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|Also Known As:||The Silver Beatles,The Beat Boys,The Quarrymen,Johnny And The Moondogs||Died:|
|Born:||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Profession:||Music ... musicians songwriters actors|
Arguably the most influential musical group of the 20th century, "The Fab Four" recorded scores of hits and re-shaped the sound of rock'n'roll during their reign (roughly 1962-70). The Beatles went through various members and metamorphoses from 1957 through 1962, as musicians Pete Best, Stu Sutcliffe, Tommy Moore and others came and went. But by the time the group burst into the public consciousness in 1962, it consisted of four scruffy Liverpool kids in their late teens and early 20s.
The presumed "leaders" were the wild cut-up John Lennon (vocals, guitar, keyboard, harmonica) and the boyish Paul McCartney (vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass). They were backed up by the quiet, intense George Harrison (vocals, guitar, sitar), and the self-effacing Ringo Starr (vocals, drums). The brilliant promoter Brian Epstein cleaned up their black leather and Elvis pompadour image and remade them into unthreatening boys next door. With their new "pudding bowl" haircuts (quite shocking at the time), collarless jackets and pencil-thin pants, they became the apotheosis of the dandy "Teddy Boys". EMI producer George Martin signed the group in 1962 and they skyrocketed to fame with stunning speed.
The Beatles' early songs (many written by Lennon and McCartney) were hardly profound, but brought a fresh new sound to rock, which had been dominated through the 1950s by American artists. Their first major hit was the bouncy "Love Me Do" (1962), followed by scores of others: "She Loves You", "I Want to Hold Your Hand", "Please Please Me", "Can't Buy Me Love", "Twist and Shout" and many others.
The group's first American tour came in early 1964, and worldwide Beatlemania broke out in earnest, opening the doors for the mid-1960s "British Invasion" as other artists (Herman's Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, etc.) became stars in their wake. It was only a matter of time before film companies came calling, and in 1964 the endearing, black and white faux-documentary "A Hard Day's Night", directed by Richard Lester, was released.
Their next film, Lester's "Help!" (1965) was a more run-of-the-mill James Bond spoof, though it boasted a number of hit songs and did quite well. By this time "the lads" had several albums under their belts (their soundtracks, along with "Meet the Beatles", "Rubber Soul" and others). Giving up touring in 1966, they began experimenting with more intricate studio music, incorporating Indian and classical instruments and avant-garde interpolations. Epstein's death in 1967 cut their ties to the past, and such albums as "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Yellow Submarine" resulted. In 1967, The Beatles wrote and co-directed the hallucinogenic TV special "Magical Mystery Tour" (BBC), and the following year lent their voices to the innovative animated feature "Yellow Submarine", created by German artist Heinz Edelmann.
The group began breaking up slowly in the late 1960s, as each member followed his own interests, though they opened their own recording company, Apple Corps, in 1968. After a few more hits and albums (the so-called "White Album", 1968, "Abbey Road", 1969), the dissolution of The Beatles was announced by Paul McCartney on April 17, 1970.
All four former Beatles went on to more or less successful careers as singers, songwriters, actors, producers, etc. John Lennon's death in 1980 ended any chance of a much-requested reunion, but in 1995, Paul, George and Ringo used some old Lennon tapes to release two "new Beatles" songs, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love". The songs were introduced on "The Beatles Anthology" (ABC, 1995), and the impact of the group on late 20th-century music and culture was again reaffirmed.
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