The History Of The Beatles

A brief history of the Beatles and their transition from working class to world superstars Includes the early years,the arrival of Beatlemania in America and the band breakup.

John Lennon, James Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard Starkey (also known as Ringo Starr) were born during the 1940s in Liverpool, England. During the post war period, Liverpool was a dingy depressed town and money was scarce. Two decades later, these four men born into working class obscurity would take the word by storm in a phenomenon our culture refers to as Beatlemania.

John Lennon met Paul McCartney when they were both performing in Skiffle Groups, which were homespun bands that played a combination of folk, rock and jazz. John was in a group called The Quarrymen, which later became John and the Quarrymen. Paul introduced John to George Harrison, who was two years younger but showed extraordinary talent. John, Paul and George, with the addition of John's Friend from art college, Stu Sutcliffe and a guitarist named Pete Best, set out to work in German clubs, where musicians were able to make a paltry living playing strip clubs and low end establishments. Ringo was performing in many of the same establishments with the group Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.

During their time in Germany, Stu Sutcliffe decided to return to his first love, art, and a new love, a woman he had met in Germany named Astrid. Stu later died of a brain hemorrhage, which some suspect was due to his previous involvement in a club fight. The remaining members, now called "The Silver Beatles" returned to Liverpool, where John dealt with feelings of failure and a pregnant girlfriend, whom he reluctantly married.

Their luck changed when a young record storeowner, named Brian Epstein, noticed the Beatles and thought they had something unique. After convincing the Beatles to clean up their tough image, they traded leather jackets for matching suits as Brian peddled their records from label to label with no success. Epstein never gave up on the Beatles and his business savvy, combined with the Beatles raw talent finally began to pay off.

Many of the groups from England, dubbed The Mersey Sound, were featured in Mersey Beat Magazine and played on the radio. The Beatles kept plugging away at fame. Meanwhile, a decision was made by the group to drop Pete Best as drummer. Although Pete had the classic good looks that drew female fans, the group wanted Ringo to be their drummer. By the time the Beatles recorded Love Me Do in 1962, Ringo was the official drummer, however, studio musicians were brought in for the drumming on Love Me Do. Fans of their live performances were disappointed about the change of drummers and for a long time a chant of "Pete Forever, Ringo Never" accompanied their act.

Despite controversy and frequent fighting between themselves, the Beatles began to become immensely popular in Europe. Their fame in Europe was small in proportion to that which they would experience in America. A great amount of hype surrounded the Beatles landing at Kennedy Airport in America in February 1964. DJ Murray the K announced the time as Beatle Time and Beatle news flashes built up the excitement leading to their famous appearance on Ed Sullivan. From then on, teenagers were caught up in a fan frenzy that sometimes included hysteria, with female fans fainting during performances. These live performances were short lived and the last American Concert was at Candlestick Park in 1966. The fans screamed so loud, few could really hear much of the concert, but most teens had a Beatle Album collection. The Beatles made two early films, Hard Day's Night and Help, which remain popular today. As much as teenagers loved them, many parents and religious leaders feared their influence. In particular was the controversy over John Lennon's mistaken remark that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. This resulted in some record burning and protests and the Beatles lost some of their sweet, manufactured media image, and began to deal with more serious subjects.

This was reflected in their 1966 album "Revolver," where their music and lyrics took on a more somber, mystical tone. George Harrison began experimenting with the Sitar, and Eastern Philosophy and all of the Beatles began experimenting with drugs. Their next film was not a lighthearted romp like the previous two; instead "Yellow Submarine" was a psychedelic cartoon full of political references. In 1967, the "Summer of Love" was kicked off by the release of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The album featured many references to death, drugs, and rebellion. The album provided the perfect soundtrack for the mood of a world, which was immersed in controversy over the Vietnam War, drugs and rebellion. These themes were also present in Magical Mystery Tour, although the latter album (and televisions special aired in the UK) had a more hopeful tone and the song "All You Need is Love" was the first world satellite broadcast to reach the entire world.

1968 saw the release a two volume set entitled the "White Album", with a completely white cover, with photos of the Beatles and a pictorial spread inside. Around the same time, a hoax began saying Paul McCartney had secretly died in a car accident and that clues were imbedded in the White Album as well as previous albums. At this time, John Lennon (now divorced) and Yoko Ono became close and she began to have a great influence on the Beatles, not to everyone's pleasure. Much of the fighting, particularly between the song-writing duo of Lennon and McCartney, was said to have stemmed from Yoko's participation in the group's decisions.

Although they made a few more albums, most notably "Abbey Road", Beatlemania was clearly coming to an end. In 1970 Paul officially announced he was leaving the Beatles, and despite legal arguments, the Beatles went to pursue musical careers and separate lives. John married Yoko, Paul married photographer Linda McCartney, George Harrison lost his wife to fellow guitarist, Eric Clapton and later remarried, and Ringo was also later divorced, started an acting career, and married former James Bond girl Barbara Bach. The relationships remained strained and although fans hoped they would reconcile, the reunion came too late after John Lennon was shot in 1980. The popular Anthology CD sets have John's voice electronically blended with the others and have been immensely popular, yet a sad reminder of an era past forever known as Beatlemania.

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