour amid riots and death threats.

Acclaimed by critics, with advance sales of more than one million, the tightly produced "conceptual" album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was perhaps the high point of the Beatles' recording career. No longer a "collection" of Lennon-McCartney and Harrison originals, the four-Grammy album was, in a stunning and evocative cover package, a thematic whole so aesthetically pleasing as to remain remarkably timeless. Imaginative melodies carried songs about many life experiences, self-conscious philosophy, and bizarre imagery, as in "A Day in the Life"—a quintessential sixties studio production. The Beatles' music had evolved from catchy love songs to profound ballads, social commentary, and work clearly affected by their growing awareness of and experimentation with Eastern mysticism and hallucinogenic drugs. Song like "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" were pegged as drug-induced (LSD), and even Starr's seemingly harmless rendition of "A Little Help From My Friends" included references to getting "high." Broadening their horizons seemed an essential part of the Beatles' lives and, influenced greatly by Harrison's interest in Indian religion, the Beatles visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Bangor, Wales, in 1967. It was there that news of Brian Epstein's death reached them.

The group's next cooperative project was the scripting and directing of another film, Magical Mystery Tour, an unrehearsed, unorganized failure. Intended to be fresh, it drew criticism as a compilation of adolescent humor, gag bits, and undisciplined boredom. The resulting album, however, featured polished studio numbers such as McCartney's "Fool on the Hill" and a curiosity of Lennon's, "I Am the Walrus." The American LP added tracks including "Penny Lane, " "Hello Goodbye, " and "Strawberry Fields Forever, " which were immortalized on short films broadcast by Ed Sullivan. Solo projects in 1967 and 1968 included the acting debuts of Lennon in How I Won the War and Starr in Candy, Harrison's soundtrack to the film "Wonderwall, " and Lennon's eventual release of his and Yoko Ono's controversial Two Virgins albums.

Growing diversity pointed to disintegration, the early throes of which were evident in 1968 on the two-record set, The Beatles, the first album released by the group's new record company, Apple. The White Album, as it was commonly known, showcased a variety of songs, mostly disjointed, often incomprehensible. According to George Martin, as quoted in The Beatles Forever, "I tried to plead with them to be selective and make it a really good single album, but they wouldn't have it." The unity seen in earlier projects was nudged aside by individuality and what appeared to be a growing rift between Lennon and McCartney. Whereas the latter contributed ballads like "Blackbird, " the former ground out antiwar statements, parodied the Maharishi, and continued to experiment with obscure production. Harrison, on the other hand, shone in "While My Guitar Gently Weeps, " aided by Eric Clapton's tasteful guitar solo. Starr, for the first time, was allotted the space for an original, the country-western "Don't Pass Me By, " which became a number-one hit in Scandinavia where it was released as a single. Overall, critics found the White Album a letdown after the mastery of Sgt. Pepper, though Capitol claimed it was the fastest-selling album in the history of the record industry.

Despite having little to do with its making, the Beatles regained some of their lost status with Yellow Submarine, an animated feature film released in July 1968. A fantasy pitting the big-eyed, colorfully clothed Beatles against the squattish Blue Meanies, the film was visually pleasing if not initially a big money-maker. The group spent minimal time on the music, padding it with studio-session throwaways and re-releases of "All You Need Is Love" and "Yellow Submarine" itself. The remainder of 1968 and 1969 showed the individual Beatles continuing to work apart. Starr appeared in the film The Magic Christian, and Lennon performed live outside the group with Yoko Ono, whom he had married, and the Plastic Ono Band.

After spending months filming and recording the documentary that would later emerge as the Let It Be film and album, the Beatles abandoned thirty hours of tape and film to producer George Martin. Since editing it down would make release before 1970 impossible, the album was put on hold. Instead, for the final time, the Beatles gathered to produce an album "the way we used to do it, " as McCartney was quoted in Philip Norman's book, Shout! The result was as stunning in its internal integrity as Sgt. Pepper had been. Schisms seemed to vanish on Abbey Road, with all Beatles at their best. Lennon showed himself sardonic but controlled in "Come Together" and "I Want You—She's So Heavy, " McCartney crooned ballads and doo-wop rockers alike in "Golden Slumbers" and "Oh! Darling!"; and Harrison surpassed both of them with "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something, " hailed by Lennon as the best track on the album. Starr, always in the background, provided vocals for "Octopus's Garden" and uncompromising and creative drumming throughout. Wrote Schaffner, "The musicianship is always tasteful, unobtrusive, and supportive of the songs themselves…. The Beatles never sounded more together." Yet another Grammy winner, it was a triumphal exit from the 1960s, and its declaration, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make, " read like an epitaph until the "post mortem" release of the heavily edited Let It Be.

American producer Phil Spector took over the Let It Be clean-up project from George Martin in 1970. The resulting album, brought out after fifteen months of apathy, bickering, and legal battles, was a mixture of raw recordings, glimpses of the Beatles in an earlier era, and heavily dubbed strings and vocals—as on McCartney's "Long and Winding Road." Though most tracks were tightly and effectively edited, critics said the album lacked the harmony of earlier endeavors. According to Schaffner, Lennon later told Rolling Stone, "We couldn't get into it…. I don't know, it was just a dreadful, dreadful feeling … you couldn't make music … in a strange place with people filming you and colored lights." The film, which strove to show the Beatles as honestly and naturally as possible, gave further evidence of disintegration. Band members were shown quarreling, unresponsive to McCartney's attempts to raise morale. Said Alan Smith of the New Musical Express, quoted by Roy Carr and Tony Tyler in The Beatles: An Illustrated Record, "If the Beatles soundtrack album 'Let It Be' is to be their last, then it will stand as a cheapskate epitaph, a cardboard tombstone, a sad and tatty end to a musical fusion which wiped clean and drew again the face of pop music."

By the end of 1970, all four Beatles had recorded solo albums, and, in 1971, McCartney sued for the dissolution of the group. Throughout the seventies, promoters attempted to reunite them without success. The Beatles did perform on Starr's Ringo album in 1973—though not together in the studio, Lennon, Harrison, and McCartney contributed music, vocals, and backing. The tragic murder of John Lennon on December 8, 1980, quashed any hopes of a reunion among all of the Beatles. In the mid-1990s, however, the Beatles did release new music under the original band name. The living Beatles played over taped instrumentation and vocals left by Lennon. The singles "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" were released as parts of anthologies featuring rare material and outtakes from Beatles recording sessions. "Free as a Bird" debuted with a music video in the United States as part of a television anthology presented on ABC-TV in 1995.

Selected recordings include Introducing the Beatles, Vee Jay, 1963; Meet the Beatles, Capitol, 1964; The Beatles Second Album, Capitol, 1964; A Hard Day's Night, United Artists, 1964; Something New, Capitol, 1964; The Beatles Story, Capitol, 1964; Beatles '65, Capitol, 1964; The Early Beatles, Capitol, 1965; Beatles VI, Capitol, 1965; Help, Capitol, 1965; Rubber Soul, Capitol, 1965; Yesterday …. and Today; Revolver, Capitol, 1966; Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Capitol, 1967; Magical Mystery Tour, Capitol, 1967; The Beatles (White Album), Apple, 1968; Yellow Submarine, Apple, 1969; Abbey Road, Apple, 1969; Hey Jude, Apple, 1970; Tony Sheridan and the Beatles, Polydor, 1970; Let It Be, Apple, 1970; The Beatles 1962-1966, Apple, 1973; The Beatles 1967-1970, Apple, 1973; Rock 'N' Roll Music, Capitol, 1976; The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, Capitol, 1976; The Beatles Live! At the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany: 1962, Lingasong, 1977; Love Songs, Capitol, 1977; Rarities, Capitol, 1979; Anthology I; Anthology II, Apple, 1996; Anthology III, Apple, 1996.

Further Reading

Contemporary Musicians: Profiles of the People in Music, Gale Research, Detroit, Michigan.

Carr, Roy and Tony Tyler, The Beatles: An Illustrated Record, Harmony Books, 1978.

Norman, Philip, Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation, Simon and Schuster, 1981.

Schaffner, Nicholas, The Beatles Forever, McGraw, 1978.

Schaumburg, Ron, Growing up With the Beatles, Harcourt, 1976.

Evening Standard, (London), March 4, 1966.

Mersey Beat, January 31-February 14, 1963.

Newsweek, February 24, 1964.

Oakland Press Sunday Magazine, February 4, 1979.

Time, December 22, 1980. □

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Beatles

Beatles

English rock and roll band

In the 1960s a new band known as the Beatles burst on the pop music scene and changed it forever. Band members included George Harrison (19432001), John Lennon (19401980), Paul McCartney (1942), and Ringo Starr (1940). With the release of three anthologies (collections) in the mid-1990s, the Beatles remain one of the best-selling musical groups of all time.

Early days

The Beatles came from Liverpool, England, and were originally inspired by the simple guitar-and-washboard style "skiffle" music. Skiffle was a lively type of acoustic (nonelectric) music that used songs from British and American folk and popular music. Later such U.S. pop artists as Elvis Presley (19351977), Buddy Holly (19361959), and Little Richard (1932) influenced them. All four members of the Beatles had an early interest in music.

The Beatles started when John Lennon formed his own group, called the Quarrymen, in 1956. Paul McCartney joined the group as a guitarist in 1957. Fourteen-yearold George Harrison, though a skilled guitarist, did not initially impress seventeen-year-old Lennon, but eventually won a permanent spot in the developing group. The Beatles went through several additional members as well as through several name changes. After the Quarrymen they became Johnny and the Moondogs. Later they called themselves the Silver Beatles, and, eventually, simply The Beatles. They played not only in Liverpool, but also in Scotland and in Hamburg, Germany, in 1960.

When the Beatles' bass player, Stu Sutcliffe, decided to leave, McCartney took over that instrument. Upon their return to England, a record shop manager named Brian Epstein approached the band about becoming their manager. Within a year of signing Epstein on as manager, the Beatles gained a recording contract from EMI Records producer George Martin. Drummer Pete Best left the group and a sad-eyed drummer named Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr, joined.

Despite initial doubts, George Martin agreed to use Lennon and McCartney originals on both sides of the Beatles' first single. "Love Me Do," released on October 5, 1962, convinced Martin that, with the right material, the Beatles could achieve a number one record. He was proven correct.

First successes

The Beatles' "Please Please Me," released in Britain on January 12, 1963, was an immediate hit. The Beatles' first British album, recorded in one thirteen-hour session, remained number one on the charts for six months. The United States remained uninterested until, one month before the Beatles' arrival, EMI's U.S. company, Capitol Records, launched an unprecedented (never done before) fifty thousand dollar promotional campaign. The publicity and the Beatles' American tour-opening performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, the most popular entertainment show on television at the time, paid off handsomely. They were given the nicknames "The Fab Four" and "The Mop Tops" (because of their hair styles). The devotion of their fans was called Beatlemania.

The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand," released in the United States in January 1964, hit number one within three weeks. After seven weeks at the top of the charts, it dropped to number two to make room for "She Loves You," which gave way to "Can't Buy Me Love." As many as three new songs a week were released, until, on April 4, 1964, the Beatles held the top five slots on the Billboard (a recording industry publication) list of top sellers. They also had another seven songs in the top one hundred, plus four album positions, including the top two. One week later fourteen of the top one hundred songs were the Beatles'a feat that had never been matched before, nor has it since.

New career in movies

Also in 1964 the Beatles appeared in the first of several innovative full-length feature films. Shot in black-and-white and well-received by critics, A Hard Day's Night was a fictional representation of a day in the life of the group. Critics and fans loved it. Help was released in July 1965. It was a madcap (recklessly foolish) fantasy filmed in color. Exotic locations in Europe and the Bahamas made Help visually more interesting than the first film, but critics were less impressed.

Growth and controversy

The Beatles' 1965 and 1966 albums Rubber Soul and Revolver marked a turning point in the band's recording history. The most original of their collections to date, both combined Eastern, country-western, soul, and classical motifs with trend-setting covers, breaking any mold that seemed to define "rock and roll." In both albums balladry (songs that tell stories), classical instrumentation, and new structure resulted in brilliant new concepts. Songs such as "Tomorrow Never Knows," "Eleanor Rigby," and the lyrical "Norwegian Wood" made use of sophisticated (subtle and complex) recording techniques. This was the beginning of the end for the group's touring, since live performances of such songs were technically impossible at the time.

The Beatles became further distanced from their fans, when, in an interview with a London Evening Standard writer, Lennon said, "We're more popular than Jesus Christ now." Later Lennon said he was misunderstood. Some American teenagers took Lennon's words literally, however. They burned Beatles' albums, and the group finished their last U.S. tour amid riots and death threats.

The change of rock and roll

Acclaimed by critics, with advance sales of more than one million, the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) was perhaps the high point of their recording career. It was not simply a "collection" of Lennon-McCartney and Harrison originals. Presented in a stunning and evocative album package, it was thematically (everything related to one idea) whole and artistically pleasing. Most critics believe it will remain timeless. It contains imaginative melodies and songs about many life experiences, philosophy, and unusual imagery. The Beatles' music had evolved from catchy love songs to profound ballads and social commentary. Trying new things seemed to be an essential part of the Beatles' lives. Influenced greatly by Harrison's interest in India, the Beatles visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India.

The long winding road down

The Beatles' next cooperative project was the scripting and directing of another film, Magical Mystery Tour (1967) for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). It was an unrehearsed, unorganized failure. Intended to be fresh, it drew criticism as a compilation of adolescent humor, gag bits, and undisciplined boredom. The accompanying album, however, featured polished studio numbers such as McCartney's "Fool on the Hill" and Lennon's "I Am the Walrus," as well as "Penny Lane," "Hello Goodbye," and "Strawberry Fields Forever," which were not included in the film.

Growing differences between artistic approaches pointed to the Beatles breaking up. In 1968 they recorded a two-record set, simply called The Beatles. It was the first album released by the group's new record company, Apple. The White Album, as it was commonly known, had a variety of songs that had no connection to each other and, some felt, that were often difficult to understand. There particularly appeared to be a growing break between Lennon and McCartney. McCartney contributed ballads like "Blackbird," while Lennon gave antiwar statements like "Revolution" and made fun of the Maharishi. Harrison, on the other hand, shone in "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," aided by Eric Clapton's tasteful guitar solo. For the first time Starr was allotted the space for an original, the country-western "Don't Pass Me By," which became a number-one hit in Scandinavia (northern Europe), where it was released as a single.

The Beatles' animated feature film Yellow Submarine was released in July 1968. A fantasy about the Beatles battling against the Blue Meanies, the film was visually pleasing, but did not make much money when it was first released.

The remainder of 1968 and 1969 saw the individual Beatles continuing to work apart. Starr appeared in the film The Magic Christian. Lennon performed live outside the Beatles in a group called the Plastic Ono Band with his wife Yoko Ono (1933).

Last works

The Beatles spent months filming and recording for Let It Be. It was supposed to be a film of how the group worked together. It ended up as a film showing the group falling apart. Editing would have made release before 1970 impossible, so the project was put on hold. Instead, for the final time, the Beatles gathered to produce an album "the way we used to do it," as McCartney was quoted in Philip Norman's book, Shout! The result was as stunning as Sgt. Pepper had been. All their problems seemed to vanish on the album Abbey Road (1969). The Beatles were at their best. The album contained such classics as "Come Together," "Golden Slumbers," "Octopus's Garden," and Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun" and "Some-thing," which Lennon hailed the best track on the album. They won yet another Grammy Award.

American producer Phil Spector (1940) took over the Beatles' Let It Be project in 1970. The resulting film and album, released in 1971, got mixed reviews. Band members were seen quarreling and unresponsive to McCartney's attempts to raise morale (spirit). By the end of 1970 all four Beatles had recorded solo albums. In 1971 McCartney sued to legally end the group. Throughout the 1970s promoters attempted to reunite them without success.

The end of an era

Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon on December 8, 1980, in New York City, New York. In the mid-1990s, however, new music was released under the original band name. The remaining Beatles played over songs Lennon had left on tape. The singles "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" were released as parts of anthologies featuring material from earlier Beatles recording sessions.

George Harrison died on November 29, 2001, in Los Angeles, California, of brain cancer. Both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr continue to record. The Beatles were a major influence not only in rock and roll but also in the creation of modern popular music. The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Lennon and McCartney have also been inducted as solo performers.

For More Information

The Beatles Anthology. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000.

Davies, Hunter. The Beatles. 2nd rev. ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 1996.

Hertsgaard, Mark. A Day in the Life. New York, NY: Delacorte Press, 1995.

Knight, Judson. Abbey Road to Zapple Records: A Beatles Encyclopedia. Dallas: Taylor, 1999.

Turner, Steve. A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song. New York: HarperPerennial, 1999.

Venezia, Mike. The Beatles. New York: Children's Press, 1997.

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Beatles, The

The Beatles, English rock music group formed in the late 1950s and disbanded in 1970. The members were John (Winston) Lennon, 1940–80, guitar and harmonica; (James) Paul McCartney, 1942–, guitar and piano; George Harrison, 1943–2001, guitar and sitar; and Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey), 1940–, drums. All were born in Liverpool, England. Influenced by such American performers as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley, The Beatles dominated rock music in the 1960s, eventually disbanding when they felt their possibilities as a group were exhausted. The lyrics and music for most of their songs were written by Lennon and McCartney.

The group burst on the international rock music scene in 1961. Their initial appeal derived as much from their wit, Edwardian clothes, and moplike haircuts as from their music. By 1963 they were the objects of wild adoration and were constantly followed by crowds of shrieking adolescent girls. By the late 1960s, "Beatlemania" had abated somewhat, and The Beatles were highly regarded by a broad spectrum of music lovers.

From 1963 to 1970 the group released 18 record albums that clearly document its musical development. The early recordings, such as Meet The Beatles (1964), are remarkable for their solid rhythms and excitingly rich, tight harmony. The middle albums, like Rubber Soul (1965) and Revolver (1966), evolved toward social commentary in their lyrics ( "Eleanor Rigby," "Taxman" ) and introduced such instruments as the cello, trumpet, and sitar. In 1967, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band marked the beginning of The Beatles' final period, which is characterized by electronic techniques and allusive, drug-inspired lyrics. The group acted and sang in four films: A Hard Day's Night (1964), Help! (1965), Magical Mystery Tour (1968), and Let It Be (1970); all of these are outstanding for their exuberance, slapstick, and satire. They also were animated characters in the full-length cartoon, Yellow Submarine (1968). After they disbanded, all The Beatles continued to compose and record songs. In 1980, Lennon was shot to death by a fan, Mark Chapman. McCartney was knighted in 1997.

See John Lennon, In His Own Write (1964, repr. 2000) and J. S. Wenner, ed., Lennon Remembers: The Rolling Stone Interviews (2000); B. Epstein, A Cellarful of Noise (1964); H. Davies, The Beatles (1968, repr. 1996); W. Mellers, Twilight of the Gods (1974); P. Norman, Shout! (1981); R. DiLello, The Longest Cocktail Party (1972, repr. 1983); T. Riley, Tell Me Why (1988); M. Lewisohn, The Beatles Recording Sessions (1988), The Beatles Day by Day (1990), The Complete Beatles Chronicles (1992), and The Beatles: All These Years (Tune In, Vol. 1, 2013); I. MacDonald, Revolution in the Head (1994); M. Hertsgaard, A Day in the Life (1995); The Beatles Anthology (video, 1995; book, 2000); B. Spitz, The Beatles: The Biography (2005); K. Womack, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles (2009).

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Beatles, The

Beatles, The. Vocal and instr. Eng. pop group (guitars and drums) who attained worldwide popularity and critical acclaim during 1960s, chiefly in songs by 2 of the members, John Lennon (b Liverpool, 1940; d NY, 1980) and Paul McCartney (b Liverpool, 1942). Formed and named in Liverpool c.1957 by Lennon, with McCartney and George Harrison (b Liverpool, 1943). Played at Casbah and Cavern Clubs, Liverpool, until invited to Hamburg, 1960, where 2 extra members were Stuart Sutcliffe (electric bass guitar) and Pete Best (drums). Sutcliffe died 1962. Best was replaced by Ringo Starr (orig. Richard Starkey, b Liverpool, 1940). Group's nat. popularity as qt. ( Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr) began 1962 under management of Brian Epstein (b Liverpool, 1935; d London, 1967), followed by highly successful tours of USA and elsewhere. Term ‘Beatlemania’ coined to describe adulation accorded them, not only by the young. Among songs written by Lennon and McCartney were Please, please me, She loves you, Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, Yellow submarine, and Hey Jude. Each of group became MBE, 1965. Group made several films; record sales were phenomenal. Ceased performing together 1969, partnership being later legally dissolved. McCartney formed new group called ‘Wings’, Lennon settled in USA where he was shot dead, Harrison continued to record, performing only rarely, and Starr continued to record and to perform in films.

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Beatles, The

Beatles, The British rock group. Perhaps the most influential band in the history of 20th-century popular music. Formed in Liverpool in 1960, The Beatles initially consisted of John Lennon (1940–80), Paul McCartney (1942– ), George Harrison (1943–2001), and Pete Best (1941– ). In 1962 Best was replaced by Ringo Starr ( Richard Starkey, 1940– ). The Beatles' early style was US-derivative rhythm and blues blended with Lennon and McCartney's song-writing talent and attractive harmonies. Between 1964 and 1970, they dominated pop music with 18 albums, including Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). After 1966 they never publicly performed live. The group made four feature films: A Hard Day's Night (1964), Help! (1965), Magical Mystery Tour (1968), and Let It Be (1970). They also supplied the soundtrack for the cartoon Yellow Submarine (1968). In 1970 the Beatles disbanded to pursue individual careers.

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Beatles

Beatles. The Beatles, a 1960s Liverpool pop group, were the decade's most commercially successful rock-pop musicians and a social phenomenon (‘Beatlemania’) in crystallizing youth culture. The later musical experimentalism of John Lennon (murdered, 1980) and Paul McCartney, the main songwriters of the ‘Fab Four’, subverted, revolutionized, and continues to influence popular culture for younger generations.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Beatles, the

Beatles, the a pop and rock group from Liverpool consisting of George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr.

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The Beatles

The Beatles

British pop/rock group

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

On February 7, 1964, the Beatles arrived at Kennedy International Airport in New York City, met by 110 police officers and a mob of more than 10, 000 screaming fans. The British Invasionand in particular, Beatlemania had begun, and the mop-topped BeatlesJohn Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starrwasted no time in endearing themselves to American fans and the media, though many adults remained skeptical. According to the February 24, 1964, Newsweek cover story, the Beatles music, already topping the charts, was a near disaster that did away with secondary rhythms, harmony, and melody. Despite such early criticism, the Beatles garnered two Grammy Awards in 1964, foreshadowing the influence they would have on the future of pop culture.

Inspired by the simple guitar-and-washboard skiffle music of Lonnie Doengan and later by U.S. pop artists such as Elvis, Buddy Holly, and Little Richard, John Lennon formed his own group, the Quarrymen, in 1956 with Pete Shotton and other friends. Expertise helped

For the Record

Group originally formed as the Quarrymen in Liverpool, England, 1955, byJohn Lennon (full name, John Winston Lennon; 1940-1980);Paul McCartney (full name, James Paul McCartney; 1942) joined group in June 1956;George Harrison (1943) joined group in August 1958; added Stu Sutcliffe, 1960 (quit group, 1961; died, April, 1962); added drummerPete Best , 1960 (fired, 1962); drummerRingo Starr (real name, Richard Starkey; 1940), August 1962; group performed under numerous names prior to 1962, including Johnny and the Moondogs, the Moonshiners, and Long John and the Silver Beatles.

Group performed in Liverpool, England, area prior to 1960; Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Sutcliffe, and Best (under name Silver Beatles) performed as backup group for singer Tony Sheridan in Hamburg, Germany, 1960; group (minus Sutcliffe) returned to Liverpool to perform at Cavern Club, February 1961; first studio recording session for Capitol/EMI (produced by George Martin), September 4-11, 1962; first single, Love Me Do, released in England, October 5, 1962; first number one hit, Please, Please Me, reached top of British charts, February 1963; subsequently sold over 100 million singles and 100 million albums; conducted major world tours, 1964, 1965, and 1966; discontinued live performances, 1967; appeared in motion pictures, including A Hard Days Night, 1964, Help, 1965, and Let It Be, 1970; formed own record label, Apple Records, 1968; group disbanded, 1970; McCartney filed for legal dissolution of group, 1971; group legally dissolved, December 30, 1974.

Awards: Group presented with numerous awards, including numerous Grammy Awards. Individual group members decorated Order of the British Empire, 1965.

guitarist Paul McCartney, whom Shotton introduced to Lennon in 1957 at a church function, find a place in the band, and he in turn introduced Lennon to George Harrison. Only fourteen, Harrison, though a skilled guitarist, did not impress seventeen-year-old Lennon overmuch, but his perseverence finally won him a permanent niche in the developing ensemble. Stuart Sutcliffe, an artist friend of Lennons brought a bass guitar into the group a year later. Calling themselves Johnny and the Moondogs, the band eventually won a chance to tour Scotland, backing a little-known singer, Johnny Gentle. Renamed the Silver Beatles, they were well-received, but the pay was poor, and the end of the tour saw the exit of a disgusted drummer and the arrival of Pete Best.

With the help of Welshman Allan Williams, club owner and sometime-manager for many promising bands playing around Liverpool in 1960, the Beatles found themselves polishing their act at seedy clubs in Hamburg, West Germany. Living quarters were squalid, working conditions demanding, but instead of splintering the group, the experience strengthened them. Encouraged by their audidences demands to make show, they became confident, outrageous performers. Lennon in particular was reported to have played in his underwear with a toiled seat around his neck, and the whole band romped madly on the stage. Such spectacles by the Beatles and another English band, Rory Storme and the Hurricanes, ultimately caved in the stage at one club. The Beatles second trip to Hamburg, in 1961, was distinguished by a better club and a series of recordings for which they backed singer Tony Sheridanrecordings that proved critical in gaining them a full-time manager. At the end of that stay, Sutcliffe remained in Hamburg to marry, having ceded bass duties to McCartney. He died tragically the following spring, shortly after the Beatles joined up with Brian Epstein.

Intrigued by requests for Tony Sheridans My Bonnie single, featuring the Beatles, record shop manager Brain Epstein sought the band at Liverpools Cavern Club. Within a year of signing a managerial agreement with Epstein, the Beatles gained a recording contract from E.M.I. Records producer George Martin, and on the eve of success shuffled yet another drummer out, causing riots among Pete Bests loyal following. The last in a long line of percussionists came in the form of the Hurricanes sad-eyed former drummer, Ritchie StarkeyRingo Starr.

Despite initial doubts, Martin agreed to use Lennon and McCartney originals on both sides of the Beatles first single. Love Me Do, released on October 5, 1962, did well enough to convince Martin that, with the right material, the Beatles could achieve a number one record. He was proved correct. Please Please Me, released in Britain on January 12, 1963, was an immediate hit. The biweekly newspaper Mersey Beat quoted Keith Fordyce of New Musical Express, who called the song a really enjoyable platter, full of vigour and vitality, as well as Brian Matthew, then Britains most influential commentator on pop music, who proclaimed the Beatles musically and visually the most accomplished group to emerge since the Shadows. The Beatles first British album, recorded in one thirteen-hour session, remained number one on the charts for six months.

The United States remained indifferent until, one month before the Beatles arrival, E.M.I.s U.S. subsidiary, Capitol Records, launched an unprecedented $50, 000 promotional campaign. It and the Beatles performances on The Ed Sullivan Show, which opened their first American tour, paid off handsomely. I Want to Hold Your Hand, released in the United States in January of 1964, hit number one within three weeks. After seven weeks at the top of the charts, it dropped to number two to make room for She Loves You, which gave way to Cant Buy Me Love. As many as three new songs a week were released, until on April 4, 1964, the Beatles held the top five slots on the Billboard list of top sellers, anther seven in the top one hundred, and four albums positions including the top two. One week later, fourteen of the top one hundred songs were the Beatlesa feat unmatched before or since.

Also in 1964, long before music videos had become commonplace, the Beatles appeared in the first of several innovative full-length feature films. Shot in black-and-white and well-received by critics, A Hard Days Night represented a day in the life of the group. Its release one month before the Beatles began their second U.S. tour was timely. Help, released in July of 1965, was a madcap fantasy filmed in color. Exotic locations made Help visually more interesting than the first film, but critics were less impressed. Both albums sold well, though the U.S. versions contained fewer original songs, and Help was padded with pseudo-Eastern accompanying tracks.

The 1965 and 1966 albums Rubber Soul and Revolver marked a turning point in the Beatles recording history. The most original of their collections to date, both combined Eastern, country-western, soul, and classical motifs with trend-setting covers, breaking any mold that seemed to contain rock and roll. In both albums, balladry, classical instrumentation, and new structure resulted in brilliant new concepts just hinted at in earlier works like Yesterday and Rain. Songs such as Tomorrow Never Knows, Eleanor Rigby, and the lyrically surreal Norwegian Wood made use of sophisticated recording techniquesmarking the beginning of the end of the groups touring, since live performances of such songs was technically impossible at the time. The Beatles became further distanced from their fans by Lennons comments to a London Evening Standard writer: Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I neednt argue about that, Im right and will be proved right. Were more popular than Jesus Christ now. I dont know which will go first, rock n roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. Its them twisting it that ruins it for me. While the British dismissed the statement as another Lennonism, American teens in the Bible Belt took Lennons words literally, ceremoniously burning Beatle albums as the group finished their last U.S. tour amid riots and death threats.

Acclaimed by critics, with advance sales of more than one million, the tightly produced conceptual album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was perhaps the high point of the Beatles recording career. No longer a collection of Lennon-McCartney and Harrison originals, the four-Grammy album was, in a stunning and evocative cover package, a thematic whole so aesthetically pleasing as to remain remarkably timeless. Imaginative melodies carried songs about many life experiences, self-conscious philosophy, and bizarre imagery, as in A Day in the Life a quintessential sixties studio production. The Beatles music had evolved from catchy love songs to profound ballads, social commentary, and work clearly affected by their growing awareness of and experimentation with Eastern mysticism and hallucinogenic drugs. Song like Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds were pegged as drug-induced (LSD), and even Starrs seemingly harmless rendition of A Little Help From My Friends included references to getting high. Broadening their horizons seemed an essential part of the Beatles lives and, influenced greatly by Harrisons interest in Indian religion, the Beatles visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Bangor, Wales, in 1967. It was there that news of Brian Epsteins death reached them.

The groups next cooperative project was the scripting and directing of another film, Magical Mystery Tour, an unrehearsed, unorganized failure. Intended to be fresh, it drew criticism as a compilation of adolescent humor, gag bits, and undisciplined boredom. The resulting album, however, featured polished studio numbers such as McCartneys Fool on the Hill and a curiosity of Lennons, I Am the Walrus. The American LP added tracks including Penny Lane, Hello Goodbye, and Strawberry Fields Forever, which were immortalized on short films broadcast by Ed Sullivan. Solo projects in 1967 and 1968 included the acting debuts of Lennon in How I Won the War and Starr in Candy, Harrisons soundtrack to the film Wonderwall, and Lennons eventual release of his and Yoko Onos controversial Two Virgins albums.

Growing diversity pointed to disintegration, the early throes of which were evident in 1968 on the two-record set, The Beatles, the first album released by the groups new record company, Apple. The White Album, as it was commonly known, showcased a variety of songs, mostly disjointed, often incomprehensible. According to George Martin, as quoted in The Beatles Forever, I tried to plead with them to be selective and make it a really good single album, but they wouldnt have it. The unity seen in earlier projects was nudged aside by individuality and what appeared to be a growing rift between Lennon and McCartney. Whereas the latter contributed ballads like Blackbird, the former groundout antiwar statements, parodied the Maharishi, and continued to experiment with obscure production. Harrison, on the other hand, shone in While My Guitar Gently Weeps, aided by Eric Claptons tasteful guitar solo. Starr, for the first time, was allotted the space for an original, the country-western Dont Pass Me By, which became a number-one hit in Scandinavia where it was released as a single. Overall, critics found the White Album a letdown after the mastery of Sgt. Pepper, though Capitol claimed it was the fastest-selling album in the history of the record industry.

Despite having little to do with its making, the Beatles regained some of their lost status with Yellow Submarine, an animated feature film released in July 1968. A fantasy pitting the big-eyed, colorfully clothed Beatles against the squattish Blue Meanies, the film was visually pleasing if not initially a big money-maker. The group spent minimal time on the music, padding it with studio-session throwaways and re-releases of All You Need Is Love and Yellow Submarine itself. The remainder of 1968 and 1969 showed the individual Beatles continuing to work apart. Starr appeared in the film The Magic Christian, and Lennon performed live outside the group with Yoko Ono, whom he had married, and the Plastic Ono Band.

After spending months filming and recording the documentary that would later emerge as the Let It Be film and album, the Beatles abandoned thirty hours of tape and film to producer George Martin. Since editing it down would make release before 1970 impossible, the album was put on hold. Instead, for the final time, the Beatles gathered to produce an album the way we used to do it, as McCartney was quoted in Philip Normans book, Shout! The result was as stunning in its internal integrity as Sgt. Pepper had been. Schisms seemed to vanish on Abbey Road, with all Beatles at their best. Lennon showed himself sardonic but controlled in Come Together and I Want YouShes So Heavy, McCartney crooned ballads and doo-wop rockers alike in Golden Slumbers and Oh! Darling! ; and Harrison surpassed both of them with Here Comes the Sun and Something, hailed by Lennon as the best track on the album. Starr, always in the background, provided vocals for Octopuss Garden and uncompromising and creative drumming throughout. Wrote Schaffner, The musicianship is always tasteful, unobtrusive, and supportive of the songs themselves. The Beatles never sounded more together. Yet another Grammy winner, it was a triumphal exit from the 1960s, and its declaration, And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make, read like an epitaph until the post mortem release of the heavily edited Let It Be.

American producer Phil Spector took over the Let It Be clean-up project from George Martin in 1970. The resulting album, brought out after fifteen months of apathy, bickering, and legal battles, was a mixture of raw recordings, glimpses of the Beatles in an earlier era, and heavily dubbed strings and vocalsas on McCartneys Long and Winding Road. Though most tracks were tightly and effectively edited, critics said the album lacked the harmony of earlier endeavors. According to Schaffner, Lennon later told Rolling Stone, We couldnt get into it. I dont know, it was just a dreadful, dreadful feeling you couldnt make music in a strange place with people filming you and colored lights. The film, which strove to show the Beatles as honestly and naturally as possible, gave further evidence of disintegration. Band members were shown quarreling, unresponsive to McCartneys attempts to raise morale. Said Alan Smith of the New Musical Express, quoted by Roy Carr and Tony Tyler in The Beatles: An Illustrated Record, If the Beatles soundtrack album Let It Be is to be their last, then it will stand as a cheapskate epitaph, a cardboard tombstone, a sad and tatty end to a musical fusion which wiped clean and drew again the face of pop music.

By the end of 1970, all four Beatles had recorded solo albums, and, in 1971, McCartney sued for the dissolution of the group. Throughout the seventies, promoters attempted to reunite them without success. The closest approximation of a reunion was Starrs Ringo album in 1973though never together in the studio, Lennon, Harrison, and McCartney contributed music, vocals, and backing. Any lingering hope of a joint performance or album ended with the tragic murder of John Lennon on December 8, 1980. A year before, Neil Munro, in an Oakland Press Sunday Magazine article, provided what might make a fitting epitaph, setting the Beatles into their place in history: Their musical imagination was startling. They lived on it. They played the songs for the best times of our lives, and always will.

Selected discography

LPs

Introducing the Beatles, Vee Jay, 1963.

Meet the Beatles, Capitol, 1964.

The Beatles Second Album, Capitol, 1964.

A Hard Days Night, United Artists, 1964.

Something New, Capitol, 1964.

The Beatles Story, Capitol, 1964.

Beatles 65, Capitol, 1964.

The Early Beatles, Capitol, 1965.

Beatles VI, Capitol, 1965.

Help, Capitol, 1965.

Rubber Soul, Capitol, 1965.

Yesterday and Today, Capitol, 1966.

Revolver, Capitol, 1966.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, Capitol, 1967.

Magical Mystery Tour, Capitol, 1967.

The Beatles (White Album), Apple, 1968.

Yellow Submarine, Apple, 1969.

Abbey Road, Apple, 1969.

Hey Jude, Apple, 1970.

Tony Sheridan and the Beatles, Polydor, 1970.

Let It Be, Apple, 1970.

The Beatles 1962-1966, Apple, 1973.

The Beatles 1967-1970, Apple, 1973.

Rock N Roll Music, Capitol, 1976.

The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, Capitol, 1976.

The Beatles Live! At the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany: 1962. Lingasong, 1977.

Love Songs, Capitol, 1977.

Rarities, Capitol, 1979.

Sources

Books

Carr, Roy and Tony Tyler, The Beatles: An Illustrated Record, Harmony Books, 1978.

Norman, Philip, Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation, Simon and Schuster, 1981.

Schaffner, Nicholas, The Beatles Forever, McGraw, 1978.

Schaumburg, Ron, Growing up With the Beatles, Harcourt, 1976.

Periodicals

Evening Standard (London), March 4, 1966.

Mersey Beat, January 31-February 14, 1963.

Newsweek, February 24, 1964.

Oakland Press Sunday Magazine, February 4, 1979.

Time, December 22, 1980.

Meg Mac Donald

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