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The History of The Beatles

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Formed in 1960 in Liverpool, England, The Beatles went on to become one of the biggest (if not, THE biggest) rock band in the world. As the Fab Four, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr conquered the world with Beatlemania and launched the British invasion of North America. They've had countless hit singles and many of their albums are considered some of the best in musical history; as such, The Beatles' influence on pop culture is immeasurable and one that will undoubtedly prevail for decades to come. In this video, we take a look at the history of The Beatles.

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Formation and Early Line-Up

Rock band The Beatles formed in 1960 in Liverpool, England. The group originally consisted of guitarists, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison along with bassist Stu Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best. Much of the group’s early time was spent playing shows in Hamburg, Germany.

Record Deal and Classic Beatles Line-Up

McCartney then took on bass after Sutcliffe’s 1961 departure, and they began recording as a backing band. After meeting their future manager Brian Epstein, The Beatles were signed to EMI’s Parlophone label by producer George Martin in 1962. That same year, Ringo Starr replaced Best during their first recording session, and the classic Beatles line-up was solidified.

Number One Debut

All four members contributed vocals, but Lennon and McCartney’s singing and song-writing partnership stood out. The group released two successful singles before their number one 1963 debut Please Please Me, and followed that with two more hits.


As they toured the UK in 1963, their popularity generated frenzied fan reactions dubbed “Beatlemania.” That year, the foursome also released the chart-topping LP With The Beatles.

The Ed Sullivan Show

Next came their first number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song, and their first 1964 appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” kick-started the British Invasion in America.

"A Hard Day's Night"

Screaming fans continued to pursue the band on their international tour dates in 1964. The group also starred in the successful comedy “A Hard Day’s Night,” and released a popular soundtrack.

More Chart-Topping Releases

That year also saw the UK release of the number one album Beatles for Sale and the U.S. release of the chart-topping record Beatles ’65. The next year, their second film “Help!” and a number one soundtrack that featured the song “Yesterday” came out.

Tensions Begin

The Beatles recorded the folk rock LP Rubber Soul amid growing tensions. That effort showcased the band’s musical and lyrical progression and is often considered one of the greatest albums ever made.

Controversy and Hits

In 1966, controversy arose when Lennon commented on the band’s popularity. Despite this, the band continued to crank out hits. They also topped the charts with the psychedelic rock record Revolver, and this was another triumph.

"Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band"

After their final tour came the 1967 record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The effort’s successful mix of musical genres and its use of varied instruments and sounds made it one of the most important pop music albums.

Meditation, Tragedy and Another Movie

The Beatles’ song “All You Need is Love” premiered next, and was followed by a meditation retreat in Bangor, Wales. Following the shocking death of Epstein, The Beatles released a successful psychedelic rock soundtrack to their poorly reviewed “Magical Mystery Tour” film.

The Beatles' "White Album"

In 1968, the well-received animated movie “Yellow Submarine” and corresponding soundtrack were followed by The Beatles’ first single on their label Apple Records. After visiting the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India that same year, the group released a self-titled LP commonly known as The White Album. Despite tension-filled recording sessions and Lennon’s romantic fixation with Yoko Ono, the record topped the charts.

Falling Apart

Over the course of their 1969 recording sessions for the album Let It Be, The Beatles began to fall apart. During this time, they made their final live performance on the rooftop of their recording studio.

"Abbey Road"

Unable to resolve their issues, The Beatles put Let It Be on hold and began work on Abbey Road. They released that album later in the year, and it became one of the group’s most commercially successful efforts.

Last Release with "Let it Be"

Though it was recorded before Abbey Road, Let It Be was the band’s final album release. It was finally released in 1970 along with an accompanying documentary. By this point, both Lennon and McCartney had started releasing solo material.

Continued Popularity After Breakup

Despite their subsequent breakup and the deaths of Lennon and Harrison, the band’s popularity did not diminish with time. The members continued releasing solo albums, and many projects were released with and without input from the band. Some of the most successful of these include the “Beatles Anthology” documentary and Cirque du Soleil’s theatrical production “Love.”

Musical Legacy

The Beatles were artistic innovators who quickly achieved massive success. With their colossal pop culture influence, it is without a doubt that their musical legacy will live on.

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