The Beatles were one of the most famous bands to ever happen to pop culture. They got their start in 1960 in Liverpool, England and took the world by storm. Members John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were synonymous with fame, fortune, talent and drama. Their musical style was a unique and diverse one as they were influenced by hard rock, pop ballads, psychedelia and Eastern music. They went from four guys with a dream to full blown Beatlemania. Along the way, however, there were bumps in the road. Bumps that the public didn’t see.
The more famous they got the more fighting would occur. The band members would normally fight about things that mattered, like tour dates, musical decisions and financial disputes. However, there were many times that the fights would become as petty as can be, to the point where they were fighting just for the sake of fighting. For example, John and George once got into a fist fight over the fact that Yoko allowed herself to take some of George’s biscuits.
Guitar maven – McCartney
In addition to being a mega-talented singer and songwriter, Paul McCartney is actually an extremely talented guitar player. He was the one who would play some of the hardest guitar solos on the tracks, not George Harrison! The guitar was Paul’s first instrument of choice and we can understand why. Harrison would often be praised for his guitar skills when in fact it was McCartney who laid down the track. Harrison would say, “No, that was Paul.” Some of Paul’s guitar work can be heard in Back in the USSR, and Taxman.
Different day, same hair
George, John, Ringo and Paul all sported the same bowl-cut hairdo during their first days. They decided on the matching look after seeing it in Hamburg, Germany, on several young men, including their friend and German resident Klaus Voormann. The first one to take the bowl-cut plunge was bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, while their then-drummer Pete Best couldn’t hack the look since his hair was too curly to pull it off.
A different name
The band started out with the name Quarrymen during the time they had Stuart Sutcliffe with them. It was prior to a tour in Scotland that they began calling themselves the Silver Beetles. Fast forward two months and the spelling changed to Silver Beatles. During their Scotland tour, all band members took on stage names to stand out. Paul was Paul Ramon, John was Long John, and George was Carl. It was later on that tour that they changed their name officially to The Beatles.
Frank Sinatra loved The Beatles. Having a fan like Sinatra, a legend in music himself, was one of the biggest compliments for the boys. Sinatra’s favorite song was Something by George Harrison. Harrison wrote Something and brought huge success to the band with the following that it gained. Sinatra said that he listened to the song very often and referred to it as “the greatest love song of the last 50 years.” To get that kind of praise from someone to revered in the musical industry is quite a statement.
Beatle no. 5
There is a theory about who was considered the fifth Beatle. There are those who say that the fifth Beatle were Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe, but that was debunked by Lennon when he said that there was no official number or title to any one of them. However, Paul had said that the fifth Beatle was either George Martin or their manager Brian Epstein. There were also rumors that the fifth one was actually Billy Preston who was a pianist for his effort in the song Get Back.
The London-based record label Decca Records, made one of the biggest mistakes of their business careers when they rejected The Beatles after hearing them audition for them at the beginning of their road. The band played a 15-song audition for the label, including original songs that would later become the greatest hits. Decca thought that “guitar groups were on the way out.” They learned from their mistake though, as they signed The Rolling Stones when they came on the scene in 1963. Good call, Decca.
In addition to music, The Beatles made some hit films too. One of those films, Yellow Submarine, was one of the most successful ones to date. Yellow Submarine was an animated musical that took place in the fictional town of Pepperland where the four members of the band needed to go to in order to save it from music opposed villains. Initial reports stated that the singers would voice their own animated characters but in the end they were voiced by actors. In the end of the film, though, the band members did put their voice in.
When you are famous, one of the inevitable things that will happen will be a death rumor – that’s how you know you’ve made it! In 1966, that exact thing happened to Paul McCartney. Paul hurt himself during a moped accident. In order to hide the scar that was left on his lip from the accident, he grew out his mustache, fueling conspiracies that it was not really Paul and that it was an imposter. Those who really wanted to believe that Paul was dead were also the ones that were sure that John Lennon said “I buried Paul” at the end of Strawberry Fields Forever, when in fact he said “cranberry sauce.”
During the 60s and 70s, the mentality and philosophy was peace and love. Hippies, you know. In 1967, the band thought up this plan to buy an island off the coast of Greece and bring their closest family and friends to live happily in a utopian society where it was all peace and love, just like they thought it should be. Lennon spearheaded the idea, stating, They’ve tried everything else. Wars, nationalism, fascism, communism, capitalism, nastiness, religion – none of it works. So why not this?”
There was a time that Ringo Starr, the band’s drummer, felt under appreciated to the point where he stormed out of the band’s practice and told them he was leaving the band. All of this happened during the recording of The White Album. To fill in, Paul sat at the drum kit and played during Back in the USSR and Dear Prudence. Paul wasn’t a fan of the drums and wasn’t anywhere as good as Ringo. The band begged Ringo to return, which he did. When he came back, the band decorated his drum kit with flowers.
With fame comes merch. Beatlemania merchandise flooded the shelves for their millions of fans to feast their eyes on and open their wallets for. The band’s fame came to an all-time high when they entered the American market. Stores sold out of the Beatles albums right left and center so they decided to invest in anything and everything Beatles. The items that were sold were pretty ridiculous but sold nonetheless. Some of these items include baby powder, bubble bath liquid, and mothballs!
The Beatles beat a lot of records, mostly their own. When they entered the US market and wowed American audiences, they made a trip to the United States and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. It was then, on April 4, 1964 that the band made history – their music held the first FIVE slots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with the following songs: Can’t Buy Me Love, Please Please Me, She Loves You, Twist and Shout, and I Want to Hold Your Hand.
News based music
The song A Day In The Life is the closing number on the Sgt. Pepper album. The song itself was based on the events of the days around when the song was written and recorded that John had read in the Daily Mail. The beginning of the song speaks of the news of the death of Tara Browne, who was a friend of John and Paul’s who was killed in a car accident. Another reference speaks of “4000 holes” leading up the road to Blackburn, Lancashire.
A charged ending
The song A Day In The Life, other than being a sensational song that uses daily occurrences as its lyrics and speaks to what the Beatles are all about, it is also a song that ends on a very powerful note, literally. The end of the song has one long chord that is sounded and continuous until it fades out. In order to make the note as charged as it could be, Paul, John and Ringo decided it would take three pianos playing the same chord together to pull of such a sound. That’s what you’re hearing at the end of the song.
Strawberry Fields Forever
Strawberry Fields Forever literally took forever to record. The song was recorded as part of the album Sgt. Pepper as the first of the lot. The band was pressured to release it as a single to gain traction. It took the band 45 hours to record the song over the course of five weeks as it is was recorded three different times in three different ways. After its release, Lennon loved the song so much that he wanted two of the three arrangements combined. If you listen closely you can tell about one minute into the song.
The beginning of the Beatles started out when John Lennon and a groups of his school mates started playing under the name The Quarrymen. They recorded their first album in 1958, a year after Paul McCartney and George Harrison joined the band. The album was the first filter of the bandmates as the sounds was more rock and roll than the original mates wanted it to be, leading them to walk away. John, Paul and George were the only three band members from 1958 to 1960.
Ringo and the tambourine
In the early 60s, when Ringo Starr became a part of the band, the Beatles recorded their first single with Ringo on the drums. Their producer, George Martin, didn’t like how Ringo sounded and decided to move him to play the tambourine and place Andy White, who was a session player, to play drums. Needless to say, Ringo was upset and still finds the incident offensive. He mastered the drums since, obviously.
Yellow Submarine singers
Ringo didn’t sing lead often but when he did he truly shined. His major achievement as a singer was in Yellow Submarine. The song was meant to be a children’s song as a form of spoof that turned viral (in the context of that day in age). The song was hit enough to have a film and subsequent soundtrack album after it. There were many famous voices that leant their talent for the film and soundtrack. Stars like Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd, Marianne Faithfull and Donovan.
The Pope’s blessing
The Vatican and the Pope initially condemned the Beatles as satan worshipers when John Lennon decided to state that the band was “more popular than Jesus,” which obviously angered the Catholic Church. However, in 2010, the Vatican put the Beatles’ album Revolver at the TOP of their top 10 pop albums. The Vatican officially apologized for calling the band satan worshipers as well. When Ringo heard of this he said that the apology was not necessary.
The album cover for Yesterday and Today featured the band with raw meat and dolls of babies that were dismembered all over them – controversial to say the least. The original plan was to have a decapitated Paul on the cover but their photographer, Robert Whitaker, decided to take it one step further and have the band pose as they did. When the image came out, many ended up being recalled due to public outrage while other were removed.
During a series of interviews that were directed at the deep thoughts of the Beatles band members that was done by NME, the men revealed their fears. The interview took place in 1967 when the men were already very famous. Paul recalled that he had a dream of himself walking down the street with nothing but his underwear on, something that terrified him. George said that he had a very vivid dream about his plane crashing with him on it (he was known to have a fear of flying). George said, “It was all funny though: me legs were burning, but they weren’t like hurting.”
The song Yesterday, written by Paul McCartney, actually came to him in a dream of all things! It is one of the most covered Beatles songs of their repertoire. The story goes that Paul woke up from a dream one morning and ran to his piano to play and write down the words: “scrambled eggs / oh my baby how I love your legs / not as much as I love scrambled eggs.” Legendary words!
When the Beatles got into the studio for the first time to record their music for Parlophone Records, they were received with many comments that their producer, George Martin, had listed while the band was recording. Needless to say the list was a long one and the band was not impressed. When Martin asked the guys if they had comments from their end, George Harrison said, “Well, for start, I don’t like your tie.” Nicely put, George.
Thoughts of death
The band members met up with Peter Fonda and the Byrds when they visited Los Angeles. During their visit they decided to take some hallucinogenic substances. During their trip, Fonda kept saying, “I know what it’s like to be dead,” recalling the time he was shot when he was 11 years old. John then responded to him with, “You’re making me feel like I’ve never been born.” That must have been some pretty strong stuff!
Paul and John reunion
The Beatles’ disbandment was crushing for all of their fans. Paul and John would go on to speak ill of each other to the press but remain close friends when the press wasn’t lurking. However, there was a time when the two reunited. In 1974, Paul, John, Harry Nilsson, Stevie Wonder, and Bobby Keys got together to record an impromptu rough session that would end up becoming the record A Toot and a Snore.
Art imitating life
The song that Paul and John wrote together, She’s Leaving Home, was inspired by an article the two read about a 17-year-old girl who went by the name Melanie Coe. Coe ran away from her home with her then-boyfriend. The Paul and John only knew that she ran away and proceeded to make up the rest of the story of Melanie. What they didn’t know was that later, Coe would say that what they made up was actually pretty accurate. Coe actually met Paul several years earlier as part of a dance competition.
Please Please Me
Producer George Martin didn’t like how Please Please Me sounded like when the band was recording it at the time. He asked the guys to increase the speed of the tempo. The guys didn’t want to but did so anyway. 18 takes later, the band recorded the perfect version of the song. After which Martin told them, “You’ve just made your first number one.” Martin was correct. Please Please Me proceeded to top the charts and BBC, Melody Maker, and NME.
Mr. Kite’s identity
John Lennon liked to write about things he read or experienced himself. As such, the story behind the song Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite came from a real circus poster that he ran into. It was during the time that the band was filming Strawberry Fields Forever that Lennon saw the poster and bought it at the antique shop that it was in (the poster was from the 19th century). The identity of Mr. Kite is said to be William Kite. William Kite worked for the circus’ proprietor.
Back in the day, it was much easier to find the homes of the rich and famous. Fans knew where John, Paul, Ringo and George lived. Many a time they would find screaming fans in front of their homes just waiting for them to come out and greet them. Most of the screaming fans (mostly girls) would go to Paul and John’s homes. There were times, though, that fans would get confused and arrive at George’s home in Liverpool. When that would happen, he would tell the fans that Paul wasn’t there and that they are mistaken.
Germany was a rough yet inspiring place for the band. They would spend two years in Hamburg, but it was before the long stint there that they get deported. Harrison was deported for being underage (he was 17) and couldn’t play in German clubs, while Paul and Best were deported for lighting up something in their apartment when the power was out. Everything ended up working out for the best but it was a rough time there for a while.
She actually came in through the window
Like we said, the guys liked to write songs about real things, actual events. The songs Abbey Road and She Came In Through The Bathroom Window were actual events. There was a group of fans that went by the name Apple scruffs, tat would follow the men home from the studio and try to be with them. One of these fans managed to sneak into Paul’s home through the bathroom window and proceeded to let her friends in his home to take clothes and memorabilia.
The Sgt. Pepper cover
The cover of the Sgt. Pepper album was also a controversial one. The guys wanted there to be important figures on the cover alongside the four band members who would be lined up in the front. Some of the famous faces on the cover are Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Dylan, and Karl Marx. Initially, there were three more famous, or infamous, faces on the cover – Hitler, Jesus Christ, and Gandhi. The last three were removed prior to the release for being too controversial.
American Beatlemania is said to have been started by a 15-year-old girl from Washington DC. Marsha Albert, the teenage girl, called into her local radio station and asked them why they didn’t play any of the Beatles songs, “Why can’t we have music like that here in America?” is what she said. The DJ listened to her and got a copy of I Want To Hold Your Hand. As soon as they began playing it, it went viral.
The guys liked to make waves but this time it wasn’t on purpose. On their last live performance, the guys – John, Paul and Ringo, weren’t prepared for how cold it was going to be and needed to borrow their significant other’s coats. You can see the moment here in the photo but also in the Let It Be video. The wind was very strong as well. Alan Parsons, their engineer, used pantyhose to put over the microphones to make sure the wind didn’t affect the vocals too much.
The smell of a Beatles concert
The Beatles’ concerts were filled with screaming fans and women throwing their undergarments at the guys. The audio footage as well as the video was filled with evidence to the screaming women everywhere. However, there was another defining characteristic to the Beatles’ concert: the smell of urine. The women who were getting so very excited were actually peeing themselves with excitement!
When the guys were living in Hamburg, they were actually residing in an old cinema that was named Bambi Kino. The guys were still starting out at the point so they couldn’t care less where they slept as long as they were doing what they loved – music. John once remembered that the guys would wake up when there was a showing and would go to the women’s bathroom to clean up for the day ahead.
Split at Disney
The Beatles ended their time together in 1970 (officially in 1974). When it came time to sign the dissolution papers they were scheduled to do so at the Plaza Hotel in New York. The document was singed by Ringo back in England, while Paul and George flew in to New York to sign the documents. John, however, didn’t come to sign the documents due to the fact that he felt that “the start aren’t right.” The lawyer ended up flying to John, who was at Disney World on vacation for him to sign.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) didn’t like how suggestive the Beatles’ music was. Be it inappropriate behavior or illegal substances that ran rampant throughout the years, they thought it to be a bit much and banned some of their music. Songs like A Day in the life, I am the Walrus, and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds were a few of the songs that were not allowed to be played. Over the years they were reintroduced to the network.
Reasons for the split
There were several reasons the band ended up splitting up, not only for famous one that Yoko did it! The first nail in the coffin came in 1967 when their manager Brian Epstein passed away. The second nail was indeed Yoko. The guys said that they always said that girlfriends and wives were never to come into the studio to keep the peace and focus in the music making process, something that went out of the window when John met Yoko.
More reasons for the split
What put the final nail in the coffin for the guys was the fact that each of them was going on different professional paths in terms of their tastes in music and the business acumen. George wanted to write more songs, which he became very good at John and Paul were not supportive. The White Album was the one where you could feel the tension within the songs as they were all singing lead. John announced he was leaving the band in 1969, followed by Paul in 1970.