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Beatles: The Beatles Fact Center

This page is for those who love the Beatles and the music that changed the world. 

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Fab Four

By Encyclopedia of Popular Music Copyright Muze UK Ltd. 1989 - 1998

Edited by


In 1957,Paul McCartney (b. 18 June 1942, Liverpool, England) successfully auditioned at a church fête in Woolton, Liverpool, for the guitarist's position in the Quarrymen, a skiffle group led by John Lennon (b. 9 October 1940, Liverpool, England, d. 8 December 1980, New York, USA).

Within a year, two more musicians joined: the 15-year-old guitarist George Harrison (b. 25 February 1943, Liverpool, England) and an art school friend of Lennon's, Stuart Sutcliffe (b. 23 June 1940, Edinburgh, Scotland, d. 10 April 1962).

After a brief spell as Johnny And The Moondogs, the band rechristened themselves the Silver Beetles, and, in April 1960, played before impresario Larry Parnes, winning the dubious distinction of a support slot on an arduous tour of Scotland with autumnal idol Johnny Gentle.

By the summer of 1960, the group had a new name: the Beatles, dreamed up by Lennon who said "a man in a flaming pie appeared and said you shall be Beetles with an a."

They recruited Pete Best (b. 1941, Liverpool, England), a full-time drummer; then secured a residency at Bruno Koschminder's Indra Club in Hamburg. It was during this period they honed their repertoire of R&B and rock 'n' roll favorites, and during exhausting six-hour sets performed virtually every song they could remember.

Already, the musical/lyrical partnership of Lennon/McCartney was bearing fruit, anticipating a body of work unparalleled in modern popular music.

The image of the group was changing, most noticeably with their fringed haircuts or, as they were later known, the 'mop-tops', the creation of Sutcliffe's German fiancée Astrid Kirchherr.

The first German trip ended when the under-age Harrison was deported in December 1960 and the others lost their work permits. During this turbulent period, they also parted company with manager Allan Williams, who had arranged many of their early gigs.

Following a couple of months' recuperation, the group reassembled for regular performances at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and briefly returned to Germany where they performed at the Top Ten club and backed Tony Sheridan on the single 'My Bonnie'.

Meanwhile, Sutcliffe decided to leave the group and stay in Germany as a painter. The more accomplished McCartney then took up the bass guitar. This part of their career is well documented in the feature film Backbeat (1994).

In November 1961, Brian Epstein, the manager of North End Music Store, a record shop in Liverpool, became interested in the group after he received dozens of requests from customers for the Tony Sheridan record, 'My Bonnie'. He went to see the Beatles play at the Cavern and soon afterwards became their manager.

Despite Epstein's enthusiasm, several major record companies passed on the Beatles, although the group were granted an audition with Decca on New Year's Day 1962.

After some prevarication, the A&R department, headed by Dick Rowe, rejected the group in favor of Brian Poole And The Tremeloes.

Other companies were even less enthusiastic than Decca, which had at least taken the group seriously enough to finance a recording session.

On 10 April, further bad news was forthcoming when the group heard that Stuart Sutcliffe had died in Hamburg of a brain hemorrhage.

The following day, the Beatles flew to Germany and opened a seven-week engagement at Hamburg's Star Club.


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 poor.

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 Mersey talent.

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.

 The 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 importance.

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 industry.

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' royalties.


By Encyclopedia of Popular Music Copyright Muze UK Ltd. 1989 - 1998


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