The Beatles

The Beatles were an English rock group from Liverpool. They are the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed musical group of all time, continuing to be held in the highest esteem for their artistic achievements, commercial success, and influence on early rock and roll and pop music. Although their initial musical style was rooted in the sounds of 1950s Rock & Roll, the group explored a great variety of musical styles, such as rockabilly, folk, psychedelic, and Indian music. The Beatles' impact extended well beyond their music. Their clothes, hairstyles, statements, and even their choice of instruments made them trend-setters throughout the 1960s. Their growing social awareness –– reflected in the development of their music –– saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.

To date, The Beatles have sold more albums than any other band in history. In the United Kingdom, they released more than 40 different singles, albums and EPs that reached number one. This commercial success was repeated in many other countries: EMI estimated that by 1985, the band had sold over one billion discs or tapes worldwide. The RIAA has certified The Beatles as the top selling artists of all time in America based on U.S. sales of singles and albums.

In March of 1957, John Lennon formed a skiffle group called The Quarrymen (fleetingly known as The Blackjacks). On 6 July of that year, Lennon met Paul McCartney while playing at the Woolton Parish Church Fete. In February of 1958, the young guitarist George Harrison joined the group, which was then playing under a variety of names. A few primitive recordings of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison from that era have survived. During this period, members continually joined and left the lineup; Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison emerged as the only constant members.

The Quarrymen went through a progression of names -- Johnny and The Moondogs, Long John and The Beatles, The Silver Beetles, The Beat Brothers -- and eventually decided on "The Beatles." There are many theories as to the origin of the name and its unusual spelling; it is usually credited to John Lennon, who said that the name was a combination word-play on the insects "beetles" (as a nod/compliment to Buddy Holly's band The Crickets) and the word "beat" He also later said that it was a joke, meaning a pun on "Beat-less".

In her book John, Cynthia Lennon suggests that John came up with the name Beatles at a "...brainstorming session over a beer soaked table in the Renshaw Hall bar...". In addition to being a fan of the Crickets, Lennon is paraphrased as having said: "If you turn it round it was 'les beat', which sounded French and cool."

Lennon, who became famous for giving multiple versions of the same story, also once claimed in Mersey Beat magazine (tongue-in-cheek) that a man appeared to him on a "flaming pie" and instructed him to "Call the band The Beatles -- with an 'a'."

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epstein eventually met with producer George Martin of EMI's Parlophone label. Martin expressed an interest in hearing the band in the studio; he invited the quartet to London's Abbey Road studios for an audition on 6 June 1962.

Martin had not been particularly impressed by the band's demo recordings. He concluded that they had raw musical talent, but said (in later interviews) that what made the difference for him that day was their wit and humour in the studio. They were very likeable and slightly cheeky young men. When he asked them if there was anything they did not like, Harrison replied, "I don't like your tie". The remark typified the slightly surreal blend of wry humour and irreverence towards authority that eventually became the band's in-joke with a global audience. That day, however, their audience was a detail-orientated, slightly stuffy-looking Parlophone executive who had never worked with a rock 'n' roll band before. Fortunately for the band, Martin, whose background was in comedy and novelty records, appreciated the joke. He offered the band a contract.

Martin did have a problem with Pete Best, whom he criticised for not being able to keep time. He privately suggested to Brian Epstein that the band use another drummer in the studio. Best had a following and was considered good-looking by many fans, but the three founding members had become increasingly unhappy with his popularity and his personality, and Epstein had become exasperated with his refusal to adopt the distinctive hairstyle as part of their unified look. He sacked Best on 16 August 1962. The band immediately asked Ringo Starr (real name Richard Starkey), the drummer for one of the top Merseybeat groups, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, to join. The Beatles had met and performed with Starr previously in Hamburg and in fact the first recordings of John, Paul, George and Ringo together date back to as early as 15 October 1960, in a series of demos privately recorded in Hamburg as the backing group for singer Lu Walters. Starr played on The Beatles' second EMI recording session on 4 September 1962, but Martin hired session drummer Andy White for their next session on 11 September.

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

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

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

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

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

In November 1963, The Beatles appeared on the Royal Variety Performance and were photographed with Marlene Dietrich who also appeared on the show. In early November 1963, Brian Epstein persuaded Ed Sullivan to commit to presenting The Beatles on three editions of his show in February, and parlayed this guaranteed exposure into a record deal with Capitol Records. Capitol committed to a mid-January release for "I Want to Hold Your Hand", but a series of unplanned circumstances triggered premature airplay of an imported copy of the single on a Washington DC radio station in mid-December. Capitol brought forward release of the record to December 26, 1963.

Several New York radio stations — first WMCA, then WINS and WABC — began playing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on its release day, and the Beatlemania that had started in Washington was duplicated in New York and quickly spread to other markets. The record sold one million copies in just ten days, and by January 16, Cashbox Magazine had certified The Beatles record number one (in the edition published with the cover-date January 23).

This contributed to the hysterical fan reaction at JFK Airport on February 7, 1964. A record-breaking seventy-three million viewers — approximately 40% of the U.S. population at the time — tuned in to the first Sullivan appearance on February 9. During the week of April 4, The Beatles held the top five places on the Billboard Hot 100 - a feat that has never been repeated.

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

In 1965 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon them the MBE, a civil honour nominated by Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The award, at that time primarily given to military veterans and civic leaders, sparked some conservative MBE recipients to return their awards in protest, which was widely reported in the British press and was even the lead item on the BBC television news. The first two were returned on June 14th, before The Beatles received theirs on 1965-10-26.

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

In July 1966, when The Beatles toured the Philippines, they unintentionally snubbed the nation's first lady, Imelda Marcos, who had expected the group to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace. When presented with the invitation, Brian Epstein politely declined on behalf of the group, as it had never been the group's policy to accept such "official" invitations. The group soon found that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to accepting "no" for an answer. After the snubbing was widely broadcast on Philippine television and radio, all The Beatles' police protection disappeared. The group and their entourage had to make their way to Manila airport on their own, with the authorities throwing up every road block they could to harass them as much as possible. At the airport, roadie Mal Evans was beaten and kicked, and The Beatles themselves were pushed and jostled about by a hostile crowd. Once the group boarded the plane, Brian Epstein and Mal Evans were ordered off, and Mal Evans said, "Tell my wife that I love her. . ." (showing how seriously he thought the danger was of them both being shot). Epstein was forced to give back all the money that the band had earned while they were there before being allowed back on the plane (Anthology).

Almost as soon as they returned from the Philippines, an earlier comment by John back in March of that year launched a backlash against The Beatles from religious and social conservatives in the Bible Belt of the U.S. In an interview with British reporter Maureen Cleave Lennon had offered his opinion that Christianity was dying and that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now." In many cities and towns across the United States (primarily in the South) and in South Africa, people banned and burned Beatles records. However, The Beatles observed wryly, "Hey, they've gotta buy 'em before they can burn 'em." Under pressure from American media, Lennon apologised for his remarks at a press conference 11 August in Chicago, on the eve of their first performance of what would turn out to be their final tour. The Beatles performed their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on 29 August 1966. Tony Barrow was asked to film the event, but it was a 30-minute film and it cut halfway through the last song. The concert lasted for only 35 minutes. From then on, they concentrated on recording music. After 3 months away from each other, they returned to Abbey Road Studios on November 24, 1966, to begin their 129-day recording period in making their eighth album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released on June 1, 1967. On 25 June 1967, The Beatles became the first band globally transmitted on television, in front of an estimated 400 million people worldwide. The Beatles' appeared in a segment within the first-ever worldwide TV satellite hook-up –– a show entitled Our World. The Beatles were transmitted live from Abbey Road Studios, and their new song "All You Need Is Love" was recorded live during the show.

Soon after the triumphs of the Sergeant Pepper album and the global broadcast, The Beatles' situation worsened. First, their manager Brian Epstein died of a drug overdose on 27 August 1967, at the age of 32, and the band's business affairs began to unravel. Next, at the end of 1967, they received their first major negative press criticism in the UK with disparaging reviews of their surrealistic TV film Magical Mystery Tour. The film was also panned by the public. Part of the public's difficulty lay in the fact that colour was an integral part of the film but it was broadcast in black and white. The film's soundtrack is notable in that the song "Flying", written especially for the film, is one of The Beatles' only instrumental tracks.

The group spent the early part of 1968 in Rishikesh, Uttar Pradesh, India, studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Upon their return, Lennon and McCartney took a trip to New York to announce the formation of Apple Corps, initially an altruistic business venture which they described as an attempt at "western communism." The middle part of 1968 saw the band busy recording the double album The Beatles, popularly known as The White Album due to its stark white cover. These sessions saw deep divisions opening within the band. McCartney gradually took greater charge of the group's production, growing dominant in that role. Internal divisions within the band had been a small but growing problem during their earlier career; most notably, this was reflected in the difficulty that George Harrison experienced in getting his own songs onto Beatles' albums, and in the growing artistic and personal estrangement between Lennon and McCartney.

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

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

Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group in mid-September 1969, but the breakup was not made public until the release of McCartney's first solo album in April 1970. One month later, Let It Be followed as their last commercial album release.

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

They still remain enormously popular. In 1995, and 1996, three Anthology collections of CDs were released –– each containing two CDs of never-before-released Beatles material –– based on the Anthology documentary series. 450,000 copies of Anthology 1 were sold on its first day of release, reaching the highest volume of single-day sales ever, for an album. In 2000, a compilation album named 1 was released, containing almost every number-one single released by the band from 1962, to 1970. The collection sold 3.6 million copies in its first week and more than 12 million in three weeks worldwide, becoming the fastest-selling album of all time and the biggest-selling album of the year 2000. The collection also reached number one in the United States and 33 other countries.

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

On June 30, 2006, Cirque de Soleil opened their show LOVE, a tribute to The Beatles, at the The Mirage in Las Vegas. It featured Beatles music remixed, recombined, and re-mastered by George Martin and his son Giles Martin.

Buddy Holly was a major early influence. Like Chuck Berry - he wrote and performed his own songs. The group played many of his songs on stage in their early days. They also recorded "Words of Love".

Carl Perkins was the main influence on George Harrison and the Beatles recorded 3 of his songs, something which revitalised Perkins' own career.

Chuck Berry was also a major influence - they recorded covers of Berry songs: "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Rock and Roll Music" on their early albums, and also performed many other of his classics in their live repertoire. When Lennon first met Berry (as Berry walked in the dressing room door) Lennon shouted out, "Chuck Berry, my hero!".

All four band members have talked about their influences from American country music. The group covered Buck Owens "Act Naturally" and also recorded an original country-style number "What Goes On?", both sung by Starr. Starr's first original Beatles composition, "Don't Pass Me By" for The White Album, had a distinct bluegrass sound. Both Starr and McCartney would continue to record country material in their solo careers. McCartney was once asked to record a duet with Kenny Rogers, which he accepted but nothing was ever recorded.

Elvis Presley also left an impression on the band; they recorded a number of Presley covers at the Abbey Road studio, and bootleg copies have existed since the late 1960s. Interviews for the documentary Anthology has all four band members speaking very highly of Presley, with Paul McCartney referring to him as "The guru". In other interviews McCartney has credited Presley as the rocker who influenced him the most. The band and Presley met only once, during their summer tour in 1965, The meeting was later described by the various Beatles as having been awkward and anti-climactic.

Five years later, Presley joined President Richard Nixon in publicly denouncing the band as "a real force for anti-American spirit." Elvis's reason for denouncing the band was later recognised to be a reaction to his drug-fueled paranoia, which made him think The Beatles wanted to destroy his career. After Presley died in 1977 Lennon was asked for a comment. "Elvis died when he joined the army. . ." said Lennon. Despite this Lennon also famously said "Before Elvis there was nothing".

Some of their songs (especially in their early repertoire) featured falsetto screams similar to his, most notably on McCartney's rendition of Little Richard's song, "Long Tall Sally". In 1962, Richard socialised with The Beatles in Hamburg and they performed together at the Star-Club. "Long Tall Sally" became a permanent fixture in early Beatles' concert performances, and it would be the last song they performed at their final show at Candlestick Park in August 1966. Larry Williams was on the same label as Little Richard and also benefitted from 3 Beatles covers as well as later ones by both Lennon and McCartney on solo albums

In their early days, Lennon and McCartney copied Don and Phil Everly's distinctive two-part harmonies. Their vocals on "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me" were inspired by the Everlys' vocals on "Cathy's Clown" (1960), the first recording to ever reach number one simultaneously in the USA and England. "Two of Us", the opening track on Let It Be was overtly performed in the Everlys' style and McCartney acknowledged this in the recording, with a spoken "Take it Phil". McCartney later name-checked 'Phil and Don' in his solo track, "Let 'em In".

The Beatles continued to absorb influences throughout their career - long after their initial success - often finding new musical and lyrical avenues to explore from listening to the work of some of their contemporaries. Among those influences were Bob Dylan, on songs such as "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" (Help!) and "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" (Rubber Soul).

Although often quoted that Dylan introduced The Beatles to marijuana (1964) in a New York hotel room, in The Beatles Anthology book George Harrison dispelled the myth that Dylan first introduced them to it by saying that they first smoked it in Liverpool, but although they felt the effect, they mistakenly thought that it wasn’t very strong. A John Lennon quote from the same book states that they first tried it in 1960.

Dylan offered the Fab Four pot as a consequence of his misconception that the lyrics in their hit song "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (Meet the Beatles!) were "I get high" instead of "I can't hide". This initial partaking in drugs grew into heavier experimentation with LSD and various other substances whose psychedelic effects were commonly thought to have manifested themselves in the band's music. Paul McCartney recently admitted to his use of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, and their effect on himself and The Beatles.

Although not a major influence on Lennon, McCartney, or Starr, the impact of Ravi Shankar's lessons in both Indian music and spirituality to George Harrison made a permanent impact on Harrison's musical style, provoking greater use of spiritual themes in the band's music, and more intense musical experimentation, climaxing with "Within You Without You" on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which features solely Indian instrumentation.

The role of producer George Martin is often cited as a crucial element in their success. He used his experience to bring out the potential in the group, recognising and nurturing their creativity rather than imposing his views. After The Beatles stopped touring, they would increasingly come under pressure, and it was decided for the group to vent their artistic energy solely into recording.

Their constant demands to create new sounds on every new recording, and the imaginative –– and ground-breaking –– studio expertise of EMI staff engineers, including Norman Smith, Ken Townshend 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).

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

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

When Magic Alex proposed building a 72-track studio in the basement of the Saville Row office, everybody encouraged him, but this was later proven to be a complete disaster, as Alex had no idea about studios at all, but nevertheless convinced all of The Beatles that he could do it.

Along with studio tricks such as sound effects, unconventional microphone placements, automatic double tracking and vari-speed recording, The Beatles began to augment their recordings with instruments that were unconventional for rock music at the time, including string and brass ensembles, Indian instruments such as the sitar and the swarmandel, tape loops, and early electronic instruments including the Mellotron, which was unforgettably used (with flute voices) on the intro to "Strawberry Fields Forever".

McCartney once asked Martin what a guitar would sound like if it was played underwater, and was serious about trying it. Lennon also wondered what his vocals would sound like if he was hanging upside down from the ceiling. Clearly their ideas were out-stripping the technology that was available at the time.

The Beatles were fans of almost every kind of music that they heard on the radio, or heard on imported records from America. These early records were not officially imported to the UK, but as Liverpool was the main UK port connection they were taken to Liverpool by sailors who had bought them in America.

The Beatles were, in the beginning, heavily influenced by Rock and Roll. This later graduated into Beat Music. Mid-sixties Beatles material shifted away from dance music, and the tempo of their songs varied from the back-beat rhythm of their beginnings. Lennon and McCartney never lost their affection for the driving R&B of Little Richard, and Chuck Berry, and this was reflected in many songs, from "I Saw Her Standing There" to "Revolution", "Birthday", and "Helter Skelter".

Lennon is conventionally portrayed as having played the major role in steering The Beatles towards psychedelia ("Rain" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" from 1966, and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am the Walrus" from 1967), but McCartney was also influential being involved in the London avant garde scene, which was itself moving towards psychedelia during the same period. John Lennon once quipped: "Avant-garde is French for bullshit." In 1967, while Lennon retreated to his house in Weybridge, McCartney looked for musical inspiration in the experimental works of Stockhausen, John Cage and Cornelius Cardew. He created the tape loops that The Beatles used on Tomorrow Never Knows and experimented with musique concrete techniques and electronic instruments, as well as creating many experimental audio-visual works. Contrary to Lennon's attitude that some artists were "putting me on" (i.e. insulting his intelligence) McCartney said, "You don't have to like something to be influenced by it."

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

Beginning with the use of a string quartet (arranged by George Martin) on "Yesterday" in 1965, The Beatles pioneered a modern form of art song, exemplified by the double-quartet string arrangement on "Eleanor Rigby" (1966), "Here, There and Everywhere" (1966) and "She's Leaving Home" (1967). Lennon and McCartney´s interest in the music of Bach led them to use a piccolo trumpet on the arrangement of "Penny Lane", and the use of a Mellotron at the start of "Strawberry Fields Forever".

The decision to stop touring, in 1966, caused an abrupt change in their musical direction. They had already shown a clear trend towards progressively greater complexity in technique and style but this accelerated noticeably on their Revolver album. The subject matter of their post-touring songs branched out as well, as all manner of subjects were written about.

The extreme complexity of Sgt. Pepper reached its height on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album, parts of which (for example "It's All Too Much" and "Only a Northern Song") were left over from 1967, and were used because The Beatles themselves were not interested in the animated film as a project and did not want to record new material for it.

Lennon and McCartney renewed their interest in rootsy forms towards the close of The Beatles' career, e.g. "Yer Blues" and "Birthday" from 1968 to "Don't Let Me Down" the following year.

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

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

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

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

The Magical Mystery Tour film was essentially Paul McCartney's idea, conceived as he returned from a trip to the U.S. in the late spring of 1967, and loosely inspired by press coverage McCartney had read about Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters' LSD-fuelled American bus odyssey. McCartney felt inspired to take this idea and blend it with the peculiarly English working class tradition of charabanc mystery tours, in which children took chaperoned bus rides through the English countryside, destination unknown. The film was critically dismissed when it was aired on the BBC's premier television network, BBC-1, on Boxing Day — a day primarily for traditional family entertainment. The film appeared radically avant-garde by those standards, and instead of showcasing the lovable 'moptop' Beatles as they had been up until then, it showed them as part of the hippie counter-culture of 1967, at odds with the British establishment of that era. Compounding this culture clash was the fact that BBC-1, at that time, still only transmitted programmes in black & white, while Tour was in colour. The film was repeated a few days later on the BBC's second channel (BBC-2) in colour — receiving more appreciation, but the initial negative media reaction is what is most remembered.

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

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

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

The band initially rejected both the film and the album - instead recording and issuing the Abbey Road album. But with so much money having been spent on the project, it was decided to finish, and release, the film and album (the latter with considerable post-production by Phil Spector) in the spring of 1970. When the film finally appeared, it was after the break-up had been announced, and it was viewed by shocked fans as the last (but not the best) album of The Beatles.

Unlike the other Beatles films, Let It Be has not been released on DVD or any other media. It has not been shown on television for nearly three decades. In 2003, The Beatles released Let It Be... Naked, which was a compilation of tracks from the Let It Be recordings, free of the post-production work by Phil Spector.

The Beatles released the Anthology series of DVDs, which was made over five years of planning and production (1,760 minutes) and which collected together numerous film clips and interviews to provide a complete history of the band from The Beatles´ own personal perspectives. The series was released as a boxed set of 5 DVDs. Klaus Voorman, who had known The Beatles since their Hamburg days, and had previously illustrated the Revolver album cover, directed the Anthology cover concept.

Although having consistently said that they would never reunite, the surviving Beatles at the time recorded "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", and gave hours of individual interviews to Jools Holland, as well as group interviews in the same room.

On Anthology, all three discussed the questions and rumours about them reuniting for a tour, to which McCartney said that he would feel sorry about either Julian Lennon or Sean Lennon being involved. Ringo asked the definitive question: "Well, are you going to get back together?", George quickly said "No", Paul then said, "But with "Free as a Bird", we somehow did."

Studio albums

The original studio albums by The Beatles released in the United Kingdom:

* Please Please Me (March 22, 1963)
* With the Beatles (November 22, 1963)
* A Hard Day's Night (July 10, 1964)
* Beatles for Sale (December 4, 1964)
* Help! (August 6, 1965)
* Rubber Soul (December 3, 1965)
* Revolver August 5, 1966)
* Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (June 1, 1967)
* The Beatles (The White Album) (November 22, 1968)
* Yellow Submarine (January 17, 1969)
* Abbey Road (September 26, 1969)
* Let It Be (May 8, 1970)

Official CD catalogue

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

* Magical Mystery Tour (August 8, 1987)
* Past Masters, Volume One' (March 7, 1988)
* Past Masters, Volume Two (March 7, 1988)

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

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

In 1985 - after a short duration in which the parent company was owned by Australian business magnate Robert Holmes à Court, ATV's music catalogue was sold to Michael Jackson for a reported $47 million (trumping a joint bid by McCartney and Yoko Ono), including the publishing rights to over 200 songs composed by Lennon & McCartney. A decade later Jackson and Sony merged their music publishing businesses. Since 1995 Jackson and Sony/ATV Music Publishing have jointly owned most of the Lennon-McCartney songs recorded by The Beatles. Sony later reported that Jackson had used his share of their co-owned Beatles' catalogue as collateral for a loan from the music company. Meanwhile, Lennon's estate and McCartney still receive their respective songwriter shares of the royalties.

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

Harrison and Starr did not renew their songwriting contracts with Northern Songs in 1968, signing with Apple Publishing instead. Harrison later created Harrisongs, his own company which still owns the rights to his post-1967 songs such as "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Something". Starr also created his own company, called Startling Music. It holds the rights to his two post-1967 songs recorded by the Beatles, "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden".Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home