The Beatles led the British Invasion in the mid 1960’s when they stormed America with “Beatlemania”. They altered the sound of rock and roll forever and their influence can still be seen today. But, from almost the beginning the band sparked controversy around the world!
At 17, John Lennon formed his first band “The Black Jacks”, they played a mix of jazz and blues. Later they changed the name to “The Quarry Men”, named after their school-The Quarry Bank Grammar School in Liverpool.
While setting up for a performance in 1957, Lennon met Paul McCartney and he later joined the band. McCartney then only 15, was a self taught, left handed guitar player. McCartney later introduces George Harrison to Lennon and he’s added to the lineup.
In 1960, Stuart Stucliffe joined the band on bass, by then they were ” The Silver Beetles”. More name changes included “Silver Beats” and “Silver Beatles”.
The band finally decided on “The Beatles” in August of 1960. Several stories have been told of the final name came about, in a magazine interview, Lennon joked that “It came in a vision, a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, From this day on you are the Beatles with an A”.
Lennon credited his influence in music to Elvis. He said, “When I heard Heartbreak Hotel, I thought this is it”! He also commented that if there hadn’t been and Elvis there wouldn’t have been a Beatles”!
While performing clubs in Hamburg Germany in 1960, the band performed six and seven hours each night, seven nights a week. Harrison ended up deported when the German authorities found out he’d lied about his age. And, a week later McCartney and Pete Best, who was the bands current drummer, started a small fire at their living quarters and were arrested for arson and also deported!
The band’s first mention in the American press came while performing as the backup band for Tony Sheridan. They also met Brian Epstein at that time, who they soon signed a five year contract with to be their manager.
The Decca recording audition has became infamous, they refused to sign the Beatles down saying, that guitar groups were on the way out! After first being turned down by EMI records, Martin eventually landed them a one year renewable contract with the label. And, their first recording session was on June 6, 1962.
In August of 1962 Ringo Starr replaced the bands drummer. Although, this wasn’t the first time Starr had been with the band. In 1960 Starr had played with them in several demonstration records that were privately recorded. Starr was on the second EMI recording, but for the next recording Martin hired Andy White.
Under their EMI contract, the Beatles received one penny for each single that was sold! This poultry sum wasn’t even one penny each, it was one penny to divide between the four members! And, for singles sold outside the UK they only received half a penny to split between them!
Their recordings didn’t see much success, except for “Love Me Do” which was only a minor hit. But, 18 months later it would hit the top of the U.S. singles charts.
The Beatle’s first televised performance came on October 17, 1962. They were a instant success with teenage female fans and they finally began to get noticed! And, by early of 1963 their popularity had grown in the UK. But, the label’s American division still declined to release singles.
It wasn’t until February of 1963, that the first Beatle’s song hit the radio in the U.S. But, “Please Please Me” as well as “She Loves You’ both failed to receive much airplay.
Epstein managed to persuade Ed Sullivan to present the band in three of his shows in February of 1964. And, with the guaranteed exposure Epstein got them a record deal with Capital records. And, a January release of “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.
In December of 63′ the CBS evening news aired a 5 minute “Beatlemania” story that was shot in England. A teenage girl, Marsh Albert who saw the story wrote a Washington DC DJ, Carroll James and asked that he start playing their records.
He played “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on December 17th and the response was overwhelming! The record began receiving air time across the nation and was a hit in every state! Within ten days one million copies had been sold!
When the Beatle’s landed on U.S soil in February of 64′ for their appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show they were welcomed by over 3,000 screaming fans! On the 9th of February they made their live debut appearance on American television. On the 10th the newspapers would report that the Beatle’s were only a “fad” and couldn’t not carry a tune across the Atlantic!
The Washington Coliseum in Washington DC was the site of their first American concert on February 11, 1964! And, by the middle of the year the band was touring to Australia. They were appointed as Members of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1965. An honor primarily given to civic leaders and veterans and therefore caused some controversy.
Their first concert at a major stadium was at Shea Stadium in New York. They performed to a crowd of over 55,000 on August 15, 1965. A few months later their sixth album, “Rubber Soul” was released.
During a 1966 tour of the Philippines, Epstein declined an invitation from the nations first lady, Imelda Marcos to join her for breakfast at the palace. The snub was televised and all of their police protection disappeared. At the airport they were pushed and shoved by a hostile crowd and their road manager was beaten! Before being allowed back on the plane Epstein was forced to return all the money the band had made while there!
More controversy erupted almost as soon as the Beatle’s returned. A earlier statement made by Lennon, that “Christianity was dying and The Beatle’s were more popular than Jesus now” started a backlash from religious and social groups.
In what was considered to be a joke, a radio station in Alabama ran a story about burning Beatle’s records. And, towns across America and South Africa began burning their records! McCartney trying to lighten the seriousness of the events said, “They’ve got to buy them before they can burn them”!
The American media had put a lot of pressure on the band and at a press conference in Chicago on August 11, 1966 Lennon apologized for his remarks. This apology came on the same day of their first performance in what would be their final tour!
Elvis Presley the man that Lennon accredited his influence of rock in roll to, disapproved of their anti-war views. He asked Richard Nixon to ban all of the members from entering the U.S. And, later said that “The Beatles had laid the groundwork for many of the problems we are having with young people by their filthy unkempt appearance and suggestive music”. Lennon still proclaimed that “Before Elvis there was nothing”!
On August 5, 1966 the Beatle’s released “Revolver”. The album would become what was probably their greatest accomplishment. A “Music of the Millennium” poll would name it the 3rd greatest album of all time in 1997. In 2000, Qmagazine placed the album at number one in it’s list of the “100 Greatest British Albums Ever”.
In 2001 VH1 named it the greatest album of all time! And, in a “PopMatters” review of “Revolver” it was described as “The individual members of the greatest band in the history of pop music peaking at the exact same time”!
On August 29, 1966, the Beatle’s last concert performed in front of paying fans was at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. They began concentrating solely on recording.
In 1967 a 129 day recording session ended in the release of their eighth album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”. And, on June 25, 1967, the Beatle’s would become the very first band to be transmitted globally on television. They appeared on the show “Our World” with the first ever worldwide satellite hookup to an estimated 400 million people!
When Brian Epstein died in 67′ the bands business affairs began to fall apart. And, their TV film the “Magical Mystery Tour” received poor negative reviews in the UK press.
The early part of 1968 was spent studying transcendental meditation in India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. When they returned they formed Apple Corps, of which the only real profitable division was Apple Records.
Personal tensions between the members surfaced in 1968 as they were recording their double album “The Beatles”. At one point Starr had walked out and McCartney played the drums. There were many reasons for the stress, members felt that McCartney was too domineering and Lennon’s new girlfriend, Yoko Ono constantly being at his side thru recording sessions caused a lot of tension.
McCartney wanted Lee Eastman to be their manager, he was the father of his girlfriend, Linda Eastman. The other members wanted to hire Allen Klein as manager. Although, all the other band decisions had been unanimous they couldn’t reach and agreement on the manager. Lennon, Starr and Harrison didn’t think that Eastman would work for the group as much as he’d work for McCartney and what was best for him.
The final performance was on January 30, 1969 on the roof of the Apple building in London right before they finished their “Let It Be” album. Much of the performance was filmed and was in their film “Let It Be”.
“Abbey Road” was recorded in the summer of 69′, the completion of the last song “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” in August would mark the last time that all four members recorded together! The next month Lennon quietly left the band, it was agreed that it wouldn’t be publicly announced until some legal matters were cleared up.
McCartney publicly announced the Beatle’s break up on April 10, 1970 and their partnership was dissolved in 1975 when their contract with EMI records. The members all went on to release solo albums and each of the albums contained contributions from other Beatle’s, but they never all four worked together at the same time.
On December 8, 1980 John Lennon was shot and killed in New York City by Mark David Chapman. Being diagnosed as psychotic and delusional, Chapman was allowed to plead guilty to second degree murder and received 20 years to life.
The Beatle’s received their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Yoko Ono, Starr and Harrison were there to accept the award. McCartney didn’t attend the ceremony citing “unresolved difficulties” with the other members.
A reunion finally occurred in 1994, when the three remaining Beatles produced and recorded some additional music for some home recordings Lennon had made. “Free as a Bird” was released as part of the Beatle’s Anthology documentaries made for television. George Harrison died of lung cancer on November 29, 2001. Starr and McCartney reunited in 2007 for a Larry King Live show.
As the best selling musical band of all time the Beatle’s have sold over one billion tapes and discs worldwide. They hold the number one spot of the most multi platinum albums for any one group totaling thirteen in America alone. They hold the record for the number of diamond albums at six, they’ve had more albums to reach number one than any other band in the U.S. with 19 and in the UK with 15.
Their albums have spent more number one weeks in the charts than any other band. They saw the most successful sales for the first week of a double album with “The Beatle’s Anthology Volume 1” when it sold 855,473 copies. And, they’ve had the fastest selling CD of all time with over 13 million copies in four weeks!
They produced more number one singles than any other band. In 1964 during the week of April 4th they had twelve positions on the Billboard Hot 100 charts at the same time, including the top five spots. A feat that’s never been accomplished by any other band. The following week of April 11th, they held 14 positions in the charts, breaking Elvis Presley’s record of 9.
The most covered song in history has been “Yesterday” and is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as having over 3,000 recorded versions and it is the most played song in international radio history. The hold the record of the fastest selling single with “I Want to Hold Your Hand” which sold 250,000 in 3 days and one million copies in two weeks. In New York the single sold at 10,000 copies a hour for the first 20 days after it was released. They also hold the record for the largest advance orders for a single with “Can’t Buy Me Love” at 2.1 million copies.
Written by Connie Corder Copyright BestOfAllTopics 2009 all rights reserved and may not be republished in any form.