Introducing the Beatles:
The Beatles had sold an estimated 1 billion records worldwide by 1985 and had 21 no 1 singles in the US alone. Even today, 40 years after they broke up, they remain a great source of inspiration for other artists.
In just seven years the Beatles made a string of unforgettable albums. They set new standards for composing, performing and recording popular music. They blended music of many genres and experimented with instruments that had never before been heard on pop records. They were commercially successful and artistically stimulating at the same time.
The Beatles defined a generation by breaking new barriers and by showing a reluctance to compromise.
did it all start? - The
Beatles hit America - Chemistry
and understanding - Talent and sophistication
- Dylan makes an impression
- A new direction
- Rubber Soul: a turning
point - The
psychedelic experience - The
final show - An unexpected death
- The Beatles in India
- Get back - Abbey
Road: the end
took shape in Liverpool, England, in 1957. John Winston
Lennon (born October 9, 1940) formed a skiffle group with
friends. The group called themselves the Quarry Men. Some
of the members played on real instruments, while others
played on wash boards etc. The Quarry Men performed at low
key events in Liverpool. They played folk, country and rock
music. The group's line up changed frequently.
July 6 1957, the Quarry Men played at a garden fete of St
Peter's Church in Woolton, Liverpool.
After the concert, John Lennon was introduced to James Paul
McCartney (born June 18, 1942) for the first time. McCartney
was playing his guitar backstage, and Lennon was impressed
by his skills.
saw he had talent," Lennon recalled in 1980.
1958, George Harrison (born February 25, 1943) also joined
the Quarry Men. George had been introduced to John through
"I turned around to him right then on the first meeting
and said: Do you want to join the group?"
"I think he said yes the next day."
July 15 the same year, John's mother Julia died in a hit-and-run
accident. John was then 17 years old. He had lived most of
his short life separated from his mother. His parents' marriage
only lasted two years, and when John was five, Julia had a
child with another man. John was then taken care off by Julia's
sister Mimi and her husband, George Smith. John, however,
continued to see his mum, who encouraged his passion for music
and taught him to play the banjo. When uncle George died in
1955, John and his mother developed a closer relationship.
death left John emotionally devastated. Fortunately, John
had a new friend in Paul, who he could relate to. Paul's
mother Mary had died when he was just 14. Paul's background
was however quite different to John's. He came from a disciplined
working class family, with a father (James, also a musician)
who worked hard to make ends meet. John, on the other hand,
was brought up in middle-class surroundings, but experienced
more emotional instability as a child because of his parents'
personalities could not have been more different. Paul was
polite and diplomatic, while John's mood would change from
one extreme to another frequently.
their shared experience of loss helped them to develop a
close friendship. In addition, they shared a passion for
music in which they both could express emotions, whether
joy or grief.
to perform under the name the Quarry Men until January 1960,
when John's friend from art school, Stuart Sutcliffe, joined
on bass guitar. After that, the group changed their name
several times, to the Beatals, Silver Beats and the Silver
that year, Pete Best joined the band on drums. The group
then traveled to Hamburg, Germany, where they played more
than 100 concerts at the Indra Club and the Kaiserkeller.
The band's name had by then changed to the Beatles. The
Beatles would return to Hamburg also in 1961 and 1962, and
in February 1961 they played at the infamous Cavern Club
in Liverpool for the first time, where they soon became
were initially inspired by black, R&B and Motown music.
They liked Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Gene
Vincent and Fats Domino, to name a few. The Beatles had
black leather jackets, long hear combed forward and cheeky
humor. Even in the early pre-fame days, they stood out from
most other contemporary bands, because of their scruffy
look and energetic live concerts.
during a lunchtime performance at the Cavern Club in November
1961 that the Beatles were discovered by Brian Epstein,
who soon after became the group's manager.
1962, the Beatles auditioned for Decca Records in London.
The group failed to make an impression, and Decca turned
them down. Manager Epstein was furious:
must be out of your minds. These boys are going to explode.
I am completely confident that one day they will be bigger
than Elvis Presley!"
shortly after, Epstein got in touch with George Martin,
who was the head of Parlophone, a part of EMI records. Martin,
a classically trained musician and producer, would play
a key role in the Beatles' career in the years to come.
Today, some refer to him as the "fifth Beatle,"
because of his undeniable musical influence on the group.
on April 10 1962, Stuart Sutcliffe, the band's bassist,
died of a brain hemorrhage while in Hamburg with his girlfriend
Astrid Kirchherr, a German photographer.
George Martin decided to give the Beatles a chance, and
on June 4 1962, the group signed with EMI in London.
"I've got nothing to lose," George Martin said
at the time.
was one problem, however: Martin was not impressed with
the band's drummer, Pete Best. The Beatles had no choice
but to let Best go.
In August 1962, they recruited a new drummer. His name was
Richard Starkey (born July 7, 1940), AKA Ringo Starr.
Beatles' line up was now as follows:
Paul McCartney (vocals, bass guitar)
George Harrison (vocals, guitar)
Ringo Starr (drums)
Martin offered the Beatles a record deal, the plan was that
the group would record songs written by others, like most
pop groups did at the time. It was almost unheard of that
pop groups wrote their own music. Even the Beatles' pre-fame
live repertoire consisted almost exclusively of cover songs.
had no idea that Lennon and McCartney were aspiring song
writers, and he was therefore presented with a big surprise
on September 4, when the Beatles turned up for their second
recording session at EMI's studios in Abbey Road, London.
recording How Do You Do It, a song written by Mitch Murray,
which George Martin had handpicked for the Beatles, the
group insisted on recording one of their own songs. Martin
was hard to convince, however. He didn't think the Beatles
would have any potential hits up their sleeves. But the
group insisted, and in the end Martin let them play him
their song. It was called Love
Me Do, and had been written by John Lennon and Paul
was perhaps not blown way by what he heard, but he was still
quite impressed. The song had potential, that was for sure.
He suggested that John played some harmonica on it, just
to give the arrangement something extra.
an interview with Mark Lewisohn for the book The Complete
Beatles Recording Sessions, first published in 1988, Paul
Me Do was us trying to do the blues. It came out whiter
because it always does. We're white and we were just young
Liverpool musicians. We didn't have any finesse to be able
to actually sound black. But Love Me Do was probably the
first bluesy thing we tried to do."
Do was released as a single in the United Kingdom in October
1962, where it reached number 17 on the charts. Almost two
years later, in May 1964, the song went to number one on
the American charts. How Do You Do It was never released
by the Beatles, but later became a hit with Gerry and the
Pacemakers, also a Liverpool band.
next single, entitled Please
Please Me, was a Roy Orbinson inspired Lennon/McCartney
song. It was released in January 1963, and by March it had
climbed all the way to number two on the British charts.
big break through came in May the same year, when both their
Please Please Me, and the single From
Me To You, written by Lennon/McCartney, reached number
one in Britain.
was spreading across the UK and Europe. America would soon
>> Next chapter - The Beatles Hit America
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