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graphic: the Beatles © 2012

Inside the Music

Quick Overview| Meet the Beatles| How Others Saw Them

The Beatles: A Quick Musical Overview

There are few superlatives that can not be applied to The Beatles. In the ten years they were together (from an early version in 1960 to the band’s break-up in 1970) they revolutionized pop music like no other band before or since. The Beatles remain the best-selling band in history,
with more number-one albums on UK charts than any other artist or band. They have sold more albums in the USA than any other artist, with a total of over one billion units sold worldwide.
Time Magazine included The Beatles (collectively) among the 20th Century’s 100 most influential people.

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Meet the Beatles

Here are some various random factoids and tidbits about The Beatles.

Paul McCartney

  • Birth name: James Paul McCartney
  • Born: June 18, 1942, Liverpool, England
  • Instruments: Bass guitar, vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, keyboards, drums
  • Nickname: The Cute One
  • Quote: “I’m really glad that most of our songs were about love, peace and understanding.”

John Lennon

  • Birth name: John Winston Lennon
  • Born: October 9, 1940, Liverpool England
  • Died: December 8, 1980, New York, NY
  • Instruments: Guitar, vocals, harmonica, piano, bass guitar
  • Nickname: The Smart One
  • Quote: “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue with that; I’m right and will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first — rock and roll or Christianity.”

Ringo Starr

  • Birth name: Richard Starkey
  • Born: July 7, 1940, Liverpool, England
  • Instruments: Drums, vocals, percussion
  • Nickname: The Funny One
  • Quote: “We thought that if we lasted for two to three years that would be fantastic.”

George Harrison

  • Birth name: George Harrison
  • Born: February 25, 1940, Liverpool England
  • Died: November 29, 2001, Beverly Hills, CA
  • Instruments: Guitar, vocals, ukulele, sitar, piano
  • Nickname: The Quiet One
  • Quote: “The Beatles will exist without us.”
Quotes about The Beatles

“The Beatles are not merely awful. They are so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as crowned heads of anti-music.”

— William F. Buckley Jr.

“George is mainly famous for being ‘the quiet one,’ which of course is a big joke because he never stops talking… ”

— Monty Python member Eric Idle

“You can’t be greater than Elvis, change things as much as The Beatles, or be as original as Led Zeppelin. All you can do is rip them off.”

— Smashing Pumpkins front-man Billy Corgan

The Beatles Trivia

Before The Beatles were The Beatles they were:

  • The Quarrymen
    (Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best)
  • The Silver Beetles
  • Johnny and the Moondogs
  • The Beetles
  • The Beatals
  • The Silver Beetles
  • And finally The Beatles

Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best as drummer in 1962, although session drummer Andy White played on The Beatles’ first single ‘Love Me Do’ (B side: ‘P.S. I Love You’)

In 1960 Lennon and McCartney played The Cavern Club in Liverpool as a duo called ‘The Nerk Twins.’

In 1962 a contest was held by the Mersyside Newspaper to see who was the most popular band in Liverpool. The Beatles won the contest by calling in repeatedly and posing as different people voting for themselves.

“Hey Jude” is The Beatles’ most commercially successful single.

The voices in the animated feature Yellow Submarine are not The Beatles, but actors representing them. The actual Beatles do make a live (ie: not animated) appearance at the end of the film.

The Beatles’ last (paid) concert was on August 29, 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

The Beatles Discography   (LP recordings)

  • Please Please Me (Parlophone, 1963)
  • With the Beatles (Parlophone, 1963)
  • A Hard Day's Night (Parlophone, 1964)
  • Beatles for Sale (Parlophone, 1964)
  • Help! (Parlophone, 1965)
  • Rubber Soul (Parlophone, 1965)
  • Revolver (Parlophone, 1966)
  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Parlophone, 1967)
  • Magical Mystery Tour (U.S. only. Released as a Double EP in the UK) (Capitol, 1967)
  • The Beatles ("The White Album") (Apple, 1968)
  • Yellow Submarine (Apple, 1969)
  • Abbey Road (Apple, 1969)
  • Let It Be (Apple, 1970)

Official Beatles Website   —

How Others Saw Them

It is nearly impossible to calculate the impact The Beatles had not only on popular music but popular culture as well. Their success (and dominance of the airwaves, both radio and television) started a tidal wave of change, including a shift from the United States’ global dominance of rock and roll acts to those from the UK. The Beatles also ushered in a new trend of group acts over soloists, as well as a trend for groups and soloists to sing songs they had written themselves. The Beatles ushered in a new era of ‘concept albums’ which still continues to this day. It has been said that the filming of The Beatles performing their songs paved the way for music video; indeed, Richard Lester — who directed “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” was declared the “father of the modern pop video” by no other authority than MTV. Copycat groups followed fast on the heels of The Beatles’ success, the most notable (and obvious) being The Monkees. While The Beatles were nicknamed “The Fab Four” The Monkees were nicknamed “The Pre-fab Four.” From the alternatively-spelled animal name to the goofy videos (with a young, mop-topped English heartthrob very much front-and-center) The Monkees’ creators never pretended to be doing anything more than cashing in on a trend. While some pre-Beatles bands had been named after animals, it is hard to think that bands named after animals that followed The Beatles were not conscious of this coincidence. The Byrds, Turtles, The Animals, even Def Leppard have been accused of Beatle envy at various times.

Probably the best way to gauge The Beatles’ influence is from the things said about them by other notable people. Here is a collection of quotes — both positive and negative — from a wide variety of well-known folks:
View quotes »

And here is a smattering of quotes by the Liverpool Lads themselves, showing off their snappy wit in various press interviews:
View quotes »

A Few Choice Videos

Here are The Silver Beatles singing “Three Cool Cats.” This was the pre-Ringo group with Pete Best on the drums. View video »

A bootleg of an alternate recording of “Get Back” with John on vocals. View video »

“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” music video (Is the lady in pink is a drag queen?):
View video »

The closing sequence from “Yellow Submarine:” View video »

Rare promotional video for The Beatles’ song “Something” View video »

Video of “I Am the Walrus” from the BBC film Magical Mystery Tour View video »

Video of “Hello, Goodbye” that shows The Beatles’ famous Sgt. Pepper outfits in an early performance View video »