The Beatles - Members, Songs, Albums, & Facts

The Beatles are one of the most iconic bands in music history. Their influence on the music industry is immeasurable, and their legacy continues to live on today.

The Beatles. From left to right: George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr, in 1965.
The Beatles. From left to right: George Harrison, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr, in 1965.

Origin Liverpool, England
Years active1960–1970
SpinoffsPlastic Ono Band
Spinoff ofThe Quarrymen
Past membersJohn Lennon (Aged: 40)

George Harrison (Aged: 58)

Table of Content

The Beatles, a rock band hailing from Liverpool, England, was formed in 1960 and consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They are widely regarded as the most influential band of all time and played a crucial role in the emergence of 1960s counterculture. Additionally, the band contributed to the recognition of popular music as an art form. Their sound, which emerged from a blend of skiffle, beat, and 1950s rock 'n' roll, incorporated classical music and traditional pop in a unique and innovative way. The band was also known for exploring various music genres, including folk, Indian music, psychedelia, and hard rock. As pioneers in recording, songwriting, and artistic presentation, the Beatles revolutionised many aspects of the music industry. They were often hailed as leaders of the youth and sociocultural movements of their era.

The Beatles are one of the most iconic bands in music history. Their influence on the music industry is immeasurable, and their legacy continues to live on today. This article, details the timeless legacy of The Beatles, exploring its members, discography, most popular songs, interesting facts, and their influence on music. We will also discuss why The Beatles broke up and how many of the members are still alive.

Initial Formation

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The band consisted of four members: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They are widely regarded as the most influential band of all time and are credited with revolutionizing the music industry. The Beatles' music was a blend of rock and roll, pop, and other genres, making their sound unique and appealing to a wide audience.

The Beatles, led by primary songwriters Lennon and McCartney, underwent an evolution from Lennon's previous group, the Quarrymen. Over a period of three years from 1960, they built their reputation by performing in clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg, initially with Stuart Sutcliffe playing bass. The core trio of Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, who had been together since 1958, went through several drummers, including Pete Best, before finally asking Starr to join them in 1962. With the help of manager Brian Epstein and producer George Martin, the band was molded into a professional act. After signing to EMI Records and achieving their first hit, "Love Me Do", in late 1962, Martin guided and developed their recordings, which greatly expanded their domestic success. As their popularity grew into the intense fan frenzy dubbed "Beatlemania", the band acquired the nickname "the Fab Four", with Epstein, Martin, or another member of the band's entourage sometimes informally referred to as a "fifth Beatle".

In the beginning of 1964, the Beatles had reached a level of worldwide fame that was unparalleled. Their critical and commercial triumphs had made them a dominant presence in Britain's cultural revitalization and they played a key role in the British Invasion of the American pop music industry. To further cement their status, the band made their cinematic debut with A Hard Day's Night (1964).In 1966, The Beatles retired from their live performances due to their growing desire to refine their studio efforts. This decision led them to produce records of greater sophistication such as Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles (also known as "the White Album"), and Abbey Road. These records marked the beginning of the album era and showcased advancements in electronic music, album art, and music videos. The success of their records also sparked public interest in psychedelic drugs and Eastern spirituality. In 1968, they established Apple Corps, a multimedia corporation that presently oversees projects related to the band's legacy. Following the group's disbandment in 1970, all principal former members enjoyed success as solo artists. Partial reunions have occurred, but Lennon's murder in 1980 and Harrison's death from lung cancer in 2001 have left only McCartney and Starr as musically active members.

The Beatles hold the title of the best-selling music act worldwide, with an estimated 600 million units sold globally. They have also achieved unparalleled success in the history of the US Billboard charts. Notably, the band has secured the record for the most number-one albums on the UK Albums Chart (15) and the most number-one hits on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart (20). Additionally, they have sold the highest number of singles in the UK (21.9 million). The Beatles have received numerous accolades, including seven Grammy Awards, four Brit Awards, and fifteen Ivor Novello Awards. They were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, with each principal member inducted individually between 1994 and 2015. The band's greatness has been recognized by Rolling Stone, who named them the greatest artists in history in both 2004 and 2011. Moreover, Time magazine has included them as one of 20th century's 100 most important personalities.

1956–1963: formation

The Quarrymen and name changes

During the years of 1956 to 1963, the legendary band, The Beatles, came into formation. John Lennon, along with some friends from Quarry Bank High School, founded a skiffle group in November 1956. The group was initially called the Blackjacks but later changed its name to the Quarrymen. They had to change their name as they discovered that another local band was already using it. Shortly after, in July 1957, Paul McCartney joined the group as a rhythm guitarist. George Harrison, who was McCartney's friend, was invited to watch the band in February 1958. After impressing Lennon with his playing, he was enlisted as the lead guitarist.

By January 1959, Lennon's Quarry Bank friends had left the group. He began his studies at the Liverpool College of Art, and the three guitarists started billing themselves as Johnny and the Moondogs. They were playing rock and roll wherever they could find a drummer. In January 1960, Lennon's art school friend Stuart Sutcliffe joined the group after selling one of his paintings and using the proceeds to buy a bass guitar. He suggested changing the band's name to Beatals, paying tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. In the months leading up to May, the band went by the name of "The Silver Beetles." They went on a short tour in Scotland, serving as the backup band for Johnny Gentle, who was also from Liverpool. By the start of July, they changed their name to "The Silver Beatles" and by mid-August, they finally settled on the name "The Beatles."

The Beatles' Members and Their Roles

The Beatles.
The Beatles

Each member of The Beatles played a crucial role in the band's success. John Lennon was the band's primary songwriter, and his lyrics often had a political or social message. Paul McCartney was the band's bassist and also contributed to the songwriting process. George Harrison played lead guitar and also wrote some of the band's most famous songs. Ringo Starr was the band's drummer and also occasionally contributed to the songwriting process.

The Beatles' individual talents and personalities complemented each other, and they worked together seamlessly to create their unique sound. Their chemistry on stage and in the studio was evident in their music, and their performances were always energetic and captivating.

Early residencies and UK popularity

Allan Williams, who was not an official manager of the Beatles, secured them a place to perform regularly in Hamburg. In mid-August 1960, the band held auditions and hired drummer Pete Best to join them. Departing Liverpool four days later, the group of now five members signed a 3+1⁄2-month contract with club owner Bruno Koschmider for a residency in Hamburg. Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn described their arrival in Hamburg as being at dusk on August 17, when the red-light district began to come alive. The area was filled with flashing neon lights advertising various forms of entertainment, and women dressed in revealing clothing sat in shop windows, waiting for potential customers.

Koschmider, the proprietor of a few strip clubs in the region, had transformed them into music venues. The Beatles were placed at the Indra Club initially, but it was closed due to noise complaints. As a result, they were relocated to the Kaiserkeller in October. When Koschmider discovered that they had breached their contract by performing at the rival Top Ten Club, he gave them one month's termination notice. Additionally, he reported the underage George Harrison, who had deceived the German authorities about his age to stay in Hamburg. The authorities arranged for Harrison's deportation in late November. A week later, Koschmider had McCartney and Best arrested for setting fire to a condom in a concrete corridor, and they were deported. Lennon returned to Liverpool in early December, while Sutcliffe remained in Hamburg until late February with his German fiancée Astrid Kirchherr, who took the Beatles' first semi-professional photos.

Over the course of the next 24 months, the Beatles spent time in Hamburg, where they took Preludin both recreationally and to help them sustain their energy levels during all-night performances. It was during their second residency in Hamburg in 1961 that Kirchherr styled Sutcliffe's hair in an "existentialist" fashion, a look that the other members of the band would eventually adopt. Sutcliffe left the group early that same year to pursue his art studies in Germany, and McCartney took over on bass. The band was then contracted by producer Bert Kaempfert as a four-piece outfit until June 1962, and they were used as the backing band for Tony Sheridan on a series of recordings for Polydor Records. As part of those sessions, the Beatles were signed to Polydor for a one-year period. "My Bonnie", a single credited to "Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers" and recorded in June 1961, was released four months later and reached number 32 on the Musikmarkt chart.

Following their second Hamburg residency, the Beatles started to gain more popularity in Liverpool, thanks to the emerging Merseybeat movement. Despite this, the band grew weary of performing at the same clubs over and over again. In November 1961, during a performance at the Cavern Club, they met Brian Epstein, a music columnist and record-store owner. Epstein was instantly impressed by their sound and presence.

First EMI recordings

In January of 1962, Epstein became the Beatles' manager after courting them for several months. During the early and mid-year of 1962, Epstein worked tirelessly to release the band from their contractual obligations to Bert Kaempfert Productions. After negotiations, they agreed to a one-month early release in exchange for one last recording session in Hamburg. Upon their return to Germany in April, they received devastating news of Sutcliffe's death from a brain haemorrhage. Epstein then began negotiating with record labels for a recording contract. To secure a UK record contract, he negotiated an early end to the band's contract with Polydor, in exchange for more recordings backing Tony Sheridan. However, Decca Records rejected the band after a New Year's Day audition, stating that "Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein." Three months later, producer George Martin signed the Beatles to EMI's Parlophone label.

The main entrance of the white, two-story building can be accessed via a flight of stone steps leading from the adjacent asphalt car park. The ground floor boasts two sash windows while the first floor features three shorter sash windows; two additional windows can be seen at the basement level. The ornate stonework surrounding the doors and windows is painted grey. Martin's inaugural recording session with the Beatles took place at EMI Recording Studios, which was later rebranded as Abbey Road Studios, on June 6, 1962. He expressed his discontent with Best's drumming abilities and proposed that they recruit a session drummer to replace him. As they had already been considering dismissing Best, the Beatles chose to replace him with Ringo Starr in mid-August. A session at EMI on September 4 resulted in a recording of "Love Me Do," which featured Starr on drums. However, Martin was unhappy with the results, so he hired drummer Andy White for the band's third session a week later. This session produced recordings of "Love Me Do," "Please Please Me," and "P.S. I Love You."

The primary access point to EMI Studios, which is now known as Abbey Road Studios, is depicted in this 2007 photograph.
The primary access point to EMI Studios, which is now known as Abbey Road Studios, is depicted in the 2007 photograph.

Initially, Martin opted for the Starr version of "Love Me Do" as the debut single for the band. However, the subsequent pressings had the White version featuring Starr on tambourine. The single was released in the beginning of October and peaked at number seventeen on the Record Retailer chart. The band made their television debut in the same month with a live performance on the regional news programme People and Places. Following Martin's suggestion to rerecord "Please Please Me" at a faster tempo, a studio session in late November produced the recording, which Martin confidently predicted would become their first number one hit.

In December of 1962, the Beatles concluded their fifth and final Hamburg residency. The band had agreed that all members, including Starr, would contribute vocals to their albums to validate his standing in the group, despite his restricted vocal range. Lennon and McCartney had established a songwriting partnership, but as the band's success grew, their dominant collaboration limited Harrison's opportunities as a lead vocalist. To maximize the Beatles' commercial potential, Epstein encouraged them to adopt a professional approach to performing. Lennon recalled Epstein advising them to change their stage habits, including refraining from eating, swearing, and smoking, if they wanted to perform in bigger venues.

1963-1966: Beatlemania and Touring period

Please Please Me and With the Beatles

During the years 1963-1966, the Beatles experienced a phenomenon known as "Beatlemania" and spent a significant amount of time touring.

Logo of the "The Beatles".
The logo of the band was crafted by Ivor Arbiter, a skilled designer in the industry.

In February 11, 1963, The Beatles made history by recording ten tracks for their first LP, Please Please Me, in a single studio session. Their initial singles already had four tracks, which were added to the LP. The idea of recording the album live at The Cavern Club was considered but dismissed due to inadequate acoustics. Instead, minimal production was used to simulate a live performance in a single session at Abbey Road. The single "Please Please Me" was released in January 1963, two months before the album, after the moderate success of "Love Me Do". It topped every UK chart except Record Retailer, where it reached number two.

In March of 1963, the Beatles released their first album, Please Please Me. This album marked the beginning of a remarkable streak of eleven consecutive number-one albums in the United Kingdom. The band's third single, "From Me to You," was released the following month and began a run of almost unbroken success, with seventeen British number-one singles, all but one of which were released over the next six years. The Beatles' fourth single, "She Loves You," was released in August and quickly became a sensation, selling three-quarters of a million copies in under four weeks. It was their first single to sell a million copies and held the title of the biggest-selling record in the UK until 1978.

The Beatles garnered increased media attention following their success. They responded to this with a lighthearted and humorous attitude that defied the norms of pop musicians during that era. Their popularity grew as they toured the UK three times in the first half of the year. A nationwide, four-week tour in February was followed by a three-week tour in March, and another in May-June. The band's fame resulted in a fervent adoration by their fans, which was dubbed "Beatlemania" by the media after their appearance on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. The band's popularity surpassed that of American acts Tommy Roe and Chris Montez during the February tour, and they assumed top billing "by audience demand." They repeated this feat during their May-June tour with Roy Orbison. The Beatles embarked on a five-day tour of Sweden in late October, marking their first overseas trip since their final engagement in Hamburg in December 1962. Upon their return to the UK on October 31, the band was met by several hundred enthusiastic fans at Heathrow Airport, despite the heavy rain. The airport reception drew the attention of around 50 to 100 journalists and photographers, along with representatives from the BBC, marking the first of more than 100 similar events. The following day, the band commenced their fourth tour of Britain in less than a year, scheduled to last for six weeks. As Beatlemania continued to escalate, police were forced to employ high-pressure water hoses to manage the crowd ahead of a concert in Plymouth in mid-November.

On the 30th of October in 1963, the set of the Swedish television show "Drop-In" saw the presence of McCartney (Farthest-left), Harrison (second-left), Lennon (Farthest right), and Swedish pop singer Lill-Babs (second-right).
On the 30th of October in 1963, the set of the Swedish television show "Drop-In" saw the presence of McCartney (Farthest-left), Harrison (second-left), Lennon (Farthest right), and Swedish pop singer Lill-Babs (second-right).

The album Please Please Me held the number one spot on the Record Retailer chart for an impressive 30 weeks, until it was dethroned by its successor, With the Beatles. This album, which was released on November 22nd by EMI, garnered a record-breaking 270,000 advance orders. It sold over half a million copies in just one week, thanks to its superior use of production techniques. With the Beatles was recorded between July and October and held the top position for 21 weeks, with a chart life of 40 weeks. According to music critic Erlewine, this album was "a sequel of the highest order – one that betters the original”.

In contrast to the norm, EMI decided to release the album ahead of the upcoming single "I Want to Hold Your Hand". This move aimed to increase the sales of the single by excluding it from the album. The album promptly drew the attention of music critic William Mann from The Times, who lauded Lennon and McCartney as the most exceptional English composers of 1963. Mann's detailed analysis of the music lent it credibility and respectability, which was further boosted by the album's sales. With the Beatles became the second album in UK chart history to sell a million copies, a feat only previously achieved by the 1958 South Pacific soundtrack. The band's press officer, Tony Barrow, used the phrase "fabulous foursome" in the sleeve notes for the album, which the media widely adopted as "the Fab Four."

First visit to the United States and the British Invasion

Capitol Records, EMI's American subsidiary, caused a delay of over a year in the release of the Beatles' music in the United States. This was due to their initial refusal to issue the first three singles of the band. Although negotiations with the independent label Vee-Jay led to the release of some songs in 1963, not all of them were released. Vee-Jay prepared an album called Introducing… The Beatles, which included most of the songs from Parlophone's Please Please Me. However, due to a management shake-up, the album was not released. Later, it was discovered that the label had not reported royalties on their sales, leading to the voiding of the licence Vee-Jay had signed with EMI. A new licence was granted to the Swan label for the single "She Loves You". Despite receiving some airplay in the Tidewater area of Virginia and being featured on American Bandstand's "Rate-a-Record" segment, the single failed to catch on nationally.In 1963, Brian Epstein presented a demo of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" to Capitol's Brown Meggs, who signed the band and initiated a $40,000 US marketing campaign. The Beatles' success in the American music charts began when disc jockey Carroll James of Washington DC's WWDC radio station played the British single mid-December. Copies of the song were soon circulated among other radio stations across the US, leading to a surge in demand. Capitol Records decided to release "I Want to Hold Your Hand" three weeks earlier than planned, on December 26th, resulting in the sale of one million copies and the song becoming a number-one hit in the US by mid-January. The release of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" paved the way for The Beatles' debut album, Meet the Beatles!, and Vee-Jay's Introducing… The Beatles, while Swan reactivated production of "She Loves You".

On February 7, 1964, The Beatles made their arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
On February 7, 1964, The Beatles made their arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

On 7th February 1964, the Beatles left Heathrow airport with an enormous crowd of around 4,000 fans waving and shouting as the airplane took off. Upon arrival at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, they were greeted by a noisy crowd of approximately 3,000 people. Two days later, they performed live on The Ed Sullivan Show, which was watched by a whopping 73 million viewers in over 23 million households, accounting for 34% of the American population. Biographer Jonathan Gould states that, according to Nielsen ratings, it was "the most significant audience ever recorded for an American television program." The morning after, the Beatles faced mostly negative critical acclaim in the US, but the day after, Beatlemania erupted at their first US concert at the Washington Coliseum. Upon returning to New York the following day, the band received an equally enthusiastic response from the audience during two shows at Carnegie Hall. The Beatles then travelled to Florida, where they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show for the second time in front of 70 million viewers before travelling on 22 February, back to the UK.

During their initial visit to the United States, The Beatles arrived in a country that was still grieving the loss of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated the previous November. It is frequently noted that the group's performances helped rekindle a feeling of enthusiasm and hope among many people, especially the youth, who had been disheartened by the aftermath of the assassination. This renewed sense of optimism and possibility is believed by some to have set the stage for the social upheavals that occurred later in the decade. Additionally, The Beatles' unconventional long hairstyle, which was ridiculed by many adults, became a symbol of rebellion for the emerging youth culture.

The immense popularity of the group caused an unprecedented surge of interest in British music, and subsequently, numerous other UK acts successfully debuted in America, marking the beginning of what was later referred to as the British Invasion. The Beatles' remarkable success in the US paved the way for a series of British beat groups and pop acts, including the Dave Clark Five, the Animals, Petula Clark, the Kinks, and the Rolling Stones to achieve success in America. In a remarkable feat, the Beatles occupied twelve positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, including the top five, during the week of 4 April 1964.

In February 1964, The Beatles graced the stage of The Ed Sullivan Show with their performance.
In February 1964, The Beatles graced the stage of The Ed Sullivan Show with their performance.

Their appearance on the iconic show was a significant moment, marking the introduction of the British Invasion and the beginning of Beatlemania in the United States. As professional musicians, The Beatles' performance on The Ed Sullivan Show showcased their musical talent and captivated audiences across the nation.

A Hard Day's Night

In 1963, Capitol Records' lack of enthusiasm did not escape notice. A competitor, United Artists Records, recognized the commercial potential of the Beatles' soundtracks in the US and urged its film division to offer the band a three-movie contract. The first of these films, A Hard Day's Night, was directed by Richard Lester and starred the band as themselves in a musical comedy. The Beatles spent six weeks working on the film in March and April of 1964. The movie premiered in London and New York in July and August, respectively, and was a global success. Many critics compared it to the work of the Marx Brothers.

For the North American market, United Artists released a complete soundtrack album featuring a blend of Beatles tunes and Martin's orchestral score. The group's third studio album, A Hard Day's Night, had songs from the movie on one side and new recordings on the other. Erlewine stated that this album marked their genuine emergence as a band. Their various influences from the first two albums merged to create a bright, cheerful, and unique sound brimming with resonant guitars and catchy melodies. The primary source of that "resonant guitar" sound was Harrison's 12-string electric Rickenbacker, a prototype given to him by the manufacturer, which made its debut on the record.

1964 world tour, discussions with Bob Dylan, and viewpoint on civil rights

In June and July, the Beatles embarked on an international tour, performing 37 shows across Denmark, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand within 27 days. They returned to the US in August and September, where they held a 30-concert tour spanning across 23 cities. Their month-long tour generated immense interest, with each 30-minute performance attracting between 10,000 to 20,000 fans in various cities from San Francisco to New York.

McCartney, Harrison, and Lennon shown giving a performance on Dutch TV, In 1964.
McCartney, Harrison, and Lennon shown giving a performance on Dutch TV, In 1964.

This historical moment marked the appearance of the legendary music icons on the television screen, showcasing their talent to a wider audience.

In 1964, the world tour was a significant event for many music lovers. During this tour, Bob Dylan was one of the musicians that many people had the privilege of meeting. Furthermore, it was also a time when the civil rights movement was gaining momentum, and many artists took a stand for what they believed in. In the month of August, journalist Al Aronowitz made arrangements for the Beatles to meet Bob Dylan. During their visit to the hotel suite in New York, Dylan introduced them to cannabis. This meeting holds significant cultural and musical value, as before this encounter, the two sets of musicians were perceived to inhabit separate subcultural worlds. Dylan's fans were primarily college students with artistic or intellectual leanings, along with a growing political and social idealism, and a mildly bohemian style. On the other hand, the Beatles' audience consisted of teenagers who were deeply involved in the commercialized popular culture of television, radio, pop records, fan magazines, and teen fashion. The Beatles were often seen as idolaters by Dylan's followers in the folk music scene, as opposed to visionaries.

As per Gould's account, in a span of six months post their meeting, Lennon started producing records where he openly mimicked Dylan's nasal voice, brittle strum, and introspective vocal style. Furthermore, six months after that, Dylan began performing with a backing band and electric instruments, and started dressing in the latest Mod fashion. This led to a significant shift in the traditional divide between folk and rock music enthusiasts, as Beatles' fans began to broaden their perspectives and Dylan's audience embraced the new pop culture driven by the youth.

In the course of their 1964 US tour, the Beatles were faced with racial segregation in the country. When they learned that the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, where they were scheduled to perform on September 11th, was segregated, the band refused to perform unless the audience was integrated. John Lennon clearly stated that they never played to segregated audiences and would not start now. The city officials eventually agreed to allow an integrated show after the Beatles threatened to lose their appearance fee. The band also cancelled their reservations at the whites-only Hotel George Washington in Jacksonville. As a result of this experience, the Beatles included clauses in their contracts for subsequent US tours in 1965 and 1966, stipulating that shows must be integrated.

Beatles for SaleHelp! and Rubber Soul

As per Gould's analysis, the Beatles' fourth studio album, Beatles for Sale, showcased a developing conflict between their commercial obligations and creative aspirations. The band had initially planned to follow the format of their previous album, A Hard Day's Night, which included solely original tracks. However, due to their hectic global touring schedule and the depletion of their song backlog, they had to incorporate six covers from their existing repertoire. Despite these challenges, the album featured eight original compositions, highlighting the increasing sophistication of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting duo. Lennon himself acknowledged the difficulty in generating new material, stating, "Material's becoming a hell of a problem". The album was released in December to critical acclaim.

In the early months of 1965, during a dinner with Lennon, Harrison and their spouses, Harrison's dentist, John Riley, covertly spiked their coffee with LSD. Lennon recounted the experience as both terrifying and fantastic, leaving him in a state of shock for several months. Subsequently, both Harrison and Lennon became frequent users of the drug, with Starr joining them at least once. Harrison's experimentation with psychedelic substances propelled him towards the path of Hinduism and meditation. In his words, "The first time I had acid, it just opened up something in my head that was inside of me, and I realised a lot of things." Although McCartney was hesitant to try it initially, he eventually did so in late 1966, becoming the first Beatle to publicly discuss LSD. In a magazine interview, he stated that it "opened my eyes" and "made me a better, more honest, more tolerant member of society."

In June 1965, controversy arose when Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the Order of the British Empire (MBE) upon all four members of the Beatles, following a nomination from Prime Minister Harold Wilson. This award was traditionally reserved for military veterans and civic leaders, leading to some conservative MBE recipients returning their insignia in protest.

The Beatles' second film, Help!, directed once again by Lester, was released in July. It received mixed reviews from both critics and the band, with McCartney stating that while it was enjoyable, it didn't completely align with their vision. The soundtrack featured Lennon prominently, who wrote and sang lead on many of its songs, including the singles "Help!" and "Ticket to Ride".

The US trailer for Help! with Harrison, McCartney, Lennon and Starr.
The US trailer for Help! with Harrison, McCartney, Lennon and Starr.

The fifth studio LP of The Beatles, Help!, featured soundtrack songs on side one and additional songs from the same sessions on side two, similar to their previous album A Hard Day's Night. The LP contained mostly original material, except for two covers, "Act Naturally" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy". These were the last covers the band included on an album, except for Let It Be's brief rendition of the traditional Liverpool folk song "Maggie Mae". Help! showcased the band's expanded use of vocal overdubs and classical instruments in some arrangements. One notable example is the use of a string quartet in the pop ballad "Yesterday", composed and sung by McCartney, with none of the other Beatles performing on the recording. "Yesterday" has since inspired the most cover versions of any song ever written. The album's success was recognized when the Beatles became the first rock group to be nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

The third tour of the band in the United States commenced with a remarkable performance at New York's Shea Stadium before a record-breaking audience of 55,600 on August 15th. As per Lewisohn's portrayal, it is arguably the most renowned of all Beatles' concerts. They went on to deliver nine more successful shows in other US cities. During a concert in Atlanta, the Beatles implemented an on-stage monitor speaker foldback system, which was one of the first live performances to do so. Towards the conclusion of the tour, they had the opportunity to meet with Elvis Presley at his residence in Beverly Hills, who had a significant influence on the band's music.

In September 1965, The Beatles, an American Saturday-morning cartoon series, made its debut. The show ran for two years and mimicked the slapstick humor from the film A Hard Day's Night. Notably, it was the first weekly television series to showcase animated depictions of actual, living individuals, making it a significant milestone in history.

The Beatles holding a press conference in Minnesota, after their successful performance at Shea Stadium in New York, in August 1965.
The Beatles holding a press conference in Minnesota, after their successful performance at Shea Stadium in New York, in August 1965.

In the middle of October, the Beatles headed into the recording studio. This was the first time they had an extended period to focus on making an album without other major commitments. Prior to this, their albums were more like a collection of singles. However, they were now starting to think about albums as a piece of art on their own. Rubber Soul was released in December and was considered a major step forward in the maturity and complexity of the band's music. The band's thematic reach was expanding as they embraced deeper aspects of romance and philosophy. This was attributed to the band members' habitual use of marijuana. Lennon referred to Rubber Soul as "the pot album," and Starr noted that "grass" was influential in a lot of their changes, particularly for the writers. After Help!'s foray into classical music with flutes and strings, Harrison's introduction of a sitar on "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" marked a further progression outside the traditional boundaries of popular music. As the lyrics became more artful, fans began to study them for a more insightful understanding.

Rubber Soul's songwriting credits were shared between Lennon and McCartney, with each contributing their unique compositions. The album features "In My Life," which is regarded as a standout track in the Lennon-McCartney catalog. Harrison and Starr both had high praise for the album, with Harrison calling it his favorite and Starr labeling it as a "departure record." McCartney stated that the album marked a transition from their "cute period" to a more expansive sound. However, recording engineer Norman Smith noted growing conflict within the group during the studio sessions, particularly between John and Paul. Despite this, Rubber Soul was ranked fifth on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" in 2003, and is considered a classic folk-rock record by AllMusic's Richie Unterberger.

Controversies, Revolver along with their final tour

Beginning in December 1963, Capitol Records took full control over the format of Beatles recordings for the US market. They compiled unique US albums from the band's recordings and released selected songs as singles. In June 1966, Capitol's release of the LP Yesterday and Today caused a stir due to its cover art. The cover featured the Beatles, dressed in butcher's overalls, surrounded by raw meat and mutilated plastic baby dolls. Despite speculation that this was a satirical response to Capitol's handling of the US versions of the Beatles' albums, Beatles biographer Bill Harry has disputed this claim. In response to the controversial cover, thousands of LPs had a new cover pasted over the original. In December 2005, an unpeeled "first-state" copy of the LP sold for $10,500 at auction. Meanwhile, in England, George Harrison was introduced to sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, who agreed to train him on the musical instrument.

In the Philippines, following the Yesterday and Today controversy, the Beatles toured the country. However, during their visit, the band unintentionally offended Imelda Marcos, the nation's first lady. She had expected them to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace, but the band's manager, Epstein, declined the invitation politely, citing his policy of not accepting official invitations. The Marcos regime did not take kindly to this and the resulting riots placed the group in danger. The band had to make a difficult escape from the country. Shortly after, they visited India for the first time.

Upon the Beatles' return home, they faced a strong opposition from US religious and social conservatives, along with the Ku Klux Klan. The reason behind this was a statement made by Lennon in a March interview with British reporter Maureen Cleave. During the interview, Lennon stated that "Christianity will go" and "Jesus was alright but his disciples were thick and ordinary." Although these remarks went unnoticed in England, they caused a significant controversy when they were printed by US teenage fan magazine Datebook five months later. The Vatican issued a protest, and bans on Beatles' records were imposed by Spanish and Dutch stations and South Africa's national broadcasting service. Epstein argued that Datebook had taken Lennon's words out of context. Lennon clarified his statement at a press conference, stating that he was referring to how other people viewed their success. However, prompted by reporters, he apologized if his statement had offended anyone.

In August 1966, just a week before the Beatles' final tour, they released the album Revolver, which marked yet another creative milestone for the band. The album showcased sophisticated songwriting, studio experimentation, and a vast array of musical styles, ranging from classical string arrangements to psychedelia. Instead of their customary group photograph, the album featured a monochrome collage and line drawing caricature of the band, inspired by Aubrey Beardsley and designed by Klaus Voormann, a friend of the band since their Hamburg days. The album's release was preceded by a single, "Paperback Writer", backed by "Rain", and both songs were accompanied by short promotional films that were considered among the first true music videos. These films were aired on The Ed Sullivan Show and Top of the Pops in June.

The album Revolver features a number of experimental songs, including "Tomorrow Never Knows", which drew its lyrics from Timothy Leary's The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. To create this song, the band utilized eight tape decks located throughout the EMI building, each operated by an engineer or band member who randomly varied the movement of a tape loop while Martin created a composite recording by sampling the incoming data. McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" made use of a string octet and is considered a true hybrid, not conforming to any specific style or genre. Harrison also emerged as a songwriter with three of his compositions appearing on the album, including "Taxman", which marked the Beatles' first political statement through their music. In 2020, Rolling Stone named Revolver the 11th greatest album of all time.

As the Beatles geared up for their US tour, they were aware that their music wouldn't be well received. Initially, they used Vox AC30 amplifiers but later switched to 100-watt amplifiers that were specifically designed for them by Vox. However, even these amplifiers were insufficient as they moved into larger venues in 1964 and couldn't compete with the deafening screams of their fans. The band grew increasingly disinterested in performing live as they realized that their concerts were no longer about the music. Consequently, they decided to make the August tour their final one.

The Beatles' final concert before a paying audience was held at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, which can be seen in this early 1960s picture.
The Beatles' final concert before a paying audience was held at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, which can be seen in this early 1960s picture.

According to Chris Ingham's description, the band chose not to perform any new songs during their tour. He reasoned that the new songs were created in the studio and a four-piece rock 'n' roll group could not do them justice, especially with the loud screams of the fans in the background. This resulted in a clear distinction between the "Live Beatles" and the "Studio Beatles". The band's final commercial concert was held at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on August 29th, marking the end of their four-year period dominated by almost non-stop touring. This included over 1,400 concert appearances worldwide.

1966–1970: studio years

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

As they began recording Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in late November 1966, the Beatles were able to fully immerse themselves in an increasingly experimental approach due to being freed from the burden of touring. Geoff Emerick, the engineer for the album, revealed that over 700 hours were spent recording it. The band was adamant that everything on Sgt. Pepper had to be distinct, which led to the use of unconventional recording techniques such as microphones in brass instruments and headphones turned into microphones for violins. The album also featured giant primitive oscillators to vary the speed of instruments and vocals, and tapes chopped into pieces and stuck together in unconventional ways. "A Day in the Life" even included a 40-piece orchestra. The initial recording sessions produced the non-album double A-side single "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane" in February 1967, followed by the rush-release of the Sgt. Pepper LP in May. The musical intricacies of the records, despite being created using relatively primitive four-track recording technology, astonished contemporary artists. The album was met with almost universal critical acclaim.

The front cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is widely regarded as one of the most iconic album covers in music history. It has been recognized as the most famous album cover and has inspired numerous imitations across the world.

Following the release of Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles were widely promoted by both the underground and mainstream press as leaders of youth culture and "lifestyle revolutionaries". The album was the first in pop/rock history to include complete lyrics on its back cover, which were subject to critical analysis. The album cover, designed by pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth, depicted the group as the fictional band referred to in the title track, standing in front of a crowd of famous people. The album's initial commercial success surpassed that of all previous Beatles albums, selling 2.5 million copies within three months of its release and topping the UK charts for 23 consecutive weeks. It has sustained immense popularity into the 21st century and has broken numerous sales records. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Sgt. Pepper as the greatest album of all time.

Front cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Front cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine

Shortly after completing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles embarked on two film projects: Magical Mystery Tour, a television film, and Yellow Submarine, a feature-length animated movie produced by United Artists. The group commenced recording music for the former in late April 1967 but shifted their focus to the latter, resulting in the project being put on hold. On 25 June, the band premiered their upcoming single "All You Need Is Love" on Our World, the first live global television link, which reached an estimated 350 million viewers. The song was subsequently embraced as a flower power anthem during the Summer of Love. This period also marked the height of the Beatles' use of psychedelic drugs, and they explored similar utopian-based ideologies, including a week-long exploration into creating an island-based commune off the coast of Greece in July and August.

The Beatles in 1967. L-R: McCartney, Starr, Lennon and Harrison.
The Beatles in 1967. L-R: McCartney, Starr, Lennon and Harrison.

On August 24th, the group had the opportunity to meet with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in London and the following day they headed to Bangor for his Transcendental Meditation retreat. Sadly, on August 27th, the group received the news that their manager, Epstein, had passed away due to an accidental carbitol overdose, leaving the group disoriented and fearful about the future. Despite this, the group continued to work and in September, during a band meeting, McCartney recommended that they proceed with their project, Magical Mystery Tour. The soundtrack was released in early December in the UK as a six-track double extended play and as an identically titled LP in the US. The album set a record for the highest initial sales of any Capitol LP in its first three weeks and was later adopted into the band's official canon of studio albums.

Magical Mystery Tour premiered on Boxing Day to an estimated audience of 15 million viewers. The film was primarily directed by McCartney, but unfortunately, it failed to impress the UK critics, marking the band's first critical failure. The Daily Express dismissed it as "blatant rubbish," the Daily Mail called it "a colossal conceit," while The Guardian labeled it "a kind of fantasy morality play" that highlighted the stupidity of the audience. Gould describes it as "raw footage of people getting on, getting off and riding a bus." Despite the respectable viewership figures, the film's negative reception led US television networks to lose interest in broadcasting it. In contrast, Yellow Submarine, which premiered in July 1968, featured the band members appearing as themselves for only a short live-action segment. The film showcased cartoon versions of the band members and had a soundtrack consisting of eleven songs, including four previously unreleased studio recordings that made their debut in the film. Critics lauded the film for its music, humor, and innovative visual style. Seven months after its release, an LP featuring a soundtrack was issued. This album included the four new songs, as well as the title track (previously released on Revolver) and "All You Need Is Love" (previously released as a single and on the US Magical Mystery Tour LP). Additionally, seven instrumental pieces composed by Martin were included on the album.

India retreat, Apple Corps and the White Album

During February 1968, the Beatles embarked on a journey to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Rishikesh, India, to participate in a three-month meditation "Guide Course". This trip proved to be an exceptionally productive period for the band, resulting in the creation of several songs, including the majority of those featured on their upcoming album.

In May, Lennon and McCartney made a trip to New York to reveal the Beatles' latest business venture, Apple Corps. The venture was initially created as a means of establishing a tax-efficient business structure, but the band members soon expressed interest in expanding the corporation to include record distribution, peace activism, and education. McCartney likened Apple to a "Western communism." However, the business proved to be a financial drain on the group due to a series of unsuccessful projects managed mainly by members of the Beatles' entourage who were employed regardless of their skills and expertise. The enterprise had several subsidiaries, including Apple Electronics, which was established to promote technological advancements under the leadership of Magic Alex, and Apple Retailing, which launched the short-lived Apple Boutique in London. Harrison later revealed that "it was chaos… John and Paul became overly enthusiastic about the idea and ended up spending millions, while Ringo and I were left with no choice but to go along with it."

The Beatles Album

The Beatles' self-titled album, commonly referred to as "the White Album", boasted a simple cover design, crafted by renowned pop artist Richard Hamilton.

However, the album eventually gained critical acclaim, and Rolling Stone magazine ranked it as one of the greatest albums of all time in 2003.

Abbey RoadLet It Be and separation

Despite being the Beatles' final album release, Let It Be was mostly recorded prior to Abbey Road. The idea for the project originated from McCartney, who proposed recording a new album and rehearsing it before performing it live for the first time, both on record and on film. Although the original plan was for a one-hour television program titled Beatles at Work, much of the album's content was recorded in the studio starting in January 1969, with the sessions being captured on film by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. However, the project was a difficult recording experience, with relations between the Beatles being at an all-time low. Lennon described the sessions as "hell" and Harrison as "the low of all-time." Frustrated with McCartney and Lennon, Harrison left for five days, later returning with a demand that the band abandon all talk of live performance and instead focus on finishing a new album, which was initially titled Get Back. Harrison also insisted that they relocate from Twickenham Film Studios to the newly finished Apple Studio. His bandmates agreed, and the footage shot for the TV production was salvaged for use in a feature film.

Billy Preston.
During the Get Back sessions, the renowned American soul musician Billy Preston, was briefly acknowledged as the fifth Beatle.

In an effort to ease the tensions among the band members and enhance the quality of their live performances, Harrison extended an invitation to keyboardist Billy Preston to join them for the last nine days of their recording sessions. Preston was given label billing on the "Get Back" single, making him the only musician to ever receive such recognition on an official Beatles release. Despite several rejected ideas for a concert location, including a boat at sea, a lunatic asylum, the Libyan desert, and the Colosseum, the band finally settled on the rooftop of the Apple Corps building in London for their final live performance on January 30, 1969. Subsequently, engineer Glyn Johns, referred to as the uncredited producer of Get Back, was given free rein to assemble the album, as the band members had "all but washed their hands of the entire project". The band members experienced a rift over the appointment of a financial adviser following Epstein's absence. Lennon, Harrison, and Starr were in favor of Allen Klein, who had managed the Rolling Stones and Sam Cooke. On the other hand, McCartney preferred Lee and John Eastman, Linda Eastman's father and brother, respectively. However, they could not reach an agreement, and both Klein and the Eastmans were temporarily appointed. Klein was named the Beatles' business manager on May 8, while the Eastmans were dismissed as their lawyers. Unfortunately, this caused further conflict and resulted in missed financial opportunities. Despite McCartney's refusal to sign the management contract with Klein, he was outvoted by the other Beatles.

artin expressed surprise when McCartney approached him to produce another album following the "miserable experience" of the Get Back sessions, which made him believe that it was the end of the road for the band. The primary recording sessions for Abbey Road began on 2 July. Lennon rejected Martin's idea of a "continuously moving piece of music" and insisted that his and McCartney's songs occupy separate sides of the album. Ultimately, McCartney suggested a compromise with individually composed songs on the first side and a medley on the second. Emerick observed that the group was disappointed with the thinner tone and lack of impact resulting from the replacement of the studio's valve-based mixing console with a transistorized one, which contributed to the album's "kinder, gentler" feel compared to their previous works.

The Beatles experienced several significant events during the latter half of 1969. On 4 July, Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," the first solo single by a Beatle, was released and attributed to the Plastic Ono Band. The band's final studio session with all four members present occurred on 20 August when "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" was completed and mixed. On 8 September, the band convened to discuss recording a new album while Starr was hospitalized. They contemplated changing their songwriting approach by abandoning the Lennon-McCartney facade and featuring four compositions each from Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, along with two from Starr and a lead single release around Christmas. Lennon informed the group of his departure on 20 September but agreed to keep it private to avoid affecting the sales of their upcoming album.

bbey Road, which was released on 26 September, had phenomenal success in its first three months, selling four million copies and topping the UK charts for a total of seventeen weeks. The ballad "Something", the only Beatles A-side composed by Harrison, was released as a single and received positive reviews. While Abbey Road received mixed reviews, the medley was praised by many critics for its harmonies. Some, like Unterberger, consider it the perfect ending to the group's discography, while others, like MacDonald, consider it inconsistent. Martin hailed it as his favourite Beatles album, but Lennon described it as "competent" without any "life in it". The unfinished Get Back album had one last song, "I Me Mine" by Harrison, recorded on 3 January 1970, without Lennon's participation. In March, Klein, rejecting Johns' work on the project, gave the session tapes to Spector, who remixed and edited the material, adding orchestration to "The Long and Winding Road" which McCartney did not approve of. Despite McCartney's objections, the alterations stood, and he publicly announced his departure from the band on 10 April, a week before the release of his first solo album.

The Beatles' final single, "The Long and Winding Road", was released in the US on May 8, 1970, along with their album Let It Be. However, the single was not released in the UK. The Let It Be documentary, which was released later that month, won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score in 1970. Penelope Gilliatt, a critic for the Sunday Telegraph, called it a "touching" film about the disintegration of the once-perfect Beatles family. Some reviewers found that some of the film performances sounded better than their album counterparts. Although Let It Be received negative reviews, it was an underrated album with some good moments of hard rock and folk. On December 31, 1970, McCartney filed a lawsuit to dissolve the Beatles' contractual partnership. The legal disputes continued for several years before the dissolution was finally formalized on December 29, 1974, with Lennon signing the paperwork while vacationing with his family at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

1970–present: after the break-up


In 1970, each of the ex-Beatles, namely Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr, released individual albums. Sometimes, their solo projects involved the participation of one or more of the other members. The Concert for Bangladesh in August 1971 was organized by Harrison, with Starr's involvement. Although Lennon and McCartney never recorded together again after an unreleased jam session in 1974, bootlegged as A Toot and a Snore in '74, Starr's Ringo (1973) was the only album that had compositions and performances by all four ex-Beatles, albeit on separate songs.

British musician John Lennon (1940 - 1980) performs onstage in Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, November 28, 1974.
British musician John Lennon (1940 - 1980) performs onstage in Madison Square Garden, New York, New York, November 28, 1974.

In 1973, two double-LP sets of the Beatles' greatest hits, known as the "Red Album" and "Blue Album", were released under the Apple Records imprint. These compilations earned a Multi-Platinum certification in the US and a Platinum certification in the UK. EMI/Capitol released several compilation albums between 1976 and 1982 without input from the ex-Beatles, starting with the double-disc compilation Rock 'n' Roll Music. The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977) was the only one to feature previously unreleased material, containing selections from two shows they played during their US tours in 1964 and 1965.

Paul McCartney, his wife Linda (1941 - 1998) and two guitarists performing at the Empire Pool, Wembley during a Wings tour in October 1976.
Paul McCartney, his wife Linda (1941 - 1998) and two guitarists performing at the Empire Pool, Wembley during a Wings tour in October 1976. 

During the 1970s, the Beatles' music and fame were commercially exploited in various ways, often without their creative input. In April 1974, the musical "John, Paul, George, Ringo … and Bert" premiered in London, featuring eleven Lennon-McCartney compositions and one by Harrison, "Here Comes the Sun." However, Harrison withdrew his permission to use his song due to displeasure with the production. Later that year, the off-Broadway musical "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on the Road" opened, and in 1976, "All This and World War II" combined newsreel footage with covers of Beatles songs. The unauthorized Broadway musical "Beatlemania" opened in 1977 and resulted in a lawsuit settled for millions of dollars in damages in 1979. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," a musical film starring the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, was unsuccessful commercially and artistically. In the US, several entrepreneurs offered the Beatles millions of dollars for a reunion concert during the 1970s, with offers increasing up to $50 million in February 1976.


George Harrison performs on stage at Prince's Trust concert, London, June 6th 1987.
George Harrison performs on stage at Prince's Trust concert, London, June 6th 1987.
Ringo Starr performs also on stage, at Wembley Arena for The Princes Trust, on June 6th 1987 in London, United Kingdom.
Ringo Starr performs also on stage, at Wembley Arena for The Princes Trust, on June 6th 1987 in London, United Kingdom.

In December of 1980, John Lennon was tragically shot and killed outside his New York City apartment. In honor of Lennon, George Harrison rewrote the lyrics to his song "All Those Years Ago", and with Ringo Starr on the drums and Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, contributing backing vocals, the song was released as a single in May of 1981. McCartney also paid tribute to Lennon with his own song, "Here Today", which appeared on his Tug of War album in April of 1982. In 1984, Starr co-starred in McCartney's film Give My Regards to Broad Street and played on several of the songs featured on the soundtrack. Additionally, Harrison's Cloud Nine album released in 1987 included "When We Was Fab", a song about the Beatlemania era. The Beatles' studio albums were standardized throughout the world in 1987 when they were released on CD by EMI and Apple Corps. This established a canon of the twelve original studio LPs as issued in the UK plus the US LP version of Magical Mystery Tour. All remaining material from the singles and EPs that had not appeared on these thirteen studio albums was gathered on the two-volume compilation Past Masters in 1988.

EMI removed all other Beatles compilations from its catalog, including the Hollywood Bowl record in 1988. That same year, the Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with Harrison and Starr attending alongside Yoko Ono and Lennon's sons. McCartney opted not to attend due to unresolved business differences. However, the following year, EMI/Capitol resolved a 10-year legal dispute with the band, allowing for the release of earlier withheld items.


In 1994, the first official release of unissued Beatles performances in seventeen years, Live at the BBC, was made available to the public. The same year, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr worked together on the Anthology project, which was the result of a project that began in 1970. The project aimed to document their history in the band's own words, and was initiated by their former road manager and personal assistant, Neil Aspinall, who began gathering material for a documentary with the working title The Long and Winding Road. The Anthology project included the release of several previously unreleased Beatles recordings. Lennon's demos from the late 1970s were also reworked with new instrumental and vocal parts by McCartney, Harrison, and Starr.

In 1995-96, the project resulted in a television miniseries, an eight-volume video set, and three two-CD/three-LP box sets which included artwork by Klaus Voormann. Additionally, two new Beatles singles, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love," were created based on Lennon demos. The project was a commercial success, and the television series was viewed by an estimated 400 million people. Later in 1999, to coincide with the re-release of the 1968 film Yellow Submarine, an expanded soundtrack album titled Yellow Submarine Songtrack was released.


On November 13, 2000, the Beatles' 1, a compilation album featuring the band's most popular British and American number-one hits, was launched. It broke records by becoming the fastest-selling album of all time, selling 3.6 million copies in its first week and 13 million copies within a month. The album also dominated charts in no less than 28 countries. As of April 2009, the compilation had sold a staggering 31 million copies worldwide, a testament to its enduring appeal.

In November 2001, Harrison passed away due to metastatic lung cancer. A year later, on the first anniversary of his death, a tribute event called the Concert for George was organized by Eric Clapton and Harrison's wife, Olivia. Many musicians, including McCartney and Starr, performed at the event held at the Royal Albert Hall.

In 2003, a new version of the Let It Be album called Let It Be... Naked was released. This reimagined album was supervised by McCartney during its production. One of the key differences between this version and the original Spector-produced album was the exclusion of the string arrangements. It achieved great success, reaching the top ten in both the UK and US charts. Additionally, box sets of the US album configurations from 1964 to 1965 were released in 2004 and 2006. These included The Capitol Albums, Volume 1 and Volume 2, which featured both stereo and mono versions based on the mixes that were originally prepared for vinyl during the music's initial American release.

In June 2006, the legendary George Martin and his son Giles remixed and blended 130 of the Beatles' recordings to create "Love," a soundtrack for Cirque du Soleil's Las Vegas Beatles stage revue. Martin described the album as "a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period." The album was released in November of the same year. Additionally, in April 2009, Ringo Starr joined Paul McCartney to perform three songs at a benefit concert organized by McCartney at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

On September 9th, 2009, The Beatles' complete back catalogue underwent an extensive digital remastering process that spanned four years. The stereo editions of all twelve of the original UK studio albums, including Magical Mystery Tour and the Past Masters compilation, were released on compact disc both individually and as a box set. In addition, a second collection called "The Beatles in Mono" was released, which included remastered versions of every Beatles album released in true mono and the original 1965 stereo mixes of Help! and Rubber Soul, both of which were remixed by Martin for the 1987 editions. Furthermore, "The Beatles: Rock Band," a music video game in the Rock Band series, was also released on the same day. The band's catalogue was officially released in FLAC and MP3 format in December 2009, in a limited edition of 30,000 USB flash drives.

In September of 2016, the documentary film The Beatles: Eight Days a Week was directed by Ron Howard. It followed the Beatles' career during their touring years from 1961 to 1966, starting from their performances in Liverpool's the Cavern Club in 1961 to their final concert in San Francisco in 1966. The film was theatrically released on September 15th in the UK and the US, and it began streaming on Hulu on September 17th. The documentary received multiple awards and nominations, including the Best Documentary at the 70th British Academy Film Awards and the Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special at the 69th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards. An expanded, remixed and remastered version of The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl was also released on September 9th, to coincide with the film's release.

On May 18th, 2017, Sirius XM Radio launched a 24/7 radio channel dedicated to The Beatles, called The Beatles Channel. A week later, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was reissued with new stereo mixes and unreleased material for the album's 50th anniversary. Similar box sets were released for The Beatles in November of 2018, and Abbey Road in September of 2019.In the initial week of October 2019, Abbey Road reclaimed its position at the summit of the UK Albums Chart. The Beatles set a new precedent by surpassing their own achievement of the longest gap between chart-topping albums, as it took Abbey Road 50 years to return to the top spot since its initial release.


The Beatles were one of the last major artists to sign deals with online music services due to an ongoing royalty disagreement. Additionally, a dispute between Apple Corps and iTunes regarding the use of the name "Apple" contributed to the delay. Despite these challenges, the official collection of thirteen Beatles studio albums, Past Masters, and the "Red" and "Blue" greatest-hits albums became available on iTunes in 2010. In 2008, Paul McCartney acknowledged that the primary barrier to making the Beatles' catalogue available online was EMI's request for something the band was not willing to provide.

In 2012, Universal Music Group obtained EMI's recorded music operations after the European Union mandated EMI to spin off assets for antitrust reasons as a condition for the acquisition. Parlophone was among those assets that were spun off. However, Universal was allowed to retain the Beatles' recorded music catalogue, which is managed by Capitol Records under its Capitol Music Group division. In 2012, the entire original Beatles album catalogue was also reintroduced on vinyl, which could be purchased individually or as a box set. The year 2013 saw the release of On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2, a second volume of BBC recordings. Later that year, 59 Beatles recordings were released on iTunes, with the set being named The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963. Apple Records released the recordings on 17 December to ensure that they would not become public domain. However, they were removed from iTunes later that same day. The reception to the release among fans of the Beatles was mixed, with some bloggers claiming that "the hardcore Beatles collectors who are trying to obtain everything will already have these."On the 26th of January in 2014, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr graced the stage together at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The following day, a television special titled "The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles" was recorded in the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center. On the 9th of February, exactly 50 years after The Beatles' first US television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, the special aired at the same time and on the same network. The program included performances of Beatles songs by contemporary artists and the two surviving ex-Beatles, as well as archival footage and interviews conducted by David Letterman at the Ed Sullivan Theater. In December of 2015, The Beatles' catalogue was made available for streaming on various platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.


In November of 2021, The Beatles: Get Back, a documentary directed by Peter Jackson utilizing previously-captured footage from the Let It Be film, premiered on Disney+ as a three-part miniseries. Preceding the documentary's release, a book titled The Beatles: Get Back was made available on October 12th. On October 15th, a super deluxe version of the Let It Be album was also released. In January 2022, a newly mixed audio album of the Beatles' rooftop performance, titled Get Back (Rooftop Performance), was made available on various streaming services.Revolver magazine released a special edition in October 2022, which contained previously unreleased demos, studio outtakes, the original mono mix, and a new stereo remix created through Peter Jackson's WingNut Films' de-mixing technology.

Musical style and development

In his book The Beatles as Musicians, Walter Everett discusses the musical approaches of Lennon and McCartney. McCartney is known for his focus on developing his musical talent and enriching the common language of music. His melodies are characterized as energetic and optimistic, with wide intervals. In contrast, Lennon's music is seen as the product of an undisciplined artistic sensibility, with minimal and dissonant intervals in his melodies. Harrison's lead guitar work is praised for its supportive role, while Starr is credited as the father of modern pop/rock drumming, according to Ian MacDonald.


The Beatles were influenced by several musicians during their career. Their early influences include Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, and Fats Domino. While co-residing with Little Richard at the Star-Club in Hamburg, he advised them on the proper technique for performing his songs. Lennon was particularly affected by Elvis and noted that without him, there would not have been the Beatles. Chuck Berry was also influential in terms of songwriting and lyrics, with Lennon acknowledging his contribution to their music. Other early influences include Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Roy Orbison, the Everly Brothers, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

The Beatles continued to be inspired by their contemporaries, such as Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Who, Frank Zappa, the Lovin' Spoonful, the Byrds, and the Beach Boys. McCartney was especially impressed by the Beach Boys' 1966 album Pet Sounds. Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys' creative leader, made a significant impact on the Beatles. Additionally, Ravi Shankar had a significant effect on Harrison's musical development during the band's later years, as he studied with him for six weeks in India in late 1966.


The Beatles started out as a skiffle group but soon delved into 1950s rock and roll and contributed to the development of Merseybeat. Their music evolved to cover a diverse range of pop music genres. Lennon referred to Beatles for Sale as a "Beatles country-and-western LP," while Gould recognized Rubber Soul as a means of converting folk-music fans into pop enthusiasts.

The song "Yesterday" released in 1965 was not the first pop record to use orchestral strings, but it was the first time The Beatles used classical music elements in their music. According to Gould, the traditional sound of strings allowed listeners who were not fond of drums and electric guitars to appreciate the band's talent as composers. Even after their initial experimentation with string arrangements, The Beatles continued to use it in their music, with varying effects. For example, "She's Leaving Home" in Sgt. Pepper's album is a sentimental ballad that follows the mold of a Victorian ballad, complete with musical melodrama clichés.

The Beatles expanded their stylistic range with their B-side "Rain" in 1966, which was considered their first psychedelic record by Martin Strong. They continued to produce other psychedelic numbers such as "Tomorrow Never Knows", "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", and "I Am the Walrus". The influence of Indian classical music was evident in Harrison's "The Inner Light", "Love You To", and "Within You Without You". Music historian and pianist Michael Campbell highlighted that "A Day in the Life" encapsulates the art and achievement of the Beatles with its sound imagination, persistent tuneful melody, and close coordination between words and music. Bruce Ellis Benson, a philosophy professor, agrees that the Beatles demonstrate how Celtic music, rhythm and blues, and country and western can be blended in a new way.

Dominic Pedler, the author, has described the musical styles of the group. It is not true that the group moved from one genre to another sequentially. Instead, they maintained their mastery of the traditional, catchy chart hit, while also exploring rock and experimenting with various peripheral influences like country and vaudeville. One of their explorations was in folk music, which later became a vital foundation for their later forays into Indian music and philosophy. As the band members' personal relationships became strained, their individual tastes became more evident. The White Album's minimalistic cover art contrasts with the complexity and diversity of its music, which includes Lennon's "Revolution 9", influenced by Yoko Ono's musique concrète approach, Starr's country song "Don't Pass Me By," Harrison's rock ballad "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," and McCartney's "Helter Skelter," which has been described as a "proto-metal roar."

Impact of George Martin

George Martin was highly involved in his role as a producer, making him a strong contender for the informal title of the "fifth Beatle." He utilized his classical musical training in various ways and was an informal music teacher to the developing songwriters. Martin suggested to McCartney that the arrangement of "Yesterday" should include a string quartet accompaniment, which introduced the Beatles to a new world of classical instrumental color. Martin was open to experimenting in response to their suggestions, such as adding "something baroque" to a recording. He played various instruments, including piano, organ, and brass, and also scored orchestral arrangements for recordings.

Martin can be seen standing second from the right in the studio with the Beatles during the mid-1960s.
Martin can be seen standing second from the right in the studio with the Beatles during the mid-1960s.

Martin had to adjust his way of working while collaborating with Lennon and McCartney, as they had different methods of songwriting and recording. MacDonald explained that Martin was more comfortable working with the articulate McCartney, but he was challenged to create more unique arrangements when working with Lennon's intuitive approach. "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" is a remarkable example of Martin's exceptional arrangements.

Harrison reiterated what Martin said about his stabilizing influence on the group. He explained that they all grew together during those years, with Martin being the serious one and the rest of them being the more eccentric ones. Martin was always there to understand and interpret their crazy ideas. They used to experiment with different styles on certain days, and Martin played the role of the anchor person who would communicate their ideas effectively to the engineers and on to the tape.

Music production in the studio

The Beatles were known for their innovative use of technology in music production. They encouraged experimentation among their recording engineers and sought to incorporate chance occurrences into their music. This included using accidental guitar feedback, resonating glass bottles, and even playing tapes backwards. Their dedication to creating new and unique sounds, combined with the arranging skills of Martin and the expertise of EMI staff engineers, contributed greatly to their albums, particularly from Rubber Soul onwards.

The Beatles were also known for their creative and innovative studio techniques, which included the use of sound effects, unconventional microphone placements, tape loops, double tracking, and vari-speed recording. In addition to these techniques, they also incorporated unconventional instruments such as string and brass ensembles, as well as Indian instruments like the sitar and swarmandal in their songs. The band also experimented with new electronic instruments such as the Mellotron and clavioline to create unique sounds, like the flute voices in the "Strawberry Fields Forever" intro and the oboe-like sound in "Baby, You're a Rich Man".

The Beatles' Discography and Iconic Albums

The Beatles released a total of 13 studio albums, beginning with "Please Please Me" in 1963 and ending with "Let It Be" in 1970. Their discography also includes numerous singles, extended plays, and compilations. The Beatles' albums are considered some of the most iconic and influential in music history.

One of their most famous albums is "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," which was released in 1967. The album was a departure from their previous work and featured a concept and theme. It included songs such as "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "A Day in the Life," which are now considered classics.

Another iconic album is "Abbey Road," which was released in 1969. The album features some of The Beatles' most famous songs, including "Come Together," "Something," and "Here Comes the Sun." The album's cover art, which features the band walking across a zebra crossing, has become one of the most iconic images in music history.

Full list of The Beatles Albums

The Beatles possess a fundamental collection of music that comprises of thirteen studio albums and one compilation album.

  • Please Please Me (1963)
  • With the Beatles (1963)
  • A Hard Day's Night (1964)
  • Beatles for Sale (1964)
  • Help! (1965)
  • Rubber Soul (1965)
  • Revolver (1966)
  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  • Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
  • The Beatles ("The White Album") (1968)
  • Yellow Submarine (1969)
  • Abbey Road (1969)
  • Let It Be (1970)
  • Past Masters (1988, compilation)

Awards and achievements

The Beatles were honored by Queen Elizabeth II in 1965 when she appointed Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr as Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). Their work on the film Let It Be (1970) earned them the 1971 Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. The Beatles have received numerous awards, including seven Grammy Awards and fifteen Ivor Novello Awards. They have achieved impressive sales in the US, with six Diamond albums, 20 Multi-Platinum albums, 16 Platinum albums, and six Gold albums. In the UK, the Beatles have four Multi-Platinum albums, four Platinum albums, eight Gold albums, and one Silver album. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

The Beatles are the best-selling band in history with over 600 million units sold as of 2012. According to Nielsen Soundscan, they sold 57 million albums in the United States from 1991 to 2009. The Beatles hold the record for the most number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100, with twenty. They were ranked number one on Billboard magazine's list of the all-time most successful Hot 100 artists in 2008. The Recording Industry Association of America certifies that they have sold 183 million units in the US, more than any other artist. The Beatles were included in Time magazine's compilation of the 20th century's 100 most influential people and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. Rolling Stone ranked The Beatles as the most significant and influential rock music artists of the last 50 years. They have also had more number-one albums on the UK charts than any other act and sold more singles in the UK than any other act with 21.9 million.

World Beatles Day is celebrated annually on 16th January since 2001 under UNESCO. This day holds significance as it marks the opening of the Cavern Club in 1957. Additionally, the Beatles made history in 2007 by being the first band to feature on a series of UK postage stamps, whilst in 1999, the United States Postal Service dedicated a stamp to the Beatles and Yellow Submarine.

Song catalogue

The Beatles' catalogue was primarily published by Northern Songs Ltd from 1963 to 1969. The company was formed by Dick James for Lennon and McCartney, but later acquired songs from other artists. James and his partner, Emmanuel Silver, held the controlling interest, while McCartney owned 20% and Lennon's and Epstein's portions are reported to be 19 or 20% and 9 or 10%, respectively. The company went public in 1965 with five million shares, and the original principals kept 3.75 million. Lennon, McCartney, James, and Silver received 750,000, 750,000, 937,500, and 937,500 shares, respectively. NEMS Enterprises, Epstein's management company, received 375,000 shares, while Harrison and Starr each acquired 40,000 shares. Lennon and McCartney renewed their publishing contracts, binding them to Northern Songs until 1973 during the stock offering.

Harrison established Harrisongs to represent his Beatles compositions, but he signed a three-year contract with Northern Songs that granted it the copyright to his work until March 1968. This included popular songs like "Taxman" and "Within You Without You," as well as songs like "What Goes On" and "Flying," which Starr co-wrote and were also Northern Songs copyrights. When the contract ended, Harrison opted not to renew it and instead signed with Apple Publishing, thereby retaining the copyright to his work from that point forward. Consequently, Harrison now owns the rights to his later Beatles songs, including "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Something." That same year, Starr created Startling Music, which holds the rights to his Beatles compositions, "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden." In March 1969, James sold his and his partner's shares of Northern Songs to Associated Television (ATV), a British broadcasting company founded by Lew Grade, without informing the Beatles first. The band attempted to acquire a controlling interest by making a bid with a consortium of London brokerage firms that had accumulated a 14% holding, but Lennon's objections caused the deal to fall apart. By the end of May, ATV had acquired a majority stake in Northern Songs, giving them control over almost all of the Lennon-McCartney catalogue, as well as any future material until 1973. In late October 1969, Lennon and McCartney sold their shares to ATV out of frustration.

In 1981, ATV's parent company, Associated Communications Corporation (ACC), faced financial losses, which prompted them to consider selling their music division. Brian Southall and Rupert Perry, the authors, claim that Grade reached out to McCartney and proposed selling ATV Music and Northern Songs for $30 million. McCartney, however, expressed interest only in the Northern Songs catalog and asked Grade to consider selling just that portion of ATV Music. Eventually, Grade offered to sell Northern Songs to McCartney for £20 million, giving him a week to decide. McCartney and Ono put forward a bid of £5 million, which was rejected. As per reports, Grade refused to separate Northern Songs and declined McCartney and Ono's offer of £21-25 million for the same. In 1982, Australian business magnate Robert Holmes à Court acquired ACC through a takeover for £60 million.

Michael Jackson made a significant purchase in 1985 when he acquired ATV for $47.5 million. This purchase provided him with control over the publishing rights to over 200 Beatles songs and 40,000 other copyrights. Ten years later, Jackson merged his music publishing business with Sony, earning $110 million in the process. The merger resulted in the creation of a new company, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, in which Jackson held a 50% stake. The merger made the new company the third-largest music publisher in the world, with a value of over half a billion dollars. In 2016, Sony purchased Jackson's share of Sony/ATV from the Jackson estate for $750 million.

Despite not having the publishing rights to most of their songs, Lennon's estate and McCartney still receive their respective shares of the writers' royalties, which account for 331⁄3% of total commercial proceeds in the US and vary between 50 and 55% elsewhere in the world. Two of Lennon and McCartney's early songs, "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You," were published by Ardmore & Beechwood, an EMI subsidiary, before they signed with James. McCartney acquired the publishing rights to these two songs from Ardmore in 1978, and they are the only two Beatles songs owned by McCartney's company, MPL Communications. In January 2017, McCartney filed a lawsuit in the United States district court against Sony/ATV Music Publishing to reclaim ownership of his share of the Lennon-McCartney song catalogue starting in 2018. According to US copyright law, authors can regain copyrights assigned to a publisher after 56 years for works published before 1978. In June 2017, McCartney and Sony reached a private settlement.

Selected filmography


A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Help! (1965)
Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
Yellow Submarine (1968) (brief cameo)

Documentaries and filmed performances

  • The Beatles at Shea Stadium (1966)
  • Let It Be (1970)
  • The Compleat Beatles (1982)
  • It Was Twenty Years Ago Today (1987) (about Sgt. Pepper)
  • The Beatles Anthology (1995)
  • The Beatles: 1+ (2015) (collection of digitally restored music videos)
  • The Beatles: Eight Days a Week (2016) (about Beatlemania and touring years)
  • The Beatles: Get Back (2021)

Concert tours


  • 1963 UK tours (winter–autumn)
  • Autumn 1963 Sweden tour
  • Winter 1964 North American tour
  • Spring 1964 UK tour
  • 1964 world tour
  • 1964 North American tour
  • 1965 European tour
  • 1965 US tour
  • 1965 UK tour
  • 1966 tour of Germany, Japan and the Philippines
  • 1966 US tour

The Beatles' discography includes numerous popular and influential songs. Some of their most famous songs include "Hey Jude," "Let It Be," "Yesterday," "All You Need Is Love," and "Help!" These songs have become timeless classics and continue to be popular today.

"Hey Jude" was released in 1968 and is one of the band's most famous songs. The song's catchy chorus and uplifting lyrics have made it a crowd favorite for decades. "Let It Be" was released in 1970 and has become one of the most iconic songs in music history. The song's message of hope and perseverance has resonated with audiences around the world.

"Yesterday" is another one of The Beatles' most famous songs. The song was released in 1965 and has been covered by numerous artists over the years. The song's simple melody and heartfelt lyrics have made it a favorite among fans and critics alike.

Interesting Facts About The Beatles

The Beatles' legacy is not just limited to their music. They were also known for their unique personalities and interesting facts. For example, John Lennon was once quoted as saying that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus. The comment sparked controversy and backlash, but it also highlighted the band's immense popularity.

Another interesting fact is that The Beatles' last public performance was on the rooftop of their record label's offices in London. The impromptu concert was filmed and has become a legendary moment in music history.

The Beatles' Legacy and Influence on Music

The Beatles' influence on music is immeasurable. They revolutionized the music industry with their unique sound and songwriting style. Their music has inspired countless artists over the years and continues to be popular today.

This photo statue at Pier Head in Liverpool features The Beatles, who are known to be from the city.
This photo statue at Pier Head in Liverpool features The Beatles, who are known to be from the city.

The Beatles' influence can be seen in various genres of music, including rock, pop, and even hip-hop. Their impact on popular culture is also significant, and they helped to define the "Swinging Sixties" era in which they rose to fame.

Abbey Road crossing, London, UK.
Abbey Road crossing, London, UK.

The Abbey Road crossing in London holds immense significance for the fans of the Beatles. It was awarded grade II listed status in December 2010 due to its cultural and historical significance. Additionally, the Abbey Road studios also received a similar status earlier in the same year.

The Beatles' Breakup and Reasons Behind It

The Beatles' breakup was a shock to fans around the world. The band officially disbanded in 1970, and each member went on to pursue solo careers. There were several reasons behind the breakup, including creative differences and personal issues.

John Lennon's marriage to Yoko Ono was also a significant factor in the breakup. Some fans blamed Ono for the band's demise, but others have defended her and argued that the breakup was inevitable.

How Many of The Beatles are Still Alive?

Two of The Beatles are still alive today: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. John Lennon was tragically killed in 1980, and George Harrison passed away in 2001. Despite the loss of two members, The Beatles' legacy continues to live on through their music and influence.

The Beatles' Solo Careers

Each member of The Beatles went on to pursue successful solo careers after the band's breakup. Paul McCartney and John Lennon were the most successful, with both achieving immense success as solo artists. George Harrison also had a successful solo career, and Ringo Starr continued to perform and release music.

The Beatles' legacy is timeless and continues to inspire new generations of musicians and fans. Their impact on the music industry is immeasurable, and their music remains as popular today as it was over 50 years ago. The Beatles' unique sound, songwriting style, and personalities have made them one of the most iconic bands in music history. Despite their breakup and the loss of two members, The Beatles' legacy lives on, and their music will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.