Facts about The Beatles
The Beatles Biography
John Lennon and Paul McCartney began playing together in The Quarrymen in 1957; George Harrison joined later that year. Before they became The Beatles, they were also known as Johnny and the Moondogs and The Silver Beatles, with various bandmates including bassist Stuart Sutcliffe (June 23, 1940 – April 10, 1962) and drummer Pete Best (b. November 24, 1941). The early Beatles performed shows in Hamburg, Germany and Liverpool, England, playing covers of American rock and roll plus original songs by Lennon and McCartney.
Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr in 1962 to form the band’s final and official foursome. The Beatles’ 1962 release of “Love Me Do” charted in the U. K., and in 1963 their song “She Loves You” was the biggest hit in U. K. history. Their cheerful charisma attracted passionate and even frantic young fans, and “Beatlemania” was born. The Beatles’ tour of the U.S. in 1964 led to sold-out concerts and even more enthusiastic mob scenes from fans.
The Beatles’ movies A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965) capitalized on their humor and youthful exuberance and were box office successes, and the hit songs kept coming: on April 4, 1964, they became the only band in history to have the first five songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. (From 1-5 they were: “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and “Please Please Me.”) In the late ’60s their songs became more sophisticated and their worldwide celebrity status prompted Lennon to joke that “we’re bigger than Jesus.”
By 1970, The Beatles were no longer performing in public and were beginning to pursue individual projects. In December of 1970, Paul McCartney brought a lawsuit to dissolve The Beatles as a legal entity, and the group broke up. By then their hits were almost too numerous to mention, and their powerful impact on pop music was already irreversible.
A Beatles reunion was often talked up by hopeful fans over the years, but never happened. John Lennon was shot to death by a deranged fan in New York City in 1980, and George Harrison died of cancer in 2001, but Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have continued to have busy solo careers. The band has remained in the public eye thanks to projects like Get Back, an 8-hour documentary by Peter Jackson released in 2021, and Love, a Cirque du Soleil extravaganza set to Beatles music that premiered in Las Vegas in 2006.
Most of The Beatles’ biggest hits were produced by George Martin, who also signed them to their first record deal with EMI in 1962.