One cannot but admit that even today the Beatles are the main inspiration for dozens and dozens of British pop groups and beyond, indeed they can certainly be considered the founders of modern pop music.
John & Paul
Their story begins way back in 1957 in the city of Liverpool when 17-year-old John Lennon (born 9 October 1940) and 15-year-old Paul McCartney (born 18 June 1942) meet for the first time on a stage at Woolton Parish. Church during a rock concert: they are both guitarists in two different groups of amateurs.
Thus began a relationship destined to produce an enormous quantity of historical songs; it starts with two guys who decide to perfect their at that time-poor guitar technique together. It doesn’t take long for the duo to add a schoolmate of Paul’s, George Harrison (born February 25, 1945).
In 1958 the first nucleus of the future Beatles was ready, even if they were called Quarrymen and offer a strange mixture of skiffle music (“poor” music based on traditional jazz and rhythm blues) and rock’n’roll. But in that year a tragic event contributes to making John Lennon’s already rebellious character more uncompromising: his mother Julia dies in a car accident, to whom the song of the same name will be dedicated in the famous 1968 “White Album”.
Music, then, becomes the first reason for living and after a period of uncertainty, Lennon guides the future Beatles towards daily technical improvements. In contradiction to all this, the inexperienced Stuart Sutcliffe joins the group in 1959 as a bass player: the bass, as an instrument, does not even know him at all but has enough money to be able to buy decent equipment and, therefore, the game. it’s done. Only one drummer is missing, and a year later he is found in the person of Pete Best. So in 1960 after several name changes (from Johnny & the Moondogs to Moondogs, from Silverbeatles to Beatles), the group left for Hamburg with, for the first time, the promise of real pay: 25 pounds a week each.
The days in Hamburg are passionate and full of adventures: this is where the Beatles look is invented thanks to Astrid Kircher, a German fan who studies for them the clothes and that particular haircut that will make history. The turmoil that has been created in Germany around the four boys serves to raise their prices even at home: back in Liverpool they perform at the “Cavern Club” and their fame as a new exciting attraction of pop music grows out of all proportion. They still want them in Germany in 1961 and here they record their first single, My Bonnie, as the sideband of singer Tony Sheridan. It is only the first experience: with no more Stuard Sutcliffe (who died in 1962 following a cerebral hemorrhage), but with Paul McCartney definitively switched from guitar to bass, the Beatles meet with Brian Epstein.
It is a fundamental turning point: Epstein, fairly introduced to the musical environment, immediately becomes the passionate manager of the group, playing a decisive role in the rise of the Liverpool boys.
The first move is an audition at Decca on January 1, 1962: none of the record companies understand the potential of the Beatles by committing one of the most macroscopic mistakes in the history of the record market. Another door to knock on is the one in Abbey Road (later celebrated in a famous album), home to the great EMI record company. Here is a producer, George Martin, who perfectly understands the value of boys. The only drawback, according to him, is the drummer Pete Best. But the Beatles do not think too much about it: they sign the contract with EMI and fire Best by calling on the drums Ringo Starr, who they had met in Hamburg while playing with Rory Storm & the Hurricanes. Now the legendary group is ready and “Love Me Do” is released on October 4, 1962, introduces the world to a new fantastic musical reality.
1963 is the decisive year: their tours in their homeland with Tommy Roe and Chris Montez and then those with Gerry and the Pacemaker and Roy Orbison are sold out, as well as the one in Sweden and contribute to sending splendid singles such as From me to you (released April 11), She loves you (released August 23) and I want to hold your hand (released November 29). The year ends with the participation in a variety show in honor of the queen: the “Beatlemania” has definitely exploded and the group can afford everything, even to say, as John Lennon did during the concert in honor of Queen: “Those in the economic seats cheer, the rest of you can jingle the jewels.”
After a fabulous 1963, the Beatles decide to “attack” the United States, with the desire to repeat the European triumphs. In this case, the imagination is overcome by reality: a real mass hysteria welcomes the English group to concerts at the “Coliseum” in Washington and at the “Carnegie Hall” in New York, after participating in the prestigious Ed Sullivan TV show. The hits published this year are many: Can’t buy me love and I feel fine in testa, in addition to the Beatles for sale and A hard day’s night albums. Just “A hard day’s night” is also the title of the first film shot by the Beatles, a decisive step to broaden the group’s range of activities in the entertainment world.
The encore in the world of celluloid takes place the following year with “Help”, immediately after a memorable American concert at Shea Stadium. From America to Europe, by now the army of Beatles fans has swelled the ranks and 1965 and 1966 saw the publication of other historical songs such as Ticket to Ride, Daytripper, Paperback write, Rain, Eleonor Rigby, and Yellow submarine, alongside equally essential albums such as Rubber Soul and Revolver.
The summer of 1966 was entirely dedicated to tours across Germany, Japan; Manila, and the United States, further confirming the immense success of the group. The first historical phase of the Beatles at this point ends. With Paperback write and Eleonor Rigby, the four from Liverpool demonstrate their great ability to increase the content of the texts and musical creativity. They begin to deal with more strategically social topics, gradually abandoning the terrain of conventional romantic themes.
Their early songs had already changed the course of rock, thanks to those splendid melodies and words that, while dealing almost exclusively with love relationships, captured the essence of the problem with clarity and realism. The author duo Lennon-McCartney, however, has even greater ambitions and, in fact, manages to realize a way of writing songs that will serve as an example for all rock musicians of the seventies, helping to give literary dignity also to the world of song.
The end of 1966 marks the beginning of the second phase of the history of the “Fabulous Four”, in November the quartet decides to stop playing live (after the last concert has San Francisco in August) and meets in the studio to collect the fruits of the turning point. Without the hassle of touring, compositional commitment conquers more space. And in November 1966 the long project takes shape that after seven months will lead to the release of Sgt. Pepper’s lonely hearts club band. The first recording sessions saw the birth of three songs: When I’m sixty-four, Strawberry fields forever, and Penny Lane.
The first will enter the album, the other two will be released in February 1967 in a single version with double A-side, to avoid discrimination. With this single at the top of the charts, the Beatles continue the recording work of Sgt. Pepper’s and broaden the field of sound research already tested in Revolver, alongside for the first time the systematic innovative use of the mixing phase, thanks largely to the producer George Martin and technician Geoff Emerick.
In June 1967, while Sgt. Pepper’s garnered worldwide attention, the Beatles returned to the recording studio to record All you need is love, perhaps their most sincere contribution to the pacifist culture of “flower power”. On August 27, while the Beatles are in Scotland to follow the spiritual teachings of the Maharishi, manager Brian Epstein, administrative and programmatic guide of the group, dies of an excessive dose of sleeping pills: his passing will contribute significantly to the dissolution of the quartet. years later.
On December 26th the BBC broadcasts the film “Magical Mystery Tour”, an experimental episode of cinematography and music in which the Beatles insert some beautiful songs from this psychedelic period such as Hello Goodbye and I Am the Walrus (first place in the charts). In 1968 the four are engaged on their own in activities that are too different to be shared: Ringo Starr devotes himself more and more to the cinema, Harrison often goes to India, Lennon lives his story of love and art with Yoko Ono. The “quietest” seems to be McCartney, completely inserted into the new part of the group’s mind after Epstein’s death. Lady Madonna, the new single that in March conquers another first place in the standings, is due to the pen of Paul. But it is in July that the Beatles are the protagonists of what can be considered their latest masterpiece. In fact, the film “Yellow submarine” is presented, a story with animated drawings in which some elements of the recent artistic life of the group are mixed: the four embark on a yellow submarine to save Sergeant Pepper’s band of lonely hearts.
All in an explosion of colors and sounds that underlines the psychedelic dimension of the film. Meanwhile, the short activity of the record company Apple Records also kicks off with records including the American singer-songwriter James Taylor, but this initiative will have a short life.
At the end of August here is another fundamental chapter, the release of the single containing Hey Jude and Revolution (still first in the charts). At the end of 1968 the Beatles released an untitled double album that will go down in history as The white album, with a repertoire of beautiful songs of different styles: Back in the Ussr, Blackbird, Dear Prudence, While my guitar gently weeps (by Harrison with a solo by Eric Clapton). But the Beatles are pulling the last few hits.
It is increasingly difficult for the four to get together due to different interests, different sensitivities and even new loves cut the legs of the old friendship (in this period McCartney meets Linda Eastman). In 1969, Lennon and Harrison were arrested and released for drug possession; Lennon and Ono get married in Gibraltar; Ringo stars in “The Magic Christian”, a film with Peter Sellers. The short periods together are documented in the film “Let it be”, which will be released in 1970, and which includes the famous sequence in which the Beatles sing surprise get back on the roof of Apple (still first in the charts).
The Beginning of the End
In September 1969 the masterpiece Abbey Road was released despite all the confusion going around at the time: Come together, Something and Here comes the sun (by Harrison) are some of the tracks. In March 1970 here is one of the final stages in the history of the Beatles: the single “Let it Be” comes out but the appointment with the top of the chart fails. The group is in disarray, Starr, and McCartney publish solo. It’s the end: rumors about the breakup are multiplying and the release of the album “Let it Be” is not enough to improve the situation. Indeed, the song “Let it Be” sounds like the testament of a beautiful and unrepeatable story, the terminus of that long and windy road (The long and winding road is the title of another beautiful song on the record) that reached STOP.
Tensions continued to grow between the band members which became evident during the filming of the movie “Let it Be”. Lennon was passive, and Yoko Ono often spoke on his behalf when it came to bringing certain decisions. Paul started making more and more production decisions. Harrison and Starr frequently debated the extent of the planned live show.
On January 30th, 1969, the Beatles played their live show on top of the Apple Studios rooftop, but were forced to cut the performance short due to a police intervention.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono were married on March 20th at the British Consulate in Gibraltar . Instead of a traditional honeymoon, the couple decided to demonstrate for peace by staying for a week in a hotel bed in Amsterdam.
Due to the rumors about the end of the Beatles, the topic was often raised in interviews. George Harrison gave an interview for the BBC, in which he said that the Beatles would get together again in 1970 to record music, while Ringo Starr said that the group was still in agreement and accused the music press of generating rumors.
From October 1969 and during the beginning of 1970, the “White Album” came once again into public focus, but this time it was for all the wrong reasons. A cult leader, Charles Manson, and a handful of his followers had committed a series of grizzly murders in California, and they claimed they acted upon messages they were able to hear in Beatles’ songs “Helter-Skelter”, “Piggies”, Blackbird”, and others. The most prominent victim was the actress Sharon Tate, who was married to movie director Roman Polansky, and 8 months pregnant when she was murdered.
The Beatles publicly distanced themselves from Mason’s interpretation of their songs, but the “White Album’s” sales rose once again. The “White Album” is the group’s album with most awards to this day.
In 1970, Ringo Starr released his first solo album “Sentimental Journey”. Then, the final nail in the Beatles’ coffin: Paul McCartney, who was awaiting the release of his first solo album received a letter from Lennon and Harrison which stated that they had instructed EMI to withhold McCartney’s album’s release until June 4th, because the Beatles’ last album “Let it Be was due to be released on April 24th.
On April 9, 1970. McCartney informed Lennon by phone that he would be leaving the Beatles. On April 10th he informed the British press that the Beatles were no longer together.
Despite the break-up, John, Paul, George, and Ringo stayed in touch, but they never again met all together. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but it seems a plausible assumption to me. All 4 had successful careers, although no one came near the popularity the Beatles as a group had. In fact, no other musical band in the world ever reached their levels of popularity to this day. In all honesty, only Elvis, and Michael Jackson are even in the same league.
On December 8, 1980, a mentally disturbed fan by the name of Mark Chapman shot and killed John Lennon in front of his home in New York. Lennon had just released his come-back album “Double Fantasy”. The world had lost an incredible talent and man that was destined to bring change through his medium – music.
Records in music
- Although they made records only during a period of 8 years, the Beatles have sold over 1 billion records, which makes them the best selling group of all time.
- They have received more multi-platinum awards than any other artist.
- The Beatles had more number-one singles than any other group or solo artist.
- They had more number-one albums than any other artist.
- The Beatles spent most weeks at number 1 on the album charts.
- Lennon and McCartney are the most successful composers in pop history to date.
The Beatles Influence and Legacy
Up until the Beatles, only Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley enjoyed such fanatical admiration. The Beatles, influenced by Presley and Chuck Berry, were the “good boys” of rock and roll, as opposed to the Rolling Stones. In the late 1960s, the Beatles changed their style. From 1965 onwards, their lyrics gradually became deeper and more personal. The compositions and arrangements became more complex and intricate.
Their legacy cannot be measured. The Beatles must have inspired thousands, if not tens of thousands pop and rock bands all around the world. More than that, their discography is the world’s artistic and cultural heritage. Their fan base stretched (and still does) across all 5 continents, all nations, colors, religions, and ages.
The Beatles Discography:
1963 – Please Please Me
1963 – With the Beatles
1964 – A Hard Day’s Night
1964 – Beatles for Sale
1965 – Help!
1965 – Rubber Soul
1966 – Revolver
1967 – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
1967 – Magical Mystery Tour
1968 – The Beatles
1969 – Yellow Sunmarine
1969 – Abbey Road
1970 – Let it Be
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