Beatles, The

Beatles, The,

English rock music group formed in the late 1950s and disbanded in 1970. The members were John (Winston) Lennon, 1940–80, guitar and harmonica; (James) Paul McCartney, 1942–, guitar and piano; George Harrison, 1943–2001, guitar and sitar; and Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey), 1940–, drums. All were born in Liverpool, England. Influenced by such American performers as Chuck BerryBerry, Chuck
(Charles Edward Anderson Berry), 1926–2017, American rock music guitarist, singer, and songwriter, b. San Jose, Calif. Berry is widely regarded as one of the leading pioneers of rock music, having blended the blues with country music and added a
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, Little RichardLittle Richard,
1935–2020, American musician and singer, b. Macon, Ga., as Richard Wayne Penniman. One of the first rock musicians in the 1950s, he recorded such tunes as "Tutti Frutti," "Long Tall Sally," "Lucille," and "Good Golly Miss Molly," combining the shouts of
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, and Elvis PresleyPresley, Elvis
(Elvis Aaron Presley), 1935–77, American popular singer, b. Tupelo, Miss. Exposed to gospel music from childhood, Presley began playing guitar before his adolescence.
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, The Beatles dominated rock musicrock music,
type of music originating in the United States in the mid-1950s and increasingly popular throughout much of the world. Origins of Rock

Essentially hybrid in origin, rock music includes elements of several black and white American music styles: black
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 in the 1960s, eventually disbanding when they felt their possibilities as a group were exhausted. The lyrics and music for most of their songs were written by Lennon and McCartney.

The group burst on the international rock music scene in 1961. Their initial appeal derived as much from their wit, Edwardian clothes, and moplike haircuts as from their music. By 1963 they were the objects of wild adoration and were constantly followed by crowds of shrieking adolescent girls. By the late 1960s, "Beatlemania" had abated somewhat, and The Beatles were highly regarded by a broad spectrum of music lovers.

From 1963 to 1970 the group released 18 record albums that clearly document its musical development. The early recordings, such as Meet The Beatles (1964), are remarkable for their solid rhythms and excitingly rich, tight harmony. The middle albums, like Rubber Soul (1965) and Revolver (1966), evolved toward social commentary in their lyrics ("Eleanor Rigby," "Taxman") and introduced such instruments as the cello, trumpet, and sitar. In 1967, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band marked the beginning of The Beatles' final period, which is characterized by electronic techniques and allusive, drug-inspired lyrics. The Beatles' musical experimentation in the recording studio involved all of the members as well as their most important collaborator, their producer and audio engineer George Martin (1926–2016). The group acted and sang in four films: A Hard Day's Night (1964), Help! (1965), Magical Mystery Tour (1968), and Let It Be (1970), which are notable for their exuberance, slapstick, and satire. They also were animated characters in the full-length cartoon, Yellow Submarine (1968). After they disbanded, all the band members continued to compose and record songs. In 1980, Lennon was shot to death by a fan, Mark Chapman. McCartney was knighted in 1997.


See John Lennon, In His Own Write (1964, repr. 2000) and J. S. Wenner, ed., Lennon Remembers: The Rolling Stone Interviews (2000); B. Epstein, A Cellarful of Noise (1964); H. Davies, The Beatles (1968, repr. 1996); W. Mellers, Twilight of the Gods (1974); P. Norman, Shout! (1981); R. DiLello, The Longest Cocktail Party (1972, repr. 1983); T. Riley, Tell Me Why (1988); M. Lewisohn, The Beatles Recording Sessions (1988), The Beatles Day by Day (1990), The Complete Beatles Chronicles (1992), and The Beatles: All These Years (Tune In, Vol. 1, 2013); I. MacDonald, Revolution in the Head (1994); M. Hertsgaard, A Day in the Life (1995); The Beatles Anthology (video, 1995; book, 2000); B. Miles, Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now (1997); B. Spitz, The Beatles: The Biography (2005); P. Norman, John Lennon: The Life (2008) and Paul McCartney: The Life (2016); P. A. Carlin, Paul McCartney: A Life (2009); K. Womack, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Beatles (2009).

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