The Beatles were an English rock band that formed in Liverpool, in 1960. With John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, they became widely regarded as the greatest and most influential act of the rock era. Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later experimented with several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical elements in innovative ways. In the early 1960s, their enormous popularity first emerged as "Beatlemania", but as their songwriting grew in sophistication they came to be perceived as an embodiment of the ideals shared by the era's sociocultural revolutions.
Starting in 1960, the Beatles built their reputation by playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over a three-year period. Manager Brian Epstein moulded them into a professional act and producer George Martin enhanced their musical potential. They gained popularity in the United Kingdom after their first hit, "Love Me Do", in late 1962. They acquired the nickname the "Fab Four" as Beatlemania grew in Britain over the following year, and by early 1964 they had become international stars, leading the "British Invasion" of the United States pop market. From 1965 on, the Beatles produced what many critics consider their finest material, including the innovative and widely influential albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), The Beatles (White Album) (1968), and Abbey Road (1969). After their break-up in 1970, they each enjoyed successful musical careers. Lennon was shot and killed in December 1980, and Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001. McCartney and Starr, the remaining members, remain musically active.
According to the RIAA, the Beatles are the best-selling band in the United States, with 177 million certified units. They have had more number-one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other act. In 2008, the group topped Billboard magazine's list of the all time most successful "Hot 100" artists; as of 2014, they hold the record for most number-one hits on the Hot 100 chart with 20. They have received ten Grammy Awards, an Academy Award for Best Original Score and fifteen Ivor Novello Awards. Collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of the 20th century's 100 most influential people, they are the best-selling band in history, with estimate sales of over 600 million records worldwide. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the Beatles as the greatest artist of all time.
Martin's first recording session with the Beatles took place at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London on 6 June 1962. Martin immediately complained to Epstein about Best's poor drumming and suggested they use a session drummer in his stead. Already contemplating Best's dismissal, the Beatles replaced him in mid-August with Ringo Starr, who left Rory Storm and the Hurricanes to join them. A 4 September session at EMI yielded a recording of "Love Me Do" featuring Starr on drums, but a dissatisfied Martin hired drummer Andy White for the band's third session a week later, which produced recordings of "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me" and "P.S. I Love You". Martin initially selected the Starr version of "Love Me Do" for the band's first single, though subsequent re-pressings featured the White version, with Starr on tambourine. Released in early October, "Love Me Do" peaked at number seventeen on the Record Retailer chart. Their television début came later that month with a live performance on the regional news programme People and Places. A studio session in late November yielded another recording of "Please Please Me",of which Martin accurately predicted, "You've just made your first No.1."
In February 1963, the Beatles recorded ten songs during a single marathon studio session for their debut LP, Please Please Me. The album was supplemented by the four tracks already released on their first two singles. After the moderate success of "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me" met with a more emphatic reception. Released in January 1963, two months ahead of the album of the same name, the song reached number one on every chart in London except Record Retailer, where it stalled at number two. Recalling how the Beatles "rushed to deliver a debut album, bashing out Please Please Me in a day", Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine comments, "Decades after its release, the album still sounds fresh, precisely because of its intense origins.” Lennon said little thought went into composition at the time; he and McCartney were "just writing songs à la Everly Brothers, à la Buddy Holly, pop songs with no more thought of them than that—to create a sound. And the words were almost irrelevant."
Released in March 1963, the album initiated a run during which eleven of their twelve studio albums released in the United Kingdom through 1970 reached number one. The band's third single, "From Me to You", came out in April and was also a chart-topping hit, starting an almost unbroken string of seventeen British number one singles for the Beatles, including all but one of the eighteen they released over the next six years. Released in August, the band's fourth single, "She Loves You", achieved the fastest sales of any record in the UK up to that time, selling three-quarters of a million copies in under four weeks. It became their first single to sell a million copies, and remained the biggest-selling record in the UK until 1978. Their commercial success brought increased media exposure, to which the Beatles responded with an irreverent and comical attitude that defied the expectations of pop musicians at the time, inspiring even more interest. As their popularity spread, a frenzied adulation of the group took hold. Greeted with riotous enthusiasm by screaming fans, the press dubbed the phenomenon "Beatlemania".
EMI's American subsidiary, Capitol Records, hindered the Beatles' releases in the United States for more than a year by initially declining to issue their music, including their first three singles. Concurrent negotiations with the independent US labels Vee-Jay and Swan led to the release of the songs in 1963, but legal issues with royalties and publishing rights proved an obstacle to the successful marketing of the group in the US. American chart success began after Epstein arranged for a $40,000 US marketing campaign and secured the support of disk jockey Carrol James, who first played the band's records in mid-December 1963, initiating their music's spread across US radio. This caused an increase in demand, leading Capitol to rush-release "I Want to Hold Your Hand" later that month. Released 26 December 1963, with the band's previously scheduled debut there just weeks away, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" sold a million copies, becoming a number one hit in the US by mid-January. On 7 February 1964, the Beatles left the United Kingdom with an estimated four thousand fans gathered at Heathrow, waving and screaming as the aircraft took off. Upon landing at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, an uproarious crowd estimated at three thousand greeted them. They gave their first live US television performance two days later on The Ed Sullivan Show, watched by approximately 73 million viewers in over 23 million households, or 34 percent of the American population. According to the Nielsen rating service, it was "the largest audience that had ever been recorded for an American television program”. The next morning, the Beatles awoke to a negative critical consensus in the US, but a day later their first US concert saw Beatlemania erupt at Washington Coliseum. Back in New York the following day, the Beatles met with another strong reception during two shows at Carnegie Hall. The band then flew to Florida and appeared on the weekly Ed Sullivan Show a second time, before another 70 million viewers, before returning to the UK on 22 February.
'Live Beatles' and 'Studio Beatles' had become entirely different beasts." Their final concert at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on 29 August was their last commercial concert. It marked the end of a four-year period dominated by almost nonstop touring that included over 1,400 concert appearances internationally.
Freed from the burden of touring, the Beatles embraced an increasingly experimental approach as they recorded Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, beginning in late November 1966. According to engineer Geoff Emerick, the album's recording took over seven hundred hours. He recalled the band's insistence "that everything on Sgt. Pepper had to be different. We had microphones right down in the bells of brass instruments and headphones turned into microphones attached to violins. We used giant primitive oscillators to vary the speed of instruments and vocals and we had tapes chopped to pieces and stuck together upside down and the wrong way around." Parts of "A Day in the Life" featured a forty-piece orchestra. The sessions initially yielded the non-album double A-side single "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane" in February 1967; the Sgt. Pepper LP followed in June.
The musical complexity of the records, created using relatively primitive four-track recording technology, astounded contemporary artists. For Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson, in the midst of a personal crisis and struggling to complete the ambitious Smile, hearing "Strawberry Fields" was a crushing blow and he soon abandoned all attempts to compete with his friendly rivals. Among music critics, acclaim for the album was virtually universal.
Sgt. Pepper was the first major pop/rock LP to include its complete lyrics, which appeared on the back cover. Those lyrics were the subject of critical analysis; for instance, in late 1967 the album was the subject of a scholarly inquiry by American literary critic and professor of English Richard Poirier, who observed that his students were "listening to the group's music with a degree of engagement that he, as a teacher of literature, could only envy”. Poirier identified what he termed its "mixed allusiveness": "It's unwise ever to assume that they're doing only one thing or expressing themselves in only one style ... one kind of feeling about a subject isn't enough ... any single induced feeling must often exist within the context of seemingly contradictory alternatives." McCartney said at the time, "We write songs. We know what we mean by them. But in a week someone else says something about it, and you can't deny it. ... You put your own meaning at your own level to our songs". In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it number one on its list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".
Although Let It Be was the Beatles' final album release, it was largely recorded before Abbey Road. The project's impetus came from an idea Martin attributes to McCartney, who suggested they "record an album of new material and rehearse it, then perform it before a live audience for the very first time—on record and on film." Originally intended for a one-hour television programme to be called "Beatles at Work", much of the album's content came from extensive rehearsals filmed by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg at Twickenham Film Studios beginning in January 1969. Martin said the project was "not at all a happy recording experience. It was a time when relations between The Beatles were at their lowest".v Lennon described the largely impromptu sessions as "hell ... the most miserable ... on Earth", and Harrison, "the low of all-time". Irritated by both McCartney and Lennon, Harrison walked out for five days. Upon returning, he threatened to leave the band unless they "abandon[ed] all talk of live performance" and instead focus on finishing a new album, initially titled Get Back, using songs recorded for the TV special. He also demanded they cease work at Twickenham and relocate to the newly finished Apple Studios. The other band members agreed, and the idea came about to salvage the footage shot for the TV production for use in a feature film.
In an effort to alleviate tensions within the band and improve the quality of their live sound, Harrison invited keyboardist Billy Preston to participate in the last nine days of sessions. Preston received label billing on the "Get Back" single—the only musician ever to receive that acknowledgment on an official Beatles release. At the conclusion of the rehearsals, the band could not agree on a location to film a concert, rejecting several ideas, including a boat at sea, a lunatic asylum, the Tunisian desert, and the Colosseum. Ultimately, what would be their final live performance was filmed on the rooftop of the Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row, London, on 30 January 1969. Five weeks later, engineer Glyn Johns, whom Lewisohn describes as Get Back's "uncredited producer", began work assembling an album, given "free rein" as the band "all but washed their hands of the entire project."
New strains developed between the band members regarding the appointment of a financial adviser, the need for which had become evident without Epstein to manage business affairs. Lennon, Harrison and Starr favoured Allen Klein, who had managed the Rolling Stones and Sam Cooke; McCartney wanted John Eastman, brother of Linda Eastman, whom McCartney married on 12 March. Agreement could not be reached, so both were temporarily appointed, but further conflict ensued and financial opportunities were lost. On 8 May, Klein was named sole manager of the band. Martin stated that he was surprised when McCartney asked him to produce another album, as the Get Back sessions had been "a miserable experience" and he had "thought it was the end of the road for all of us". The primary recording sessions for Abbey Road began on 2 July. Lennon, who rejected Martin's proposed format of a "continuously moving piece of music", wanted his and McCartney's songs to occupy separate sides of the album. The eventual format, with individually composed songs on the first side and the second consisting largely of a medley, was McCartney's suggested compromise. On 4 July, the first solo single by a Beatle was released: Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance", credited to the Plastic Ono Band. The completion and mixing of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" on 20 August 1969 was the last occasion on which all four Beatles were together in the same studio. Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group on 20 September, but agreed to withhold a public announcement to avoid undermining sales of the forthcoming album.
Released six days after Lennon's declaration, Abbey Road sold four million copies within three months and topped the UK charts for a total of seventeen weeks. Its second track, the ballad "Something", was issued as a single—the only Harrison composition ever to appear as a Beatles A-side. Abbey Road received mixed reviews, although the medley met with general acclaim. Martin singled it out as his personal favourite of all the band's albums; Lennon said it was "competent" but had "no life in it". Recording engineer Emerick noted that the replacement of the studio's valve mixing console with a transistorized one yielded a less punchy sound, leaving the group frustrated at the thinner tone and lack of impact and contributing to its "kinder, gentler" feel relative to their previous albums.
For the still unfinished Get Back album, one last song, Harrison's "I Me Mine", was recorded on 3 January 1970. Lennon, in Denmark at the time, did not participate. In March, rejecting the work Johns had done on the project, now retitled Let It Be, Klein gave the session tapes to American producer Phil Spector, who had recently produced Lennon's solo single "Instant Karma!" In addition to remixing the material, Spector edited, spliced and overdubbed several of the recordings that had been intended as "live". McCartney was unhappy with the producer's approach and particularly dissatisfied with the lavish orchestration on "The Long and Winding Road", which involved a fourteen-voice choir and thirty-six-piece instrumental ensemble. McCartney's demands that the alterations to the song be reverted were ignored, and he publicly announced his departure from the band on 10 April 1970, a week before the release of his first, self-titled solo album. On 8 May, the Spector-produced Let It Be was released. Its accompanying single, "The Long and Winding Road", was the Beatles' last; it was released in the United States, but not Britain. The Let It Be documentary film followed later that month, and would win the 1970 Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. Several reviewers stated that some of the performances in the film sounded better than their analogous album tracks. Describing Let It Be as the "only Beatles album to occasion negative, even hostile reviews", McCartney filed suit for the dissolution of the Beatles' contractual partnership on 31 December 1970. Legal disputes continued long after their break-up, and the dissolution was not formalized until 29 December 1974.
The Beatles – BLUES JAM (THE DIRTY MAC) (THEME) – (Lennon/Clapton/Richards/Mitchell) – The Dirty Mac were a one-time English super-group consisting of John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell that Lennon put together for The Rolling Stones' TV special entitled The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. Recorded on 11 December 1968, this was the first time since the formation of The Beatles that Lennon, who was still in the group, had performed in public without them.
The Beatles – MAGGIE MAE/FANCY ME CHANCES – (Traditional, arr. Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Starkey // Lennon/McCartney) – “Maggie Mae” was recorded for their “Let It Be” album, 1969. “Fancy Me Chances “ was performed live in 1962 and briefly during the Get Back sessions; the latter was released as "Fancy My Chances with You" on the bonus disc of “Let It Be... Naked”, 2003.
The Beatles – SUZY PARKER - (Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey) – Suzy Parker (October 28, 1932 – May 3, 2003) was an American model and actress active from 1947 into the early 1960s. Her modeling career reached its zenith during the 1950s, when she appeared on the cover of dozens of magazines and in advertisements and movie and television roles. She appeared in several Revlon advertisements as well as in advertisements for many other cosmetic companies, including Solo Products (the largest hair care product company in the country at the time). She was the first model to earn $100,000 per year and the only fashion model to have a Beatles song named after her, albeit an unreleased one.
The Beatles – GOOD ROCKIN’ TONIGHT – (Brown) - "Good Rocking Tonight" was originally a jump blues song released in 1947 by its writer, Roy Brown and was covered by many other recording artists. The song includes the memorable refrain, "Well I heard the news, there's good rocking tonight!" The song anticipated elements of rock and roll music.
The Beatles – TOO MUCH MONKEY BUSINESS – (Berry) – Recorded in 1963 for the “Live at the BBC” radio show.
The Beatles – TWENTY FLIGHT ROCK – (Cochran/Fairchild) – "Twenty Flight Rock" is a song originally performed by Eddie Cochran in the 1956 film comedy The Girl Can't Help It, and released as a single in 1957. The song was published in 1957 as written by Ned Fairchild and Eddie Cochran by American Music Incorporated and Campbell Connelly and Company. Eddie Cochran's contribution was primarily on the music. Cochran's version was rockabilly-flavored, but artists of all genres would cover the song, including Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Heinz, Montrose, including rockabilly and psychobilly groups Stray Cats, Tiger Army and Zombie Ghost Train and Brazilians Coke Luxe version, "Vigesimo Andar"
The first version of "Twenty Flight Rock" was recorded by Cochran in July 1956 at Goldstar Studio, with Connie Smith on the bull fiddle and Jerry Capehart thumping a soup carton. Cochran re-recorded the song sometime between May to August 1957. This later version was released in the United States (Liberty 55112) with "Cradle Baby" as a flipside, it was a moderate seller, but was more popular in Europe and had steady sales for a long period.
The barely 15-year-old Paul McCartney used "Twenty Flight Rock" as his first song when he auditioned for John Lennon on July 6, 1957 in Liverpool, England. The 16-year-old Lennon was impressed by the young McCartney's ability to play the song on the guitar during their first official introductions at St. Peter's Church Hall prior to a church garden fete. The good first impression of McCartney's performance led to an invitation to join The Quarrymen - John Lennon's band that would eventually evolve into The Beatles. On The Beatles Anthology, McCartney noted that: "I think what impressed him most was that I knew all the words."
The Beatles – YOU’VE REALLY GOT A HOLD ON ME – (LIVE) -(ROBINSON) – Originally recorded in 1963 for their “With The Beatles” album. Date and location unknown.
The Beatles – A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (LIVE) – (Lennon/McCartney) - Originally recorded in 1964 for their “A Hard Day’s Night” album. Date and location unknown.
The Beatles - BABY’S IN BLACK (LIVE) – (Lennon/McCartney) – Originally recorded in 1964 for their “Beatles for Sale” album. Date and location unknown.
The Beatles – IF I NEEDED SOMEONE - (LIVE) - (Harrison) – Originally recorded in 1965 for their “Rubber Soul” album. Date and location unknown.
The Beatles – I’LL BE ON MY WAY (1963) - (Lennon/McCartney) – First recorded by Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas in 1963 for the b-side of a single. Released by The Beatles on their “Live at the BBC” CD, 1994.
The Beatles – HER MAJESTY - (McCartney) – Recorded in 1969 for their “Abbey Road” album. Alternate take.
The Beatles – ACROSS THE UNIVERSE - (Lennon) – Recorded in 1968 for their “Let It Be” album. This is a totally different take than the one used on the album.
The Beatles – BACK IN THE USSR (ACOUSTIC DEMO) – (Lennon/McCartney) – Recorded in 1968 for their “The Beatles” album.
The Beatles – DEAR PRUDENCE (ACOUSTIC DEMO) - (Lennon/McCartney) – Recorded in 1968 for their “The Beatles” album.
The Beatles – CRY BABY CRY (ACOUSTIC DEMO) - (Lennon/McCartney) – Recorded in 1968 for their “The Beatles” album.
The Beatles – LADY MADONNA (EARLY VERSION) –Lennon/McCartney) – Recorded in 1968 and first released as a single b/w “The Inner Light”.
The Beatles – SHE’S A WOMAN (TAKE TWO) – (Lennon/McCartney) – Recorded in 1964 and first released as a single b/w “I Feel Fine”. A different take was used.
The Beatles – ONE AFTER 909 (1962 VERSION) - (Lennon/McCartney) – Re-recorded in 1969 and released in 1970 on the album “Let It Be”. The album version is the live performance from the rooftop concert which took place on 30 January 1969. This performance is also included in the Let It Be film. The song was written as early as 1957, and is one of the first Lennon–McCartney compositions. This is an early take of the song.
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