The Beatles (formed 1960 - 1969)
The Beatles are one of the most famous and successful bands in the history of pop music and have sold well over one billion records across the globe.
The Beatles: Formation
John Lennon met Paul McCartney in 1957 when he was playing in a skiffle group named The Quarrymen. He invited McCartney to join the group and later, George Harrison also joined. Stuart Sutcliffe then joined on bass.
The band had a number of gigs lined up in Germany, but had no drummer. Eventually, Pete Best was invited to drum for the band.
Upon their return to Liverpool in 1961, Brian Epstein saw the band for the first time, at the now-infamous Cavern Club in Liverpool. The band auditioned for Decca (The Rolling Stones' label) but failed the audition. Epstein took it upon himself to fire Pete Best from the band and they hired Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr).
The band's debut single, 'Love Me Do' was released in June 1962. It reached number 17 in the UK singles cart.
The Beatles: Career
The Beatles' second single, 'Please Please Me' was released in November 1962 and went to number two in the UK charts. Their debut album, also entitled Please Please Me was recorded just a few months later. Even before the end of the year, the phrase 'Beatlemania' had been coined by the media, to describe the public frenzy surrounding the band.
In the US, CBS aired a five minute film about the phenomenon of Beatlemania. It was scheduled for a repeat airing on the 22nd of November 1963, but following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the show was cancelled. When The Beatles finally travelled to the USA, in 1964, accompanied by Phil Spector and a number of journalists, they were greeted at the airport by 3,000 fans.
In 1964, the band released their second LP, Introducing. The Beatles. When they undertook the promotional tour, Ringo Starr contracted tonsillitis and was briefly replaced by session drummer Jimmy Nicol. Later that year, The Beatles' first film, A Hard Day's Night was released, followed by their fourth studio album, Beatles For Sale.
The Beatles were awarded an MBE in June 1965, after receiving a nomination from the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The following month, The Beatles released the album Help! Along with an accompanying film of the same name. In July, they played to an audience of 55,600 at the Shea Stadium in New York - the first major stadium music concert in modern history. The band met Elvis Presley in Bel Air that month and had a jam session, though sadly, it was not recorded.
The Beatles' sixth album, Rubber Soul was considered a step forward in the maturity and progression of the band's sound. When they toured in the Philippines, Brian Epstein insulted the nation's first lady, Imelda Marcos, by refusing an official invitation. On returning to the UK, they were greeted by further controversy, thanks to John Lennon's earlier comments that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus."
Copies of The Beatles' next album, Yesterday and Today with the original artwork fetch thousands of pounds in auctions today.
The Beatles' next two albums, Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band were both hugely successful and used new recording techniques such as sampling and tape looping.
The Beatles' next film, Magical Mystery Tour received something of a backlash from the UK press.
In 1968, The Beatles announced the formation of their own label, Apple Corps. Later that year, they released The White Album, which featured the tracks 'Dear Prudence' and 'Back in the USSR'.
In January 1969, The Beatles performed their infamous rooftop gig on top of the Apple Building in Savile Row, London. The performance was filmed for their film Let It Be. In 1969, the band released Abbey Road, named after Abbey Road Studios, where they recorded much of their output.
In 1970, the tapes for what would become the Let It Be album were given to Phil Spector, an American producer famed for his 'Wall Of Sound' production style. Despite Paul McCartney publicly denouncing Spector's production technique and despite the public break up of the band in April of that year, Spector's version of the album was released in May 1970.
Following the break up of the band, several members of the band went on to release solo albums, including Paul McCartney's McCartney and Ringo Starr's Ringo. The Capitol record label made a number of hasty releases, including The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, in an attempt to cash in on the band's demise and loss of creative control over the label's Beatles material.
On 8th December 1980, John Lennon was shot dead in New York City by Mark David Chapman. Lennon was married to Yoko Ono at the time of his death.
The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. George Harrison and Ringo Starr collected the award, along with Yoko Ono and Lennon's two sons, Julian and Sean Lennon. Paul McCartney refused to attend the ceremony.
In 1994, once McCartney had resolved many of his issues with the remaining surviving Beatles, he got together with Harrison and Starr to compile The Beatles Anthology, which was released in February 1994. The song 'Free As A Bird' was released as a single to promote the collection.
On 29th November 2001, George Harrison died of lung cancer.
McCartney announced in November 2008 that he wishes to release an experimental recording made by The Beatles. In order to release the track, entitled 'Carnival Of Light', he will need to gain permission from Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, George's wife, as well as Ringo Starr.
In April 2009, it was announced that all of The Beatles' original 13 UK studio albums would be released in newly remastered versions, named Past Masters, Volume One and Past Masters: Volume Two. The Mojo journalist Mat Snow was given the privilege of listening to the remastered version of The White Album and claimed that the new recordings were "better even than we'd hoped."
It has been reported that Bob Dylan introduced The Beatles to cannabis in 1964, when the band were visiting New York. The next year, John Riley - an acquaintance of the band - introduced John Lennon and George Harrison to LSD. In 1967, The Beatles joined Graham Greene and R.D. Laing in signing an advert in The Times calling for the legalization of cannabis.
In October, 1985, Michael Jackson finalised a deal in which he bought the Beatles' entire music catalogue for 47.5 million USD (106 million in 2013 USD). This was due to a contract McCartney and Lennon signed when the Beatles were founded, meaning that the rights to the songs did not belong to the song's creators. Between 2018 and 2026, the rights for each song will return to McCartney, as all song rights return to the creator after 56 years, due to a copyrights act from 1976.