Way before the millennial’s and their pop favorites came into being, there was rock ‘n’ roll and Beatles and ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand‘. The Beatles rock band was formed in Liverpool, UK in 1960. The band’s FabFour band players were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Today ‘The Beatles Story’ a museum at the Royal Albert Dock in Liverpool that opened on May 1, 1990, tells the story of four teenagers who rocked the world.

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Teenagers Lennon and McCartney

In July 1957, two music-loving teenagers Paul McCartney and John Lennon met in Liverpool.

16-year-old John Lennon, at that time, was performing with the Quarrymen, a skiffle (folk music blended with jazz or blues) band which performed regularly at church fetes in Woolton, Liverpool. 15-year-old Paul impressed John with his mastery of acoustic guitar, was invited to join in the band. George Harrison joined them in February of 1958.  In 1958 and 1959 the Quarrymen performed at family events like the reception for Harrison’s brother’s wedding, at local parties, at Casbah Coffee Club in Liverpool and at Hippodrome in Manchester. They were also joined by vocalist Stuart Sutcliffe, and by drummer Peter Best, whose mother owned The Casbah club.

The 1960s

In January 1960, the Quarrymen’s name changed to Silver Beetles and later to Silver Beatles.

In August 1960 John Lennon renamed the band, ‘The Beatles’ by combining the words ‘beetles’ and ‘beat’. In 1960 The Beatles for the first time performed outside of UK in Hamburg, Germany. After that from 1960 to 1962, they performed in Hamburg off and on. With Germans who drank beer all night long, they learned to play for 12 hours at a stretch. They also did some studio work as a band for singer Tony Sheridan’s recordings for the German Polydor label, but the band’s name appeared as The Beat Brothers instead of The Beatles. The Beatles unhappy with it, returned to Liverpool. Around the same period February 1961 to August 1963, The Beatles continued to play in Liverpool giving 262 performances at Cavern. While they started at £ 5 for their first show, it touched £ 300. In November 1961 they also hired Brian Epstein to be their first manager.

While Beatles gave 262 performances, sadly they kept having a change of drummers. Harrison in The Beatles Anthology says “We had a stream of drummers coming through,” “After about three of these guys, we ended up with almost a full kit of drums from the bits that they’d left behind, so Paul decided he’d be the drummer. He was quite good at it. At least he seemed ok; probably we were all pretty crap at that point. It only lasted for one gig, but I remember it very well. It was in Upper Parliament Street where a guy called Lord Woodbine owned a strip club. It was in the afternoon, with a few perverts – five or so men in overcoats – and a local stripper. We were brought in as the band to accompany the stripper; Paul on drums, John and me on guitar and Stu on bass.”

Liverpool to London

On January 1, 1962, The Beatles came to London to record fifteen songs at the Decca Records. They did not manage to get a record deal with Decca or with any major record label. They were rejected by Columbia, Philips, Oriole, Decca, and Pye. But Epstein never stopped trying until on June 6, 1962, the group got an audition with Goerge Martin at his Parlophone Studio on Abbey Road. George Martin approved of the group except for he did not like Pete Best. Epstein immediately replaced Pete Best with Richard Starkey ‘Ringo Star’ and the first music contract was signed in January 1962.  The four Beatles had arrived – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Star. In September of 1962, they recorded their first hit Love Me Do, which charted in UK, and reached the top of the US singles chart. The rest is history.

Image credits: McCartney.com

Going Global

In 1963, the Beatles appeared on CBS Evening News. Their music soon spread to American radio stations in Washington and New York. ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ released in December 1963 by the Capitol Records had the world dancing.  A tour to the USA began with three TV shows at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York, in February of 1964.

The Beatles became famous.  Their recording, filming, and touring increased. They stopped public performances after 1966 but continued their recording contracts. By 1985 The Beatles had sold over one billion records. The FabFour and Beatlemania shook the world.

Image credits: Iowa Public Radio

The most memorable dates

  • Oct. 5, 1962, “Love Me Do”, the band’s first single, released in UK reached No.17 on the British Charts.
  • Feb. 11, 1963, The Beatles record their first album, also called Please Please Me, in one day. Ten songs are recorded to add to “Love Me Do,” “Please Please Me,” “P.S. I Love You,” and “Ask Me Why,” which were previously recorded.
  • October 13, 1963, 15 million people watch the Beatles perform on ITV’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium. The show marked the beginning of Beatlemania.
  • August 1966, the Beatles perform their last live concert in San Francisco, Ca.
  • In February 1968, Beatles spend few days at Rishikesh, India, with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to learn Transcendental Meditation
  • 1970, McCartney leaves the Beatles.
  • Dec. 8, 1980, Lennon is shot and killed by Mark David Chapman just outside his apartment building in New York City.
  • Nov. 29, 2001, George Harrison dies of cancer in Los Angeles.
  • Nov. 16, 2010, iTunes releases the music catalog of the Beatles

The Beatles trivia

  • Brian Epstein fondly referred to as ‘fifth Beatle’ asked the Beatles by asking to wear suits and ties, classic shoes, and even have newer haircuts.
  • The Beatles was ranked No.1 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Rock & Roll and No.25 on VH1’s 100 Sexiest Artists.
  • The Beatles were the first rock-n-roll performers to be immortalized in London’s Madame Tussaud’s waxwork museum.
  • Ringo Starr (the eldest Beatle) and Paul McCartney are the only former Beatles to make it to their 64th birthdays.
  • John Lennon was asked by a news reporter in 1964 “How long do you think the Beatles will last?” Lennon answered “About five years.” The Beatles began to break up in 1969
  • Books released on Beatles – ‘The Beatles: The Biography’ by Bob Spitz. (2005), ‘The Beatles: Unseen Archives’ by Tim Hill and Marie Clayton (2006), and ‘Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America’ by Jonathan Gould. (2007)
Image credits: The Guardian

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