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Overview for The Beatles
The Beatles

The Beatles


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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: Liverpool, UK Profession: Music ... musicians songwriters actors


The Beatles made so much history in a mere ten years that they remain a towering presence in pop culture nearly a half-century later. Initially they were just one of many ragtag bands that sprung up in the industrial city of Liverpool, England. John Lennon (vocals, guitar), George Harrison (guitar, vocals) and Paul McCartney (vocals, bass) had all played skiffle-a rough, Anglified version of American folk music-in Lennon's band the Quarrymen. But their hearts were really in the music they heard coming over from America-early rock & roll, R&B and Brill Building "girl group" pop. Learning covers from US singles, they built a following in Liverpool's Cavern Club; then a series of trips to perform in the red light district of Hamburg, Germany toughened and tightened up the band. It also served to weed out original drummer Pete Best; founding bassist Stuart Sutcliffe also stayed in Germany to pursue visual art but died young. By the time they quit Hamburg they'd found a manager in Brian Epstein and a permanent drummer in former Rory Storm & the Hurricanes member Ringo Starr.

The heavens didn't open right away: The Beatles' first audition for Decca Records was a flop and they were only signed to Capitol/EMI when producer George Martin was willing to take a chance. The first single "Love Me Do" was only a modest UK success and was ignored altogether on its first US release. The followup, "Please Please Me" went Number One and set off the first waves of Beatlemania. By the end of 1963 they were regularly playing to screaming crowds, and now America was ready to take notice. Released in the US the day after Christmas '63, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was an immediate smash and set the stage for The Beatles' live appearance on television's Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964-a pivotal moment for a generation of rock fans, thousands of whom bought guitars the next day.

The next two years brought a series of triumphs including the well-received movie A Hard-Day's Night , the largest rock event to that date at Shea Stadium in 1965, and a series of singles that grew more surprising and sophisticated, from the backwards tapes on "Rain" to the string quartet on "Yesterday." The 1966 U.S. tour proved a turning point. Frustrated by the inability to hear themselves play-and dogged by controversy over a Lennon interview comparing their popularity to Jesus Christ's-the Beatles played their last official concert in San Francisco on August 29. This only signaled more creativity in the studio, the next year's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band introduced the world at large to psychedelia; its June 1967 release inaugurated the fabled Summer of Love.

Epstein's sudden death in August 1967 was the group's first serious setback, that Christmas brought a TV movie, Magical Mystery Tour that was only loved for its soundtrack. Even as the band began to splinter, 1968 brought a 30-song double album and a significant stand-alone single "Hey Jude" (which launched their own Apple label). Less successful was the next year's attempt to make a back-to-basics album, Get Back , which dissolved in in-fighting (it was later released as Let It Be). Wanting to go out strong the Beatles regrouped once more for the ambitious Abbey Road.

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