The Beatles

Ian Inglis

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
The Beatles

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The Beatles (John Lennon, 1940–1980, rhythm guitar and vocals; Paul McCartney, 1942–, bass guitar and vocals; George Harrison, 1943–2001, lead guitar and vocals; Ringo Starr, 1940–, drums) emerged in 1963–1964 to international acclaim as a hugely popular and profoundly influential force in popular music. The group’s four members were born and educated in Liverpool, England, and it was in that city that their musical career, inspired by their fondness for American rock ’n’ roll, began. From Lennon and McCartney’s initial meeting in July 1957, the group progressed through several changes of name (the Quarrymen, Johnny and the Moondogs, the Silver Beetles), variations in membership (bass guitarist Stuart Sutcliffe, drummer Pete Best), and a performance history largely centered on the dance halls and clubs of Merseyside and Hamburg, Germany, before signing a management contract with Liverpool businessman Brian Epstein in 1962 and securing a recording contract with Parlophone in the same year. In 1963, the Beatles achieved unprecedented commercial success in the United Kingdom amid scenes of fan hysteria that were quickly dubbed “Beatlemania.” In 1964, their achievements were repeated in the United States and around the world. They spearheaded the “British Invasion” of the mid-1960s in which British performers established for the first time a significant presence in American popular music. Under the guidance of producer George Martin, the group enjoyed an unbroken sequence of hit singles and albums that defined much of the decade’s musical activity. The group composed the great majority of its music, and the ability of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting team to create original and innovative songs across a variety of genres was seen as a principal explanation of the Beatles’ success. In 1966, they announced their retirement from touring and live performance in order to concentrate on studio recording, and the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in June 1967 was hailed, then and now, as a pivotal moment in the cultural history of the postwar years. Following Epstein’s death in August 1967, the group attempted to take control of its business and financial affairs via the creation of its own musical and managerial company, Apple. However, the increasingly troubled history of Apple and the individual aspirations of the four Beatles led to irreparable schisms in the group’s personal relations. The Beatles effectively disbanded in April 1970, although all four members continued to have active, if intermittent, careers in music and film. John Lennon was shot dead outside his home in New York in December 1980; George Harrison died in November 2001 at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was being treated for cancer.

Article.  11146 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Applied Music ; Ethnomusicology ; Music Theory and Analysis ; Musicology and Music History ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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