By May, Epstein had at last found a Beatles convert in
EMI producer George Martin, who signed the group to the Parlophone label. Three months
later, drummer Pete Best was sacked, for although he had looked the part, his drumming was
An initial protest was made by his considerable army of fans back in Liverpool. His
replacement was Ringo Starr (b. Richard Starkey, 7 July 1940, Liverpool, England), the
extrovert and locally popular drummer from Rory Storm And The Hurricanes.
Towards the end of 1962, the Beatles broke through to the UK charts with their debut
single, 'Love Me Do', and played the Star Club for the final time. The debut was
important, as it was far removed from the traditional 'beat combo' sound, and Lennon's use
of a harmonica made the song stand out.
At this time, Epstein signed a contract with the
music publisher Dick James that led to the formation of Northern Songs.
On 13 February
1963, the Beatles appeared on UK television's Thank Your Lucky Stars to promote
their new single, 'Please Please Me', and were seen by six million viewers.
It was a
pivotal moment in their career, at the start of a year in which they would spearhead a
working-class assault on music, fashion and the peripheral arts. 'Please Please Me', with
its distinctive harmonies and infectious group beat, soon topped the UK charts. It
signaled the imminent overthrow of the solo singer in favor of an irresistible wave of
From this point, the Beatles progressed artistically and commercially with
each successive record. After seven weeks at the top with 'From Me To You', they released
the strident, wailing 'She Loves You', a rocker with the catchphrase 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah'
that was echoed in ever more frequent newspaper headlines.
'She Loves You' hit number 1,
dropped down, then returned to the top seven weeks later as Beatlemania gripped the
nation. It was at this point that the Beatles became a household name. 'She Loves You' was
replaced by 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', which had UK advance sales of over one million and
entered the charts at number 1.
Until 1964, America had proven a barren ground for aspiring British pop artists, with
only the occasional record such as the Tornados' 'Telstar' making any impression.
Beatles changed that abruptly and decisively. 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' was helped by the
band's television appearance on the top-rated Ed Sullivan Show and soon
surpassed UK sales.
The Beatles had reached a level of popularity that even outshone their
pre-eminence in Britain. By April, they held the first five places in the Billboard
Hot 100, while in Canada they boasted nine records in the Top 10.
Although the Beatles'
chart statistics were fascinating in themselves, they barely reflected the group's
They had established Liverpool as the pop music capital of the world and the
beat boom soon spread from the UK across to the USA.
In common with Bob Dylan, the Beatles
had taught the world that pop music could be intelligent and was worthy of serious
consideration beyond the screaming hordes of teendom.
Beatles badges, dolls, chewing gum
and even cans of Beatle breath, showed the huge rewards that could be earned with the sale
of merchandising goods. Perhaps most importantly of all, however, they broke the Tin Pan
Alley monopoly of songwriting by steadfastly composing their own material.
From the moment
they rejected Mitch Murray 's 'How Do You Do It?' in favour of their own 'Please Please
Me', Lennon and McCartney set in motion revolutionary changes in the music publishing
They even had sufficient surplus material to provide hits for fellow artists
such as Billy J. Kramer, Cilla Black, the Fourmost and Peter And Gordon. As well as
providing the Rolling Stones with their second single 'I Wanna Be Your Man,' the Beatles
encouraged the Stones to start writing their own songs to earn themselves composers'
By Encyclopedia of Popular Music Copyright Muze UK Ltd. 1989 - 1998
Edited by Mark