History of 'The Beatles' and biographies of members in english
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.
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’
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.
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 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.
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.
Starr’s joining was formed final staff of the group.
Biographies of the members
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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 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
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,
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
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!
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
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
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
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.