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  T  H  E     B  E  A  T  L  E  S


THE BAND:

John Lennon - born John Winston Lennon, Oct. 9, 1940, Liverpool - died  Dec. 8, 1980, New York City, N.Y. - guitars, vocals, harmonica, keyboards.
Paul McCartney - born James Paul McCartney, June 18, 1942, Liverpool - bassist, vocals, guitars, keyboards.
George Harrison - born Feb. 25, 1943, Liverpool - guitars, vocals, sitar.
Ringo Starr - born Richard Starkey Jr., July 7, 1940, Liverpool - drums, percussion, vocals.

Formed 1959, Liverpool, England, the working-class heroes and  the three guitarists in the group John Lennon (Oct. 9, 1940-Dec. 8, 1980), Paul McCartney (born June 18, 1942), and George Harrison (born Feb. 25, 1943) first played together as schoolboys with the Quarrymen. In the late 1950s the group was renamed Johnny and the Moondogs, the Moonshiners, then the Silver Beatles (a wordplay on the musical term beat that also paid tribute to rocker Buddy Holly's Crickets). They had been performing in small clubs in Liverpool and in Hamburg, West Germany, when the original drummer was replaced in 1962 by Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey, July 7, 1940). All four Beatles were from Liverpool.

A quartet of extraordinarily talented British musicians who were once known as the Silver Beatles generated a phenomenal run of gold records that endured long after the rock group disbanded. The Fab Four inspired a worldwide frenzy of Beatlemania, perhaps primarily because they projected the self-image of the 1960s teenager.

The Beatles' first record 'Love Me Do', written by Lennon and McCartney in 1957 was released in October 1962. By the time they led the so-called British invasion of the United States in 1964, the Beatles held the top five spots on the singles recording charts and they released their first film, 'A Hard Day's Night'. Within a year six of their albums in succession hit the top of the charts, and 'Help!', another antic musical film, opened to critical acclaim.

As musicians, as composers, and as entertainers, the Beatles bridged generation gaps and language barriers, reshaping rock music with their wit and sophistication. As trendsetters, they popularized long hair, mod dress, hallucinogenic drugs, Indian music, and Eastern mysticism.

The later Beatles albums were like variety shows a miscellany of rock, blues, country, folk, ballads, social commentary, nursery rhymes, 1920s parodies, and satires of other pop groups, with an occasional injection of surrealism. Most of their material was credited to Lennon and McCartney as a team; in time Lennon's sardonic songs were recognizable because they were generally composed in the first person, while McCartney's songs developed scenarios with offbeat characters. Their most acclaimed works were the innovative Revolver (1966); the single-concept album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967); the exuberant Album, The Beatles (1968); and their last joint effort, Abbey Road (1969). (Let It Be, issued in 1970, had been delayed for simultaneous release with a film and book.)

The last concert appearance of the Beatles was in San Francisco in 1966. Amid public quarrels and lawsuits, the singing idols officially broke up in 1970. Lennon had begun recording with his second wife, the avant-garde conceptual artist Yoko Ono, and McCartney formed the successful soft-rock group Wings with his wife, Linda. Harrison and Starr also recorded solo albums. Rumors that the Beatles would reunite persisted for a decade until Lennon was murdered in New York City in 1980.

The impact of the Beatles -- not only on rock & roll but on all of Western culture -- is simply incalculable. As musicians they proved that rock & roll could embrace a limitless variety of harmonies, structures, and sounds; virtually every rock experiment has some precedent on Beatles records. As a unit they were a musically synergistic combination: Paul McCartney’s melodic bass lines, Ringo Starr’s slaphappy no-rolls drumming, George Harrison’s rockabilly-style guitar leads, John Lennon’s assertive rhythm guitar -- and their four fervent voices. One of the first rock groups to write most of its material, they inaugurated the era of self-contained bands and forever centralized pop. And as personalities, they defined and incarnated Sixties style: smart, idealistic, playful, irreverent, eclectic. Their music, from the not-so-simple love songs they started with to their later perfectionist studio extravaganzas, set new standards for both commercial and artistic success in pop. Although many of their sales and attendance records have since been surpassed, no group has so radically transformed the sound and meaning of rock & roll.

THE ALBUMS:

1963 -- Please Please Me (Parlophone, U.K.); With the Beatles; Introducing The Beatles (Vee-Jay)
1964 -- Meet the Beatles (Capitol); The Beatles’ Second Album; A Hard Day’s Night (United Artists); Something New (Capitol); The Beatles’ Story; Beatles ‘65
1965 -- The Early Beatles; Beatles VI; Help!; Rubber Soul
1966 -- Yesterday..., and Today; Revolver
1967 -- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; Magical Mystery Tour
1968 -- The Beatles (Apple)
1969 -- Yellow Submarine (Capitol); Abbey Road
1970 -- Hey Jude; Let It Be (Apple)
1973 -- The Beatles 1962-1966 (Capitol); The Beatles 1967-1970
1976 -- Rock ‘N’ Roll Music
1977 -- Love Songs; Live at the Hollywood Bowl; Live at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, 1962 (Atlantic)
1980 -- Rarities (Capitol)
1982 -- Reel Music; 20 Greatest Hits
1988 -- Past Masters, vol. 1; Past Masters, vol.2
1994 -- Live at the BBC (EMI)

 

 

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