The Beatles released 13 original albums in ONLY
7 years. Never before or since has any rock band come close to that
quantity and quality of output. For example, U2, one of the most
popular bands of the day, has released 13 studio albums in 29 years.
There's no denying that the Beatles changed the music
industry profoundly. From the way album covers appeared, to writing
their own songs, to innovative recording techniques, the Beatles led
the way to change what rock bands could do.
But The Beatles were not just a band "who made it very,
very big" as John Lennon said. The Beatles became an international phenomenon.
The group's lasting influence in society is evident in
many ways from the use of Beatle phrases and lyrics in everyday life to
modern-day hairstyles. No musical act can trace more cultural
influences to the present than the four lads from Liverpool.
The more time that passes, the bigger the legacy grows.
For example, the city of Liverpool has now built a
significant tourist industry around The Beatles. Every August,
thousands and thousands of Beatles fans invade the city for a week of
music and celebration in honor of The Fab Four.
A pilgrimage to
Liverpool is something every Beatles fan should experience.
Beatles-History.net is a valuable online resource because it breaks down the most important facts in Beatles history. So let's begin...
Introducing the Beatles
John Lennon was considered the leader of the Beatles
since he started the band. The members of the Beatles are always referred to as: John, Paul,
George, and Ringo. This reflects the order in which they joined the
group, as well as what many consider the order of importance or influence in the
John, Paul and George began performing together in various group
formations in 1958. However, the line-up wasn't complete until 1962
when Ringo joined the group.
Here are their birthdates in chronological order:
Ringo Starr (real name: Richard Starkey): born July 7,
John Winston Lennon: born October 9, 1940--died December 8, 1980
James Paul McCartney: born June 18, 1942
George Harrison: born February 25, 1943--died November 29, 2001
All four of the Beatles were born and raised in Liverpool, England.
John Lennon's first band was called The Quarrymen.
The skiffle craze popularized by Lonnie Donnegan's hit "Rock Island Line" swept Britain in 1956.
John Lennon was 16 years old. He decided to form his own skiffle group with schoolmate Pete Shotton.
They called themselves the Quarrymen. They recruited other friends of theirs to join the band, so that by July 1957 they had a five-piece lineup.
Skiffle was the poor man's pop music, such that everyday household items were now used as instruments. As a result, skilled guitarists in skiffle groups were hard to find.
On July 6, 1957, the Quarrymen played a gig at the Garden Fete at St. Peter's Church. Ivan Vaughn, a mutual friend of John and Paul McCartney's, brought Paul to hear the Quarrymen play.
After the gig, Paul was introduced to John, and played "Twenty Flight Rock" for him on the guitar. John was impressed.
[Read a detailed account of the meeting in the book, "The Day John Met Paul"]
A few weeks later, Paul was asked to join the Quarrymen. John was 17 and Paul was 15, and thus, the greatest songwriting partnership in rock music was born.
George Harrison joins
In late 1957, John Lennon's group, The Quarrymen, included Paul McCartney, Pete Shotton, Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton and Len Garry. Paul McCartney knew a younger guitar player named George Harrison who rode on the same bus with him to school.
Paul and George struck up a friendship over their common interest in guitars and rock and roll. However, George was not immediately asked to join the band because he was much younger.
In the early days, George idolized John, and would follow the group around. Due to his persistence, he wound up filling in when one of the guitarists was absent. George finally became part of the group in 1958.
The group's first recording was made in mid-1958. Buddy Holly's "That'll be the Day" and "In Spite of all the Danger" by Paul McCartney and George Harrison were recorded.
Since the recording was more for themselves, they only made one copy. Both recordings appeared on "The Beatles Anthology 1" released in 1995.
By 1959, the other members of the Quarrymen had left the group, leaving just John, Paul and George, and whatever drummer was available.
Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best join
Lennon was a student at the Liverpool Art College beginning in
1957. There he met his future wife, Cynthia, and his best friend, Stuart Sutcliffe, a talented painter.
In 1960, when Stu earned a large sum of money from selling one of
his paintings, John convinced him to buy a bass guitar and join the
group, even though he had no musical training whatsoever.
While John had a special friendship with Paul in
relation to music, Stu had a huge impact on John since they shared a
deep bond with their passion for art, and had strong connections on an
intellectual and spiritual level.
In Liverpool, John, Paul, George and Stu used to hang
out at the Jacaranda club owned by Allan Williams.
Noticing their potential, Williams became their first
booking manager. He got them gigs usually in rough parts of town where
"teddy" boys used to frequent.
Having changed their name several times until they
arrived at "The Beatles", the group began playing at a local club
called the Casbah, where they met the club owner's son, Pete
Best, and boarder, Neil Aspinall.
The Beatles occasionally asked Pete, a drummer, to sit
in with the band. Neil Aspinall became the Beatles road manager and
personal assistant. (Later, Neil was in charge of the Beatles company,
Apple, from 1968 to 2007.)
Allan Williams got the Beatles their initial gig in
Hamburg, Germany in 1960. Many groups from Liverpool were finding
success in Hamburg, so the Beatles jumped at the chance.
Since they needed a drummer in order to accept the gig, they asked Pete Best to join the band.
Beatles in 1961 consisted of John, Paul, George and Pete Best.
Stuart Sutcliffe quit the band in the Spring of 1961 to
stay with Astrid Kirchherr in Germany, while John and the gang returned to
Liverpool. This allowed Paul to take over the bass guitar from Stuart.
Pete was thought to be the most popular Beatle by the fans, and the most handsome. He was believed to have added a great deal of popularity to the Beatles' locally in Liverpool.
However, it seemed that Pete didn't fit in with the other three members on a personal level. For starters, he never adopted the "bowl" haircut, and he never smiled onstage.
John, Paul, George and manager, Brian Epstein, excluded Pete from the news that the Beatles were rejected by Decca Records, only to blurt it out by mistake weeks later.
They also didn't bother to tell him when they got a recording contract with Parlophone/EMI later in 1962.