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Beatles - Abbey Road (Original Recording Remastered)
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Abbey Road (Original Recording Remastered)
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2012-11-13
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Notes / Reviews

Abbey Road is the eleventh studio album by the English rock band The Beatles. Though Let It Be was the last album released before The Beatles' dissolution in 1970, work on Abbey Road began in April 1969, making it the final album recorded by the band. Abbey Road was released on 26 September 1969 in the United Kingdom, and 1 October 1969 in the United States. It was produced and orchestrated by George Martin for Apple Records. Geoff Emerick was engineer, Alan Parsons was assistant engineer, and Tony Banks was tape operator.

Abbey Road is regarded as one of The Beatles' most tightly constructed albums, although the band was barely operating as a functioning unit at the time. Rolling Stone placed it at number 14 on its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". In 2009, readers of the magazine also named Abbey Road the greatest Beatles album.

Composition and recording

Background

After the near-disastrous sessions for the proposed Get Back album (later retitled Let It Be) Paul McCartney suggested to Martin the group get together and make an album "the way we used to" free of the conflict that began with the sessions for The White Album. Martin agreed, stipulating that he must be allowed to do the album his way. In their interviews for the Beatles Anthology series the surviving band members stated that, although none of them ever made the distinction of calling it the 'last album', they all felt at the time this would very likely be the final Beatles product and therefore agreed to set aside their differences and 'go out on a high note'.

With the Let It Be album partly finished, the sessions for Abbey Road began in April, as "The Ballad of John and Yoko"/"Old Brown Shoe" single was completed. In fact recording sessions of John Lennon's "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" had started already in February 1969 in Trident studios with Billy Preston at organ—only three weeks after the Get Back sessions. Photos from these sessions are included in the book Get Back which came along with the Let It Be album but not in the Let It Be movie. Paul is shaved and John has started to let his beard grow.

Most of the album was recorded between 2 July and 1 August 1969. After the album was finished and released, the Get Back/Let It Be project was re-examined. More work was done on the album, including the recording of additional music (see Let It Be). Thus, though the bulk of Let It Be was recorded prior to Abbey Road, the latter was released first, and Abbey Road was the last album properly started by The Beatles before they disbanded. John Lennon was on hiatus from the group and working with the Plastic Ono Band during the September 1969 lead-up to Abbey Roads release, which was effectively the first official sign of the Beatles' impending dissolution.

The two album sides are quite different in character. Side one is a collection of single tracks, while side two consists of a long suite of compositions, many of them being relatively short and segued together. The main impetus behind the suite approach was to incorporate the various short and incomplete Lennon and McCartney compositions the group had available into an effective part of the album.

Side one

"Come Together"

The album opener "Come Together" was a Lennon contribution. The chorus was inspired by a song Lennon originally wrote for Timothy Leary's campaign for governor of California titled "Let's Get It Together". A rough version of this can be heard in outtakes from Lennon's second bed-in event in Canada.

It has been speculated that the verses, described by Lennon as intentionally obscure, refer cryptically to each of The Beatles (e.g. "he's one holy roller" allegedly refers to the spiritually inclined George Harrison); however, it has also been suggested that the song has only a single "pariah-like protagonist" and Lennon was "painting another sardonic self-portrait". The song was later the subject of a lawsuit brought against Lennon by Morris Levy because the opening line in "Come Together"—"Here come old flat-top"—was admittedly lifted from a line in Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me".

"Come Together" was later released as a double A side single with "Something". In the liner notes to the Love album Martin described the track as a personal favourite.

"Something"

The second track on the album later became Harrison's first A-side single. Basing the first line of the song on "Something in the Way She Moves" from James Taylor's 1968 Apple Records album James Taylor, Harrison wrote "Something" during the The Beatles sessions. After the lyrics were refined during the "Let It Be" sessions (tapes reveal Lennon giving Harrison some songwriting advice during its composition), the song was initially given to Joe Cocker, but was subsequently recorded for Abbey Road. "Something" was Lennon's favourite song on the album, and McCartney considered it the best song Harrison had written. Frank Sinatra once commented that "Something" was his favourite Lennon/McCartney song (sic) and "the greatest love song ever written". The song was released as a double A-side single with "Come Together".

Harrison was rapidly growing as a songwriter, and with Abbey Road, he made his most significant contributions to a Beatles album. "Something" became the first Beatles number one single that was not a Lennon/McCartney composition—it was also the first single with songs from an already released album; "Here Comes the Sun" has received significant radio airplay despite never having been released as a single. At the Concert for George on the first anniversary of Harrison's death, "Something" was sung by McCartney, who performed the first part of the song solo while playing ukulele. After the first chorus, the song shifted to its traditional arrangement, with other musicians joining in, and Eric Clapton sharing vocals with McCartney.

"Maxwell's Silver Hammer"

"Maxwell's Silver Hammer", McCartney's first song on the album, was first performed by The Beatles during the Let It Be sessions (as can be seen in the Let It Be documentary).

According to Geoff Emerick's book, Here, There and Everywhere, Lennon said the song was "more of Paul's granny music", and refused to participate in the recording of the song.

"Oh! Darling"

When recording "Oh! Darling", McCartney attempted recording only once a day. He said, "When we were recording 'Oh! Darling' I came into the studios early every day for a week to sing it by myself because at first my voice was too clear. I wanted it to sound as though I'd been performing it on stage all week." Lennon was of the opinion that it was the type of song that he would've sung the lead on, remarking that it was more his style. On the Anthology 3 album, Lennon can be heard singing the lead on an ad-libbed verse regarding the news that Yoko Ono's divorce from Anthony Cox, her previous husband, had just come through.

"Octopus's Garden"

Ringo Starr wrote and sang one song for the album, "Octopus's Garden", his second (and last) composition released on a Beatles album. It was inspired by a trip to Sardinia that occurred when Starr left the band for two weeks with his family during the sessions for The Beatles. While there, he composed the song, which is arguably his most successful writing effort. While Starr had the lyrics nearly pinned down, the song's melodic structure was partly written in the studio by Harrison (as can be seen in the Let It Be film), although Harrison gave full songwriting credit to Starr. (Harrison and Starr would later collaborate on Starr's solo singles "It Don't Come Easy" and "Photograph".) On the album "Love", this song is remixed with "Yellow Submarine", "Good Night", "Lovely Rita", and "Helter Skelter".

"I Want You (She's So Heavy)"

"I Want You (She's So Heavy)" is a combination of two somewhat different recording attempts. The first attempt occurred almost immediately after the "Get Back/Let It Be" sessions in February 1969 and featuring Billy Preston on keyboards. This was subsequently combined with a second version made during the "Abbey Road" sessions proper, and when edited together ran nearly 8 minutes long, making it The Beatles' second-longest released song ("Revolution 9" being the longest). Perhaps more than any other Beatles song, "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" reveals a pronounced progressive rock influence, with its unusual length and structure, repeating guitar riff, and "white noise" effects; the "I Want You" section has a straightforward blues structure. It also features one of the earliest uses of a Moog synthesiser to create the white-noise or "wind" effect heard near the end of the track. During the final edit, as the guitar riff and white noise effect continues on and on, Lennon told engineer Emerick to "cut it right there" at the 7:44 mark, creating a sudden, jarring silence which concluded side one of Abbey Road. The final overdub session for "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" would be the last time all four Beatles worked in the studio together.

Side two

"Here Comes the Sun"

"Here Comes the Sun" is Harrison's second song on the album and one of his best-known; it was written in Eric Clapton's garden while Harrison was absent from an Apple board meeting. "Here Comes the Sun" was influenced by the Cream song "Badge", which was co-written by Clapton and Harrison. While not released as a single, the song has received frequent radio airplay since its release.

"Because"

"Because" features a Moog synthesiser, played by Harrison. The chords in the song were inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata", in a roundabout way: Lennon said he "was lying on the sofa in our house, listening to Yoko play Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' on the piano. Suddenly, I said, 'Can you play those chords backward?' She did, and I wrote 'Because' around them." "Because" features three-part harmonies by Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison, which were then triple-tracked to sound like nine singers.

Medley

The climax of the album is the 16-minute medley consisting of several short songs, both finished and unfinished, blended into a suite by McCartney and Martin. Most of these songs were written (and originally recorded in demo form) during sessions for The White Album and the Get Back/Let It Be sessions.

"You Never Give Me Your Money" is the first song of the Abbey Road medley. It was written by McCartney and based loosely on The Beatles' financial problems with Apple. (Paul had refused signing Allen Klein as their new manager.) It slowly and quietly follows into "Sun King" (which, like "Because", showcases Lennon's, McCartney's, and Harrison's overdubbed harmonies), "Mean Mr. Mustard" (written during The Beatles' trip to India), and "Polythene Pam" (contributed by Lennon). These in turn are followed by four McCartney songs, "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window" (written after a fan came into McCartney's residence literally through the bathroom window), "Golden Slumbers" (based on lyrics from Thomas Dekker's 17th-century poem, but not the music of a song based on the poem), "Carry That Weight" (featuring chorus vocals from all four Beatles), and the climax, "The End".

"The End" is notable for featuring Starr's only drum solo in The Beatles' catalogue (the drums are mixed across two tracks in "true stereo"—in a similar way to the studio single version of Get Back). Normally, even though mixes were in stereo, the drums were mixed in mono, locked together with other instruments and often panned hard left or right in the stereo "picture". Fifty-four seconds into the song, before the famous last line, which is played over piano chords, are 18 bars (or measures) of guitar solo: the first two bars are played by McCartney, the second two by Harrison, and the third two by Lennon, then the sequence repeats. Each has a distinctive style which McCartney felt reflected their personalities: McCartney's playing included string bends similar to his lead guitar work on "Another Girl" from the Help! album; Harrison's was melodic with slides yet technically advanced and Lennon's was rhythmic, stinging and had the heaviest distortion. Immediately after Lennon's third solo, the piano chords of the final part of the song begin. The song ends with the memorable final line, "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make".

An alternative version of the song, with Harrison's lead guitar solo played against McCartney's (with Starr's drum solo heard in the background), appears on the Anthology 3 album.

"Her Majesty"

"Her Majesty", tacked on the end, was originally part of the side two medley, appearing between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam". McCartney disliked the way the medley sounded when it included "Her Majesty", so he had the medley re-edited to remove it. However, second engineer John Kurlander had been instructed never to throw out anything, so after the group left the recording studio that day, he picked it up off the floor, spliced 14 seconds of red leader tape onto the final mix reel, and then spliced in "Her Majesty" immediately after the leader tape. The box of the album's master reel bore an instruction to leave "Her Majesty" off the final product, but the next day when Malcolm Davies at Apple received the tape, he (also trained not to throw anything away) cut a playback lacquer of the whole sequence, including "Her Majesty". The Beatles liked this effect and left it on the album. Original US and UK pressings of Abbey Road do not list "Her Majesty" on the album's cover nor on the record label, making it a hidden track.

"Her Majesty" opens with the final, crashing chord of "Mean Mr. Mustard", while the final note of "Her Majesty" remained buried in the mix of "Polythene Pam". This is the result of "Her Majesty" being snipped off the reel during a rough mix of the medley. The cut in the medley was subsequently disguised with further mixing although "Her Majesty" was not touched again and still appears in its rough mix, except on The Beatles: Rock Band where the final note has been restored.

Reception

Abbey Road became one of the most successful Beatles albums ever. In the UK the album debuted straight at number 1. Abbey Road spent its first 11 weeks in the UK charts at number 1, before being displaced to number 2 for one week by the Rolling Stones debuting at the top with Let It Bleed. However, the following week—which was the week of Christmas—Abbey Road returned to the top for another 6 weeks, completing 17 weeks at the top. In all it spent 92 weeks inside the UK Top 75, and 16 years later on 31 October 1987, when it was released for the first time on CD, it reached number 30. In the UK Abbey Road was the best-selling album of 1969 and the fourth best-selling of the entire 1960s, and the eighth best-selling album of 1970.

Reaction in the US was similar. The album debuted at number 178, then moved to number 4 and in its third week to number 1, spending 11 non-consecutive weeks at the top. Abbey Road spent a total of 129 weeks in the Billboard 200, re-entering the chart at number 69 on 14 November 1987 when it was released for the first time on CD. It was the NARM best selling album of 1969"NARM Awards" Billboard 6 March 1971: N27 and was number 4 on Billboard magazine's top LPs of 1970 year-end chart. Abbey Road was certified 12x platinum by the RIAA in 2001.

In June 1970, Allen Klein reported that US sales of Abbey Road were about 5 million.Dove, Ian. "Beatlemania Returns As 'Let It Be' Clicks" Billboard 6 June 1970: 1 When The Beatles disbanded, Abbey Road had sold over 7 million copies worldwide. According to EMI, its worldwide sales reached 7.6 million copies in October 1972. This was also the first Beatles' album to reach the 10-million mark in worldwide sales, in 1980.

It achieved high placings (often as the highest placed Beatles album) in 'best albums in history' polls carried out between 1997 and 2006 in the US, the UK, and Australia.

Production notes

Abbey Road, The Beatles (partially) and Let It Be were the only Beatles albums to be recorded on professional eight-track reel to reel tape machines, rather than the four-track machines that were used for prior Beatles albums starting with the single "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in 1963 and the album A Hard Day's Night in 1964. EMI's management had not approved the use of their then-new 3M eight-track deck until shortly after the sessions for their 1968 single "Hey Jude". Also, the Moog is prominently featured, not merely as a background effect, but sometimes playing a central role, as in "Because" where it is used for the middle 8. It is also prominent on "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" (played using a ribbon strip) and "Here Comes the Sun". The instrument was introduced to the band by Harrison who, earlier in 1969, had used one to create his Electronic Sound album.

Abbey Road was also the first and only Beatles album to be entirely recorded through a solid state transistor mixing desk as opposed to thermionic valve.

One of the assistant engineers working on the album was a then-unknown Alan Parsons. He went on to engineer Pink Floyd's landmark album The Dark Side of the Moon and produce many popular albums himself with The Alan Parsons Project. John Kurlander also assisted on many of the sessions, and went on to become a successful engineer and producer, most noteworthy for his success on the scores for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

Album sleeve

The sleeve was designed by Apple Records creative director Kosh. It is the only original UK Beatles album sleeve to show neither the artist name nor the album title on its front cover.

Imagery

The front cover design, a photograph of the group traversing a zebra crossing, was based on sketched ideas by McCartney and taken on 8 August 1969 outside EMI Studios on Abbey Road. At around 11:30 that morning, photographer Iain Macmillan was given only ten minutes to take the photo whilst he stood on a step-ladder and a policeman held up the traffic.

In the scene, the group walk across the street in single file from left to right, with Lennon leading, followed by Starr, McCartney, and Harrison. McCartney is bare-foot. With the exception of Harrison, the group are wearing suits designed by Tommy Nutter.

To the left of the picture, parked next to the zebra crossing, is a white Volkswagen Beetle motor-car which belonged to one of the people living in the block of flats across from the recording studio. After the album was released, the number plate (LMW 281F) was stolen repeatedly from the car. In 1986, the car was sold at auction for £2,530Equivalent to £ today and in 2001 was on display in a museum in Germany.

The man standing on the pavement to the right of the picture is Paul Cole (c. 1911 – 13 February 2008), an American tourist unaware he had been photographed until he saw the album cover months later.

Legacy

The image of the Beatles on the crossing has become one of the most famous and imitated in recording history.BBC article on the album cover http The crossing is a popular destination for Beatles fans and there is a featuring it. In December 2010, the crossing was given grade II listed status for its "cultural and historical importance", the Abbey Road studios themselves had been given similar status earlier in the year.BBC news article on listed status http

Cover versions

The songs on Abbey Road have been covered many times (see the song articles for more details) and the album itself has been covered in its entirety.

One month after Abbey Road's release, George Benson recorded a cover version of the album called The Other Side of Abbey Road. In 1970 Booker T. & the M.G.'s recorded McLemore Avenue (the location of Stax Records) which covered the Abbey Road songs and had a similar cover photo.

Additionally, several artists have covered some or all of the side B medley, including Phil Collins (for the Martin/Beatles tribute album In My Life), Soundgarden, Dream Theater, The String Cheese Incident, Transatlantic, The Punkles, Tenacious D, Umphrey's Mcgee, 70 Volt Parade and Furthur (band).

Personnel

According to Mark Lewisohn

and Alan W. Pollack.

;The Beatles

* George Harrison – lead, rhythm, acoustic and bass guitars; lead, harmony and background vocals (sometimes multitracked); Hammond organ, harmonium and Moog synthesiser; handclaps and assorted percussion

* John Lennon – lead and rhythm guitars; six- and 12-string acoustic guitars; lead, harmony and background vocals (sometimes multitracked); electric and acoustic pianos; Hammond organ and Moog synthesiser; white noise generator and sound effects; tambourine and maracas

* Paul McCartney – lead, rhythm, acoustic and bass guitars; fuzz bass; lead, harmony and background vocals (sometimes multitracked); electric and acoustic pianos; Hammond organ and Moog synthesiser (ribbon strip); handclaps and assorted percussion and sound effects

* Ringo Starr – drums, percussion, timpani, anvil and hand claps; lead and background vocals

;Additional musicians

* George Martin – piano; electric harpsichord, harmonium and percussion

* Billy Preston – Hammond organ on "Something" and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"

;Production

* "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun" orchestrated and conducted by George Martin (with George Harrison)

* "Golden Slumbers", "Carry That Weight" and "The End" orchestrated and conducted by George Martin (with Paul McCartney)

* Produced by George Martin (with the Beatles)

* Recorded by Geoff Emerick and Phil McDonald

* Assistant Engineering by Alan Parsons

* Mixed by Geoff Emerick, Phil McDonald and George Martin (with the Beatles)

* Moog programming by Mike Vickers

Chart positions

Release history

See also

* List of best-selling albums worldwide

* List of best-selling albums in the United States

* Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time

References





This text has been derived from Abbey Road on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0

Artist/Band Information

The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960, and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. From 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, they 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.

Initially with a five-piece line-up of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe (bass) and Pete Best (drums), they built their reputation in Liverpool and Hamburg clubs over a three-year period from 1960. Sutcliffe left the group in 1961, and Best was replaced by Starr the following year. Moulded into a professional outfit by music store owner Brian Epstein after he offered to act as the group's manager, and with their musical potential enhanced by the creativity of producer George Martin, the group achieved mainstream success in the United Kingdom in late 1962, with their first single, "Love Me Do". Gaining international popularity over the course of the next year, they toured extensively until 1966, then retreated to the recording studio until their break-up in 1970. Each then found success in an independent musical career. Lennon was murdered outside his home in New York City in 1980, and Harrison died of cancer in 2001. McCartney and Starr remain active.

During their 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. They are the best-selling band in the history of popular music, and 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 also held the top spot longer than any other act. According to the RIAA, they have sold more albums in the United States than any other artist. The Beatles were number one in a 2008, Billboard list of the all-time top-selling Hot 100 artists to celebrate the US singles chart's fiftieth anniversary. They have been honoured with 7 Grammy Awards, and have received 15 Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. They were also collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of the 20th century's 100 most influential people.

History

Formation and early years (1957–1962)

Aged sixteen, Lennon formed the skiffle group The Quarrymen with some Liverpool schoolfriends in March 1957. Fifteen-year-old McCartney joined as a guitarist after he and Lennon met that July. When McCartney in turn invited Harrison to watch the group the following February, the fourteen-year-old joined as lead guitarist. By 1960, Lennon's schoolfriends had left the group, he had begun studies at the Liverpool College of Art and the three guitarists were playing rock and roll whenever they could get a drummer. Joining on bass in January, Lennon's fellow student Stuart Sutcliffe suggested changing the band name to "The Beetles" as a tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets, and they became "The Beatals" for the first few months of the year. After trying other names including "Johnny and the Moondogs", "Long John and The Beetles" and "The Silver Beatles", the band finally became "The Beatles" in August. The lack of a permanent drummer posed a problem when the group's unofficial manager, Allan Williams, arranged a resident band booking for them in Hamburg, Germany. Before the end of August they auditioned and hired drummer Pete Best, and the five-piece band left for Hamburg four days later, contracted to fairground showman Bruno Koschmider for a 48-night residency. "Hamburg in those days did not have rock 'n' roll music clubs. It had strip clubs", says biographer Philip Norman.

Harrison, only 17 years old in August 1960, obtained permission to stay in Hamburg by lying to the German authorities about his age. Initially placing them at the Indra Club, Koschmider moved them to the Kaiserkeller in October after the Indra was closed down due to noise complaints. When they violated their contract by performing at The Top Ten Club, a rival venue, Koschmider reported the underage Harrison to the authorities, leading to his deportation in November. McCartney and Best were arrested for arson a week later when they set fire to a condom nailed to a wall in their room; they too were deported. Lennon returned to Liverpool in mid-December, while Sutcliffe remained in Hamburg with his new German fiancée, Astrid Kirchherr, for another month. Kirchherr took the first professional photos of the group and cut Sutcliffe's hair in the German "exi" (existentialist) style of the time, a look later adopted by the other Beatles.

During the next two years, the group were resident for further periods in Hamburg. They used Preludin both recreationally and to maintain their energy through all-night performances. Sutcliffe decided to leave the band in early 1961 and resume his art studies in Germany, so McCartney took up bass. German producer Bert Kaempfert contracted what was now a four-piece to act as Tony Sheridan's backing band on a series of recordings. Credited to "Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers", the single "My Bonnie", recorded in June and released four months later, reached number 32 in the Musikmarkt chart. The Beatles were also becoming more popular back home in Liverpool. During one of the band's frequent appearances there at The Cavern Club, they encountered Epstein; a local record store owner and music columnist. When the band appointed Epstein manager in January 1962, Kaempfert agreed to release them from the German record contract. After Decca Records rejected the band with the comment "Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein", Martin signed the group to EMI's Parlophone label. News of a tragedy greeted them on their return to Hamburg in April. Meeting them at the airport, a stricken Kirchherr told them of Sutcliffe's death from a brain haemorrhage.

Abbey Rd Studios.jpgthumbAbbey Road Studios main entrancealt=A flight of stone steps leads from an asphalt car park up to the main entrance of a white two-story building. The ground floor has two sash windows, the first floor has three shorter sash windows. Two more windows are visible at basement level. The decorative stonework around the doors and windows is painted grey.

In Liverpool, the Merseybeat movement was gathering force. The band had its first recording session under Martin's direction at EMI Studios in London, in June 1962, but Martin complained to Epstein about Best's drumming and suggested the band use a session drummer in the studio. Instead of this, Best was replaced by Starr, from Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, although he had previously performed with them during Best's occasional absences. Martin still hired session drummer Andy White for one session. White played on the single "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You". Released in October, "Love Me Do" was a top twenty UK hit, peaking at number seventeen on the chart. After a November studio session that yielded what would be their second single, "Please Please Me", they made their TV debut with a live performance on the regional news programme People and Places.

They concluded their last Hamburg stint in December 1962. By now it had become the pattern that all four members contributed vocals, although Starr's restricted range meant he sang lead only rarely. Lennon and McCartney had established a songwriting partnership; as the band's success grew, their celebrated collaboration limited Harrison's opportunities as lead vocalist. Epstein, sensing the commercial potential, encouraged the group to adopt a professional attitude to performing. Lennon recalled Epstein saying, "Look, if you really want to get in these bigger places, you're going to have to change—stop eating on stage, stop swearing, stop smoking." Lennon: "We used to dress how we liked, on and off stage. He'd tell us that jeans were not particularly smart and could we possibly manage to wear proper trousers, but he didn't want us suddenly looking square. He'd let us have our own sense of individuality ... it was a choice of making it or still eating chicken on stage."

Beatlemania and touring years (1963–1966)

UK popularity, Please Please Me and With The Beatles

In the wake of the moderate success of "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me" met with a more emphatic reception, reaching number two in the UK singles chart after its January 1963 release. Martin originally intended to record the band's debut LP live at The Cavern Club. Finding it had "the acoustic ambience of an oil tank", he elected to create a "live" album in one session at Abbey Road Studios. Ten songs were recorded for Please Please Me, accompanied on the album by the four tracks already released on the two singles. Recalling how the band "rushed to deliver a debut album, bashing out Please Please Me in a day", an Allmusic reviewer comments, "Decades after its release, the album still sounds fresh, precisely because of its intense origins." Lennon said little thought went into composition at the time; he and McCartney were "just writing songs à la Everly Brothers, à la Buddy Holly, pop songs with no more thought of them than that—to create a sound. And the words were almost irrelevant."

Beatles logo.svgthumbrightThe Beatles' drop-T logo

Released in March 1963, the album reached number one on the British chart. This began a run during which eleven of their twelve studio albums released in the United Kingdom through 1970 hit number one. The band's third single, "From Me to You", came out in April and was also a chart-topping hit. It began an almost unbroken run of seventeen British number one singles for the band, including all but one of those released over the next six years. On its release in August, the band's fourth single, "She Loves You", achieved the fastest sales of any record in the UK up to that time, selling three-quarters of a million copies in under four weeks. It became their first single to sell a million copies, and remained the biggest-selling record in the UK until 1978 when it was topped by "Mull of Kintyre", performed by McCartney and his post-Beatles band, Wings. The popularity of the group's music brought with it increasing press attention, as they responded with a cheeky, irreverent attitude that defied what was expected of pop musicians, which inspired even more interest.

The Beatles and Lill-Babs 1963.jpgthumbleftMcCartney, Harrison, Swedish pop singer Lill-Babs and Lennon on the set of the Swedish television show Drop-In, 30 October 1963

The Beatles' iconic "drop-T" logo, based on an impromptu sketch by instrument retailer and designer Ivor Arbiter, also made its debut in 1963. The logo was first used on the front of Starr's bass drum, which Epstein and Starr purchased from Arbiter's London shop. The band toured the UK three times in the first half of the year: a four-week tour that began in February preceded three-week tours in March and May–June. As their popularity spread, a frenzied adulation of the group took hold, dubbed "Beatlemania". Although not billed as tour leaders, they overshadowed other acts including Tommy Roe, Chris Montez and Roy Orbison, US artists who had established great popularity in the UK. Performances everywhere, both on tour and at many one-off shows across the UK, were greeted with riotous enthusiasm by screaming fans. Police found it necessary to use high-pressure water hoses to control the crowds, and there were debates in Parliament concerning the thousands of police officers putting themselves at risk to protect the group. In late October, a five-day tour of Sweden saw the band venture abroad for the first time since the Hamburg chapter. Returning to the UK, they were greeted at Heathrow Airport in heavy rain by thousands of fans in "a scene similar to a shark-feeding frenzy", attended by fifty journalists and photographers and a BBC Television camera crew. The next day, The they began yet another UK tour, scheduled for six weeks. By now, they were indisputably the headliners.

Please Please Me was still topping the album chart. It maintained the position for thirty weeks, only to be displaced by With The Beatles which itself held the top spot for twenty-one weeks. Making much greater use of studio production techniques than its "live" predecessor, the album was recorded between July and October. With The Beatles is described by Allmusic as "a sequel of the highest order—one that betters the original by developing its own tone and adding depth." In a reversal of what had until then been standard practice, the album was released in late November ahead of the impending single "I Want to Hold Your Hand", with the song excluded in order to maximize the single's sales. It caught the attention of Times music critic William Mann, who went as far as to suggest that Lennon and McCartney were "the outstanding English composers of 1963". The newspaper published a series of articles in which Mann offered detailed analyses of the music, lending it respectability. The album became the second album in UK chart history to sell a million copies, a figure previously reached only by the 1958 South Pacific soundtrack.

"British Invasion"

The Beatles' popularity in the United States is considered to mark the beginning of the "British Invasion", a term referring to the rising influence and popularity of British performers in the country in the first part of the 1960s.

The group's releases in the United States were initially delayed for nearly a year when Capitol Records, EMI's American subsidiary, declined to issue either "Please Please Me" or "From Me to You". Negotiations with independent US labels led to the release of some singles, but issues with royalties and derision of their "moptop" hairstyle posed further obstacles. Once Capitol did start to issue the material—rather than releasing the LPs in their original configuration—they compiled distinct US albums from an assortment of the band's recordings and also issued songs of their own choice as singles. American chart success came suddenly after a CBS news broadcast about British Beatlemania triggered great demand, leading Capitol to rush-release "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in December 1963. The band's US debut was already scheduled to take place a few weeks later.

The Beatles in America.JPGleftthumbalt=The Beatles are standing in front of a crowd of people at the bottom of an aeroplane staircase.The Beatles arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport, 7 February 1964

They left the United Kingdom on 7 February 1964, with an estimated four thousand fans gathered at Heathrow Airport, waving and screaming as the aircraft took off. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" had sold 2.6 million copies in the US over the previous two weeks, but the group were still nervous about how they would be received. At New York's John F. Kennedy Airport they were greeted by another vociferous crowd, estimated at about three thousand people. They gave their first live US television performance two days later on The Ed Sullivan Show, watched by approximately 74 million viewers—over 40 percent of the American population. The next morning one newspaper wrote that the group "could not carry a tune across the Atlantic", but a day later their first US concert saw Beatlemania erupt at Washington Coliseum. Back in New York the following day, they met with another strong reception at Carnegie Hall. The band appeared on the weekly Ed Sullivan Show a second time, before returning to the UK on 22 February. During the week of 4 April, they held twelve positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, including the top five. That same week, a third American LP joined the two already in circulation; all three reached the first or second spot on the US album chart. The band's popularity generated unprecedented interest in British music, and a number of other UK acts subsequently made their own American debuts, successfully touring over the next three years in what was termed the British Invasion. The Beatles' hairstyle, unusually long for the era and still mocked by many adults, was widely adopted and became an emblem of the burgeoning youth culture.

Paul, George & John.pngthumbrightalt=Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and John Lennon playing guitars and wearing matching grey suits.McCartney, Harrison and Lennon perform on Dutch television in 1964

The Beatles toured internationally in June. Staging thirty-two concerts over nineteen days in Denmark, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, they were ardently received at every venue. Starr was in hospital after a tonsillectomy for the first half of the tour, and Jimmie Nicol sat in on drums. In August they returned to the US, with a thirty-concert tour of twenty-three cities. Generating intense interest once again, the month-long tour attracted between ten and twenty thousand fans to each thirty-minute performance in cities from San Francisco to New York. However, their music could hardly be heard. On-stage amplification at the time was modest compared to modern-day equipment, and the band's small Vox amplifiers struggled to compete with the volume of sound generated by screaming fans. Forced to accept that neither they nor their audiences could hear the details of their performance, the band grew increasingly bored with the routine of concert touring.

At the end of the August tour they were introduced to Bob Dylan in New York at the instigation of journalist Al Aronowitz. Visiting the band in their hotel suite, Dylan introduced them to cannabis. Music historian Jonathan Gould points out the musical and cultural significance of this meeting, before which the musicians' respective fanbases were "perceived as inhabiting two separate subcultural worlds": Dylan's core audience of "college kids with artistic or intellectual leanings, a dawning political and social idealism, and a mildly bohemian style" contrasted with their core audience of "veritable 'teenyboppers'—kids in high school or grade school whose lives were totally wrapped up in the commercialized popular culture of television, radio, pop records, fan magazines, and teen fashion. They were seen as idolaters, not idealists." Within six months of the meeting, "Lennon would be making records on which he openly imitated Dylan's nasal drone, brittle strum, and introspective vocal persona."

A Hard Day's Night, Beatles for Sale, Help! and Rubber Soul

Capitol Records' lack of interest throughout 1963 had not gone unnoticed, and a competitor, United Artists Records, encouraged United Artists' film division to offer a motion picture contract in the hope that it would lead to a record deal. Directed by Richard Lester, A Hard Day's Night had the group's involvement for six weeks in March–April 1964 as they played themselves in a boisterous mock-documentary about their success. The film premiered in London and New York in July and August, respectively. The Observers reviewer, Penelope Gilliatt, noted that their appearance in the film "is just there, and that's it. In an age that is clogged with self-explanation this makes them very welcome. It also makes them naturally comic." According to Allmusic, the accompanying soundtrack album, A Hard Day's Night, saw them "truly coming into their own as a band. All of the disparate influences on their first two albums had coalesced into a bright, joyous, original sound, filled with ringing guitars." That "ringing guitar" sound was primarily the product of Harrison's 12-string electric Rickenbacker, a prototype given him by the manufacturer, which made its debut on the record. Harrison's ringing 12-string inspired Roger McGuinn, who obtained his own Rickenbacker and used it to craft the trademark sound of The Byrds.

Beatles for Sale, the band's fourth studio album, saw the emergence of a serious conflict between commercialism and creativity. Recorded between August and October 1964, the album had been intended to continue the format established by A Hard Day's Night which, unlike the band's first two LPs, had contained no cover versions. Acknowledging the challenge posed by constant international touring to the band's songwriting efforts, Lennon admitted, "Material's becoming a hell of a problem". Six covers from their extensive repertoire were included on the album. Released in early December, its eight self-penned numbers nevertheless stood out, demonstrating the growing maturity of the material produced by the Lennon-McCartney partnership.

In April 1965, Lennon and Harrison's dentist spiked their coffee with LSD while they were his guests for dinner. The two later deliberately experimented with the drug, joined by Starr on one occasion. McCartney was reluctant to try it, but eventually did so in 1966, and later became the first Beatle to discuss it publicly.

Controversy erupted in June 1965 when Elizabeth II appointed all four Beatles Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) after Prime Minister Harold Wilson nominated them for the award. In protest—the honour was at that time primarily bestowed upon military veterans and civic leaders—some conservative MBE recipients returned their own insignia.

TrailerUSHelp.jpgthumbrighttalt=The Beatles performing music in a field. In the foreground, the drums are played by Starr (only the top of is head is visible). Beyond him, the other three stand in a column with their guitars. In the rear, Harrison, head down, strikes a chord. In the front, Lennon smiles and gives a little wave toward camera, holding his pick. Between them, McCartney is jocularly about to choke Lennon.The US trailer for Help! with (from the rear) Harrison, McCartney, Lennon and (largely obscured) Starr

The Beatles' second film, Help!, again directed by Lester, was released in July. Described as "mainly a relentless spoof of Bond", it inspired a mixed response among both reviewers and the band. McCartney said, "Help! was great but it wasn't our film—we were sort of guest stars. It was fun, but basically, as an idea for a film, it was a bit wrong." The soundtrack was dominated by Lennon, who was lead singer and songwriter on the majority of songs, including the two singles performed on it: "Help!" and "Ticket to Ride". The accompanying album, the group's fifth studio LP, again contained a mix of original material and covers. Help! saw the band making increased use of vocal overdubs and incorporating classical instruments into their arrangements, notably the string quartet on the pop ballad "Yesterday". Composed by McCartney, "Yesterday" would inspire the most recorded cover versions of any song ever written. The LP's closing track, "Dizzy Miss Lizzy", became the last cover the band would include on an album. With the exception of Let It Be's brief rendition of the traditional Liverpool folk song "Maggie Mae", all of their subsequent albums would contain only self-penned material.

On 15 August, their third US visit opened with the first major stadium concert in history when they performed before a crowd of 55,600 at Shea Stadium, New York. A further nine successful concerts followed in other American cities. Towards the end of the tour the group were introduced to Elvis Presley, a foundational musical influence on the band, who invited them to his home. Presley and the band set up guitars in his living room, jammed together, discussed the music business and exchanged anecdotes. September saw the launch of a Saturday morning cartoon series in America, called The Beatles, which echoed A Hard Day's Nights slapstick antics. Original episodes appeared for the next two years, and reruns aired through 1969.

Rubber Soul, released in early December, was hailed by critics as another major step forward in the maturity and complexity of the band's music. Biographer and music critic Ian MacDonald observes that with Rubber Soul, they "recovered the sense of direction that had begun to elude them during the later stages of work on Beatles for Sale". After Help!'s foray into the world of classical music with flutes and strings, Rubber Souls introduction of a sitar on "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" marked a further progression outside the traditional boundaries of rock music. The album also saw Lennon and McCartney's collaborative songwriting increasingly supplemented by distinct compositions from each (though they continued to share official credit). Their thematic reach was expanding as well, embracing more complex aspects of romance and other concerns. As their lyrics grew more artful, fans began to study them for deeper meaning. There was speculation that "Norwegian Wood" might refer to cannabis. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine's "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" ranked Rubber Soul at number five, and the album is today described by Allmusic as "one of the classic folk rock records". According to both Lennon and McCartney, however, it was "just another album". Recording engineer Norman Smith saw clear signs of growing conflict within the group during the Rubber Soul sessions; Smith later said that "the clash between John and Paul was becoming obvious" and "as far as Paul was concerned, George could do no right."

Controversy, studio years and break-up (1966–1970)

Events leading up to final tour

In June 1966, Yesterday and Today—one of the compilation albums created by Capitol Records for the US market—caused an uproar with its cover, which portrayed the grinning Beatles dressed in butcher's overalls, accompanied by raw meat and mutilated plastic baby dolls. A popular, though apocryphal, story was that this was meant as a satirical response to the way Capitol had "butchered" their albums. Thousands of copies of the album had a new cover pasted over the original; an unpeeled "first-state" copy fetched $10,500 at a December 2005 auction. During a tour of the Philippines the month after the Yesterday and Today furore, they unintentionally snubbed the nation's first lady, Imelda Marcos, who had expected the group to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace. When presented with the invitation, Epstein politely declined on behalf of the group, as it had never been his policy to accept such official invitations. The group soon found that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to taking "no" for an answer. The resulting riots endangered the group and they escaped the country with difficulty.

Almost as soon as they returned home, they faced a fierce backlash from US religious and social conservatives (as well as the Ku Klux Klan) over a comment Lennon had made in a March interview with British reporter Maureen Cleave. Lennon had offered his opinion that Christianity was dying and that the group were "more popular than Jesus now". The comment went virtually unnoticed in England, but when US teenage fan magazine Datebook printed it five months later—on the eve of the group's final US tour—it created a controversy in the American "Bible Belt". South Africa also banned airplay of their records, a prohibition that would last until 1971. Epstein publicly criticised Datebook, saying they had taken Lennon's words out of context, and at a press conference Lennon pointed out, "If I'd said television was more popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it." Lennon said he had only been referring to how other people saw the group, but "if you want me to apologise, if that will make you happy, then okay, I'm sorry."

Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Rubber Soul had marked a major step forward; Revolver, released in August 1966 a week before the band's final tour, marked another. Pitchfork identifies it as "the sound of a band growing into supreme confidence" and "redefining what was expected from popular music." Described by Gould as "woven with motifs of circularity, reversal, and inversion", Revolver featured sophisticated songwriting and a greatly expanded repertoire of musical styles ranging from innovative classical string arrangements to psychedelic rock. Abandoning the group photograph that had become the norm, its cover—designed by Klaus Voormann, a friend of the band since their Hamburg days—was a "stark, arty, black-and-white collage ... in a pen-and-ink style beholden to Aubrey Beardsley." The album was preceded by the single "Paperback Writer", backed by "Rain". The Beatles shot short promo films for both songs, described as "among the first true music videos", which aired on Top of the Pops and The Ed Sullivan Show.

Among Revolvers most experimental tracks was "Tomorrow Never Knows", for whose lyrics Lennon drew from Timothy Leary's The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The song's creation involved eight tape decks distributed about the recording studio building, each manned by an engineer or band member, who randomly varied the movement of a tape loop while Martin created a composite recording by sampling the incoming data. McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" made prominent use of a string octet; it has been described as "a true hybrid, conforming to no recognizable style or genre of song." Harrison was developing as a songwriter, and three of his compositions earned a place on the record. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked Revolver as the third greatest album of all time, although, on the US tour that followed, none of its songs were performed. The final show, at Candlestick Park, San Francisco, on 29 August, was their last commercial concert. It marked the end of a four-year period dominated by touring that included over 1,400 concert appearances internationally.

Freed from the burden of touring, the band's desire to experiment increased as they recorded Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, beginning in December 1966. Emerick recalled they "Insisted that everything on Sgt. Pepper had to be different. We had microphones right down in the bells of brass instruments and headphones turned into microphones attached to violins. We used giant primitive oscillators to vary the speed of instruments and vocals and we had tapes chopped to pieces and stuck together upside down and the wrong way round." Parts of "A Day in the Life" required a forty-piece orchestra. Nearly seven hundred hours of studio time were devoted to the sessions. They first yielded the non-album double A-side single "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane" in February 1967; Sgt. Pepper followed in June. The musical complexity of the records, created using only four-track recording technology, astounded contemporary artists. For Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson, in the midst of a personal crisis and struggling to complete the ambitious Smile, hearing "Strawberry Fields" was a crushing blow and he soon abandoned all attempts to compete. Sgt. Pepper met with great critical acclaim. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it number one among its "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" and it is widely regarded as a masterpiece. Jonathan Gould describes it as:

Pepper's.jpgrightthumbFront cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, "probably the most famous album cover in popular musical history"

Sgt. Pepper was the first major pop album to include its complete lyrics, which were printed on the back cover. Those lyrics were the subject of intense analysis; fans speculated, for instance, that the "celebrated Mr K." in "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" might in fact be the surrealist fiction writer Franz Kafka. The American literary critic and professor of English, Richard Poirier, wrote an essay in which he observed that his students were "listening to the group's music with a degree of engagement that he, as a teacher of literature, could only envy." Poirier identified what he termed the "mixed allusiveness" of the material: "It's unwise ever to assume that they're doing only one thing or expressing themselves in only one style ... one kind of feeling about a subject isn't enough ... any single induced feeling must often exist within the context of seemingly contradictory alternatives." McCartney said at the time, "We write songs. We know what we mean by them. But in a week someone else says something about it, and you can't deny it ... You put your own meaning at your own level to our songs". Sgt. Peppers remarkably elaborate album cover also occasioned great interest and deep study. The heavy moustaches worn by the band swiftly became a hallmark of hippie style. Cultural historian Jonathan Harris describes their "brightly coloured parodies of military uniforms" as a knowingly "anti-authoritarian and anti-establishment" display.

On 25 June, the band performed their newest single, "All You Need Is Love", to TV viewers worldwide on Our World (International TV special), the first live global television link. Appearing amid the Summer of Love, the song was adopted as a flower power anthem. Two months later the group suffered a loss that threw their career into turmoil. After being introduced to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, they travelled to Bangor for his Transcendental Meditation retreat. During the retreat, Epstein's assistant Peter Brown called to tell them Epstein had died. The coroner ruled Epstein's death an accidental overdose, but it was widely rumoured that a suicide note had been discovered among his possessions. Epstein had been in a fragile, emotional state; stressed by both personal issues and the state of his working relationship with the group. He was mainly worried that they might not renew his management contract, due to expire in October, based on discontent with his supervision of business matters. There were particular concerns over Seltaeb, the company that handled the merchandising rights in the United States. Epstein's death left the group disorientated and fearful about the future. Lennon later said, "I didn't have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music, and I was scared." He also looked back on Epstein's death as marking the beginning of the end: "I knew that we were in trouble then ... I thought, We've fuckin' had it now."

Magical Mystery Tour, White Album and Yellow Submarine

Magical Mystery Tour, the soundtrack to a forthcoming television film, appeared as a six-track double extended play disc (EP) in early December 1967. In the United States, the six songs were issued on an identically titled LP that also included tracks from the band's recent singles. Allmusic says of the US Magical Mystery Tour, "The psychedelic sound is very much in the vein of Sgt. Pepper, and even spacier in parts (especially the sound collages of 'I Am the Walrus')", and calls its five songs culled from the band's 1967 singles "huge, glorious, and innovative". It set a new US record in its first three weeks for highest initial sales of any Capitol LP, and it is the one Capitol compilation later to be adopted in the band's official canon of studio albums. Aired on Boxing Day, the Magical Mystery Tour film, largely directed by McCartney, brought their first major negative UK press. It was dismissed as "blatant rubbish" by the Daily Express, which described it as "a great deal of raw footage showing a group of people getting on, getting off, and riding on a bus". The Daily Mail called it "a colossal conceit", while the Guardian labelled it "a kind of fantasy morality play about the grossness and warmth and stupidity of the audience". It fared so dismally that it was withheld from the US at the time. In January, the group filmed a cameo for the animated movie Yellow Submarine, a fantasia featuring a cartoon version of the group. Their only other involvement with the film was the contribution of several unreleased studio recordings. Released in June 1968, it was well received for its innovative visual style and humour in addition to its music. It would be seven months, however, before the film's soundtrack album appeared.

Beatlesyellowsubmarinetrailer.jpgthumbleftalt=The Beatles, wearing identical dark-grey button-down shirts. They are clean-shaven, except for Starr, who has a mustache. Lennon, wearing mutton chops, holds a folded telescope. All are smiling, except for McCartney, who looks pensive.McCartney, Starr, Harrison and Lennon in the trailer for Yellow Submarine. Their cameo was filmed 25 January 1968, three weeks before they left for India.

In the interim came The Beatles, a double LP popularly known as the White Album, because of its cover. Creative inspiration for the album came from an unexpected quarter when, with Epstein's guiding presence gone, the group turned to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as their guru. At his ashram in Rishikesh, India, a three-month "Guide Course" became one of their most creative periods, yielding a large number of songs including most of the thirty recorded for the album. Starr left after ten days, likening it to Butlins, and McCartney departed a month later. For Lennon and Harrison, creativity turned to questioning when Yanni Alexis Mardas, the electronics technician dubbed Magic Alex, suggested that the Maharishi was attempting to manipulate the group. After Mardas alleged that the Maharishi had made sexual advances to women attendees, Lennon was persuaded and left abruptly, taking the unconvinced Harrison and the remainder of the group's entourage with him. In his anger Lennon wrote a pointed song called "Maharishi", but later modified it to avoid a legal suit, resulting in "Sexy Sadie". McCartney said, "We made a mistake. We thought there was more to him than there was."

During recording sessions for the album, which stretched from late May to mid-October 1968, relations among the band's members grew openly divisive. Starr quit for a period, leaving McCartney to perform drums on several tracks. Lennon's romantic preoccupation with avant-garde artist Yoko Ono contributed to tension within the band and he lost interest in co-writing with McCartney. Flouting the group's well-established understanding that they would not take partners into the studio, Lennon insisted on bringing Ono, whom Harrison disliked anyway, to all of the sessions. Increasingly contemptuous of McCartney's creative input, he began to identify the latter's compositions as "granny music", dismissing "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" as "granny shit". Recalling the White Album sessions, Lennon gave a curiously foreshortened summing-up of the band's history from that point on, saying, "It's like if you took each track off it and made it all mine and all Paul's... just me and a backing group, Paul and a backing group, and I enjoyed it. We broke up then." McCartney also recalled that the sessions marked the start of the break-up, saying, "Up to that point, the world was a problem, but we weren't" which had always been "the best thing about The Beatles". Issued in November, the White Album was the band's first Apple Records album release. The new label was a subsidiary of Apple Corps, formed by the group on their return from India, fulfilling a plan of Epstein's to create a tax-effective business structure. The record attracted more than two million advance orders, selling nearly four million copies in the US in little over a month, and its tracks dominated the playlists of US radio stations. Despite its popularity, it did not receive flattering reviews at the time. According to Gould,

TheBeatles68LP.jpgrightthumbThe Beatles, known as the White Album for its radically minimalist cover. Conceived by pop artist Richard Hamilton, it has been interpreted as suggesting both a "clean slate" and an ironic relationship with the avant-garde.

General critical opinion eventually turned in favour of the White Album, and in 2003 Rolling Stone ranked it as the tenth greatest album of all time. Pitchfork describes it as "large and sprawling, overflowing with ideas but also with indulgences, and filled with a hugely variable array of material ... its failings are as essential to its character as its triumphs." Stephen Thomas Erlewine, writing for Allmusic, observed that Lennon and McCartney "were no longer on the same page, but neither were George and Ringo"; yet "Lennon turns in two of his best ballads", McCartney's songs are "stunning", Harrison is seen to have become "a songwriter who deserved wider exposure" and Starr's composition is "a delight".

By now the interest in their lyrics was taking a serious turn. When Lennon's song "Revolution" had been released as a single in August ahead of the White Album, its messages seemed clear: "free your mind", and "count me out" of any talk about destruction as a means to an end. In a year characterized by student protests that stretched from Warsaw to Paris to Chicago, the response from the radical left was scathing. However, the White Album version of the song, "Revolution 1", added an extra word, "count me out ... in", implying a change of heart since the single's release. The chronology was in fact reversed—the ambivalent album version was recorded first—but some felt that they were now suggesting that political violence might indeed be justifiable.

The Yellow Submarine LP finally appeared in January 1969. It contained only four previously unreleased songs, along with the title track (already issued on Revolver), "All You Need Is Love" (already issued as a single and on the US Magical Mystery Tour LP) and seven instrumental pieces composed by Martin. Because of the paucity of new music, Allmusic suggests the album might be "inessential" but for Harrison's "It's All Too Much", "the jewel of the new songs... resplendent in swirling Mellotron, larger-than-life percussion, and tidal waves of feedback guitar... a virtuoso excursion into otherwise hazy psychedelia".

Abbey Road, Let It Be and break-up

3 Savile Row.jpgthumbuprightrightalt=A terrace house with four floors and an attic. It is red brick, with a slate roof, and the ground floor rendered in imitation of stone and painted white. Each upper floor has four sash windows, divided into small panes. The door, with a canopy over it, occupies the place of the second window from the left on the ground floor.Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row, site of the Let It Be rooftop concert

Although Let It Be was the band's final album release, most of it was recorded before Abbey Road. Initially titled Get Back, Let It Be originated from an idea Martin attributes to McCartney: to prepare new material and "perform it before a live audience for the very first time—on record and on film. In other words make a live album of new material, which no one had ever done before." In the event, much of the album's content came from studio work, many hours of which were captured on film by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Martin said that rehearsals and recording for the project, which occupied much of January 1969, were "not at all a happy ... experience. It was a time when relations ... were at their lowest ebb." Aggravated by both McCartney and Lennon, Harrison walked out for a week. He returned with keyboardist Billy Preston, who participated in the last ten days of sessions and was credited on the "Get Back" single—the only other musician to receive such acknowledgment on an official Beatles' recording. The band members had reached an impasse on a concert location, rejecting among several concepts a boat at sea, the Tunisian desert and the Colosseum. Ultimately, the final live performance by the group, accompanied by Preston, was filmed on the rooftop of the Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row, London, on 30 January 1969.

Engineer Glyn Johns worked for months assembling various iterations of a Get Back album, while the band turned to other concerns. Conflict arose regarding the appointment of a financial adviser, the need for which had become evident without Epstein to manage business affairs. Lennon, Harrison and Starr favoured Allen Klein, who had negotiated contracts for The Rolling Stones and other UK bands during the British Invasion. McCartney wanted John Eastman, brother of Linda Eastman, whom McCartney married on 12 March (eight days before Lennon and Ono wed). Agreement could not be reached, so both were appointed, but further conflict ensued and financial opportunities were lost.

Martin was surprised when McCartney contacted him and asked him to produce another album, as the Get Back sessions had been "a miserable experience" and he had "thought it was the end of the road for all of us... they were becoming unpleasant people—to themselves as well as to other people." Recording sessions for Abbey Road began in late February. Lennon rejected Martin's proposed format of "a continuously moving piece of music", and wanted his own and McCartney's songs to occupy separate sides of the album. The eventual format, with individually composed songs on the first side and the second largely comprising a medley, was McCartney's suggested compromise. On 4 July, while work on the album was in progress, the first solo single by a member of the group appeared: Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance", credited to the Plastic Ono Band. The completion of the Abbey Road track "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", on 20 August 1969, was the last time all four Beatles were together in the same studio. Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group on 20 September, but agreed that no public announcement would be made until a number of legal matters were resolved.

Released six days after Lennon's declaration, Abbey Road sold four million copies within two months and topped the UK chart for eleven weeks. Its second track, the ballad "Something", was also issued as a single—the first and only song by Harrison to appear as a Beatles' A-side. Abbey Road received mixed reviews, although the medley met with general acclaim. Allmusic considers it "a fitting swan song for the group" containing "some of the greatest harmonies to be heard on any rock record". MacDonald calls it "erratic and often hollow": "Had it not been for McCartney's input as designer of the Long Medley... Abbey Road would lack the semblance of unity and coherence that makes it appear better than it is." Martin singled it out as his personal favourite of all the band's albums; Lennon said it was "competent" but had "no life in it", calling "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" "more of Paul's granny music". Recording engineer Geoff Emerick noted that the replacement of the studio's valve mixing console with a transistorized one produced a less punchy sound, leaving the group frustrated at the thinner tone and lack of impact.

For the still uncompleted Get Back album, the final new song, Harrison's "I Me Mine" was recorded on 3 January 1970. Lennon, in Denmark at the time, did not participate. To complete the album, now retitled Let It Be, in March Klein gave the Get Back session tapes to American producer Phil Spector. Known for his Wall of Sound approach, Spector had recently produced Lennon's solo single "Instant Karma!" In addition to remixing the Get Back material, Spector edited, spliced and overdubbed several of the recordings that had been intended as "live". McCartney was unhappy with Spector's treatment of the material and particularly dissatisfied with the producer's orchestration of "The Long and Winding Road", which involved a choir and thirty-four-piece instrumental ensemble. He unsuccessfully attempted to halt the release of Spector's version. McCartney publicly announced his departure from the band on 10 April, a week before the release of his first, self-titled solo album. Pre-release copies of McCartney's record included a press statement with a self-written interview, explaining the end of his involvement with the group and his hopes for the future.

On 8 May, the Spector-produced Let It Be was released. The accompanying single, "The Long and Winding Road", was the band's last; it was released in the United States, but not Britain. The Let It Be documentary film followed later in the month; at the Academy Award ceremony the next year, it would win the Academy Award for Best Original Score. The Sunday Telegraph called it "a very bad film and a touching one ... about the breaking apart of this reassuring, geometrically perfect, once apparently ageless family of siblings." More than one reviewer commented that some of the Let It Be tracks sounded better in the film than on the album. Observing that Let It Be is the "only Beatles' album to occasion negative, even hostile reviews", Allmusic describes it as "on the whole underrated... McCartney in particular offers several gems: the gospel-ish 'Let It Be', which has some of his best lyrics; 'Get Back', one of his hardest rockers; and the melodic 'The Long and Winding Road', ruined by Spector's heavy-handed overdubs." McCartney filed a suit for the dissolution of the group on 31 December 1970. Legal disputes continued long after the band's break-up, and the dissolution of the partnership did not take effect until 1975.

After the break-up (1970–present)

; 1970s

All four Beatles released solo albums in 1970. Further albums followed from each, sometimes with the involvement of one or more of the others. Starr's Ringo (1973) was the only album to include compositions and performances by all four, albeit on separate songs. With Starr's collaboration, Harrison staged The Concert for Bangladesh in New York City in August 1971 with sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. Other than an unreleased jam session in 1974 (later bootlegged as A Toot and a Snore in '74), Lennon and McCartney never recorded together again.

Two double-LP sets of greatest hits compiled by Allen Klein, 1962–1966 and 1967–1970, were released in 1973, at first under the Apple Records imprint. Commonly known as the Red Album and Blue Album respectively, each earned a Multi-Platinum certification in the United States and a Platinum certification in the United Kingdom. Between 1976 and 1982, EMI/Capitol released a wave of compilation albums without input from the band members. The only one to feature previously unreleased material was The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977). The first officially issued concert recordings by the group, it contained selections from two shows they played during their 1964 and 1965 US tours. After the international release of the original British albums on CD in 1987, EMI deleted this latter group of compilations—including the Hollywood Bowl record—from its catalogue.

The Beatles' music and enduring fame were commercially exploited in various other ways, outside the band members' creative control. All This and World War II (1976) was an unorthodox nonfiction film that combined World War II newsreel footage with covers of their songs by two dozen major recording artists. The Broadway musical, Beatlemania, opened in early 1977 and proved popular, spinning off five separate touring productions. Apple Corps tried, and failed, to block the 1977 release of Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962, as the independently issued album compiled recordings were made during the group's Hamburg residency, taped on a basic recording machine with one microphone. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978), a musical film starring the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, was a commercial failure and an "artistic fiasco". In 1979, Apple Corps sued the producers of Beatlemania, settling for several million dollars in damages. "People were just thinking The Beatles were like public domain", said Harrison. "You can't just go around pilfering The Beatles' material."

; 1980s

Lennon was shot and killed on 8 December 1980, in New York City. As a tribute, Harrison wrote new lyrics for "All Those Years Ago", which had been recorded a month before Lennon's death. With McCartney and his wife contributing backing vocals, and Starr on drums, the song was overdubbed with the new lyrics and released as a single in May 1981. McCartney's own tribute, "Here Today", appeared on his Tug of War album in April 1982. In 1987, Harrison's Cloud Nine album included "When We Was Fab", a song about their years together.

The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, their first year of eligibility. Harrison and Starr attended the ceremony along with Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, and his two sons, Julian and Sean. McCartney declined to attend, saying that after two decades, they "still have some business differences which I had hoped would have been settled by now. Unfortunately, they haven't been, so I would feel like a complete hypocrite waving and smiling with them at a fake reunion." The following year, EMI/Capitol settled a decade-long lawsuit concerning royalties, clearing the way to commercially package previously unreleased material.

; 1990s

Live at the BBC, the first official release of previously unissued performances in 17 years, was released in 1994. That same year McCartney, Harrison and Starr reunited for the Anthology project, the culmination of work begun in the late 1960s by Neil Aspinall. Initially their road manager, and then their personal assistant, Aspinall began to gather material for a documentary after he became director of Apple Corps in 1968. The Long and Winding Road, as it was provisionally titled by Aspinall, was shelved, but as executive producer for the Anthology project he was able to complete the project. Documenting their history in the band's own words, the project saw the release of many previously unissued recordings; McCartney, Harrison and Starr also added new instrumental and vocal parts to two demo songs recorded by Lennon in the late 1970s. During 1995 and 1996 the project yielded a five-part television series, an eight-volume video set and three two-CD box sets. The two songs based on Lennon demos, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", were each released as singles. The CD box sets featured artwork by Klaus Voormann, creator of the Revolver album cover in 1966. The releases were commercially successful and the television series was viewed by an estimated 400 million people worldwide.

; 2000s

1, a compilation album of every number one British and American hit, was released on 13 November 2000. It became the fastest-selling album of all time, with 3.6 million sold in its first week and over 12 million in three weeks worldwide. It was a number one chart hit in at least 28 countries, including the UK and the US. As of April 2009, it had sold 31 million copies globally, and is the highest selling album of the decade in the United States.

Harrison died from lung cancer on 29 November 2001. McCartney and Starr were among the musicians who performed at the Concert for George, organized by Eric Clapton and Harrison's widow, Olivia. The tribute event took place at the Royal Albert Hall on the first anniversary of Harrison's death. As well as songs he composed and recorded with the other Beatles and from his solo career, the concert included a celebration of Indian classical music. In 2003, Let It Be... Naked, a reconceived version of the album with McCartney supervising production, was released to mixed reviews. One of the main differences with the original was the omission of the original string-arrangements, but was a top ten hit in both the UK and the US.

The Beatles' music was used as a soundtrack for Cirque du Soleil's Las Vegas stage revue, Love. Martin and his son Giles remixed and blended 130 of recordings to create "a way of re-living the whole Beatles' musical lifespan in a very condensed period". The show premiered in June 2006, and the Love album was released that November. Attending the show's first anniversary, McCartney and Starr were interviewed on Larry King Live, along with Ono and Olivia Harrison. Also in 2007, reports circulated that McCartney was hoping to complete "Now and Then"; a third Lennon demo worked on during the Anthology sessions. It would be credited as a "Lennon/McCartney composition" with the addition of new verses, and feature a new drum track by Starr and archival recordings of Harrison playing guitar.

In March 2008, lawyers representing Apple Corps sued to prevent the distribution of unreleased recordings purportedly made during Starr's first performance with the group at Hamburg's Star-Club in 1962. In November, McCartney discussed his hope that "Carnival of Light", a 14-minute experimental recording made at Abbey Road Studios in 1967, would receive an official release. McCartney headlined a charity concert on 4 April 2009 at Radio City Music Hall for the David Lynch Foundation with guest performers including Starr. The Beatles: Rock Band, a music video game in the style of the Rock Band series, was released on 9 September 2009. On the same day, remastered versions of the band's twelve original studio albums, Magical Mystery Tour, and the compilation Past Masters were issued.

Musical style and evolution

The Beatles' musical evolution was summed up in Icons of Rock: An Encyclopedia of the Legends Who Changed Music Forever, by Scott Schinder and Andy Schwartz:

In The Beatles as Musicians, Walter Everett points out Lennon and McCartney's contrasting motivations and approaches to composition: "McCartney may be said to have constantly developed—as a means to entertain—a focused musical talent with an ear for counterpoint and other aspects of craft in the demonstration of a universally agreed-upon common language that he did much to enrich. Conversely, Lennon's mature music is best appreciated as the daring product of a largely unconscious, searching but undisciplined artistic sensibility."

Ian MacDonald, comparing the two composers in Revolution in the Head, describes McCartney as "a natural melodist—a creator of tunes capable of existing apart from their harmony". His melody lines are characterized as primarily "vertical", employing wide, consonant intervals which express his "extrovert energy and optimism". Conversely, Lennon's "sedentary, ironic personality" is reflected in a "horizontal" approach featuring minimal, dissonant intervals and repetitive melodies which rely on their harmonic accompaniment for interest: "Basically a realist, he instinctively kept his melodies close to the rhythms and cadences of speech, colouring his lyrics with bluesy tone and harmony rather than creating tunes that made striking shapes of their own." MacDonald praises Harrison's lead guitar work for the role his "characterful lines and textural colourings" play in supporting Lennon and McCartney's parts, and describes Starr as "The father of modern pop/rock drumming... His faintly behind-the-beat style ... his tunings brought the bottom end into recorded drum sound, and his distinctly eccentric fills remain among the most memorable in pop music."

Influences

The band's earliest influences included 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". Other early influences were Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, 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 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."

Genres

Guitarras de McCartney y Harrison.jpguprightthumbA Höfner "violin" bass guitar and Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar, models played by McCartney and Harrison, respectively. The Vox AC30 amplifier behind them is the kind they used in concert.alt=Two electric guitars, a light brown violin-shaped bass and a darker brown guitar, rest against a Vox amplifier.

Originating as a skiffle group, they soon embraced 1950s rock and roll, and their repertoire ultimately expanded to include a broad variety of pop music. Reflecting the range of styles they explored, Lennon said of Beatles for Sale, "You could call our new one a Beatles' country-and-western LP", while Allmusic credits the band, and Rubber Soul in particular, as a major influence on the folk rock movement. Beginning with the use of a string quartet on Help!s "Yesterday", they also incorporated classical music elements. Jonathan Gould wrote that it was not "even remotely the first pop record to make prominent use of strings—although it was the first Beatles' recording to do so ... it was rather that the more traditional sound of strings allowed for a fresh appreciation of their talent as composers by listeners who were otherwise allergic to the din of drums and electric guitars." The group applied strings to various effect. Of "She's Leaving Home", for instance, recorded for Sgt. Pepper, Gould writes that it "is cast in the of a sentimental Victorian ballad, its words and music filled with the clichés of musical melodrama."

The band's stylistic range expanded in another direction in 1966 with the B-side to the "Paperback Writer" single: "Rain", described by Martin Strong in The Great Rock Discography as "the first overtly psychedelic Beatles' record". Other psychedelic numbers followed, such as "Tomorrow Never Knows" (actually recorded before "Rain"), "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", and "I Am the Walrus". The influence of Indian classical music was evident in songs such as Harrison's "Love You To" and "Within You Without You", whose intent, writes Gould, was "to replicate the raga form in miniature". Summing up the band's musical evolution, music historian and pianist Michael Campbell identifies innovation as its most striking feature. He writes, "'A Day in the Life' encapsulates the art and achievement of The Beatles as well as any single track can. It highlights key features of their music: the sound imagination, the persistence of tuneful melody, and the close coordination between words and music. It represents a new category of song—more sophisticated than pop, more accessible and down to earth than pop, and uniquely innovative. There literally had never before been a song—classical or vernacular—that had blended so many disparate elements so imaginatively." Music theorist Bruce Ellis Benson agrees: "Composers may be able to conceive new rhythms and chord progressions, but these are usually improvisations upon current rhythms and chord progressions. The Beatles ... give us a wonderful example of how such far-ranging influences as Celtic music, rhythm and blues, and country and western could be put together in a new way."

In his book, Dominic Pedler emphasized the importance of the way all four Beatles combined musical genres: "Far from moving sequentially from one genre to another (as is sometimes conveniently suggested) the group maintained in parallel their mastery of the traditional, catchy chart hit while simultaneously forging rock and dabbling with a wide range of peripheral influences from Country to vaudeville. One of these threads was their take on folk music, which would form such essential groundwork for their later collisions with Indian music and philosophy." As the personal relationships between the band members grew increasingly strained, their individual influences became more apparent. The minimalistic cover artwork for the White Album contrasted with the complexity and diversity of its music, which encompassed Lennon's "Revolution 9", whose musique concrète approach was influenced by Yoko Ono; Starr's country song "Don't Pass Me By"; Harrison's rock ballad "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"; and the "proto-metal roar" of McCartney's "Helter Skelter".

Contribution of George Martin

Martin's close involvement in his role as producer made him one of the leading candidates for the informal title of "fifth Beatle". He brought his classical musical training to bear in various ways. The string quartet accompaniment to "Yesterday" was his idea—the band members were initially unenthusiastic about the concept, but the result was a revelation to them. Gould also describes how, "as Lennon and McCartney became progressively more ambitious in their songwriting, Martin began to function as an informal music teacher to them". This, coupled with his willingness to experiment in response to their suggestions—such as adding "something baroque" to a particular recording—facilitated their creative development. As well as scoring orchestral arrangements for their recordings, Martin often performed, playing instruments including piano, organ and brass.

Looking back on the making of Sgt. Pepper, Martin said, "'Sergeant Pepper' itself didn't appear until halfway through making the album. It was Paul's song, just an ordinary rock number and not particularly brilliant as songs go ... Paul said, 'Why don't we make the album as though the Pepper band really existed, as though Sergeant Pepper was making the record? We'll dub in effects and things.' I loved the idea, and from that moment on it was as though Pepper had a life of its own." Recalling how strongly the song contrasted with Lennon's compositions, Martin spoke too of his own stabilizing influence:

Harrison echoed Martin's description of his stabilizing role: "I think we just grew through those years together, him as the straight man and us as the loonies; but he was always there for us to interpret our madness—we used to be slightly avant-garde on certain days of the week, and he would be there as the anchor person, to communicate that through the engineers and on to the tape."

In the studio

The Beatles made innovative use of technology; treating the studio as an instrument in itself. They urged experimentation by Martin and their recording engineers, regularly demanding that something new be tried because "it might just sound good". At the same time they constantly sought ways to put chance occurrences to creative use. Accidental guitar feedback, a resonating glass bottle, a tape loaded the wrong way round so that it played backwards—any of these might be incorporated into their music. Their desire to create new sounds on every new recording, combined with Martin's arranging abilities and the studio expertise of EMI staff engineers such as Norman Smith, Ken Townsend and Geoff Emerick, all contributed significantly to their records from Rubber Soul and, especially, Revolver forward. Along with studio tricks such as sound effects, unconventional microphone placements, tape loops, double tracking and vari-speed recording, they augmented their songs with instruments that were unconventional for rock music at the time. These included string and brass ensembles as well as Indian instruments such as the sitar in "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" and the swarmandal in "Strawberry Fields Forever". They also used early electronic instruments such as the Mellotron, with which McCartney supplied the flute voices on the "Strawberry Fields" intro, and the clavioline, an electronic keyboard that created the unusual oboe-like sound on "Baby, You're a Rich Man".

Legacy

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. Drawing on their rock and roll roots, they 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 their songs. On radio, their arrival marked the beginning of a new era; program directors like Rick Sklar of New York's WABC went as far as forbidding DJs from playing any "pre-Beatles" music. They redefined the album as something more than just a few hits padded out with "filler", and 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.

More broadly, they changed the way people listened to popular music and experienced its role in their lives. From what began as a 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, fueling such movements as women's liberation, gay liberation and environmentalism.

Awards and recognition

In 1965, Queen Elizabeth II appointed all four Beatles Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). The film, Let It Be (1970) won the 1971 Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. They have received 7 Grammy Awards, and 15 Ivor Novello Awards. They have also been awarded 6 Diamond albums, as well as 24 Multi-Platinum albums, 39 Platinum albums and 45 Gold albums in the United States, while in the UK they have 4 Multi-Platinum albums, 4 Platinum albums, 8 Gold albums and 1 Silver album.

The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and were ranked number one in 2008, when Billboard magazine released a list of the all-time top-selling Hot 100 artists to celebrate the US singles chart's fiftieth anniversary. In 2009, the Recording Industry Association of America certified that the group have sold more albums in the US than any other artist. They have had more number one albums (15), on the UK charts and held down the top spot longer (174 weeks), than any other musical act. They were also collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of the 20th century's 100 most influential people.

Discography

Original UK LPs

* Please Please Me (1963)

* With The Beatles (1963)

* A Hard Day's Night (1964)

* Beatles for Sale (1964)

* Help! (1965)

* Rubber Soul (1965)

* Revolver (1966)

* Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

* The Beatles (aka the White Album) (1968)

* Yellow Submarine (1969)

* Abbey Road (1969)

* Let It Be (1970)

(For Magical Mystery Tour, see CD releases below.)

CD releases

; 1980s

In 1987, EMI and Apple Corps released all of the group's studio albums on CD. With this release, the band's catalogue was standardized throughout the world, establishing a canon composed of the twelve original studio albums as issued in the United Kingdom (listed above), as well as the US album version of Magical Mystery Tour (1967), which had been released as a shorter double EP in the UK. All the remaining Beatles' material from the singles and EPs which had not been issued on the original studio albums was gathered on the two-volume compilation Past Masters (1988).

; 2000s

The US album configurations from 1964–1965 were released as box sets in 2004 and 2006 (The Capitol Albums Volume 1 and Volume 2 respectively); these included both stereo and mono versions based on the mixes that were prepared for vinyl at the time of the music's original American release.

On 9 September 2009, their entire back catalogue was reissued following an extensive digital remastering process that lasted four years. Stereo editions of all twelve original UK studio albums, along with Magical Mystery Tour and Past Masters, were released on compact disc both individually and as a box set. A second collection included all mono titles along with the original 1965 stereo mixes of Help! and Rubber Soul (The 1987 CD issues of these two albums were remixed by George Martin). For a limited time, a brief video documentary about the remastering was included on each stereo CD. In Mojo, Danny Eccleston wrote that after the albums were released on CD in 1987, "there have been complaints about the sound". In support of the opinion that the original vinyl had significant advantages over the early CDs in clarity and dynamism, he suggested, "Compare 'Paperback Writer'/'Rain' on crackly 45, with its weedy Past Masters CD version, and the case is closed." Prior to the release of the 2009 remasters, Abbey Road Studios invited Mojo reviewers to hear a sample of the work, advising, "You're in for a shock." In his release-day review of the full product, Eccleston reported that "brilliantly, that's still how it feels a month later."

Other digital formats

The Beatles were among the few major artists whose recorded catalogue was not available through online music services such as iTunes or Napster. Residual disagreement stemming from Apple Corps' dispute with Apple, Inc. (owners and creators of iTunes) over the use of the name "Apple" was partly responsible, although in November 2008, McCartney stated that the main obstacle was that EMI "want something we're not prepared to give them." In March 2009, The Guardian reported that "the prospect of an independent, Beatles-specific digital music store" had been raised by Harrison's son, Dhani, who said, "We're losing money every day. ... So what do you do? You have to have your own delivery system, or you have to do a good deal with Steve Jobs. ... says that a download is worth 99 cents, and we disagree." On 30 October, Wired.com reported that an online service, BlueBeat, was making available the entire Beatles' catalogue, via both purchasable downloads and free streaming. Neither EMI nor Apple Corps had authorized the distribution, and within a week BlueBeat was legally barred from handling the band's music. In December 2009, the catalogue was officially released in FLAC and MP3 format in a limited edition of 30,000 USB flash drives. On 16 November 2010, the official canon of thirteen studio albums, Past Masters, and the Red and Blue greatest-hits albums were made available on iTunes. A video recording of the band's first US concert in 1964 was also made available for purchase as part of a digital "boxed set" of the catalogue and for free streaming through the end of 2010.

Song catalogue

The Beatles' catalogue was mostly published by Northern Songs Ltd., a company formed in February 1963 by music publisher Dick James, exclusively. The company was organised with James and his partner, Emmanuel Silver, who controlled 50%, Lennon and McCartney 20% each, and Epstein 10%. Lennon and McCartney signed 10-year publishing contracts with the company; Harrison signed with the company as well, but only for 5 years.Weiner, Allen. The Beatles: A Recording History p. 32Weiner, Allen. The Beatles: The Ultimate Recording Guide pgs. 11, 16, 40

In 1965, the company went public, with Lennon and McCartney each retaining 15% of the shares and James and Silver together holding 37.5%."Two of Beatles Rock London with an Issue in Their Music Firm" Wall Street Journal February 18, 1965 In March 1969, James and Silver agreed to sell their shares to British television company Associated Television (ATV) without informing Lennon or McCartney. The Beatles and ATV then made competing bids to gain a controlling interest in the company, but in May a consortium of shareholders declined their offer and by September ATV had acquired a majority of shares. The Beatles sold their remaining shares in Northern Songs to ATV one month later.Norman, Philip. Shout: The Beatles in Their Generation p. 421-424Miles, Barry. The Beatles: A Diary p. 289-296

Financial losses by the parent company of ATV Music prompted the sale of the division in 1981. McCartney made a bid for Northern Songs but the entire ATV Music division was sold to Australian business magnate Robert Holmes à Court. In 1985, ATV Music was sold to Michael Jackson for a reported $47 million, trumping a joint bid by McCartney and Ono. The acquisition gave Jackson control over the publishing rights to more than 200 songs composed by Lennon and McCartney.

Jackson and Sony merged their music publishing businesses in 1995, becoming joint owners of most of the Lennon-McCartney songs recorded, although Lennon's estate and McCartney still receive their respective share of the royalties. Although the Sony/ATV catalogue includes most of their songs, some of their earliest songs were published by an EMI subsidiary, Ardmore & Beechwood, before Lennon and McCartney signed with James. McCartney acquired the publishing rights to "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You" from Ardmore in the 1980s. Harrison and Starr allowed their contracts with Northern Songs to lapse in 1968, signing with Apple Publishing instead. Harrison created Harrisongs, which still owns the rights to his later songs such as "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Something", while Starr's Startling Music holds the rights to the songs, "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden".

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This text has been derived from The Beatles on Wikipedia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License 3.0

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