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The Story Behind The Beatles Essay, Research Paper


The introduction of pop style into the music industry in the nineteen-fifties and sixties has had a definite effect on the world. Pop brought rock’n'roll music into existence; it gave those listening to it a sense of non-conformity and freedom. It put parents on the edge of their seats with worry, teenagers on the edge of their seats wanting more. Most important were the bands that brought about the development of pop culture. One of these bands was the Beatles. The Beatles were perhaps the greatest pop band ever, and it is a very interesting story how they came to be so. The foursome had many things in common. Each was born in Liverpool, England, and as boys they lived fairly near to one another (About the Beatles). Also, three of the four had losses that had a great impact on their lives before age 17. As the band became a defined, independent group, the four seemed to have more and more in common with one another.

John Winston Lennon, basically known as the founder of the group, was born on October 9, 1940. His parents separated when he was only four, and it was then that John was sent to live with his Aunt Mimi in the Liverpool suburb of Woolton. John grew up half a niche higher than Paul, George, and Ringo in the class system (Roylance, Quance, Craske, Milisec 7). In order to pass time, John often played with his friends at Strawberry Fields-a Victorian house converted into an orphanage. Later, this would serve as the inspiration for the song Strawberry Fields. John had a rough school history throughout, and as a boy he often thought, there is something wrong with me because I seem to see things other people don t see (Roylance, Quance, Craske, Milisec 8). At age 16, he finally found an interest when his mother taught him a few banjo chords. Soon after, his mother was killed by a drunk off-duty policeman. In grievance, John turned to drinking alcohol in excess. Mimi, in an effort to console John, bought him a guitar. When he turned to his playing seriously, Mimi told him that the guitar was alright for a hobby, John, but you ll never make a living at it (11). John s rock interest was piqued when he heard Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel at art school in 1956. Soon John formed his own band, the Quarry Men.

James Paul McCartney was born on June 18, 1942. When Paul was young, his family constantly moved due to his mother s occupation as a midwife. The family was often located in Arnold Grove. At age 13, his family moved little over a mile from John. Paul s playground area usually consisted of the bombsites located near his home. As a child he never associated the title with bombing; it was considered synonymous with the word playground (Roylance, Quance, Craske, Milisec 17). Paul s father taught him to play music by ear. To this day, Paul does not know how to read or write music (18). His father bought him a trumpet for his birthday, but realizing that he could not play the instrument and sing at the same time, he asked to trade it in for a guitar. He was allowed to, and through this exchange he obtained a Zenith acoustic guitar which he still owns today. Less than a year after moving, when Paul was 14, his mother died of breast cancer. A few months later, Paul was invited to go with his friend to a village festival.

George Harrison was born on February 25, 1943. When he was young, George s family moved to Speke (on the outskirts of Liverpool). Looking back on his childhood, he says it was happy…with lots of relatives around (Roylance, Quance, Craske, Milisec 26). George was the only Beatle whose childhood was unmarred by death or divorce. He was also the youngest (George). George was first interested in the guitar when he listened to a record– Waiting for a Train –of his dad s. The first time he remembers wanting a guitar was when he was sick and in the hospital. His father bought him a guitar in 1956 from an art college friend. As far as musical teaching, George s father s friend taught him songs and chords (Roylance, Quance, Craske, Milisec 27). As George s talent became apparent to others, he found himself sneaking out of the house to play (due to his young age). When George met up with the Quarry Men, he filled in for the regular guitarist a few times. As a job aside from playing, he left school and became an apprentice electrician. This had been under his father s wishes (31).

Ringo Starr was born Richard Starkey on July 7, 1940. His father, a baker, left when Richard was only three years old. His father s abandonment forced Richard and his mother to move to a lower class home on Admiral Grove. His mother held many various out-of-home jobs, such as being a barmaid, doing food shop work, and other similar small jobs. When Richard was 13, she remarried (Roylance, Quance, Craske, Milisec 33). As he was growing up, his grandparents practically raised him. The ironic part of it was that they were his father s parents, not his mother s. At the age of six, Richard s appendix burst and he was rushed to the hospital. His mother was told by the doctor three times that he would die before morning. At age twelve, he was sick in the hospital again. Due to these ill times, Richard succeeded in completing only five years of school. He didn t learn to read until age nine, and when he learned, it was phonetically. To this day, he cannot spell letter-by-letter (34). Similar to Paul, Richard also passed his time as a boy playing on bombsites. His interest in drums was sparked at some point when he was in the hospital. When he dreamed of owning his own set, he decided to make it a reality, and saved up the money himself. Richard became Ringo while playing with a group called The Raving Texans. The first name, Ringo, came because of the rings he wore. The last name was chosen so that his drum solos could be labeled as Starr Time.

John s gruop, the Quarry Men had come to be named so because of the Quarry Bank Grammar School most of the boys had attended. The school had a motto that said: Out of this rock you will find the truth. (Roylance, Quance, Craske, Milisec 12). They were a skiffle band, to match the skiffle craze that was enveloping the area. The band was playing a show at a village festival when Paul met up with them. Paul had gone simply to pick up girls, not at all intending to listen to the band (Paul). After an introduction to the band, however, he was convinced to go backstage and show off a little of his craftsmanship on the guitar. John was impressed that Paul could tune a guitar; Paul was impressed that John had a band. The Quarry Men were shocked to see that Paul could play and sing all the words to Twenty Flight Rock, which is what he initially played to them. Paul got stage fright the first time he preformed a solo, and so he thought of inviting his friend George Harrison into the band. George played Raunchy for the group on top of an empty bus and, no questions asked, was in. He knew more chords on the guitar than all of the group combined. John had been playing a four_string guitar, not even knowing a guitar should have six strings, when George came into the band. After his entrance, all other members but McCartney, Lennon, Stuart Sutcliffe (a bassist who was there basically for looks) and he were kicked out. It was now that John and Stu came up with the name the Beatles. It was a tribute to Buddy Holly s band, the Crickets. In order to play at certain clubs, they were encouraged to change the name. So, they called themselves the Silver Beatles. They went through a drummerless period, and Paul even took up the place for awhile. Then, Pete Best, manager of a local club, started drumming for them. This lasted a short period of time, and, unimpressed with him, the others soon fired him.

Brian Epstein became the Beatles manager in late 1961. Under him, they signed a recording contract and recruited Starr as their permanent drummer (About the Beatles). They were sent off to Hamburg to play at various area clubs. At these clubs, the band played seven hours a night for two solid months. The experience the Beatles gained from this was invaluable. The boys returned with stage experience and confidence; they’d also become tighter as friends. They had grown up. While in Hamburg, the boys became harder, and so did their music. As The Compleat Beatles tells, they came home from Hamburg improved in “technique, thinking, and writing.” As the boys progressed in fame, they took many risks. One of these was their change in style of music. Later, they took a controversial turn when they ceased touring in 1966.

The Beatles had many successes. Their first released single, Love Me Do reached number 17 on the Top 40 Chart. Please Please Me, their second single, went straight to number one. Please Please Me (the album) stayed on top of the charts for 30 weeks; it dropped off of the top position only when Meet the Beatles, their second album, was released. In February of 1964, the Beatles made an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. A record 73 million people watched the program. Throughout their fame, the Beatles had 26 Top 40 Hits, ten of these being number ones. They also made seven number one albums (A Beatles History). A factor in the Beatles change of musical style was their solid financial basis. They were virtually guaranteed sales of more than a million with every album the released (About the Beatles).

Three of the four members had experienced traumatic losses early in their lives. These instances had been suffered years before the boys came together. As a group, however, there were losses suffered jointly. In 1962, Stu Sutcliffe died. The group had been mobbed some months earlier and Stu had suffered a headache since. He had died of a brain hemorrhage (The Compleat Beatles). Another loss the group suffered was that of Brian Epstein. He was discovered dead in a hotel room in 1967; the cause of death had been a drug overdose.

The first album in which the Beatles began to decline noticeably as a bonded group was The Beatles (otherwise known as The White Album) It was clear that the album was really a collection of four solo artists instead of a collective group (A Beatles History). Ringo even quit the band for a time. The pressures of their public lives and growing outside interests caused the boys to see a separateness forming between them (About the Beatles). In April of 1970, with Paul s first solo album released, it was clear that the Beatles no longer existed as a whole. Rumors of a reunion lived on until the hope of such a thing was shot down along with John Lennon when he was assassinated on December 8, 1940. The Beatles story is clearly an interesting one. Full of many ups and downs, it tells of the many hardships and triumphs of stardom. The four members of this band were forged out of the same basic background, but were still four very independent people, as came out in the end. The Beatles legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of people for many generations to come.

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