A History of the Beatles
The Beatles were one of the most recognized and influential bands of all time. They influenced pop culture singlehandedly and were mostly responsible for the change of the rock genre throughout the sixties. Composed of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, each member had their own impact on the group and together they formed one of the greatest bands of all time. During a period of just seven years from 1963 to 1970, The Beatles recorded twelve studio albums, each of them having a major impact on rock and roll.
Starting from The Beatles early days, all members were born in Liverpool, England. John Lennon started the Beatles after being brought up in hardship. Lennon was born on October 9, 1940 during a German air raid on the U.K. soon after this Lennon’s mother died, followed by his father, leaving his aunt to raise him. His aunt was the first to teach him about music by introducing him to the piano and the guitar. Lennon Struggled in high school and his only real talent was art and music. He went on to form a band called the Quarrymen, originally consisting of Lennon, Stuart Sutcliffe, Eric Griffiths and Collin Hatton. It wasn’t until later that Paul McCartney would join the band after seeing them perform and audition. McCartneys early days were not unlike Lennons. He was born on June 18, 1942 and lost his mother at an early age due to complications from surgery. He was inspired to play musical instruments by his father which included the guitar and piano. After attending a church festival were he saw John Lennon and the Quarrymen play, he auditioned for a role in the band and easily got accepted.
Paul’s friend George Harrison took a liking to the band and was already a fabulous guitarist despite being only fourteen at the time of his audition. George was born on February 25, 1943 and was not born into wealth. Like John, he was not a very good student, but had talents in music which led to him getting accepted in the band despite a young age. With the Quarrymen now mostly assembled, consisting of Paul, John, George, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best, they took to touring around Germany, London and Hamburg. Soon after this, John decided to name the band the Beatles. Mainly doing performances in bars, the early Beatles struggled. However, during one of the performances, Brian Epstein took a liking to the band. Epstein wanted to manage the Beatles, and with the Beatles in desperate need of a manager, they took the offer. Stuart Sutcliffe would not be with the band much longer. He decided that he needed to pursue a career in arts rather than in music. After he left the band, he died of a brain hemorrhage in 1962. With the Beatles bassist gone, Paul McCartney assumed the role. Epstein then saw a weak link in the band. Pete Best was falling behind and not keeping up to the Beatles liking. Epstein brought in a session drummer named Richard Starkey, who went by the stage name Ringo Starr. Ringo’s childhood was the worst of the Beatles. From a young age, Ringo was hospitalized frequently which left him falling behind in school. With all this time to do nothing in the hospital, Ringo took an interest in drumming. When he finally got released from the hospital, he was so far behind in school he just dropped out. With his drumming skills, Ringo joined a band called Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. He was very successful in this group and caught the interest of Brian Epstein. Epstein recruited him as a session drummer in the Beatles and soon was a full time member.
With The Beatles now fully formed, they needed to make a name for themselves. The next step was to hire a record manager. They went with George Martin, who would later be known as the fifth Beatle. They signed with the record company Parlophone and recorded their first hit Love Me Do’ which hit number twenty in the UK music charts. Soon following, Please, Please Me was released and that too also hit number twenty on the UK charts. The Beatles released their first album in 1963 with the same name called Please, Please Me which did well in England. It consisted of Love Me Do, Twist and Shout and the rest being cover songs. With this album, Beatlemania was just starting in the UK and their popularity quickly rose. The album was introduced in America, but the title was changed to Introducing The Beatles. The album went on to flop in America, but popularity was growing in Europe. The Beatles went on to perform on the European tv show, Sunday Night at the London Palladium, the European equivalent of The Ed Sullivan Show. The Beatles next album, With The Beatles quickly rose to number one on the UK charts and remained there for twenty one weeks. With this album and the previous album, the two combined for fifty one weeks on the top of the UK charts. The Beatles single I Want to Hold Your Hand was released in the US and went to number one on the US charts, the first Beatles song to reach number one in the US. With this new success in the US, the Beatles decided to shift their focus there. Their next album was released in 1964 and titled Meet The Beatles and was directed towards and released in the US and was an instant hit. At this time, The Beatles are invited to play on the Ed Sullivan Show and at Carnegie Hall in New York. When The Beatles landed at JFK airport, they were swarmed with fans and Beatlemania officially began in the US. When The Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show, 73 million people watched the show which set a new record of viewers. The Beatles then performed a few days after at Carnegie Hall which was a sellout performance. After this success in the US, The Beatles made their first movie, titled Hard Days Night which only took two months to film and produce. The movie was released which was soon followed by the soundtrack and album titled Hard Days Night. While the movie was popular, the album proved to be more successful as it went straight to number one on the UK charts and the US charts. The Beatles then went on a tour around the US and Canada which proved extremely successful.
At this time in late 1964, The Beatles now have 14 songs in the Billboard top 100. The Beatles took to recording another album titled Beatles for Sale. This album was mainly targeted towards the UK and reached number one as a result. After their tour, seeing their previous movie as a success, the Beatles took to filming another one titled Help!, with a 1.5 million dollar budget. Before the film was released, the queen of England gave each Beatle the title of Member of the British Empire, one of the highest awards a civilian can receive. The release of Help! proved successful once again, and like Hard Days Night, the soundtrack/album reached number one on both the UK and US charts. The album included some of the Beatles most recognizable songs including Help!, Ticket to Ride and Yesterday. These songs not only performed well on the charts, but became staples of the Beatles performance in concert. During the shooting of Help!, George Harrison was introduced to Middle Eastern instruments such as the sitar. The Beatles next album would be the start of the Beatles experimental phase.
After being introduced to weed by fellow musician Bob Dylan, the album Rubber Soul proved to be interesting. Rubber Soul was one of the first albums to only include songs written by one specific group, as previous albums by any group usually included a few original songs and the rest cover songs or songs written by other people. The new Beatles sound was introduced in the song Norwegian Wood in which Harrison plays the sitar. The middle eastern sound would be present in the next few Beatles albums. The Beatles new phase was also noticeable in the song Nowhere Man, the first Beatles song not to focus on romance. With the Beatles still on tour, the pressure of performing grew. With more and more fans attending their concerts, the sound of the crowds was so great that the band couldn’t hear themselves play. In 1966, the Beatles decided that they would stop performing in concert and shift their focus on studio albums. Their last concert was in San Francisco on August 29, 1966.
Around this time, the Beatles went to India and learned more about experimental music styles. Here, they first met Ravi Shankar, who taught Harrison more about the sitar and was very influential in the Beatles new sound. It is also around this time that the Beatles first tried LSD, a drug that would influence their next albums. Now relieved of the pressure of performing their songs, the Beatles focused on new sounds that couldn’t be performed live such as backwards tape loops and filler sounds. Revolver, their next studio album introduced this. Revolver was the official start to the Beatles experimental phase. Songs such as Yellow Submarine and Tomorrow Never Knows featuring sounds people had not heard before such as backwards guitar riffs, tape loops and slowed down voices. This type of music produced a new genre called Psychedelic Rock. 1966 wasn’t a huge year for the Beatles, however 1967 introduced some of the most revolutionary music which didn’t include just the Beatles. Other bands such as The Rolling Stones would introduce material in the Psychedelic Genre. The Beatles next album would be the Beatles most popular and revolutionary album. Taking over seven months to record, and with their new drug LSD, the Beatles released Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Taking on a false alter ego, the Beatles recorded their album as if they were an imaginary band. Sgt. Peppers was also the first album intended to be listened to in order. The album was so popular at the time of its release that radio stations would play the whole album in order. However, soon after this, the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein died. Facing this hardship and now mismanagement, Paul and John started their own record label called Apple Records. In late 1967, the Beatles began to film another movie called Magical Mystery Tour. At the time of its release, the movie would flop, however, the soundtrack/album would be mildly successful.
Now in 1968, The Beatles went back to India, this time to learn about transcendental meditation by Mahesh Yogi. Coming back from this trip and in the studio, the Beatles were beginning to feel the stress of their own record label, and Johns girlfriend Yoko Ono is present in the studio more and more to the dismay of the rest of the band during the recording of The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, Yoko and John mainly worked on the recording and instrumentals and left the rest of the band out to the dismay of the rest of the group. Paul decided to follow suit by recording Why Don’t We Do it in the Road? all by himself. Ringo seeing this rift in the band left for a few weeks, leaving no drummer forcing Paul to fill the spot.
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