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LEGENDS OF ROCK AND ROLL
The Beatles were known as a rock and roll group, but they were not just any old band. They changed music around the world, as we know it. Between the boys, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr, they had extraordinary talent (History of the Beatles 1). They started what was called the “British Invasion,” and some say that the Beatles are the greatest musicians to ever walk God’s great earth.
It all started in 1956, when John Lennon started the group, The Quarrymen. In 1957, a friend Paul McCartney came to the group. They now started to cooperate as composers, and a couple of year’s later, George Harrison completed the group. During the autumn they used the name, Johnny and the Moondogs. They now often played in Liverpool and the people began to really like them (The Beatles 1).
In 1959 their name changed to The Silver Beetles, but there was a big problem. They had no one to play the drums (Hertsgard 2). George Harrison said that he remembered a great drummer that played in a jazz club band. It was Pete Best, who later joined the band. In August 1960, they simplified the name to The Beatles (History of the Beatles 3).
One of their first public gigs was at the Liverpool-club “The Cavern.” One of the spectators was Brian Epstein. He had a record store in the town and he knew the boys. He was very impressed by their gig, and he wanted to be their manager. They could not refuse an offer like that (Hertsgard 1)!
Being a jazz drummer, Pete Best didn’t feel comfortable in a rock and roll band, so in 1962, Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey) replaced him. He had played in a previous group called Rory Storm and The Hurricanes (The Beatles 1).
The Beatles first single they recorded was “Love Me Do.” It hit the top twenty UK charts in 1962, thanks to a large part of advanced ordering by Brian Epstein who stocked his record store. Depending on which record chart was used, their second single, “Please Please Me” or the third, “From Me to You,” became the first number one for the group in England (History of the Beatles).
Yet, as was always the case with British groups, they were not getting anywhere in America. By late 1963 however, the Beatles had become so huge in England that small independent labels had been releasing the Beatles singles in the U.S. Capitol finally succumbed to the rising tides of Beatlemania and released “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
Earlier songs that went to the top of the charts was “She Loves You,” and “From Me To You.” Now USA waited for them. Brian Epstein and their producer George Martin wanted to go there but The Beatles said: “We’re not goin? to America until we?ve got a number one there!” So instead they went to France (Hertsgard 1). After the show they received a telegram at the hotel: “Capitol Records congratulates you, you have a number one on US charts.” So after France they went to USA, and became very successful.
Their arrival in the U.S. created a fan frenzy that’s never been seen before. They were so adored in America, that at concerts you could hardly hear them play. The screams of the fans were too much. This made them feel that they were really going to be the greatest rock-and-roll band ever (The Beatles 2)!
The Beatles were untouchable in 1964. Every album and single went to number one. In late March early April of 1964, the Beatles occupied all five top positions on the billboard singles’ charts: a record that still stands today.
“I Want to Hold Your Hand” went straight to number one on both sides of the Atlantic. The Beatles look was spreading everywhere; boys were taking on the mop-top look, while girls were fantasizing about John, Paul, George, and Ringo. In 1964, the Beatles record company, Capitol, decided that when they visit America they should go on the Ed Sullivan show. Seventy million people watched The Beatles that night on Ed Sullivan.
Also in 1964, they shot and released their first full-length motion picture, “A Hard Day’s Night.” This black-and-white film, depicted a fictional day in the life of the Fab Four, is still hailed today as a cinematic masterpiece (History of the Beatles 4). Even their mop-top haircuts and unusual clothing were having a wide influence on both American and British youth.
By 1965, although the Beatles were still remarkably successful, some of the magic of Beatlemania had started to fade. The Beatles were becoming increasingly frustrated that no one (including the Beatles themselves) could hear the music over the fans’ screaming. The Beatles second film, “Help!” while still entertaining and very successful, seemed to lack the acclaim of “A Hard Day’s Night? (The Beatles 3). The Beatles were clearly exhausted from their grueling recording and touring schedules and were becoming very sick of life in a fishbowl.
Despite this entire furor, the Beatles, and the songwriting of Lennon and McCartney in particular, were showing remarkable growth. With each album, the music was growing more complex. Still, the lyrics remained boy-girl oriented and seemed to have little else to say. By 1965, John Lennon, an unfailingly honest man, was getting very tired of acting like a mindless pop idol just to remain successful. The influence of Bob Dylan led John to write more honest, introspective, thoughtful lyrics. The Beatles were rewriting all the rules of pop music and although they were outgrowing their mop-top images, the fans were, for the most part, growing right alongside them. Yet, to frame it another way, the first signs of the splintering of the Beatles were becoming visible in 1965.
Trying to take some control of the sinking ship, Paul McCartney suggested that the Beatles try to “get back” to the old days of performing good old rock-and-roll live in the studio and going on the road with the results. The others refused to tour, but it was decided that the sessions would be filmed and made into a documentary. The Beatles all remembered the period as a terrible time. The Beatles had grown too far apart for such a project to work (Hertsgard 3). The cameras captured the band members arguing with each other and generally looking bored and unhappy.
However, the Beatles decided to go back to the studio and make one more album. Knowing that it would be the last album, the Beatles put forth their best and most cooperative album since Sgt. Pepper: Abbey Road (History of the Beatles 4). This album features some of the best work from all four of the Beatles and created a musical legacy of which can still be felt today.
Beatlemania started on the British Isles and it covered the whole world. There was yelling and screaming for three years. Fans would shout uncontrollably, become emotionally or mentally excited and even faint sometimes when it came to the Beatles. Every country had experienced this emotion of being introduced to the greatest rock and roll band ever, and they called it Beatlemania (The Beatles 2).
?History of the Beatles.? http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Atrium/3995/history.html. March 4,
?The Beatles.? http://www.paragraph.se/beatles/history.html. March 4, 1999.
Hertsgard, M. ?The Beatles.? Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. March 14, 1999.
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