The Beatles were an English rock and pop group formed in Liverpool in 1960 who became one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music. During their years of stardom, the group consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). Although their initial musical style was rooted in 1950s rock and roll and skiffle, the group worked with different musical genres, ranging from Tin Pan Alley to psychedelic rock. Their clothes, style and statements made them trend-setters, while their growing social awareness saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.
Returning to Liverpool following periods of Hamburg residency during 1960, 1961 and 1962, the group appointed Brian Epstein manager, and he negotiated a record contract with EMI's George Martin; Epstein would manage the band until his death in 1967, and Martin produced all but one of the group's studio albums. The single "Love Me Do" achieved UK chart success in late 1962. The group attracted fervent interest, termed "Beatlemania", during tours of the UK and Europe throughout the next year. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" found U.S. chart success at the close of 1963, spearheading the group's international popularity, and they toured the U.S. and other countries over the next three years. During this period, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr were each honoured with an MBE. In 1966 the group found themselves mired in controversy, including widespread antipathy in the U.S. after a magazine published a quote from Lennon's remarks on Christianity. They ceased to perform commercial concerts after the 1966 U.S. tour, concentrating instead on studio work and enjoying continued international chart success, which also earned them considerable acclaim as artists. In 1967 the group met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who introduced them to Transcendental Meditation. The same year, Epstein died from an overdose of a prescription drug. The group spent time in India, treating the Maharishi as their guru for a short time, but became disillusioned with him. Increasingly dominated by conflict, and further alienated from one another by a disagreement about the appointment of a new financial adviser, the group disintegrated in 1970. All four members embarked upon successful solo careers. Nearly four decades after the breakup, Beatles music continues to be popular, and September 2009 saw the release of a newly remastered discography as well as the video game The Beatles: Rock Band.
The Beatles sold between 600 million and one billion records internationally. In the United Kingdom they released more than 40 different singles, albums, and EPs that reached number one, earning more number one albums (15) than any other group in UK chart history. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, they have sold more albums in the United States than any other artist. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked them number one in its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and four of their albums appeared in the top ten of the magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. According to that same magazine, The Beatles' innovative music and cultural impact helped define the 1960s, and their influence on pop culture is still evident today. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of top-selling Hot 100 artists to celebrate the chart's fiftieth anniversary, with The Beatles at number one. The Beatles were collectively included in Time magazine's list of The Most Important People of the 20th Century
In March 1957, John Lennon formed a skiffle group called The Quarrymen. In July the same year, Lennon met Paul McCartney, who agreed to join as a guitarist. McCartney invited George Harrison to watch the group during February 1958, and Harrison joined as lead guitarist. The group's drummer, Colin Hanton, left in 1959, after which they had difficulty finding a permanent replacement. Stuart Sutcliffe, a fellow student of Lennon's at the Liverpool College of Art, joined on bass in January 1960. During the year they went through a succession of name-changes. Sutcliffe suggested "The Beetles" as a tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets, and for the first few months of 1960 they were known as "The Beatals". Other names included "Johnny and the Moondogs", "Long John and The Beetles" and "The Silver Beatles". The band finally became "The Beatles" in August 1960. The lack of a permanent drummer posed a problem when the group's unofficial manager Allan Williams booked them to perform as resident band for a period in Hamburg, Germany.
Hamburg residency and Liverpool's Cavern Club
"Hamburg in those days did not have rock'n'roll music clubs. It had strip clubs," says biographer Philip Norman. "Bruno had the idea of bringing in rock groups to play in various clubs. They had this formula. It was a huge nonstop show, hour after hour, with a lot of people lurching in and the other lot lurching out. And the bands would play all the time to catch the passing traffic. In an American red-light district, they would call it nonstop striptease.".
"Many of the bands that played in Hamburg were from Liverpool...It was an accident. Bruno went to London to look for bands. But he happened to meet a Liverpool entrepreneur in Soho, who was down in London by pure chance. And he arranged to send some bands over. That's how the connection was established. And eventually the Beatles made a connection not just with Bruno, but with other club owners as well. They kept going back, because they got a lot of alcohol and a lot of sex.".
Initially placing them at the Indra Club, Koschmider moved them to the Kaiserkeller in October after the Indra was closed due to complaints about the noise. When they violated their contract. by performing at the rival Top Ten Club, Koschmider reported the under-age Harrison to the German authorities, leading to his deportation on 21 November 1960. McCartney and Best were arrested for arson a week later when they set fire to a condom hung on a nail in their room. They too were deported. Lennon returned to Liverpool in mid-December. Sutcliffe remained in Hamburg with his new German fiancée Astrid Kirchherr, and the rest of the group played an engagement on 17 December 1960 at Liverpool's Casbah Coffee Club, with Chas Newby substituting for Sutcliffe.
During 1961 and 1962, the group were engaged for further periods in Hamburg. They also became increasingly popular in Liverpool, making frequent appearances at The Cavern Club, where Brian Epstein first saw them perform. Returning to Hamburg's Top Ten club in April 1961, they were recruited by singer Tony Sheridan, also resident at the club, to act as his backing band on a series of recordings for the German Polydor Records label. Bert Kaempfert, acting as producer, contracted the group to Polydor at the first session on 22 June 1961. The single "My Bonnie", released on 31 October, entered the German charts. When the group returned to Liverpool, Sutcliffe stayed in Hamburg with Kirchherr, so McCartney switched from guitar to bass.
The Beatles signed a five-year contract with Epstein on 24 January 1962. Kaempfert agreed to release them from their Polydor contract, but Decca Records A&R executive Dick Rowe turned Epstein down, informing him that "Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein.". (See The Decca audition.) Epstein then approached an EMI marketing executive, Ron White, who contacted EMI producers Norrie Paramor, Walter Ridley, and Norman Newell, all of whom declined to record the band. EMI's fourth staff producer, George Martin, was on holiday at the time. In April the group returned to Hamburg for a seven-week residency at the Star-Club. Upon their arrival, they were informed of Sutcliffe's death from a brain haemorrhage.
Epstein went to the HMV store on Oxford Street in London to transfer the songs recorded at Decca's studio to discs. He was referred to Sid Coleman, who ran EMI's publishing department. Epstein eventually met Martin, who signed the group to EMI's Parlophone label on a one-year renewable contract. After the first recordings, Martin complained to Epstein about Best's drumming, and suggested that the band use a session drummer in the studio. Epstein was already exasperated with Best's refusal to adopt the group's unified look onstage, and when the group heard about Martin's feelings they asked Epstein to dismiss Best, which he did on 16 August 1962, replacing him with Ringo Starr. As drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes Starr had performed occasionally with The Beatles when Best was ill. After joining the band, he played during the second EMI recording session, on 4 September 1962. Martin then hired session drummer Andy White for the 11 September session, although White's only released performances were recordings of "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You". "Love Me Do" would reach the top of the U.S. singles chart in May 1964, and in 1962 gave the group their first UK top twenty hit, peaking at number seventeen on the chart. On 26 November 1962 the band recorded their second single, "Please Please Me". On 17 October 1962 they made their TV debut with a performance on the regional news programme People and Places, transmitted live from Manchester by Granada Television. As their popularity spread, the frenzied adulation of the group was dubbed "Beatlemania". The last two Hamburg stints, in November and December 1962, involved another 90 hours of performing. All told, they performed for 270 nights in just over a year and a half, performing live an estimated 1,200 times.
Chart success, Beatlemania, film, and touring years
Following 1962's UK singles chart entry "Love Me Do", the band's second single "Please Please Me" met with a more emphatic reception when it reached number two in the UK. The follow-up, "From Me to You", began an almost unbroken run of seventeen UK number one singles which would include all but one of those released for the next six years. 1963 saw the release of the first two studio albums, and the start of an equally emphatic UK album chart run. Please Please Me stayed at number one for thirty weeks, only to be displaced by With The Beatles which itself remained at the top of the album chart for twenty-one weeks. Between 1963 and 1970, eleven of the band's total of thirteen studio albums would achieve the UK number one position.
The band toured the UK four times during the year. February's four-week tour was followed by three-week tours in March and May and a six-week tour in November. As well as the four tours, the group gave numerous one-off shows across the UK. Performances everywhere were attended with riotous enthusiasm by screaming fans. Police found it necessary to use high-pressure water hoses to control the crowds, and there were debates in Parliament over the thousands of police officers putting themselves at risk to protect the group. Although not billed as tour leaders, The Beatles overshadowed the other acts, including Tommy Roe, Chris Montez and Roy Orbison, U.S. artists who had established great popularity in the UK.
The Beatles' iconic "drop-T" logo made its first appearance in 1963. Based on an impromptu design sketched by Ivor Arbiter, the logo was first used on the front of Starr's bass drum, which Epstein and Starr purchased from Arbiter's London shop.
The first single releases in the United States were delayed when Capitol Records, although owned by EMI, declined to issue either "Please Please Me" or "From Me to You". Negotiations with independent record labels produced some releases, but there were other obstacles to commercial success including issues with royalties and derision of the Beatle haircut. In December 1963, Capitol rush-released "I Want to Hold Your Hand" after a news broadcast about Beatlemania in the UK triggered sudden demand, and U.S. chart success rapidly followed.
On 7 February 1964, the day of the first Beatles trip to the United States, an estimated four thousand fans congregated at Heathrow Airport, waving and screaming as the aircraft left the ground. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" had sold 2.6 million copies in the U.S. over the previous two weeks, but the group were still nervous about how they would be received. Their arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport was greeted by another large, vociferous crowd, estimated at about three thousand in number. Two days after landing in the U.S. they gave their first live American television performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, watched by approximately seventy-four million viewers—a number representing about half the American population at the time. The morning after the show, one newspaper wrote that The Beatles "could not carry a tune across the Atlantic", but their first U.S. concert, staged a day later at Washington Coliseum, Washington, D.C., saw Beatlemania start in the United States too. After performing at Carnegie Hall, New York the following day, the band appeared on the weekly Ed Sullivan Show for the second time, returning to the UK on 22 February 1964. During the week of 4 April 1964, The Beatles held twelve positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, including the top five positions. Their popularity generated unprecedented interest in British music, and a number of other UK acts subsequently made their own U.S. debuts, successfully touring over the next three years in what was termed the British Invasion.
The Beatles toured internationally from 4 to 30 June 1964, performing in Denmark, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. After a handful of concerts back in the UK, they gave two performances in Sweden. In August they returned to the United States, building on February's shows with a thirty-concert tour of twenty-three cities. Before returning to the UK they were introduced to Bob Dylan when New York journalist Al Aronowitz instigated a meeting at their hotel. Gould points out the musical and cultural significance of this meeting, before which "their respective musical constituencies were indeed perceived as inhabiting two separate subcultural worlds": Dylan's core audience of "college kids with artistic or intellectual leanings, a dawning political and social idealism, and a mildly bohemian style" contrasted with The Beatles' core audience of "veritable 'teenyboppers'—kids in high school or grade school whose lives were totally wrapped up in the commercialized popular culture of television, radio, pop records, fan magazines, and teen fashion. They were seen as idolaters, not idealists". Within six months of the meeting, "Lennon would be making records on which he openly imitated Dylan's nasal drone, brittle strum, and introspective vocal persona". Within a year, Dylan would "proceed, with the help of a five-piece group and a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, to shake the monkey of folk authenticity permanently off his back", "the distinction between the folk and rock audiences would have nearly evaporated" and The Beatles' audience would be "showing signs of growing up".
United Artists Records, noticing Capitol's lack of interest in U.S. record releases in 1963, had encouraged United Artists' film division to offer The Beatles a motion picture deal in the hope that it would lead to a record deal. The first film, A Hard Day's Night, premiered in London and New York in July and August 1964 and was an international success.
In June 1965, Queen Elizabeth II appointed the four Beatles "Members of the Order of the British Empire", MBE. They were nominated by the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson. The appointment—at that time primarily bestowed upon military veterans and civic leaders—sparked controversy and some conservative MBE recipients returned their insignia in protest.
On 15 August 1965, The Beatles marked the start of their third U.S. visit with the first major stadium concert in history. Shea Stadium in New York saw a crowd of 55,600 for the performance. A further nine successful concerts followed in other U.S. cities. Towards the end of the tour they were introduced to Elvis Presley, a fundamental musical influence on the band from their earliest days, after accepting his invitation to meet him at his home on 27 August. At Presley's suggestion, guitars were set up in his living room and the gathering played music for an hour, following which they discussed the music business and exchanged anecdotes.
On-stage amplification in the 1960s was modest compared to modern day equipment. The Beatles used only small Vox amplifiers which struggled to compete with the volume of sound generated by screaming fans. By 1965 the band, forced to accept that neither they nor their audiences could hear the details of their performance, were experiencing boredom during concerts.
In August 1965, their fifth studio album Help! was released, shortly after the film of the same name. Released in early December, their sixth album Rubber Soul was critically hailed as a major leap forward in the maturity and complexity of the band's music, and is today described by Allmusic as "one of the classic folk rock records". In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine's "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" ranked Rubber Soul at number five.
Controversy, studio years, and breakup
In July 1966, during a tour of the Philippines, The Beatles 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, Epstein politely declined on behalf of the group, as it had never been his policy to accept such official invitations. The group soon found that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to accepting "no" for an answer; the resulting riots endangered the group and they escaped the country with difficulty.
Almost as soon as they returned from the Philippines, they faced a wave of antipathy from religious and social conservatives in the U.S. following publication of a comment made by Lennon earlier in the year. In an interview with British reporter Maureen Cleave, Lennon offered his opinion that Christianity was dying and that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now". When U.S. teenage fan magazine Datebook quoted his comment a backlash developed in the American South's "Bible belt" and South Africa banned airplay of Beatles records in a prohibition that would last until 1971. Epstein publicly criticized Datebook, saying they had taken Lennon's words out of context, and at a press conference on the eve of the group's final U.S. tour, Lennon pointed out, "If I'd said television was more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it". Lennon said he had only been referring to how other people saw The Beatles, but "if you want me to apologize, if that will make you happy, then okay, I'm sorry".
In June 1966, Capitol Records released Yesterday and Today, a U.S. compilation of singles and tracks from the UK versions of Help!, Rubber Soul and the upcoming Revolver. The album created an uproar, as the cover portrayed the smiling group dressed in butcher's overalls, with raw meat, and mutilated plastic dolls. A popular, though apocryphal, rumour was that this was meant as a response to the way Capitol had "butchered" their albums. Thousands of copies of the album had a new cover pasted over the original. Today, uncensored copies of Yesterday and Today command a high price, and one copy sold for $10,500 at a December 2005 auction.
Released in August 1966, and "woven with motifs of circularity, reversal, and inversion, Revolver was the first record on which the Beatles consciously made the interplay of their individual personalities a theme of the music itself. Every aspect of the new album was designed to signal a break with the past". Its cover—designed by Klaus Voorman, known by the band from their Hamburg days and by now bassist with Manfred Mann—"consisted for the first time of something besides a flattering photograph of the group. Here instead was a stark, arty, black-and-white collage that caricatured the Beatles in a pen-and-ink style beholden to Aubrey Beardsley". Revolver demonstrated a growing repertoire of musical styles, from prominent use of classical strings to psychedelic rock. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time would rank Revolver at number three.
During the month that Revolver was released, The Beatles performed their final commercial concert. Staged at Candlestick Park, San Francisco at the close of the 1966 U.S. tour, the performance marked the end of a four-year period dominated by touring and concerts including nearly sixty U.S. appearances and over one thousand four hundred internationally. In November, moving into the phase of their career that would later be known as their studio years, they began recording Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Sgt. Pepper was released in June 1967 following February's single "Strawberry Fields Forever", which was recorded during the same sessions. Nearly seven hundred hours of studio time had been devoted to the album. The elaborate musical complexity of the result, created using only four-track recording technology, astounded contemporary artists seeking to outdo The Beatles. After hearing "Strawberry Fields Forever", Beach Boys' leader Brian Wilson abandoned all attempts to compete with the band. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time would rank Sgt. Pepper at number one.
The same month Sgt. Pepper was released, the group performed "All You Need Is Love" to TV viewers worldwide on Our World using the first live global television link. In August 1967, The Beatles met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for the first time.
While The Beatles were at a weekend Transcendental Meditation retreat with the Maharishi in Bangor, Epstein's assistant Peter Brown called to tell them that Epstein had died. The coroner ruled Epstein's death an accidental overdose, but the press speculated it was a suicide at least in part because of a rumour that a suicide note was discovered among Epstein's possessions.
Lennon said that Epstein's death marked the beginning of the end for the group: "I knew that we were in trouble then ... I thought, We've fuckin' had it now". Epstein had been in a fragile emotional state due to issues surrounding his personal life, and stress related to his business relationship with The Beatles, as his management contract with them was due to expire in the fall of 1967. He worried that The Beatles might not renew his contract based on their discontent with his handling of business matters, including Seltaeb, the company that handled Beatles merchandising rights in the United States. Epstein's death left the group disoriented and fearful about the future. Lennon said later, "I didn't have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music and I was scared".
In the winter of 1967–1968, The Beatles received their first major negative press in the UK when there were disparaging reviews of the Magical Mystery Tour TV film.
After relying on Epstein since the start of their success, the group turned to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as their guru. They arranged to spend three months in India with him at his ashram in Rishikesh. Although Starr returned to England after ten days, the time the remaining members spent in India was one of their most creative periods. During February, March and April 1968, they composed dozens of songs, seventeen of which were recorded for The Beatles (popularly known as The White Album).
Yanni Alexis Mardas, The Beatles' electronics technician referred to as Magic Alex or "the Greek wizard", had accompanied the group to the ashram. Mardas expressed the view that the Maharishi was attempting to manipulate them. Near the end of the three-month visit he convinced the group that the Maharishi was not all he had seemed. Lennon's anger led him to write a song called "Maharishi" to make his opinion known, but the title was changed to avoid a legal suit, becoming "Sexy Sadie". McCartney said, "We made a mistake. We thought there was more to him than there was".
On returning from India The Beatles formed Apple Corps, which Epstein had planned to do, as a way of creating a tax-effective company structure. The album Magical Mystery Tour proved popular in the U.S., setting a new record in its first three weeks for highest initial sales of any Capitol album. The Beatles, the first Apple Records album release, was also popular, reaching number one in the UK and the U.S. among other countries. But during recording sessions for the album, divisions and dissent had started to drive the group apart, and Starr had quit the band for a period, leaving McCartney to perform drums on several tracks.
In January 1969, The Beatles began a film project documenting the making of Let It Be, an album originally to have been titled Get Back. During the recording, the band gave their final live performance on the rooftop of the Apple building at 3 Savile Row, London, on 30 January 1969. Most of the performance was filmed and later included in the film Let It Be. The project was put aside, later to be mixed and orchestrated by the American producer Phil Spector, who had produced Lennon's solo single "Instant Karma!". Conflict arose within the band regarding the appointment of a financial adviser, the need for which had become evident without Epstein to manage business affairs. Lennon favoured Allen Klein, who had negotiated contracts for several UK bands including The Rolling Stones during the British Invasion, but McCartney's choice was John Eastman. Agreement could not be reached, so both were appointed, but further conflict ensued and financial opportunities were lost.
The Beatles recorded their final album, Abbey Road, in the summer of 1969. The completion of the song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" for the album, on 20 August 1969, was the last time all four Beatles were together in the same studio. Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group on 20 September 1969, but agreed that no public announcement would be made until a number of legal matters were resolved. Their final new song was Harrison's "I Me Mine", recorded 3 January 1970 and released on Let It Be. It was recorded without Lennon, who was in Denmark at the time.
To complete the Let It Be album, Klein gave the Get Back session tapes to Spector in March 1970, resulting in a Wall of Sound production that went against McCartney's original intent. McCartney was deeply dissatisfied with Spector's addition of fifty musicians to "The Long and Winding Road", and attempted to halt the release of Spector's version, but was unable to do so. He gave this as one of the three reasons he left the group. McCartney publicly announced his departure on 10 April 1970, a week before releasing his first solo album, McCartney. Pre-release copies of McCartney's album included a press release with a self-written interview, explaining the end of his involvement with The Beatles and his hopes for the future. On 8 May 1970, the Spector-produced Let It Be was released, followed on 20 May by the documentary film of the same name.
McCartney filed a suit for the dissolution of The Beatles on 31 December 1970. Legal disputes continued long after the band's breakup, and the dissolution of the partnership finally took effect in 1975.
Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all released solo albums in 1970, and continued to release further albums as they developed their post-Beatles musical careers. Some featured contributions by other former Beatles; Starr's Ringo (1973) was the only one to include compositions and performances by all four, albeit on separate songs. Harrison arranged the Concert For Bangladesh in New York City in August 1971 with sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. Other than an unreleased jam session in 1974 (later bootlegged as A Toot and a Snore in '74), Lennon and McCartney never recorded together again.
In the wake of the 1975 expiration of The Beatles' contract with EMI-Capitol, the American Capitol label, rushing to cash in on its vast Beatles holdings and freed from the group's creative control, released five LPs: Rock 'n' Roll Music (a compilation of their more up-tempo numbers) The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (containing previously unreleased portions of two shows at the Hollywood Bowl during their 1964 and 1965 U.S. tours), Love Songs (a compilation of their slower numbers) Rarities (a compilation of tracks that either had never been released in the U.S. or had gone out of print) and Reel Music (a compilation of songs from their films). There was also a non-Capitol-EMI release entitled Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962, a compilation of recordings made during the group's Hamburg residency, taped on a basic recording machine with one microphone. Of all these post-breakup LPs, only the Hollywood Bowl LP had the approval of the group members. Upon the American release of the original British CDs in 1986, Capitol deleted the post-breakup American compilation LPs from its catalogue.
Lennon was shot and killed on 8 December 1980, in New York City. As a personal tribute to Lennon, Harrison wrote new lyrics for "All Those Years Ago", a song about his time with The Beatles recorded the month before Lennon's death. The song, featuring Starr on drums, was overdubbed with the new lyrics before being released as a single in May 1981. McCartney and his wife, Linda McCartney, contributed backing vocals to the track. McCartney's own tribute, "Here Today", appeared on his Tug of War album released in April 1982.
In 1988, their first year of eligibility, The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Harrison and Starr attended the ceremony along with Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, and his two sons, Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon. McCartney did not attend, issuing a press release saying, "After 20 years, the Beatles still have some business differences which I had hoped would have been settled by now. Unfortunately, they haven't been, so I would feel like a complete hypocrite waving and smiling with them at a fake reunion." The following year, EMI-Capitol settled a decade-long lawsuit by The Beatles concerning royalties; this cleared the way to commercially package previously unreleased material, leading to the Live at the BBC album and the Anthology project.
In 1994 McCartney, Harrison and Starr reunited for the Anthology project, the culmination of a work begun in the late 1960s by Neil Aspinall. Initially The Beatles' road manager, and then their personal assistant, Aspinall began to gather material for a documentary after he became director of Apple Corps in 1968. The Long and Winding Road, as Aspinall provisionally titled his Beatles history, was shelved, but as executive producer for the Anthology project Aspinall was able to complete his work. Documenting the history of The Beatles in the band's own words, the project saw the issue of previously unreleased Beatles recordings, and McCartney, Harrison and Starr also added new instrumental and vocal parts to two demo songs recorded by Lennon in the late 1970s. During 1995 and 1996 the project yielded a five-part television series, an eight-volume video set, three two-CD box sets and two singles. The CD box sets featured artwork by Klaus Voorman, known by The Beatles since their Hamburg days and creator of the Revolver album cover in 1966. The releases were commercially successful and the television series was viewed by an estimated 400 million people worldwide.
1, a compilation album of virtually every Beatles number one British and American hit, was released on 13 November 2000. Its reception surpassed all critical and commercial expectations. It broke a considerable number of sales and chart records. It sold 3.6 million units in its first week and more than 12 million in three weeks worldwide, reaching number one in over 35 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. It became the fastest-selling album of all time and the highest-selling of 2000 and of the decade so far.
Harrison died from lung cancer on 29 November 2001.
Between 2004 and 2006, Martin and his son Giles Martin remixed 130 original Beatles recordings to create "a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period" as a soundtrack for Cirque du Soleil's theatrical production Love. The soundtrack was released as the album Love in 2006. McCartney and Starr gave their thoughts on the show in a 2007 interview on Larry King Live. and Beatle widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison appeared with McCartney and Starr in Las Vegas for the one-year anniversary of Love. Also in 2007, reports circulated that McCartney was hoping to complete "Now and Then", a third Lennon track worked on during the Anthology sessions, which would be credited as a "Lennon/McCartney composition" by writing new verses, and reworked by laying down a new drum track recorded by Starr and utilising archival recordings of Harrison's guitar work.
Lawyers for The Beatles sued on 21 March 2008 to prevent the distribution of unreleased recordings purportedly made during Starr's first performance with the group in 1962. The dispute between Apple Corps Ltd. and Fuego Entertainment Inc. of Miami Lakes stemmed from recordings apparently made during a performance at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany. In November 2008, McCartney revealed the existence of a 14-minute experimental recording The Beatles made at Abbey Road Studios in 1967 called "Carnival of Light", saying he would like to see it released but it would require approval from Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison.
On 4 April 2009, McCartney headlined a charity concert at Radio City Music Hall for the David Lynch Foundation with special guest performers including Starr. On 14 April 2009, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Eric Idle, Jim Keltner, McCartney, and Joe Walsh joined Harrison's widow, Olivia, and his son, Dhani, for the Hollywood Walk of Fame star dedication for Harrison in Los Angeles.
The Beatles: Rock Band, a video game in the style of Rock Band and based solely on The Beatles, was released on 9 September 2009. On the same day, remastered CDs of the twelve original albums (from Please Please Me to Abbey Road) plus Magical Mystery Tour and Past Masters were issued. Stereo versions were made available both individually and as a box set, while a second collection comprises all mono titles along with the original stereo mixes of Help! and Rubber Soul.
When the group were still called The Quarrymen and were making the transition from skiffle, among the rock and roll songs they began to incorporate into their act were those of Elvis Presley and Little Richard, and from 1957 until their last commercial concert in 1966, the group performed more covers by Chuck Berry than by any other artist. The Beatles appeared with Little Richard at the Star Club in Hamburg from April to May 1962, and during the residency friendships were formed and the singer gave advice regarding techniques for performing his songs. Of Presley, Lennon said, "Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn't been Elvis, there would not have been The Beatles":
Among inspirations for the Beatles' music may have been the music in the Black clubs of Liverpool in the late 1950s, which in turn may have drawn partly on Irish and Welsh singers. Liverpool-born Black men to a large extent are descended from African seafarers who worked in the Africa-U.S. slave trade about a century earlier and married local Irish and English white women. as well as Afro-Caribbean immigrants after World War II. Their work and their relationships with other people in Liverpool and England likely influenced their music, thence the Beatles' music.
The Beatles continued to absorb influences long after their initial success, often finding new musical and lyrical avenues by listening to their contemporaries, including Bob Dylan. Frank Zappa (Freak Out!)., the Byrds. and the Beach Boys, whose album Pet Sounds amazed and inspired McCartney. Martin stated that "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds".
In Icons of Rock: An Encyclopedia of the Legends Who Changed Music Forever, Schinder and Schwartz sum up The Beatles' musical evolution in these words:
In their initial incarnation as cheerful, wisecracking moptops, the Fab Four revolutionized the sound, style, and attitude of popular music and opened rock and roll's doors to a tidal wave of British rock acts. Their initial impact would have been enough to establish the Beatles as one of their era's most influential cultural forces, but they didn't stop there. Although their initial style was a highly original, irresistibly catchy synthesis of early American rock and r
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