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The History Of The Beatles Essay, Research Paper

The Beatles

The Beatles are known to many as one of the greatest bands of all time. Their music has

influenced many people, including the Queen of England, future musicians, parents, and teens. All

four, Ringo Starr, Paul McCarteny, John Lennon, and George Harrison, were knighted by the

Queen. The controversy of the statement made by John Lennon that “sparked protesters

everywhere to burn countless records. Teens were influenced by the peaceful lyrics and hippie

messages. Numerous musicians of today count the Beatles among of their inspirations. The modern

rock band “Oasis” has stated that they get their greatest influence from the Beatles” (Lewisohn, 56).

This great band had small beginnings, however.

On October 9, 1940, John Winston Lennon was born in Liverpool, England. He was raised

by his aunt Mimi after his parents divorced. He attended an art school after doing very poorly in all

aspects of school except art. He began his first band, The Quarrymen, in 1956 (Wiener, 5). He

met Paul through a mutual friend at the Garden Fete in Liverpool. Very impressed that Paul could

play Eddie Cochran, he then asked him to join The Quarrymen (Dowlding, 30).

James Paul McCartney was born on June 18, 1942 in Liverpool, England. His mother was

a nurse, and his father was a salesman and musician, who played piano in a ragtime band (Wiener,

5). Paul’s mother died when he was fourteen. Paul had been around music his entire life because of

his father, but didn’t become interested until the days of Elvis. After he joined The Quarrymen with

John, they both began writing songs such as “Love Me Do,” and “One After 909″ (Schaffner, 18-


The third Beatle to enter the band was George Harrison. He was born in Liverpool on

February 25, 1943. He was the youngest, but the most talented musically. He had an Irish heritage,

and was “the son of a friendly local bus conductor” (Schaffner, 19). George was only sixteen when

he joined the band, which was, at that time, The Quarrymen. He was allowed to join because John

was very impressed that he could play “Raunchy,” a popular song at the time, note for note

(Lewisohn, 3). As soon as George joined, he, Paul, and John dropped out of school (Schaffner,


This band had three guitarists, singers, and songwriters, but no bass or drums. After trying

many people, they finally settled on Pete Best on drums. They recruited Stuart Sutcliffe on bass, and

although he was a talented artist that John had met at school, he could hardly play his instrument

(Wiener, 4). The new band had no name, and their early inspirations were Buddy Holly, and the

Crickets. John created the name “Beatles,” because “‘I [John] was looking for a name like the

Crickets that means two things. From Crickets I went to Beatles… when you said it people thought

of crawly things, when you read it it was beat music.’” (Schaffner, 20). So the Beatles were born.

They began to play at a club called The Cavern in Liverpool, after a destructive tour in Hamburg,

Germany. Soon after this, Stuart became engaged and left the band. To compensate, Paul picked

up the bass and became the permanent bassist. After hearing the young Beatles at The Cavern,

Brian Epstein signed on as manager. Soon after, George Martin became their producer on the

Parlophone Records label. Later, Pete Best was fired from the band, because Paul, John, and

George did not like him. This caused some people to become terribly angry, but it did not do too

much damage to the Beatle’s popularity. They signed their friend and later permanent Beatle, Ringo

Starr, on as drummer (Schaffner, 21).

Ringo Starr was born Richard Starkey on July 7, 1940 in Liverpool. He had a sickly

childhood and spent most of his time in and out of hospitals. He had virtually no formal education,

and his family came from the slums of Liverpool. His father was a baker and his mother was a

housewife. Prior to the Beatles, Ringo was the drummer for The Hurricanes (Wiener, 6).

The Beatles, with all their members permanently in place, began the attempt to become

famous. With John on guitar and vocals, Paul on bass and vocals, George playing guitar and backup

vocals, and Ringo drumming, they were destined to become a sensation. Their first recordings were

of “That’ll be the Day” by Buddy Holly, and “Inspite of all the Danger,” one of Paul’s originals

(Miles, 12). “Love Me Do” was the first single produced by George Martin. It was released on

October 5, 1962 and got to number 17 in a matter of two weeks. It sold over 100,000 copies.

“Please Please Me” came next, topping the charts. The boys cleaned up their acts, started “to wash

their mops more regularly” (Schaffner, 21), and dress more nicely. They then created their first ever

full length album. Titled “Please Please Me,” the record included the title track, “Do You Want To

Know a Secret?” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “From Me To You,” and a number of covers.

In only a few years their popularity and influence grew tremendously. Many more albums

were released, along with many chart-topping singles. John Lennon wrote a book called “In His

Own Write” in March 1964. They created a movie “Hard Day’s Night,” featuring their original

song, also in 1964. In this movie they recruited mobs of fans to run around chasing them.

Newsweek stated the “The legitimacy of the Beatles phenomenon is finally inescapable…” after the

outcome of the movie. People became obsessed with the Beatles. At their concerts, the music was

barely able to be heard because of the screaming fans. Many products, such as Beatles coloring

books, Beatles harmonicas, Beatles pillows, Beatles costumes, and Beatles candy, not to mention a

variety of other odd trinkets, began to be mass-produced and purchased. Even the Queen of

England, Elizabeth II, knighted them and granted them the elite places as Members of the British

Empire for bringing about a balance of trade in England (Wiener, 40).

The Beatles created many movies in addition to “Hard Day’s Night.” These included

“Help!” which cost twice as much as the former. It was a complete success. They also did a

cartoon called “Yellow Submarine,” which included many songs from Rubber Soul and Sgt.

Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This actually had a plot, although it was very fictional. This

movie spawned a whole new line of products featuring the cartoons of the Beatles. Key chains and

magnets were among some of the most popular items. Recently in 1999, the cartoon has be

restored and the “Yellow Submarine” action figures of John, Paul, George, and Ringo were

rereleased (Schaffner, 50).

Soon after creating the album Rubber Soul, the largest controversy surrounding the Beatles

arose because of a quote John made. He stated, “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I

needn’t argue about that, I’m right and will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus Christ

now. I don’t know which will go first, rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his

disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.” This quote caused many

parents to forbid their children from buying Beatles albums, and mass burnings of Beatle’s records

were held. The Beatle’s manager, Brian Epstein, tried to insist that John only meant it to express his

“deep concern” in the decline of religion. People did not buy this story, and sales declined severely.

John decided to apologize to the public, and did so at a Chicago Press Conference. “I suppose if I

had said television was more popular than Jesus, I would have gotten away with it. I’m sorry I

opened my mouth. I’m not anti-God, anti-Christ, or anti-religion. I was not knocking it. I was not

saying we are greater or better.” The Vatican accepted the apology, and many people went back to

their Beatle-loving ways (Schaffner, 57-59).

During this time George Harrison began to be interested in Eastern Religions. He and the

rest of the Beatles went on a retreat with Maharishi Yogi to study his teachings. This retreat was

called “Rishikesh.” The Beatles got so wrapped up in magic and mysticism that they began to use a

sitar, a giutar-like stringed instrument from India in their music. They also discussed producing

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit with Paul as Frodo the Dwarf, Ringo as the dwarf Sam, George

playing the wizard Gandolf, and John as the antagonist, Gollum. This endeavor fell through,

however. Just before this they had begun to experiment with LSD. This mind-warping drug was

said to give them ideas for their music. Many people believe the “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

was about LSD, but this has been adamantly denied by all four Beatles. They did use acid

frequently, and one of their employees recalls, “one of the most bizarre scenes I have ever

witnessed. There, in front of the television set, were the highest paid pop group in the world and

their manager, bowing down and salaaming, chanting and dancing with one another.” (Schaffner,

76). Vice President Spiro Agnew was so upset with the Beatles experiments and references to

drugs that he proposed a ban of “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “Lucy In the Sky With

Diamonds” from American radio. Once the Beatles became very interested in the Maharishi’s

teachings, they stopped taking LSD (Schaffner, 84-87).

Eventually the Beatles created a record label. They called it Apple Records and all their

future music was produced for this label. This soon became Paul’s project, and John became

preoccupied with Yoko Ono. John soon became bored with his current wife Cynthia, and with the

Beatles. John was divorced in 1968, and married Yoko on March 20. This began the end of the

Beatles (Lewisohn, 120).

Paul McCartney quit the Beatles on April 9, 1970. John and Paul were not getting along in

their song writing partnership, and it was time to call it quits. Their last full length album was “Abbey

Road.” Paul went on to create a solo album called “McCartney,” which fared rather badly. John

and Yoko had begun the Plastic Ono Band. Soon Paul created Wings, a group with his wife Linda

along with others. All four former Beatles continued musical careers, and were very sucessful in life.

John Lennon was shot and killed by a crazed fan, Mark David Chapman. This occured on

December 8, 1980. He was pronounced dead at 11:07 pm. He was cremated on December 10 at

Hartsdale Crematorium in New York (Adams, 253). The other three Beatles are still alive, although

Paul’s beloved wife and partner in the animal rights crusade, Linda, died in 1998.

The Beatles impact has not ceased, and this is proven by the Beatles continued record sales.

on September 14, 1999, Yellow Submarine video, CD, and DVD (including the making of the

movie) was released. They won three Grammys for their anthology on February 26, 1997, and also

a Grammy for the song released after John’s death, “Free As a Bird.” Altogether throughout their

career, the Beatles won 13 Grammys. On September 17, 1999, the television program “20/20″

aired the video for “Hey Bulldog” filmed in February of 1968 (McKinney). People still remember

the Beatles, buy their albums, and randomly hum the tune of “Hey Jude” or “I Wanna Hold Your

Hand.” Even children born decades after the Beatles peak of popularity own their CDs or listen to

their parents’ old records. The magnificence of the Beatles will still be remembered for many years

to come.


List of

Dowlding, William J. Beatle Songs. Pennsylvania: Simon & Schuster, 1989.

Lewisohn, Mark. The Complete Beatles Chronicle. Connecticut: Harmony Books, 1992.

Miles, Barry. The Beatles: A diary. New York: Omnibus Press, 1998.

Schaffner, Nicholas. The Beatles Forever. Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 1977.

Wiener, Allen J. The Beatles: The Ultimate Recording Guide. New York: Bob Adams,

Inc., 1994.

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