History of 'The Beatles' and biographies of members in english

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History of 'The Beatles' and biographies of members in english

The Beatles


So much has been said and written about the Beatles — and their story is so mythic in its sweep — that it's difficult to summarize their career without restating cliches that have already been digested by tens of millions of rock fans. To start with the obvious, they were the greatest and most influential act of the rock era, and introduced more innovations into popular music than any other rock band of the 20th century. Moreover, they were among the few artists of any discipline that were simultaneously the best at what they did, and the most popular at what they did. Relentlessly imaginative and experimental, the Beatles grabbed ahold of the international mass consciousness in 1964 and never let go for the next six years, always staying ahead of the pack in terms of creativity, but never losing their ability to communicate their increasingly sophisticated ideas to a mass audience. Their supremacy as rock icons remains unchallenged to this day, decades after their breakup in 1970.The Beatles - they're so beautiful!!!

            Even when couching praise in specific terms, it's hard to convey the scope of the Beatles' achievements in a mere paragraph or two. They synthesized all that was good about early rock & roll, and changed it into something original and even more exciting. They established the prototype for the self-contained rock group that wrote and performed their own material. As composers, their craft and melodic inventiveness were second to none, and key to the evolution of rock from its blues/R&B-based forms into a style that was far more eclectic, but equally visceral. As singers, both John Lennon and Paul McCartney were among the best and most expressive vocalists in rock; the group's harmonies were intricate and exhilarating. As performers, they were (at least until touring had ground them down) exciting and photogenic; when they retreated into the studio, they were instrumental in pioneering advanced techniques and multi-layered arrangements. They were also the first British rock group to achieve worldwide prominence, launching a British Invasion that made rock truly an international phenomenon.

More than any other top group, the Beatles' success was very much a case of the sum being greater than the parts. Their phenomenal cohesion was due in large degree to most of the group having known each other and played together in Liverpool for about five years before they began to have hit records.

Organization of ‘The Beatles’

Guitarist and teenage rebel John Lennon got hooked on rock 'n' roll in the mid-1950s, and formed a band, the Quarrymen, at his high school. Around mid-1957, the Quarrymen were joined by another guitarist, Paul McCartney, nearly two years Lennon's junior. A bit later they were joined by another guitarist, George Harrison, a friend of McCartney's. The Quarrymen would change lineups constantly in the late '50s, eventually reducing to the core trio of guitarists, who'd proven themselves to be the best musicians and most personally compatible individuals within the band.

The Quarrymen changed their name to the Silver Beatles in 1960, quickly dropping the "Silver" to become just the Beatles. Lennon's art college friend Stuart Sutcliffe joined on bass, but finding a permanent drummer was a vexing problem until Pete Best joined in the summer of 1960. He successfully auditioned for the combo just before they left for a several-month stint in Hamburg, Germany.

Hamburg was the Beatles' baptism by fire. Playing grueling sessions for hours on end in one of the most notorious red-light districts in the world, the group were forced to expand their repertoire, tighten up their chops, and invest their show with enough manic energy to keep the rowdy crowds satisfied. When they returned to Liverpool at the end of 1960, the band — formerly also-rans on the exploding Liverpudlian "beat" scene — were suddenly the most exciting act on the local circuit. They consolidated their following in 1961 with constant gigging in the Merseyside area, most often at the legendary Cavern Club, the incubator of the Merseybeat sound.

They also returned for engagements in Hamburg during 1961, although Sutcliffe dropped out of the band that year to concentrate on his art school studies there. McCartney took over on bass, Harrison settled in as lead guitarist, and Lennon had rhythm guitar; everyone sang. In mid-1961 the Beatles (minus Sutcliffe) made their first recordings in Germany, as a backup group to a British rock guitarist-singer based in Hamburg, Tony Sheridan. The Beatles hadn't fully developed at this point, and these recordings — many of which (including a couple of Sheridan-less tracks) were issued only after the band's rise to fame — found their talents in a most embryonic state. The Hamburg stint was also notable for gaining the Beatles sophisticated, artistic fans such as Sutcliffe's girlfriend, Astrid Kirchherr, who influenced all of them (except Best) to restyle their quiffs in the moptops that gave the musicians their most distinctive visual trademark. (Sutcliffe, tragically, would die of a brain hemorrhage in April 1962).

Near the end of 1961, the Beatles' exploding local popularity caught the attention of local record store manager Brian Epstein, who was soon managing the band as well. He used his contacts to swiftly acquire a January 1, 1962 audition at Decca Records that has been heavily bootlegged (some tracks were officially released in 1995). After weeks of deliberation, Decca turned them down, as did several other British labels. Epstein's perseverance was finally rewarded with an audition for producer George Martin at Parlophone, an EMI subsidiary; Martin signed the Beatles in mid-1962. By this time Epstein was assiduously grooming his charges for national success by influencing them to smarten up their appearance, dispensing with their leather jackets and trousers in favor of tailored suits and ties.

One more major change was in the offing before the Beatles made their Parlophone debut. In August 1962, drummer Pete Best was kicked out of the group, a controversial decision that has been the cause of much speculation since. There is still no solid consensus as to whether it was because of his solitary, moody nature, the other Beatles' jealousy of his popularity with the fans, his musical shortcomings (George Martin had already told Epstein that Best wasn't good enough to drum on recordings), or his refusal to wear his hair in bangs. What seems most likely was that the Beatles simply found his personality incompatible, preferring to enlist Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey), drummer with another popular Merseyside outfit, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Starr had been in the Beatles for a few weeks when they recorded their first single, "Love Me Do"/"P.S. I Love You," in September 1962. Both sides of the 45 were Lennon-McCartney originals, and the songwriting team would be credited with most of the group's material throughout the Beatles' career.

With Ringo Starr’s joining was formed final staff of the group.

Biographies of the members

John Lennon

            John Lennon was born on October 9, 1940 in Liverpool, England, to Alfred Lennonand Julia Stanley Lennon. His full name was John Winston Ono Lennon. Early in his life he suffered the loss of both his parents, when his father left the family to become a seaman, and his mother, unable to care for a child on her own, decided to leave him in the hands of his aunt, Mimi. This early feeling of abandonment was to mark John for the rest of his life, and his fear of rejection can be heard in his lyrics, from his early work with The Beatles, all the way up to his pleading 1970's track "Mother. (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band).

          With his aunt, Lennon experienced a quiet and undisturbed working class upbringing, that left him with many happy memories. Some of thesewould later result in some of his best work .(Strawberry fields forever, the masterpiece single released before Sgt. Pepper was based upon his childhood recollections of happiness). Ever since his early childhood his artistic side found a way up to the surface of his personality and young lennon began to express himself through sketches and artwork. A few   of his teachers were impressed with his work, and suggested The Liverpool art school for the boy.  Although John Lennon was (even by his own admission) a "child genious", he decided for this option, over a regular academic schedule.   During this period, at fifteen years of age, John met Paul Mc Cartney, at a Wooton Parish Garden Fete.The result of their conjoined musical talents was a band called "The Quarrymen", named after Quarry Banks, the school that they attended. Years later this band would become the greatest musical influence of recent recording history, and would define an entire generation. This would be under another name, though:: The Beatles.

john909.jpg (9586 bytes)         At age 18, John's life underwent a drastic change, when, shortly after having reunited with his son, Julia Stanley Lennon, died. She was  hit by a bus driven by an off -duty policeman in Liverpool. Lennon never fully recovered from the loss of his mother, and he continued to seek for her love in most of the women he met, finally finding comfort in the person of Yoko Ono, many years later. In the meantime, he met a fellow student, Cynthia Powell, and in spite of their many differences, they soon became romantically involved. In 1959, he left his natal Liverpool for Hamburg, Germany, along with Paul Mc Cartney, guitarist George Harrison, longtime friend Stuart Stucliffe and drummer Pete Best. Their objective was to have a shot at fame and fortune in Hamburg's music scene. It was during this trip that he and his fellow bandmates met Astrid Kilcher and Klaus Voorman; she, a visionary photographer who would document The Beatles' transition from Liverpool lads to full grown muscicians, and would suggest the now legendary "moptop" image. The later, was to become John's close friend, and later play bass on many of his solo projects. Their trip ended when George was deported back to England for being a minor, by which time they had already achived a certain amount of popularity. Lennon also lost Stucliffe, his best friend. At the time, Stuart had become a celebrated artist who died in Hamburg, after a short marriage to Astrid Kilcher.

          Back in Liverpool, The Beatles were hired to play the "lunch shift" on a little club, "The Cavern". Brian Epstein, a local record store owner and business man, decided to heard them, after their  records were requested several times. It didn't take him much to realize the potential of the group. For the rest of his life he would make it his mission to see the boys succeed, and his first step was to get them a recording contract with EMI records. In 1962, The Beatles released "Love me Do" Their first single, and started on the road of musical history.

            In August 23, 1962, Shortly after the Beatles' Big break,  John married longtime girlfriend Cynthia Powell, and she soon gave birth to their son Julian.(April 8th, 1963): Because of the group's increasing popularity in both Britain and the U.S, his marriage was kept secret for a relatively long time. It was Brian Epstein's (the Beatles manager) idea that a married "moptop" would surely be less appealing to their targeted audience: mostly screaming teenage girls. John would later admit to being a failure both as a husband to Powell and as a father to Julian, mostly due to the war that he was still waging with his inner demons, which continue to haunt him, in spite of his success.

          John Lennon and Paul Mc Cartney close songwriting collaboration was clearly always the driving force of the Beatles' success. They also had very definite roles within the group. John always wrote songs or contributed with lyrics that highlighed his strong rock and roll roots and surfaced his feelings and raw emotions. He was the strong minded and outspoken genious. Paul was the directing part of the duo. He orchestrated the signature catchy tunes that placed the band in the charts. Although they differed vastly in their points of view, their songwriting efforts produced more hit singles (59) and innumerable masterpieces than any other musical partnership in recording history, left as an enduring legacy of their work.

          For the next seven years, John got caught up on a ongoing cycle of bliss, fame, controversy, drugs and rock and roll that ultimately led him nowhere. In 1964 the Beatles were awarded the MBE (members of the British Empire) title by Queen Elizabeth, honor which infuriated some, but mostly amused both their fans and the group itself. Years later Lennon would return his MBE, citing Britain's involvement in the Vietnam war as reason. Unfortunatly, he also mentioned his first solo single "cold turkey" falling off from the charts, a comment that widely cheapened the gesture.

          lennon121.jpg (24730 bytes)John's dissappointment with the music business can be witnessed by listening to some of the songs he contributed to the Beatles's albums released in the period. After a the first fecund years of boundary-pushing lyrics and melodies he stopped challenging his own songwriting capabilities and simply gave up. Shortly after Sgt. Pepper, his songs clearly reflect how much of his early enthusiam was gone, specially his contributions to the Yellow Submarine soundtrack and The White album, although it contains some of his best compositions ever.

        In the mist of the sixties' phychdelia, and after a great desilusion with the spiritual world, John met the woman who was to become his life partner: Yoko Ono. She was an avant garde, japanese-american artist, six years his senior. Soon after they met, and in spite of public outrage they were inseparable. John decided to leave his wife and marry Yoko, who was being dubbed by the press as "the dragon lady", the woman who had cast a spell on "prince charming". They didn't seem to care.  

         John married Yoko in March 20th 1969. , in Gibraltar. In the years to come, she would be accused of creating tension between the Beatles, and ultimately forcing John away from the group, thus inciting to their 1970 break up. They became close collaborators, not only artistically or music, but also as peace promotors. They staged "bed-ins" during their honeymoon in Amsterdam; elaborate press conferences conducted from their honeymoon suite, that centered on their peace efforts. Their marked eccentricities quickly alienated them with the british public opinion, and in the end they were force to seek refuge in America. And they fled for New York City.

          John and Yoko settled in New York City, and he remained there for the rest of his life. There were clearly a great number of qualities in NYC that reminded John of his native Liverpool. He was also very attracted to the city's communication capabilities. In his opinion, New York was capital of the world. He even went as far as saying "If I'd lived in Roman times, I'd have lived in Rome. Where else? Today, America is the Roman Empire, and New York is Rome itself".

          But as fond as John and Yoko were of New York City, not all New Yorkers were particulary fond of the Lennons. Politicians and government organizations, specially, thought that they could only mean trouble. An exhaustive undercover prosecution campaign against John would later unveil the tight scrutiny they were under. The FBI went as far as tapping their telephone conversations, and having agents pose as groupies or fans, all in an effort to deport them. Between December 1971 and August 1972, John and Yoko collaborated with numerous protests and spoke out whenever they felt worthy a cause. Good examples of this are Benefit at Apollo, where they perfomed "Attica State", protesting in favor of the infamous upraising in the prision and the Geraldo Rivera One to one concert.

john3s.jpg (129338 bytes)           The pressures of their hectic lifestyles, combined with the ones of the outiside world, finally affected the couple. After only three years of marriage, John and Yoko decided to take a brake from each other. That two year period would later be known as John's infamous "lost weekend". John took off May Pang, his assistant andwith some of his old friends, feeling carefree for the first time since he was 20. He reunited with Ringo, and helped him work on his album, and also played with the likes of David Bowie and Elton John. He was a bachelor once again, but only enjoyed it for a short period, before he started to long for home.

          Yoko Ono developed into her own person, after being criticized for so long, and being in the shadow of the genious of John. She became very active in the Avant-garde New York scene, regaining her place as an accomplished artist. She would often check in with May Pang, to catch up with his life without him finding out.

John's work during this 18 month period clearly reflect the pain that being away from his beloved Yoko caused him. "What you got" "Nobody loves you when you're down and out" and "Sweet bird of paradox" share the same theme: Fear of abandonment and isolation. Even "whatever gets you through the night, the peppy single that propelled him back to the top of the charts, was based on the assumption that getting by alone is not easy. Soon it became clear to everyone who knew him that Yoko was not only the woman under John's shadow; she was also indispensable to him.

            John and Yoko finally got back together in 1974, after being set up at an Elton John concert, where John was making a guest appearance. They would remain together for the rest of his life. In 1975, John retired from public life, after releasing his last album of new material. On October 9 of that same year, Yoko gave birth to Sean Lennon, after several miscarriages. John was delighted with his life as a "house husband" and decided to stay home, to take care of Sean, while Yoko took care of business. He felt no urge to record or release any music during the next five years, although he continued to write songs as always. From time to new he would release statements, or give interviews, but amazingly he managed to regain his private person status and his inner peace. Sean had given him a second chance at parenting just as Yoko had given him a second shot at love. He kept away from the same music business he had pursuit with so much enthusiam before.

johnyoko03.jpg (8982 bytes)             With the release of 1980's "Double Fantasy" John came back to the public eye. In this album, at the age of 40 he targeted audience had changed from screaming teenage girls to an entire generation: His generation, his age group. "How did things turn out for you" he seemed to asked the same persons he had moved to believe that "all you need is love" and to Imagine. The album was an inmediate success, mainly because of the honesty of the songs it contained. The plans of a follow up album were cut drastically short, as so was his life. In December 8, 1980, in front of his NYC home, he was shot down by Mark David Chapman and died instantly. The unfinished "Milk and Honey" was released in 1984 by Yoko Ono.

             John Lennon's legend lives on and will remain alive as long as his vision of peace and love keep inspiring new generations of dreamers - To Love and Imagine.

Paul McCartney

            Paul McCarney was born in 1942 in Walton Hospital, which on the Rice Lane. His parents was Jim and Mary McCartney. 7 january 1944 was born his brother, called Piter Michael McCartney. Together they recorded some good songs.

            In 1957 Paul joined Quarrymen, in 1960 re-named in Beatles. There he was since 1970 with John Lennon, Gerge Harrison and Ringo Starr.

            Out of all the former Beatles, Paul McCartney by far had the most successful solo career, maintaining a constant presence in the British and American charts during the '70s and '80s. In America alone, he had nine number one singles and seven number one albums during the first 12 years of his solo career. Although he sold records, McCartney never attained much critical respect, especially when compared to his former partner John Lennon.

            Following his first marriage to Linda Eastman on March 12, 1969, Paul McCartney began working at his home studio on his first solo album. He released the record, "McCartney", in April 1970, two weeks before the Beatles' "Let It Be" was scheduled to hit the stores. Prior to the album's release, he announced that the Beatles were breaking-up, which was against the wishes of the other members. As a result, the tensions between him and the other three members, particularly George Harrison and John Lennon, increased and he earned the ill-will of many critics. Nevertheless, "McCartney" became a hit, spending three weeks at the top of the American charts. Early in 1971, he returned with "Another Day", which became his first hit single as a solo artist. It was followed several months later by "Ram", another home-made collection, this time featuring the contributions of his wife Linda.

            He wanted to be in a rock band. Within a year after the Beatles' break-up, McCartney had formed Wings. In December 1971, Wings released their first album, "Wings Wild Life." However, the album was greeted with poor reviews and was a relative flop. After they released three singles: "Give Ireland Back To The Irish," "Mary Had A Little Lamb" and "Hi, Hi, Hi" in 1972, Paul McCartney & Wings released "Red Rose Speedway" in 1973. Regardless of weak reviews, the album became McCartney's second American number one album, and generated his number one hit single "My Love." That same year they scored another Top 10 hit with "Live And Let Die," the theme to the James Bond movie. In December 1973, Paul McCartney & Wings released their best-reviewed album "Band On The Run." The album became a number one hit in the US and UK, eventually going triple platinum.

            Following the success of "Band On The Run," Wings released "Venus And Mars" in May 1975. The album also hit number one in the US and UK. As for 1976's "Wings At The Speed Of Sound," the album became a number one hit in the US, and produced two Top 10 hits: "Silly Love Song" and "Let 'Em In." Following the release of those two albums, Wings embarked on their first international tour which broke many attendence records; their first US tour was captured on the 1976 live triple-album "Wings Over America." The live album also became a Top 10 hit in the US and UK, regardless of the live triple-album.

            After the world tour completed, Paul McCartney released "Thrillington," an instrumental version of "Ram," under the pseudonym of Percy "Thrills" Thrillington in 1977. Later that year, Wings released "Mull Of Kintyre," which became the biggest-selling British single of all time, selling over two million copies. It was followed several months later by the 1978 album "London Town," which became a Top 10 hit in the US and UK. Later that year, Wings released their first Greatest Hits album "Wings Greatest." After its relase, Wings released "Back To The Egg" in 1979. But the album was a relative flop, though it became a Top 10 hit in the US and UK. Later in 1979, Wings embarked on their British tour; Early in 1980, Wings intended to embark on their first Japanese tour; but McCartney was arrested for marijuna possession at Narita Airport; he was imprisoned for 10 days and then released, without any charges being pressed; but their first Japanese tour was cancelled.

            In May 1980, Paul McCartney released "McCartney II," which was a one-man band effort like his solo debut. It was more successful than Wings' "Back To The Egg." Later that year, however, McCartney was thunderstruck at the news of John Lennon's assassination. The following year, he effectively broke up Wings. McCartney entered the studio with Beatles producer George Martin to make his solo album "Tug Of War." In April 1982, he released "Tug Of War." The album received the best reviews of any McCartney record since "Band On The Run," which became a number one hit in the US and UK. It also produced the number one single "Ebony And Ivory," a duet with Stevie Wonder that became McCartney's biggest American hit. Later that year, "The Girl Is Mine," a duet with Michael Jackson, was released as the first single from Michael Jackson's blockbuster album "Thriller"; the single became a Top 10 hit in the US and UK. In 1983, Paul released "Pipes Of Peace." Though the album was a relative flop, it spawned the number one single "Say Say Say," a duet with Michael Jackson that is currently the last number one single of his career in the US; it also generated another number one smash, "Pipes Of Peace," which is currently the last number one single of his career in the UK.

            In 1984, McCartney released the soundtrack, "Give My Regards To Broad Street," which featured new songs and re-recorded Beatles tunes. Though McCartney's first feature film was a flop, the soundtrack became his British number one album, generating a Top           10 hit single "No More Lonely Nights." Later that year, Paul had another British Top 10 hit single "We All Stand Together," the theme to the video "Rupert And The Frog Song," under the name of Paul McCartney And The Frog Chorus. The following year, McCartney scored a Top 10 hit with "Spies Like Us," the theme to the film "Spies Like Us," which is currently his last American Top 10 single. With the release of "Press To Play" in 1986, his commercial fortunes started to slip somewhat; in fact, the album was a flop. In 1987, Paul released his second Greatest Hits album "All The Best!." It spawned the Top 10 single "Once Upon A Long Ago," which is currently his last British Top 10 single. In 1988, McCartney recorded a collection of rock & roll oldies called "CHOBA B CCCP" for release in the USSR; it was given official release internationally in 1991. After he co-wrote several songs with Elvis Costello, Paul released "Flowers In The Dirt" in 1989. The album received the strongest reviews of any McCartney release since "Tug Of War," which became the British number one album. Later in 1989, Paul McCartney embarked on an extensive international tour, which was a considerable success. The "Get Back Tour" was captured on the 1990 live double-album "Tripping The Live Fantastic."

            In 1991, McCartney released another live album in the form of "Unplugged," which was taken from his appearance on MTV's acoustic concert programme of the same name; it was the first "Unplugged" album to be released. Later that year, he unveiled his first classical work, "Liverpool Oratorio." Early in 1993, McCartney released "Off The Ground." Though the album was mauled by the critics and was a flop, he supported the album with his successful "New World Tour." Later that year, he released another live album "Paul Is Live"; he also released an ambient techno album, "strawberries oceans ships forest", under the pseudonym of the fireman. On March 23rd 1995, Paul premiered his classical piece for solo piano, "A Leaf," at St. James's Palace. In April 1995, he released the piece for solo piano in the UK. However, his primary activity in 1994, as well as 1995, was the Beatles' Anthology. After "Anthology" was completed, Paul McCartney released "Flaming Pie" in 1997. "Flaming Pie" received the strongest reviews of any McCartney release since "Flowers in the Dirt" and hit number two in the US and UK. It was nominated for a Grammy as "Album of the Year". Later that year, Paul McCartney unveiled his second large-scale classical work, the symphonic poem "Standing Stone" and became a number one hit classical work in the US and UK.

In April 1998 Paul McCartney was bereaved of his beloved wife Linda McCartney by reason of her disease: breast cancer. Later that year, however, McCartney unveiled his second ambient dance album, "Rushes," under the pseudonym of the Fireman. On the solo album from Linda McCartney, titled "Wide Prairie," he sings backing vocals and plays a variety of instruments; Paul produced the album as the definitive collection of all the songs recorded by Linda over the past 25 years. Beyond a total heartbreak, Paul McCartney is getting back to where he should belong.

            Paul McCartney was honoured on March 15, 1999 with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In celebration, Capitol Records released the 25th Anniversary remastered, limited edition reissue of Paul McCartney & Wings' chart-topping, Grammy award-winning, all time best-selling album "Band On The Run" in the US on March 9 1999.

            Paul McCartney had done his first exhibit: the Painting of Paul McCartney in Siegen, Germany from 1st May until 25th July 1999.

In October, 1999, "Run Devil Run," Paul's first album since Linda's death in April 1998, was released worldwide. Recorded in two quick-burst sessions at Studio 2, Abbey Road, from 1 March to 5 May, 1999, the 15-track album includes his interpretations of 12 songs chosen not for musical merit but for reasons of pure nostalgia that were his favorite '50s rock'n'roll as a teenager, as well as three new songs Paul wrote in a '50s style. The hand-picked band was the classic rock'n'roll line-up of bass, guitar and drums. McCartney (bass, guitar, vocals) - accompanied by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour (guitar), Mick Green (guitar), Deep Purple's Ian Paice (drums), Pete Wingfield (keyboards), Dave Mattacks (drums), Geraint Watkins (keyboard) and Chris Hall (Accordion) - recreated that golden age of rock'n'roll. Although recent Beatle myth has enshrined John Lennon as the Beatles' rocker and Paul McCartney as the Beatles' balladeer, "Run Devil Run" must remind you of Paul as the rocker. (You know Paul composed not only the best-known ballade such as "Yesterday" and "Let It Be" but punchy hard rock such as "I'm Down" and "Helter Skelter".)

On the other hand, Paul McCartney unveiled his third classical album, titled "Working Classical," in the UK on October 18, 1999. That's just two weeks after the release of "Run Devil Run." The album features McCartney's first foray into chamber music, including two pieces for small orchestra: "A Leaf" and "Spiral." The classical album became No.1 on the Billboard classical charts.

            On Tuesday, December 14th, 1999, Sir Paul McCartney rocked the Cavern - the Liverpool club where he and the Beatles found stardom - for the first time in 36 years. The show - Paul's first at the Cavern Club since The Beatles last played there on August 3rd, 1963 - was his 281st show at The Cavern. His historic concert was a "one-off, end of the millennium tribute to rock and roll". Due to the expected demand for tickets, and in an attempt to be fair for all, however, tickets for "Paul At The Cavern" were available through a national (UK) raffle. Therefore, only 150 fans picked from an international ballot could pack the Cavern. But the concert was carried live in cyberspace too. As at least three million people across the globe watched his performance through a live webcast at one time, it set a new world record as the biggest musical gig in the history of the Internet. A further 15,000 fans gathered in wintry conditions in Liverpool's Chavasse Park, where a huge video screen showed the concert live. Thus, Paul and his band (Dave Gilmour and Mick Green on guitars, Ian Paice on drums, Pete Wingfield on keyboards and Chris Hall on Accordion) rocked out the end of the century. They "rocked Liverpool and the world bopped too." His 13-song performance lasted a little over 40 minutes and included "I Saw Her Standing There," a Beatles song from the Cavern years. But other songs were the classic rock and roll mostly from his album "Run Devil Run".

            In February, 2000, "a Garland for Linda" was released; it features new choral works by the nine contemporary British composers: John Tavener, Michael Berkeley, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Giles Swayne, John Rutter, Roxanna Panufnik, David Matthews, Judith Bingham and Sir Paul McCartney and "Silence and Music" originally composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams for "A Garland for the Queen," in which ten leading British composers contributed new works for a musical celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The inspiration for "a Garland for Linda" was certainly "A Garland for the Queen"; the raison d'etre for the disc is to commemorate the life of Linda McCartney and to promote The Garland Appeal to raise money for non-animal-tested cancer research and British music. Incidentally, Sir Paul McCartney's own piece for "a Garland for Linda" is entitled "Nova."

            On August 21, 2000, "Liverpool Sound Collage" was released in the UK. McCartney created the piece at the request of Peter Blake, the artist who helped designed the Beatles' memorable cover for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band," as the soundtrack for his show "About Collage," at Liverpool's Tate Gallery. Along with Super Furry Animals, producer/musician Youth also collaborated with McCartney on the project. But what's most likely to get people's attention was actually the inclusion of studio outtake clips from recordings McCartney made with The Beatles between 1965 and 1969. "Liverpool Sound Collage" was nominated for a Grammy as "Best Alternative Music Album."

            On 19 March, 2001, Paul McCartney published a book of poetry, called "Blackbird Singing: Poems and Lyrics 1965-1999." It is McCartney's first anthology of poetry and lyrics. The book contains more than 100 poems written between 1965 and 1999 as well as some of his best-known song lyrics. "Blackbird Singing: Poems and Lyrics 1965-1999" has sold more than 55,000 copies in the UK and USA.

In May 2001, Paul McCartney released "WINGSPAN - Hits and History -," the 40-song collection from Paul McCartney and Wings. "Wingspan" is the soundtrack of a two-hour film of the same title that is a television documentary about the formation and history of the band Wings. The double-album not only made its debut at No.2 on the Billboard album charts as of May 26, 2001, but marked the fastest-selling release of the McCartney post-Beatles era; it went Gold, Platinum and double Platinum, earning Paul his 21st gold record. Later that year, he released "Driving Rain," the first studio album of new songs from Paul McCartney since 1997's "Flaming Pie." Though the album peaked at No.26 on the Billboard album charts, "Driving Rain" was certified gold on 29 April, 2002.

            On April 1st, 2002, Paul McCartney kicked off DRIVING USA, a two-month concert tour of America and his first in almost 10 years. Following his second marriage to Heather Mills on June 11th, 2002, Paul McCartney returned to North America for further 23 concerts on the Back In The U.S. tour in late September and October. Following the second leg of the U.S. tour, Paul McCartney performed in November in Mexico City, Tokyo and, for the first time in Paul's career, Osaka. The "DRIVING USA" tour was captured on the 2002 live double-album "Back In The U.S. - Live 2002." The live double-album made its debut at No.8 on the Billboard album charts, eventually going platinum in the US. According to concert trade publication Pollstar, by the way, Paul McCartney is the runaway winner for biggest tour of the year. As Paul's tour grossed $103.3 million in 2002, Paul's tour now ranks as the all-time fourth biggest earner in the US and Canada, behind the Rolling Stones, U2 and Pink Floyd.

            On March 25th, 2003, Paul McCartney kicked off the "Back In The World" tour, a three-month UK and European tour and his first in 10 years since his New World Tour of 1993. It coincided with the release on March 17th of the live double-album "Back In The World - Live" as a proper souvenir of the European tour. After touring through Europe, including Russia, Paul McCartney capped the tour with a hometown concert at Liverpool on June 1st, 2003.

            On May 25th, 2004, Paul McCartney kicked off the all-stadium "04 Summer Tour." It was highlighted with 7 first-time performance visits as well as 5 concerts in cities that haven't rocked with him since 1989's "Get Back World Tour" or 1993's "New World Tour". After touring throughout Europe, including a special performance in St. Petersburg's Palace Square, Paul McCartney concluded the tour with a special appearance at The Glastonbury Festival on June 26th, 2004. That same year he released a selection of his Animated Films called "Paul McCartney: The Music And Animation Collection." On September 20, 2004, he released his first single for children in 20 years, "Tropic Island Hum," the title track of a new children's animation film featured on the collection. Later that year, he published a new book called "EACH ONE BELIEVING: ON STAGE, OFF STAGE AND BACKSTAGE", an account of life on the road with Paul McCartney during his recent Word Tour during which he played to over two million people - his most successful tour since The Beatles.

            Anyway, I recommend "All The Best" or "WINGSPAN - Hits and History -" as a good introduction to Paul McCartney. Check it out!

George Harrison

            The youngest of four children, George was born February 25, 1943 at 12:10 a.m. to Harold and Louise. George has a sister, Louise, and two brothers, Harold and Peter. The Harrisons lived at 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree, Liverpool 15 until 1949 when the family moved to 25 Upton Green, Speke, Liverpool.

            George began his education at Dovedale Primary. In September 1954, George began attending the Liverpool Institute where Paul McCartney was already a student. They often met on the bus going home and soon became friends.

            Influenced by Carl Perkins, Lonnie Donegan and others, by age 13 George had developed a strong interest in music. His wonderfully supportive mother bought George a used guitar and encouraged him when he became frustrated learning to play the more difficult chords. Long before Paul met John Lennon, George and Paul spent many an afternoon going through George's chord manual together. In 1956, George, his brother and friends performed once as the Rebels. After that, George sat in on gigs with other groups, and worked Saturday mornings in a butcher shop. One of the butcher's assistants was in a group with whom George also played. Through this group, George met Pete Best, future drummer for the Beatles.

            At this point, history gets a little shaky with contradictory accounts. Possibly upon Paul's suggestion, George saw the Quarrymen perform, and met John backstage. With the hope of joining the Quarrymen, George impressed John and Paul, who by now was also a member of the group, with his rendition of "Raunchy." John was unsure at first, George being three years younger than him. But George's ever-growing knowledge of chords inspired John and Paul's songwriting. By early 1958, in part possibly to irritate his Aunt Mimi who saw George as a bad influence, John relented and George became lead guitarist for the Quarrymen.

            By August 1962, Pete Best was out, Ringo Starr was in, and the Beatles were born.

On February 7, 1964, the Beatles -- John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr -- arrived in America. Their music exhilarated while their wit charmed. George's often unsmiling, brooding demeanor earned him the nickname The Quiet One.

            On March 2, 1964, on the set of "A Hard Day's Night," George met 19-year-old model, Patricia Anne Boyd. Though she initially rejected him, eventually they start dating. Just before Christmas of 1965, Patti accepted George's proposal of marriage, and they married on January 21, 1966.

            It was Patti who opened George's heart and mind to "all things Indian"  an ongoing passion that has not diminished for more than 30 years.

In summer 1966, George met classical sitarist Ravi Shankar. In September, George visited India to study sitar and Eastern philosophy with Ravi. To this day, George is the only Beatle who has studied music formally and can read music (Indian notation). While many believe Paul reads western musical notation, Paul himself has denied this many times in many interviews over the years, and most recently and clearly in the CD booklet accompanying his 1997 symphonic poem 'Paul McCartney's Standing Stone.'

            The next year, at Patti's suggestion, the Beatles went to London to attend a lecture on Transcendental Meditation given by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The Beatles were so intrigued, the next day they left for Bangor, Wales to continue studying with the Maharishi. Their stay in Bangor was cut short by manager Brian Epstein's sudden death. In February 1968, the Beatles and their entourage spent several weeks at Rishikesh, India to begin a teacher's training course at the Maharishi's ashram. George continues to support the Maharishi, now 81 years old, and his Natural Law Party.

            Late 1968 saw the release of the soundtrack to the film "Wonderwall," composed and produced by George. It was the first solo album by a Beatle, and the first album issued on the Beatles' Apple label. (While Paul helped write the soundtrack to the film "The Family Way" the year before, George Martin wrote the score. Paul wasn't as extensively involved in "The Family Way" as George Harrison was with "Wonderwall." However, the point is arguable :-))

            In 1970, George bought the gothic and ornate Friar Park, complete with a 120-room mansion, fantastical caverns (including a skeleton cave!), underground lakes, stone-carved gnomes and gargoyles, acres of meticulously cared-for gardens . . . and some say even the ghost of Friar Park's designer, Sir Frankie Crisp.

            At Friar Park, George discovered another passion: gardening. It's not unusual for George to be hip-deep in fertilizer tending to his beloved gardens.

How far George had come! The gawky 15-year-old who tagged along at the heels of his idol, John, was now master of Friar Park estate and a world-renowned rock star.

Long in coming, by April 1970 it was no longer a secret that the Beatles had broken up. Though legal entanglements would maintain the Beatles' existence on paper, they no longer functioned as a musically productive entity.

            On July 7, 1970, George's mother died from brain cancer. A warm, loving, jovial woman, Louise Harrison enjoyed hearing from George's fans, corresponding with them and sometimes inviting them into her home. So dearly loved was George's mother, after her death a group of George's American fans started the Louise F. Harrison Memorial Cancer Fund.

1971 was George's year to shine! That year he was unquestionably the most successful Beatle. On August 1, The Concert For Bangla Desh, organized by George and featuring an array of megastars, was held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Perhaps spurred by his accomplishments and blooming self-confidence, George's creativity exploded like a supernova with the release of his first post-Beatles record. The triple-album set, "All Things Must Pass," flew to the Number One spot on American and European charts, and was hailed as a masterpiece.

            In 1974, George went on a North American concert tour -- the first Beatle to have done so. On a personal level, his marriage to Patti was at an all-time low. Years earlier, Eric Clapton had declared his love for Patti. At first Patti put him off, but in time came to return his love. On the plus side, George met his wife-to-be, Olivia Trinidad Arias, an employee at A&M Records, the distributor for George's Dark Horse Records.

With the 1976 release of "Thirty-three & 1/3," things started looking up. That is, until George lost his copyright infringement case over "My Sweet Lord." Its melody and chord structure were similar to the 1963 song "He's So Fine." George was found guilty of "subconscious plagiarism."

On June 9, 1977, George and Patti's divorce came through. Two years later, Patti married Eric Clapton. George, Paul and Ringo were among the guests/performers at the wedding celebration for George's ex-wife and his dearest friend.

            In May 1978, George's father died from emphysema. As did his wife, Mr. Harrison enjoyed chatting with George's fans, and by all accounts was a delightful gentleman.

            On August 1, 1978, George and Olivia's son, Dhani (pronounced "DAH-nee") was born. On September 2, George and Olivia were married.

            George's new career as a film producer came about as the result of generosity and friendship. In 1978, after the original backers backed out, HandMade Films was formed to fund Monty Python's movie "The Life Of Brian." HandMade Films made possible fascinating films that in time became cult classics, as well as popular films which, if not for George's farsightedness, might never have seen the light of day. Among them are "Time Bandits," "Nuns On The Run," and "Shanghai Surprise" starring then-husband and wife Madonna and Sean Penn. Altogether, HandMade Films produced about 26 movies. George made cameo appearances in and wrote the soundtracks or songs for a few. In the late 1980s, HandMade Films had a run of bad luck, and was acquired by Paragon Entertainment Corp. in May 1994. Eight months later, George sued his former business partner, Denis O'Brien, for $20 million for breach of contract and fiduciary duties, and disposition of assets. George was awarded $10.9 million by the court, but has yet to collect this money.

            George's autobiography, "I Me Mine," was published on August 22, 1979, first as a leather-bound collector's edition, and later as a mass market hardcover. George dedicated it "to gardeners everywhere." Though not especially informative, George's conversational manner and Derek Taylor's side notes make "I Me Mine" a delightful read. George's commentaries on every song he composed up through 1978 make it "must reading" for all George fans.

On December 9, 1980, George was awakened by Olivia. John Lennon had been shot and killed. "All Those Years Ago" was George's musical tribute to John. (John died just after 11 p.m. on December 8 in New York City, which made it December 9 in Europe.)

In 1988, George formed the Traveling Wilburys. The other Wilburys were Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison. Both albums were highly successful. "The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1" went multi-platinum and won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance.

In 1990, Olivia founded the Romanian Angel Appeal to aid Romanian orphans. George and Olivia gave much of their time and money to this most worthy cause.

In late 1991, George and Eric Clapton embarked on a tour of Japan. In 1992, a recording of some performances, "Live In Japan" was released.

            Because he released no solo albums during the 90s, fans have the false impression that, except for the Beatles' "Anthology," George was not active professionally. Not true! As he had since the Beatles were still together, George continued to work with many artists. All in all, George has produced and performed on more non-solo albums than any other Beatle. Between 1990 and 1999, George was involved with over two dozen albums and singles.
[Please click here for the Discography of George's work with other artists]

George survived a knife attack and three occurrences of cancer. In 2001, he and Olivia bought a villa near the ocean in the south of Switzerland.

George was in the final stages of recording a new solo album, as well as a box set of demos, outtakes and other unreleased material. Wait, there's more! Ownership of his solo Dark Horse 1976-92 catalogue and the two Traveling Wilburys albums were to have reverted back to George, and he had been considering re-circulating these currently out-of-print CDs with possible bonus tracks. All of this is now in Olivia's (and maybe Dhani's) more than capable hands.

            On a U.S. morning news show aired June 12, 1997, George said, "For every human is a quest to find the answer to, Why are we here? Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? That to me became the only important thing in my life. Everything else is secondary."

On November 29, 2001, after a long battle with cancer, surrounded by those he loved, George leaves his body and moves on to wherever his spiritual journal will lead him.

Gardener, musician, composer, film producer, record producer, philanthropist, car racing enthusiast, spiritual seeker and slide guitarist extraordinaire, the multi-faceted George Harrison continues to enrich our lives. His inner light will shine forever.

Ringo Starr

            Richard Starkey Jr.was born in the front room of 9 Madryn Street in Liverpool's Dingle area on July 7, 1940. His parents were Elise and Richard Starkey Sr. Elise and Richard would soon divorce in 1943 and she and her son moved to 10 Admiral Grove. Richard attended St. Silas Infants' School where he began to suffer the first of many illnesses which seriously affected his education.

            At the age of six he was taken to the Royal Children's Infirmary suffering from acute abdominal pains. A ruptured appendix was diagnosed and this led to an inflamed peritoneum and the first of several operations for the young Richard. He went into a coma for two months during which several more operations were made. Richard was known to be accident prone. After he woke up from the coma he tried to hand a toy bus to the boy in the next bed. Richard fell over head first onto the floor resulting in a concussion. He remained in the hospital for several more months.

            When he finally returned to school, he found himself far behind in his school work which gave him an undeserved reputation of being stupid. In 1953, at the age of thirteen, Richard caught a cold which turned into chronic pleurisy necessitating another stay at Myrtle Street Hospital. The illness caused some lung complications which resulted in the youth being sent to Heswall Children's Hospital where he remained until 1955.

By this time Elise had married Harry Graves, whom Richard referred to as his "step ladder". For a short time he had a job as delivery boy for British Rail. He next took on a job as barman on a ferry to New Brighton before becoming a trainee joiner at Henry Hunt and Sons. Richard's stepfather, Harry, bought him a secondhand drum kit and Richard showed promise of becoming a great musician.

            Richard bounced around from band to band but he finally found a home with "Rory Storm & the Hurricanes". Rory Storm was a showman and he insisted that Richard add some flare to his act by renaming him Ringo Starr. To which he eventually legally change his name. The Hurricanes became one of the most popular groups in Liverpool and they topped the bill at Hamburg's Kaiserkeller club, above The Beatles. Pete Best was not always the most reliable drummer so Ringo would occasionally fill in for Pete if he didn't show up.

The Hurricanes were by now being out shown by The Beatles and Gerry & the Pacemakers. Ringo had thought about leaving The Hurricanes and joining another group called "The Seniors". After a brief lull period, Ringo decided to fill the spot of drummer for The Hurricanes once again. Ringo, feeling like he was going nowhere thought about taking up his apprenticeship at Hunt's again, when fate stepped in.'

            The Beatles were now the top band in Liverpool and throughout most of England. The Beatles had just signed with Parlophone and George Martin didn't like Pete as their drummer describing him bluntly as "not good". The new task was to find a replacement drummer. Many considered Johnny Hutchinson of "The Big Three" to be the best drummer in Liverpool but then the idea was put around to ask Ringo if he would like to fill the position.

When Ringo went to record with The Beatles for the first time George Martin had already hired a session drummer, Andy White. Ringo was devastated and the fact that at first the fans didn't take kindly to him didn't help matters either. When Ringo first appeared with The Beatles at The Cavern Club, the fans still upset over Pete getting fired, started shouting "Pete forever, Ringo never!"

            As it turned out, Ringo was perfect for The Beatles and at one time was the most popular member of the group with American fans. He also proved to be more of a natural actor than any other members of the group and received favorable reviews for his performance in "A Hard Day's Night". Because of this, Ringo was placed in the center of the spotlight in The Beatles second film "HELP!".

            Ringo married his long-time girlfriend Maureen Cox on February 11, 1965 and the couple were to have three children: Zak, Jason, and Lee. The couple would eventually divorce in July 1975 and Ringo was to marry Barbara Bach. Ringo at first had the same problem as George did which was getting his songs noticed. Mainly John and Paul would write a song or two for him to sing on a particular album. Such songs were: "Boys" on Please Please Me, "I Wanna Be Your Man" on With The Beatles, "Honey Don't" on Beatles For Sale, "Act Naturally" on HELP!, "What Goes On" which was co-written by Starr on Rubber Soul, "Yellow Submarine" on Revolver and Yellow Submarine, and "A Little Help From My Friends" on Sgt. Pepper's.

While with The Beatles, Ringo had two songs that were "original Starr compositions". They were "Don't Pass Me By" on The White Album and probably his most famous one "Octopus's Garden" on Abbey Road. Following The Beatles break up, Ringo had a very successful solo career which consisted of eight albums and thirteen singles. Ringo also appeared in various TV shows, including his own special, "Ringo", and a TV mini-series "Princess Daisy", with his wife Barbara.

            After many years out of the limelight, during which he did voice-overs for the children's TV series "Thomas The Tank Engine" and experienced drinking problems, which resulted in himself and Barbara attending a drying out clinic. He reappeared on the scene sober with an All-Starr Band to tour America and Japan.

            This proved to be so successful that he formed another All-Starr Band in 1992, which began an American and European tour in June 1992. Members comprised his son Zak, guitarists Dave Edmunds, Nils Lofgren, Todd Rundgren and Joe Walsh, saxophonist Tim Cappello, bassist Timothy B. Schmit and keyboards player Burton Cummings.

The furthest career

The first single "Love Me Do"/"P.S. I Love You", a promising but fairly rudimentary effort, hovered around the lower reaches of the British Top 20. The Beatles phenomenon didn't truly kick in until "Please Please Me," which topped the British charts in early 1963. This was the prototype British Invasion single — an infectious melody, charging guitars, and positively exuberant harmonies. The same traits were evident on their third 45, "From Me to You" (a British number one), and their debut LP, Please Please Me. Although it was mostly recorded in a single day, Please Please Me topped the British charts for an astonishing 30 weeks, establishing the group as the most popular rock & roll act ever seen in the U.K.

What the Beatles had done was to take the best elements of the rock and pop they loved and make them their own. Since the Quarrymen days, they had been steeped in the classic early rock of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, and the Everly Brothers; they'd also kept an ear open to the early '60s sounds of Motown, Phil Spector, and the girl groups. What they added was an unmatched songwriting savvy (inspired by Brill Building teams such as Gerry Goffin and Carole King), a brash guitar-oriented attack, wildly enthusiastic vocals, and the embodiment of the youthful flair of their generation, ready to dispense with post-war austerity and claim a culture of their own. They were also unsurpassed in their eclecticism, willing to borrow from blues, popular standards, gospel, folk, or whatever seemed suitable for their musical vision. Producer George Martin was the perfect foil for the group, refining their ideas without tinkering with their cores; during the last half of their career, he was indispensable for his ability to translate their concepts into arrangements that required complex orchestration, innovative applications of recording technology, and an ever-widening array of instruments.

Just as crucially, the Beatles were never ones to stand still and milk formulas. All of their subsequent albums and singles would show remarkable artistic progression (though never at the expense of a damn catchy tune). Even on their second LP, With the Beatles (1963), it was evident that their talents as composers and instrumentalists were expanding furiously, as they devised ever more inventive melodies and harmonies, and boosted the fullness of their arrangements. "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" established the group not just as a popular music act, but as a phenomenon never before seen in the British entertainment business, as each single sold over a million copies in the U.K. After some celebrated national TV appearances, Beatlemania broke out across the British Isles in late 1963, the group generating screams and hysteria at all of their public appearances, musical or otherwise.

Capitol, which had first refusal of the Beatles' recordings in the United States, had declined to issue the group's first few singles, which ended up appearing on relatively small American independents. Capitol took up its option on "I Want to Hold Your Hand," which stormed to the top of the U.S. charts within weeks of its release on December 26, 1963. The Beatles' television appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in February of 1964 launched Beatlemania (and the entire British Invasion) on an even bigger scale than it had reached in Britain. In the first week of April 1964, the Beatles had the top five best-selling singles in the U.S.; they also had the first two slots on the album charts, as well as other entries throughout the Billboard Top 100. No one had ever dominated the market for popular music so heavily; it's doubtful than anyone ever will again. The Beatles themselves would continue to reach number one with most of their singles and albums until their 1970 breakup.

Hard as it may be to believe today, the Beatles were often dismissed by cultural commentators of the time as nothing more than a fad that would vanish within months as the novelty wore off. The group ensured this wouldn't happen by making A Hard Day's Night in early 1964, a cinema verite-style motion picture comedy/musical that cemented their image as the Fab Four — happy-go-lucky, individualistic, cheeky, funny lads with nonstop energy. The soundtrack was also a triumph, consisting entirely of Lennon-McCartney tunes, including such standards as the title tune, "And I Love Her," "If I Fell," "Can't Buy Me Love," and "Things We Said Today." George Harrison's resonant 12-string electric guitar leads were hugely influential; the movie helped persuade the Byrds, then folk singers, to plunge all-out into rock & roll, and the Beatles (along with Bob Dylan) would be hugely influential on the folk-rock explosion of 1965. The Beatles' success, too, had begun to open the U.S. market for fellow Brits like the Rolling Stones, Animals, and Kinks, and inspired young American groups like the Beau Brummels, Lovin' Spoonful, and others to mount a challenge of their own with self-penned material that owed a great debt to Lennon-McCartney.

Between riotous international tours in 1964 and 1965, the Beatles continued to squeeze out more chart-topping albums and singles. (Until 1967, the group's British albums were often truncated for release in the States; when their catalog was transferred to CD, the albums were released worldwide in their British configurations.) In retrospect, critics have judged Beatles for Sale (late 1964) and Help! (mid-1965) as the band's least impressive efforts. To some degree, that's true. Touring and an insatiable market placed heavy demands upon their songwriting, and some of the originals and covers on these records, while brilliant by many group's standards, were filler in the context of the Beatles' best work.

But when at the top of their game, the group was continuing to push forward. "I Feel Fine" had feedback and brilliant guitar leads; "Ticket to Ride" showed the band beginning to incorporate the ringing, metallic, circular guitar lines that would be appropriated by bands like the Byrds; "Help!" was their first burst of confessional lyricism; "Yesterday" employed a string quartet. John Lennon in particular was beginning to exhibit a Dylanesque influence in his songwriting on such folky, downbeat numbers as "I'm a Loser" and "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." And tracks like "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" and "I've Just Seen a Face" had a strong country flavor.

Although the Beatles' second film, Help!, was a much sillier and less sophisticated affair than their first feature, it too was a huge commercial success. By this time, though, the Beatles had nothing to prove in commercial terms; the remaining frontiers were artistic challenges that could only be met in the studio. They rose to the occasion at the end of 1965 with Rubber Soul, one of the classic folk-rock records. Lyrically, Lennon, McCartney, and even Harrison (who was now writing some tunes on his own) were evolving beyond boy-girl scenarios into complex, personal feelings. They were also pushing the limits of studio rock by devising new guitar and bass textures, experimenting with distortion and multi-tracking, and using unconventional (for rock) instruments like the sitar.

As much of a progression as Rubber Soul was relative to their previous records, it was but a taster for the boundary-shattering outings of the next few years. The "Paperback Writer"/"Rain" single found the group abandoning romantic themes entirely, boosting the bass to previously unknown levels, and fooling around with psychedelic imagery and backwards tapes on the B-side. Drugs (psychedelic and otherwise) were fueling their already fertile imaginations, but they felt creatively hindered by their touring obligations. Revolver, released in the summer of 1966, proved what the group could be capable of when allotted months of time in the studio. Hazy hard guitars and thicker vocal arrangements formed the bed of these increasingly imagistic, ambitious lyrics; the group's eclecticism now encompassed everything from singalong novelties ("Yellow Submarine") and string quartet-backed character sketches ("Eleanor Rigby") to Indian-influenced swirls of echo and backwards tapes ("Tomorrow Never Knows"). Some would complain that the Beatles had abandoned the earthy rock of their roots for clever mannerism. But Revolver, like virtually all of the group's singles and albums from "She Loves You" on, would be a worldwide chart-topper.

For the past couple of years, live performance had become a rote exercise for the group, tired of competing with thousands of screaming fans that drowned out most of their voices and instruments. A 1966 summer worldwide tour was particularly grueling: the group's entourage was physically attacked in the Philipines after a perceived snub of the country's queen, and a casual remark by John Lennon about the Beatles being bigger than Jesus Christ was picked up in the States, resulting in the burning of Beatle records in the Bible belt and demands for a repentant apology. Their final concert of that American tour (in San Francisco on August 29, 1966) would be their last in front of a paying audience, as the group decided to stop playing live in order to concentrate on their studio recordings.

This was a radical (indeed, unprecedented) step in 1966, and the media was rife with speculation that the act was breaking up, especially after all four spent late 1966 engaged in separate personal and artistic pursuits. The appearance of the "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever" single in February 1967 squelched these concerns. Frequently cited as the strongest double-A-side ever, the Beatles were now pushing forward into unabashedly psychedelic territory in their use of orchestral arrangements and Mellotron, without abandoning their grasp of memorable melody and immediately accessible lyrical messages.

Sgt. Pepper, released in June 1967 as the Summer of Love dawned, was the definitive psychedelic soundtrack. Or, at least, so it was perceived at the time: subsequent critics have painted the album as an uneven affair, given a conceptual unity via its brilliant multi-tracked overdubs, singalong melodies, and fairytale-ish lyrics. Others remain convinced, as millions did at the time, that it represented pop's greatest triumph, or indeed an evolution of pop into art with a capital A. In addition to mining all manner of roots influences, the musicians were also picking up vibes from Indian music, avant-garde electronics, classical, music hall, and more. When the Beatles premiered their hippie anthem "All You Need Is Love" as part of a worldwide TV broadcast, they had been truly anointed as spokespersons for their generation (a role they had not actively sought), and it seemed they could do no wrong.

Musically, that would usually continue to be the case, but the group's strength began to unravel at a surprisingly quick pace. In August 1967, Brian Epstein — prone to suicidal depression over the past year — died of a drug overdose, leaving them without a manager. The group pressed on with their next film project, Magical Mystery Tour, directed by themselves; lacking focus or even basic professionalism, the picture bombed when it was premiered on BBC television in December 1967, giving the media the first real chance they'd ever had to roast the Beatles over a flame. (Another film, the animated feature Yellow Submarine, would appear in 1968, although the Beatles had little involvement with the project, either in terms of the movie or the soundtrack.) In early 1968, the Beatles decamped to India for a course in transcendental meditation with the Maharishi; this too became something of a media embarrassment, as each of the four would eventually depart the course before its completion.

The Beatles did use their unaccustomed peace in India to compose a wealth of new material. Judged solely on musical merit, The White Album, a double LP released in late 1968, was a triumph. While largely abandoning their psychedelic instruments to return to guitar-based rock, they maintained their whimsical eclecticism, proving themselves masters of everything from blues rock to vaudeville. As individual songwriters, too, it contains some of their finest work (as does the brilliant non-LP single from this era, "Hey Jude"/"Revolution").

The problem, at least in terms of the group's long-term health, was that these were very much individual songs, as opposed to collective ones. Lennon and McCartney had long composed most of their tunes separately (you can almost always tell the composer by the lead vocalist). But they had always fed off of each other not only to supply missing bits and pieces that would bring a song to completion, but to provide a competitive edge that would bring out the best in the other. McCartney's romantic melodicism and Lennon's more acidic, gritty wit were perfect complements for one another. By the White Album, it was clear (if only in retrospect) that each member was more concerned with his own expression than that of the collective group: a natural impulse, but one that was bound to lead to difficulties.

In addition, George Harrison was becoming a more prolific and skilled composer as well, imbuing his own melodies (which were nearly the equal of those of his more celebrated colleagues) with a cosmic lightness. Harrison was beginning to resent his junior status, and the group began to bicker more openly in the studio. Ringo, whose solid drumming and good nature could usually be counted upon (as was evident in his infrequent lead vocals), actually quit for a couple of weeks in the midst of the White Album sessions (though the media was unaware of this at the time). Personal interests were coming into play as well: Lennon's devotion to romantic and artistic pursuits with his new girlfriend (and soon-to-be-wife) Yoko Ono was diverting his attentions from the Beatles. Apple Records, started by the group earlier in 1968 as a sort of utopian commercial enterprise, was becoming a financial and organizational nightmare.

These weren't the ideal conditions under which to record a new album in January 1969, especially when McCartney was pushing the group to return to live performing, although none of the others seemed especially keen on the idea. They did agree to try and record a "back-to-basics," live-in-the-studio-type LP, the sessions being filmed for a television special. That plan almost blew up when Harrison, in the midst of tense arguments, left the group for a few days. Although he returned, the idea of playing live concerts was put on the back burner; Harrison enlisted American soul keyboardist Billy Preston as kind of a fifth member on the sessions, both to beef up the arrangements and to alleviate the uncomfortable atmosphere. Exacerbating the problem was that the Beatles didn't have a great deal of first-class new songs to work with, although some were excellent. In order to provide a suitable concert-like experience for the film, the group did climb the roof of their Apple headquarters in London to deliver an impromptu performance on January 30, 1969, before the police stopped it; this was their last live concert of any sort.

Generally dissatisfied with these early-1969 sessions, the album and film — at first titled Get Back, and later to emerge as Let It Be — remained in the can as the group tried to figure out how the projects should be mixed, packaged, and distributed. A couple of the best tracks, "Get Back"/"Don't Let Me Down," were issued as a single in the spring of 1969. By this time, the Beatles' quarrels were intensifying in a dispute over management: McCartney wanted their affairs to be handled by his new father-in-law, Lee Eastman, while the other members of the group favored a tough American businessman, Allen Klein.

It was something of a miracle, then, that the final album recorded by the group, Abbey Road, was one of their most unified efforts (even if, by this time, the musicians were recording many of their parts separately). It certainly boasted some of their most intricate melodies, harmonies, and instrumental arrangements; it also heralded the arrival of Harrison as a composer of equal talent to Lennon and McCartney, as George wrote the album's two most popular tunes, "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun." The Beatles were still progressing, but it turned out to be the end of the road, as their business disputes continued to magnify. Lennon, who had begun releasing solo singles and performing with friends as the Plastic Ono Band, threatened to resign in late 1969, although he was dissuaded from making a public announcement.

Most of the early-1969 tapes remained unreleased, partially because the footage for the planned television broadcast of these sessions was now going to be produced as a documentary movie. The accompanying soundtrack album, Let It Be, was delayed so that its release could coincide with that of the film. Lennon, Harrison, and Allen Klein decided to have celebrated American producer Phil Spector record some additional instrumentation and do some mixing. Thus the confusion that persists among most rock listeners to this day: Let It Be, although the last Beatles album to be released was not the last one to be recorded. Abbey Road should actually be considered as the Beatles' last album; most of the material on Let It Be, including the title track (which would be the last single released while the group was still together), was recorded several months before the Abbey Road sessions began in earnest, and a good 15 months or so before its May 1970 release.

By that time, the Beatles were no more. In fact, there had been no recording done by the group as a unit since August 1969, and each member of the band had begun to pursue serious outside professional interests independently via the Plastic Ono Band, Harrison's tour with Delaney and Bonnie, Starr's starring role in the Magic Christian film, or McCartney's first solo album. The outside world for the most part remained almost wholly unaware of the seriousness of the group's friction, making it a devastating shock for much of the world's youth when McCartney announced that he was leaving the Beatles on April 10, 1970. (The "announcement" was actually contained in a press release for his new album, in which his declaration of his intention to work on his own effectively served as a notice of his departure.)

The final blow, apparently, was the conflict between the release dates of Let It Be and McCartney's debut solo album. The rest of the group asked Paul to delay his release until after Let It Be; McCartney refused, and for good measure, was distressed by Spector's post-production work on Let It Be, particularly the string overdubs on "The Long and Winding Road," which became a posthumous Beatles single that spring. Although Paul received much of the blame for the split, it should be remembered that he had done more than any other member to keep the group going since Epstein's death, and that each of the other Beatles had threatened to leave well before McCartney's departure. With hindsight, the breakup seemed inevitable in view of their serious business disagreements and the growth of their individual interests.

As bitter as the initial headlines were to swallow, the feuding would grow much worse over the next few years. At the end of 1970, McCartney sued the rest of the Beatles in order to dissolve their partnership; the battle dragged through the courts for years, scotching any prospects of a group reunion. In any case, each member of the band quickly established viable solo careers. In fact, at the outset it could have been argued that the artistic effects of the split were in some ways beneficial, freeing Lennon and Harrison to make their most uncompromising artistic statements (Plastic Ono Band and All Things Must Pass). George's individual talents in particular received acclaim that had always eluded him when he was overshadowed by Lennon-McCartney. Paul had a much rougher time with the critics, but continued to issue a stream of hit singles, hitting a commercial and critical jackpot at the end of 1973 with the massively successful Band on the Run. Ringo did not have the songwriting acumen to compete on the same level as the others, yet he too had quite a few big hit singles in the early '70s, often benefiting from the assistance of his former bandmates.

Yet within a short time, it became apparent both that the Beatles were not going to settle their differences and reunite, and that their solo work could not compare with what they were capable of creating together. The stereotype has it that the split allowed each of them to indulge in their worst tendencies to their extremes: Lennon in agit-prop, Harrison in holier-than-thou-mysticism, McCartney in cutesy pop, Starr in easy listening rock. There's a good deal of truth in this, but it's also important to bear in mind that what was most missing was a sense of group interaction. The critical party line often champions Lennon as the angry, realist rocker, and McCartney as the melodic balladeer, but this is a fallacy: each of them were capable, in roughly equal measures, of ballsy all-out rock and sweet romanticism. What is not in dispute is that they sparked each other to reach heights that they could not attain on their own.

Despite periodic rumors of reunions throughout the 1970s, no group projects came close to materializing. It should be added that the Beatles themselves continued to feud to some degree, and from all evidence weren't seriously interested in working together as a unit. Any hopes of a reunion vanished when Lennon was assassinated in New York City in December 1980. The Beatles continued their solo careers throughout the 1980s, but their releases became less frequent, and their commercial success gradually diminished, as listeners without first-hand memories of the combo created their own idols.

The popularity of the Beatles-as-unit, however, proved eternal. In part, this is because the group's 1970 split effectively short-circuited the prospects of artistic decline; the body of work that was preserved was uniformly strong. However, it's also because, like any great works of art, the Beatles' records carried an ageless magnificence that continues to captivate new generations of listeners. So it is that Beatles records continue to be heard on radio in heavy rotation, continue to sell in massive quantities, and continue to be covered and quoted by rock and pop artists through the present day.

Legal wrangles at Apple prevented the official issue of previously unreleased Beatle material for over two decades (although much of it was frequently bootlegged). The situation finally changed in the 1990s, after McCartney, Harrison, Starr, and Lennon's widow Yoko Ono settled their principal business disagreements. In 1994, this resulted in a double CD of BBC sessions from the early and mid-'60s. The following year, a much more ambitious project was undertaken: a multi-part film documentary, broadcast on network television in 1995, and then released (with double the length) for the home video market in 1996, with the active participation of the surviving Beatles.

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