The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music.Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, the group later worked in many genres ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways. The nature of their enormous popularity, which first emerged as "Beatlemania", transformed as their songwriting grew in sophistication. They came to be perceived as the embodiment of ideals of the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.
They achieved mainstream success in the United Kingdom in late 1962, with their first single, "Love Me Do". Gaining international popularity and acquiring the nickname "Fab Four" the following year, they toured extensively until 1966. During their subsequent "studio years", they produced what critics consider some of their finest material including the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), widely regarded as a masterpiece. After their break-up in 1970, the band members all found success in independent musical careers. Lennon was murdered outside his home in New York City in 1980, and Harrison died of cancer in 2001. McCartney and Starr remain active.
The Beatles are the best-selling band in history, and over four decades after their break-up, their recordings are still in demand. They have had more number one albums on the UK charts and have held the top spot longer than any other musical act. According to the RIAA, they have sold more albums in the United States than any other artist, and they headed Billboard magazine's list of all-time top Hot 100 artists in 2008. They have received 7 Grammy Awards from the American National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and 15 Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. They were collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of the 20th century's 100 most influential people.
The Beatles' earliest influences include Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Little Richard,and Chuck Berry, whose songs they covered more often than any other artist's in performances throughout their career. During their co-residency with Little Richard at the Star-Club in Hamburg, from April to May 1962, he advised them on the proper technique for performing his songs. Of Presley, Lennon said, "Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn't been Elvis, there would not have been The Beatles".Other early influences include Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Roy Orbison and the Everly Brothers.The Beatles continued to absorb influences long after their initial success, often finding new musical and lyrical avenues by listening to their contemporaries, including Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Byrds and The Beach Boys, whose 1966 album Pet Sounds amazed and inspired McCartney.Martin stated, "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened. ... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds."
The Beatles' influence on popular culture was—and remains—immense. Former Rolling Stone associate editor Robert Greenfield said, "People are still looking at Picasso ... at artists who broke through the constraints of their time period to come up with something that was unique and original. In the form that they worked in, in the form of popular music, no one will ever be more revolutionary, more creative and more distinctive." From the 1920s, the United States had dominated popular entertainment culture throughout much of the world, via Hollywood movies, jazz, the music of Broadway and Tin Pan Alley and, later, the rock and roll that first emerged in Memphis, Tennessee.The Beatles not only triggered the British Invasion of the US, but themselves became a globally influential phenomenon.
Their musical innovations, as well as their commercial success, inspired musicians worldwide.A large number of artists have acknowledged them as an influence, or have had chart successes with covers of Beatles songs.On radio, their arrival marked the beginning of a new era; program directors like Rick Sklar of New York's WABC went so far as to forbid DJs from playing any "pre-Beatles" music.The Beatles redefined the album as something more than just a few hits padded out with "filler".They were primary innovators of the music video.The Shea Stadium date with which they opened their 1965 North American tour attracted what was then the largest audience in concert history and is seen as a "landmark event in the growth of the rock crowd." Emulation of their clothing and especially their hairstyles, which became a mark of rebellion, had a global impact on fashion.
The Beatles changed the way people listened to popular music and experienced its role in their lives.From what began as the Beatlemania fad, the group grew to be perceived by their young fans across the industrialized world as the representatives, even the embodiment, of ideals associated with cultural transformation.As icons of the 1960s counterculture, they became a catalyst for bohemianism and activism in various social and political arenas, fuelling such movements as women's liberation, gay liberation and environmentalism.
Who is your favourite Beatle, and why ?