The Beatles

The Beatles

John Lennon – circa 1964

“There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done / Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung” – ‘All You Need Is Love’ (John Lennon, Paul McCartney)

The Royal Command Performance is an annual show put on for the monarchy of the United Kingdom.  In 1963, The Queen herself is unable to attend, since the birth of her fourth child is imminent.  Still, the show must go on as the maxim has it, so The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret will be in attendance.  The line-up for the evening of 5 November 1963 includes Latin American zither-players, swing orchestras and pig puppets…oh yes, and a pop group called The Beatles.  Just before their final number, ‘Twist And Shout’, John Lennon of The Beatles asks the audience, “Will people in the cheaper seats clap your hands?  All the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewellery…”  This encapsulates the cheeky charm of The Beatles.  The crowd – both inside and outside The Prince of Wales Theatre – laps it up.  The next day, the British newspaper ‘The Daily Mirror’ shows scenes of screaming girls and sums it up with one word, used for the first time, that becomes the label for this pop culture phenomenon: ‘Beatlemania’.

John Winston Lennon (9 October 1940-8 December 1980) is born at the Oxford Street maternity home in Liverpool, England.  ‘A grim grey city’ in the north of England, Liverpool is perhaps best known as a sea port.  This makes Liverpool a target for bombing raids by the German air force during World War Two.  Legend has it that John Lennon was born during one such air-raid, but no such attack took place that night.  Nonetheless, it is true that John’s middle name is a tribute to Winston Churchill, Britain’s war-time Prime Minister.  John is the child of Alfred ‘Freddy’ Lennon and Julia Lennon (nee Stanley).  Freddy Lennon is a ship’s waiter.  Although Julia lists her occupation as a cinema usherette on her marriage certificate, it is a position she never held.  It is a typical prank from this ‘high-spirited and impulsive’ girl.  Freddy Lennon is an absentee father and Julia is ill-prepared for motherhood.  She never officially divorces Freddy, but begins keeping company with John ‘Twitchy’ Dykins by whom she will have two daughters, John’s half-sisters: Julia (born 1947) and Jackie (born 1949).  John Lennon is raised by his aunt, Julia’s elder sister Mary Elizabeth ‘Mimi’ Smith (nee Stanley) and her husband George Smith, a dairy farmer.  George and Mimi have no children of their own.  John lives with them at 251 Menlove Avenue, Woolton – a suburb of Liverpool.

A bright and creative child, John Lennon attends Dovedale Primary School from 1945 to 1951.  However he is also mischievous and attracts his own gang of followers: Pete Shotton, Nigel Whalley and Ivan Vaughan.  John Lennon’s Uncle George gives him a harmonica and John masters this instrument.  When John Lennon moves on to Quarry Bank Grammar School in 1952, only Pete Shotton joins him there.  Nigel Whalley goes to the Bluecoat School while Ivan Vaughan ends up at the Liverpool Institute High School.  John’s Uncle George dies in John’s first year at Quarry Bank.  If John was mischievous at Dovedale, he becomes at Quarry Bank someone who is known for ‘idleness and lawlessness.’  Fellow student Rod Davis observes all this.  John’s Aunt Mimi becomes stricter on the youngster, but this only serves to make him gravitate towards his natural mother, Julia.  She re-enters John’s life more like an elder sister and John and Pete Shotton often skip class to visit her.  Barbara Baker is the first girlfriend of the 15 year old John Lennon.

In 1956 John Lennon becomes interested in rock ‘n’ roll, a new style of music coming from America.  Due to Liverpool being a seaport, merchant seamen would return from the U.S.A. with these rock ‘n’ roll records and the discs are highly prized.  Virtually simultaneously, skiffle music pops up.  This is a kind of homemade British folk music popularised by Lonnie Donegan.  Freddy Lennon had taught his bride how to play the banjo and she conspiratorially passes this knowledge on to her son, John.  However it is John’s Aunt Mimi who finally gives in to his requests and buys John a guitar.

In 1957 John Lennon forms his own skiffle group, The Quarrymen.  The name is derived from that of John’s school, Quarry Bank Grammar School.  The group exists ‘on the most casual basis, expanding and shrinking according to members available.’  The Quarrymen is basically made up of John Lennon’s friends and classmates.  Roughly, the line-up of The Quarrymen is: John Lennon (vocals, guitar), Rod Davis (banjo), Eric Griffiths (guitar), Pete Shotton (washboard), Nigel Whalley (tea-chest bass), Ivan Vaughan (tea-chest bass) and Colin Hanton (drums).  In a skiffle group, washboard (an old-fashioned laundry tool) is a percussive instrument played by scraping one’s thimble-clad fingers down its slats.  The Quarrymen play gigs wherever they can.  On 6 July 1957 they play at the fete at St Peter’s Parish Church in Woolton.  Although he is not playing tea-chest bass with The Quarrymen that day – the role being filled by Len Garry – Ivan Vaughan attends the fete.  He brings with him another student from his school, the Liverpool Institute.  That boy’s name is Paul McCartney.

James Paul McCartney is born on 18 June 1942 at Walton General Hospital in Liverpool.  He is the son of James McCartney and Mary McCartney (nee Mohin).  Jim McCartney is a salesman at the Cotton Exchange, working for Hannay’s of Chapel Street, Liverpool.  At the time of his son’s birth, Jim is temporarily working at Napier’s, where aircraft engines are made, as part of the war effort.  Since the 1920s, Jim McCartney has also spent time playing in the Jim Mac Jazz Band.  Jim’s wife, Mary, comes from an Irish Catholic background.  She works as a nurse and midwife.  Jim and Mary McCartney have a second son, Peter Michael McCartney (born 1944), better known as Michael.  (Note: Years later, under the alias of Mike McGear, Michael McCartney is a member of a band called Scaffold (1966-1974).  In 1968 Scaffold has a hit with the song ‘Lily The Pink’.)

At first, the McCartney family lives in the Liverpool suburb of Speke.  Paul attends Stockton Wood Primary School in Speke from 1947 to 1949.  Due to overcrowding, Paul is transferred to Joseph William Junior School in Belle Vale until 1953.  From there, he proceeds in 1954 to the Liverpool Institute High School.  In 1955 the McCartney family moves to 20 Forthlin Road in Allerton, a better suburb.  Paul’s mother, Mary McCartney, dies as a result of breast cancer on 31 October 1956.  She was 47 years old.  Paul is 14 at the time of her death.  Jim McCartney is left to raise his two boys as a single parent, though his sisters Jin and Millie help out.

Like John Lennon, Paul McCartney becomes a fan of rock ‘n’ roll music in 1956.  Jim McCartney is not a fan of rock ‘n’ roll, but – as a musician himself – is pleased to see Paul take an interest in music.  Paul receives his first guitar when he is 14; it is a gift from his father.  He writes his first song, ‘I Lost My Little Girl’, also when he is 14.  Paul struggles a bit at first with playing the guitar – until he realises that, while in most things he is right-handed, he plays guitar with his left hand.  Paul McCartney sings in public for the first time in an amateur talent show at a Butlin’s holiday camp in the summer of 1957.  Paul recalls that it was Little Richard’s 1956 song ‘Long Tall Sally’ he performed.

On the fateful Saturday that Paul McCartney meets John Lennon, he sees The Quarrymen perform at St Peter’s Parish Church fete on 6 July 1957.  The two boys meet after the group has finished their set.  Paul says, “I knew the words of twenty-five rock songs, so I got in the group.  ‘Long Tall Sally’ and ‘Tutti Frutti’ [two Little Richard songs], that got me in.  That was my audition.”  John says, “I had a group, I was the singer and the leader; I met Paul and I made a decision…to let Paul in and make the group stronger.”  Paul McCartney joins The Quarrymen and, as Paul puts it, “John and I gradually started to write stuff together.”

John Lennon finishes at Quarry Bank Grammar School in July 1957.  Despite an underwhelming academic record, Lennon is admitted to the Liverpool College of Art which he attends from 1957 to 1960.  At art school, John gains a new girlfriend, Thelma Pickles.

In February 1958 George Harrison joins The Quarrymen.

George Harrison (24 February 1943-29 November 2001) is born at 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree, Liverpool, the home of his parents.  (Note: All his life, George Harrison believed his birthdate was 25 February 1943.  George was actually born at 11.50 p.m. on 24 February 1943.)  George is the youngest of four children born to Harold Hargreaves Harrison and Louise Harrison (nee French).  His elder siblings are Louise (born 1931), Harry (born 1934) and Peter (born 1940).  Harry Harrison Sr. is a former ship’s waiter turned bus conductor and driver.  Louise Harrison worked in a greengrocer’s shop but, after marrying Harry, became a stay-at-home mother.  George Harrison attends Dovedale Primary School the same as John Lennon but, with George being two forms lower, John and George do not meet.  In 1954 George Harrison goes on to Liverpool Institute, the same school as Paul McCartney, but is a year below Paul.  By this time, the Harrison family lives in Upton Green, Speke, the same suburb as the McCartney family.  George and Paul catch the same bus to school and, one morning when he is short of the full bus fare, Louise Harrison gives Paul the necessary extra funds.  George attends the 1955 British Grand Prix car race at Aintree, presaging a life-long interest in racing cars.  Like John and Paul, George becomes a convert to rock ‘n’ roll in 1956.  George gets his first guitar when he is 14.  His elder brother Peter gets a guitar about the same time and the two boys form a skiffle group called The Rebels.  Their first and only gig is at the Speke British Legion Club.  George gets a part-time job as a butcher’s errand boy to pay for his guitar.

Paul McCartney introduces George Harrison to The Quarrymen late in 1957.  “I couldn’t be bothered with him when he first came around,” recalls John Lennon.  “He used to follow me around like a b****y kid.”  Well, George is only 14 compared to 17 year old John and 15 year old Paul.  Over a period of months, as Skiffle falls out of fashion, The Quarrymen become more of a rock ‘n’ roll band and John’s mates gradually slip away from the group’s membership.  Almost without it being noticed, George Harrison becomes part of the act.

On 15 July 1958 John Lennon’s mother, Julia, is ‘struck down and killed by a car driven by an off duty policeman.’  John ‘seems to blame everyone for his mother’s death…There are no limits to his anger and grief.  When he returns to art college six weeks later, he is meaner than ever.’  He breaks up with Thelma Pickles.  John takes up with another of his fellow students, blonde Cynthia Powell, who shares a calligraphy – or lettering – class with him.

In 1958 The Quarrymen change their name to Johnny And The Moondogs.  “We had all sorts of different drummers all the time,” reports John Lennon.  By this time, the only remaining members of the group are John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.  John and Paul sometimes perform as a duo called The Nurk Twins while George Harrison moonlights with The Les Stuart Quartet.

In 1959 Stuart Sutcliffe joins John Lennon’s group.  Stuart is one of the Liverpool Art College’s most promising students.  When Stu wins the John Moore’s Exhibition prize in 1959, he spends the money on a bass guitar.  Although Stuart joins the band, he is never really a musician; he ‘couldn’t play a note.’  However, it is Stuart who comes up with a new name for the group, The Beetles, in response to U.S. rock star Buddy Holly’s backing group The Crickets.  Unable to resist a pun, John makes it The Beatles, since they are a ‘beat’ group (i.e. rock band).  The word Silver is added for some flash, and there is a vague idea that Lennon could be recast as Long John Silver – but that doesn’t set well.  Neil Aspinall, a friend of Paul McCartney and George Harrison from the Liverpool Institute, begins driving the van for the group in 1959 between his accountancy studies.  George Harrison leaves school in 1959 and starts working as an apprentice electrician.  Paul McCartney acquires a girlfriend, Dot Rhone, whom he dates from 1959 to 1962.

The Silver Beatles continually scrounge for gigs.  The boys hang about a coffee bar called The Jacaranda – or ‘The Jac’ – in 1960.  The proprietor of this establishment is Allan Williams.  In May 1960 he becomes the de facto manager of The Silver Beatles.  Another venue the lads frequent is The Casbah Coffee Club run by Mona Best.  Her son, Pete Best, is a drummer.  One night in June or July of 1960 The Sliver Beatles are attacked by some young thugs after a gig at the Litherland Town Hall.  Stuart Sutcliffe sustains a gash to the head, but refuses to seek medical attention.

Allan Williams begins arranging for British groups to travel to Hamburg, Germany, to satisfy that land’s appetite for rock ‘n’ roll.  Naturally, The Silver Beatles are quick to seize this opportunity.  However Allan Williams makes it plain to them that the group really needs to have a regular drummer.  So it is that Pete Best becomes a member of The Silver Beatles on 12 August 1960, the eve of the group’s departure to Hamburg.  Travelling through Europe, John Lennon shoplifts a harmonica in a music store in Holland and this instrument features on a number of The Beatles’ early albums.  In August 1960 the band starts using the shorter name The Beatles for the first time.  On the first of a number of trips the group makes to Hamburg, The Beatles begin playing a residence at a club called The Indra on 17 August 1960.  Playing long hours in the clubs in Hamburg’s red light district improves The Beatles’ musical strength, though ‘everyone was on booze and pills’ trying to keep going.  Among those who witness The Beatles perform at The Kaiserkeller is Klaus Voorman.  After an argument with his girlfriend, Klaus wanders aimlessly until chancing upon The Beatles.  He is so impressed, he returns to see them again, this time bringing his girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr and their friend Jurgen Vollmer.  They are all self-styled existentialists and Lennon labels them ‘exis.’  A photographer and art student, Astrid arranges to take pictures of the boys.  Astrid styles their hair in a ‘French cut’, the distinctive ‘mop top’ hairstyle that will become the group’s trademark.  Astrid is particularly taken with Stuart Sutcliffe.  She leaves Klaus Voorman and becomes Stuart’s girlfriend.  The Beatles move to The Kaiserkeller on 4 October 1960.  The Beatles are not the only Liverpool band playing in Hamburg.  Another such act is Rory Storm And The Hurricanes.  While in Germany, Lou ‘Wally’ Walters from that band cuts a recording of his voice.  The backing musicians on that session on 18 October 1960 are John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and – the drummer from The Hurricanes – Ringo Starr.  In November 1960, two months after their first meeting, Stuart Sutcliffe and Astrid Kirchherr become engaged.  Bruno Koschmider, proprietor of The Indra and The Kaiserkeller, gets concerned about The Beatles’ interest in other Hamburg venues such as Peter Eckhorn’s Top Ten Club.  Perhaps not coincidentally, George Harrison is deported to England on 21 November 1960 for being underage; he is, technically, too young to be in the clubs of the red light district after midnight.  The rest of the group moves on to The Top Ten.  Paul McCartney and Pete Best go back to collect some of their gear and find themselves mixed up in a minor fire.  Although no charges are pressed against the duo, they are also deported.  John and Stuart dejectedly follow them and The Beatles are all back in Liverpool by December 1960.

In January 1961 The Beatles begin playing at The Cavern, the venue most associated with the group.  Located at 10 Mathew Street in Liverpool, the club is owned by Ray McFall.  By this time, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Stuart Sutcliffe have all left school.  The Beatles is now undeniably their focus.  The group returns to Hamburg, playing at The Top Ten Club from April 1961 to June 1961.  Cynthia Powell and Dot Rhone visit John Lennon and Paul McCartney in Germany.  Stuart Sutcliffe gradually comes to the realisation that he wants to remain in Germany with his girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr and concentrate on his art.  Officially, he quits the group in July 1961.  Paul McCartney switches from guitar to bass to replace Sutcliffe.  At the same time, The Beatles part ways with Allan Williams, their manager.  While in Germany, The Beatles – under the alias of The Beat Brothers – act as a backing band for Tony Sheridan on some recordings.  Sheridan ‘had a brief burst of popularity in England as a pop star’, but was now doing the rounds of Hamburg clubs like The Top Ten.  Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers record a version of the traditional song ‘My Bonnie Lives Over The Ocean’ – or ‘My Bonnie’ as it says on the record label.

On 28 October 1961 a youth named Raymond Jones tries to buy a copy of ‘My Bonnie’.  He walks into the Whitechapel branch of NEMS (North End Music Stores) in Liverpool.  No such record seems to exist – probably because Jones says it is by The Beatles, rather than Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers.  The conscientious manager of the store, Brian Epstein, is intrigued when his customer tells him The Beatles is a local act.  On 9 November 1961 Brian Epstein sees The Beatles perform at the Cavern Club.  He introduces himself to the band and they solve the mystery of ‘My Bonnie’ for him.  Though it is not public knowledge at the time, Brian is homosexual.  Through a combination of the attraction he feels towards the boys and his own ambitions, Brian signs a contract to become the manager of The Beatles on 24 January 1962.

Former Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe dies of a cerebral haemorrhage on 10 April 1962.  He was 21 years old.  The cause of the haemorrhage is unknown but may be due to a head injury, possibly the incident at Litherland Town Hall in June or July 1960.

The Beatles undertake a third trip to Hamburg, playing at Manfred Weissleder’s Star Club from 13 April 1962 to 31 May 1962.  This time, Neil Aspinall – The Beatles’ van driver and assistant – goes with the group on the trip overseas.

Back in England, The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein meets with George Martin in May 1962.  George Martin is the man who will produce almost all of The Beatles’ recordings.  Trained as a pianist and oboe player, Martin proves an essential guide to the recording studio in Abbey Road in North London.  Brian Epstein’s efforts to secure a recording contract have already met with rejection from Decca, Pye, Columbia, HMV and EMI.  George Martin works for EMI, but for the subsidiary label Parlophone.  Up to this moment, Parlophone is perhaps best known for comedy records.  The Beatles audition for George Martin on 6 June 1962.  In late July, Martin offers the group a recording contract.

On 11 August 1962 Brian Epstein hires Mal Evans to act as The Beatles’ road manager.  A former part-time bouncer at The Cavern Club, Evans shares with Neil Aspinall the job of shepherding the quartet of musicians.

On 16 August 1962 Pete Best is sacked as The Beatles’ drummer.  Brian Epstein delivers the bad news to Pete but the decision is made by the other Beatles.  The writing had been on the wall for Pete Best since George Martin had expressed some dissatisfaction with him during The Beatles’ audition for Parlophone.  Replacing Pete Best in The Beatles’ line-up is Ringo Starr.

Ringo Starr is born Richard Starkey Jr. on 7 July 1940 at 9 Madryn Street in the Dingle, Liverpool.  He is the son of Richard Starkey Sr. and his wife, Elsie Starkey (nee Gleaves).  Richard Starkey Sr. is a former dockworker turned baker.  Elsie met him working in the same bakery.  In 1944 the family moves to 10 Admiral Grove, the Dingle but the parents of young ‘Ritchie’ separate shortly after and divorce within a year.  Elsie Starkey gets a job as a barmaid to support herself and her child.  Ritchie spends his time at the home of his grandfather Starkey, a boilermaker in the shipyards.  “I was born left-handed but my grandmother turned me into a right-handed person,” recalls Ringo Starr, attributing part of his success as a drummer to his being virtually ambidextrous.  Ritchie Starkey starts at St Silas, a Church of England primary school.  After only a year there, Ritchie suffers a burst appendix when he is 6 years old.  Rushed to hospital, he remains in a coma for days.  Although he awakes, the boy contracts peritonitis, an inflammation of the inner wall of the abdomen.  Consequently, Ritchie spends twelve months recovering at Myrtle Street children’s hospital.  Just when he is about to be released, Ritchie falls out of bed and sustains a concussion.  Soon after, he does go home, but his education has suffered due to his prolonged absence.  When Ritchie is 11 years old, his mother starts dating Harry Graves.  Harry is a Liverpool house-painter from London.  On 17 April 1953 Harry Graves marries Elsie Starkey.  By this time, Ritchie has moved on to Dingle Vale Secondary modern school.  In 1953 Ritchie Starkey catches a cold that turns into pleurisy in his lungs.  He is confined for two years in Heswall Children’s Hospital, a sanatorium in the Wirral.  He is 15 when he gets out.  Ritchie never returns to school.  Instead he gets a job as a messenger with British Railways – but is fired after six weeks for failing the medical exam.  After a brief stint as a waiter, young Mr Starkey lands a job as a joiner’s apprentice with a local engineering firm, thanks to Harry Graves – his step-father – interceding on his behalf.  “I started to be an engineer but I banged me thumb on the first day,” Ringo recalls.  “I became a drummer because it was the only thing I could do.”  Richard Starkey Junior joins The Eddie Clayton Skiffle Group in 1956.  From 1957 to 1961 Ritchie is involved with a girl named Geraldine McGovern and even gives her an engagement ring.  In 1959 Starkey joins The Ravin’ Texans which metamorphoses into Rory Storm And The Hurricanes.  Richard Starkey becomes Ringo Starr.  ‘Starr’ is abbreviated from Starkey – and it also allows his drum solo to be billed as ‘Starr Time.’  He is nicknamed ‘Rings’ because of all the rings on his fingers, but this changes to ‘Ringo’ because it sounds more like a cowboy.  Ringo loves movie westerns.  In October 1961 he actually writes to Texas to ask about relocating to the U.S.A.

With this change in membership, the definitive Beatles line-up is assembled: John Lennon (vocals, guitar, harmonica, occasional keyboards), Paul McCartney (vocals, bass, occasional keyboards), George Harrison (vocals, guitar) and Ringo Starr (vocals, drums).  Ringo’s first gig with The Beatles is at The Cavern Club in Liverpool on 18 August 1962.

John Lennon’s girlfriend Cynthia Powell falls pregnant so John marries her at the Mount Pleasant Registry Office in Liverpool on 23 August 1962.  Brian Epstein, as The Beatles’ manager, worries about their image and insists the marriage and the new Mrs Lennon be kept secret.

The Beatles are now poised to begin their recording career.

The music of The Beatles is usually described as pop or rock.  Their numerous successes on the charts of popular recordings will soon provide ample proof of their pop credentials.  As a rock group, they have absorbed the lessons of their 1950s U.S. forbears and, through the crucible of numerous sweaty gigs in Liverpool and Hamburg, The Beatles have emerged as a force to be reckoned with.  In their early recordings (1962-1964) the sound of The Beatles centres on their vocals.  While they may not be singers of operatic accomplishment, there is a palpable sense of excitement and liveliness to their vocals, matched with pleasant harmonising.  Musically, they produce a kind of joyful clatter.  The key musical characteristics are George Harrison’s twangy guitar breaks and Ringo Starr’s cymbal-dominated drum style that gives the songs a bright sheen.  In their mid-period (1965-1966) The Beatles’ musical skills become more impressive and they venture into more experimental sounds and styles, but this is balanced by a consistent youthful energy.  Very few rock bands prove as skilled as The Beatles at rendering songs in a variety of styles beyond their native instinct.  The Beatles – successfully! – go on to play songs that are country music influenced, soul influenced, big ballads with orchestral strings and more.  In their final phase (1967-1970) The Beatles have less of a cohesive identity and often sound like solo artists with backing bands.  Yet, coupled with their growing musical prowess, this often produces satisfyingly diverse and complementary works.

The bulk of the songs recorded by The Beatles are credited to the team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  John Lennon claims his songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney ended in 1962, but this is surely an exaggeration.  John explains that, “We always wrote separately, but we wrote together because we enjoyed it.”  Paul says, “We’d kind of write eighty per cent together and the other twenty per cent [we’d write on our own].”  What seems clear is that, as The Beatles’ career progresses, they write separately more often.  The songs remain credited to Lennon & McCartney at John’s insistence, a manifestation of his irrational private insecurities – or perhaps it is just to maintain a façade of unity.  It’s a simplification, but John is the ‘word’ guy while Paul is the ‘music’ man.  Both can – and do – contribute to the other’s specialty section of the songwriting.  In determining which of the two the primary songwriter on any given song is, a good rule of thumb is whichever of the duo sings the song is also its main author.  On most of The Beatles’ early albums, about half of the content is made up of cover versions of older songs by other artists.  Gradually, George Harrison begins contributing songs.  Ringo Starr pens the occasional tune, but his contributions are much less numerous.

Like no other rock ‘n’ roll act before them, The Beatles are four distinct personalities.  John Lennon is the thinker, Paul McCartney is the romantic, George Harrison is the shy one and Ringo Starr is the clown.  Everyone has their favourite, but that doesn’t alter the effect of the group as a whole.  None of the four are disposable.  Ringo is the eldest (born 7 July 1940), followed by John (9 October 1940), Paul (18 June 1942) and George is the ‘baby’ of the group (24 February 1943).  In terms of height, Paul is the tallest (five feet, eleven inches), then John (five feet, ten and a half inches), George (five feet, nine and three-quarter inches) and Ringo is the shortest (five feet, six inches).  Because he signs on to the group last, some call Ringo ‘the luckiest person of the decade.’  But, as John asserts, “The Beatles would probably not have been as successful without Ringo.”  Or as Lennon also puts it, “I’m not The Beatles…Paul isn’t The Beatles…The Beatles are The Beatles…We all had our roles to play.”

The Beatles record their first single on 12 September 1962.  The tracks selected by producer George Martin are both composed by the team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  ‘Love Me Do’ (UK no. 17) features the two singing in harmony on most of the song – “Love, love me do / You know I love you / I’ll always be true” – with Paul taking the lead for the parts where John is blowing a harmonica riff.  Still uncertain of new drummer Ringo Starr, George Martin records takes with Ringo on drums and other takes using session musician Andy White.  The flipside of the single is ‘P.S. I Love You’, a sweeter song with Paul McCartney on lead vocals, though John’s chiming harmony vocal is also prominent.  ‘Love Me Do’ backed with ‘P.S. I Love You’ is released on 4 October 1962.

The Beatles undertake a trip to Hamburg, Germany, playing at the Star Club from 1 November 1962 to 14 November 1962.  Ringo Starr is the group’s drummer on this outing unlike previous visits.  A portable tape recorder captures one of these shows and the result becomes a live album over a decade later.

The Beatles record their second single on 26 November 1962 – but it is not released until 11 January 1963.  ‘Please Please Me’ (UK no. 2) is another John Lennon and Paul McCartney composition with John firmly in place as lead vocalist.  It is a more professional sounding effort than their first single and cruises along nicely.  Some consider ‘Please Please Me’ to be The Beatles’ first no. 1 hit.  At the time, Britain has four different weekly singles charts.  ‘Please Please Me’ tops three of them but is only no. 2 on the fourth and historians tend to regard that fourth chart as the definitive one now.

The Beatles first national tour of the U.K. is undertaken in February 1963.  They are the support act to Helen Shapiro.  Their second national tour of the U.K. is in March 1963 as the support act to Chris Montez and Tommy Roe.

The Beatles’ first album, ‘Please Please Me’ (1963) (UK no. 1), is released by Parlophone/EMI on 22 March.  Like almost all their albums, it is produced by George Martin.  Like almost all their albums it reaches no. 1.  Eight of the disc’s fourteen tracks are written by the team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  They include the previously released ‘Love Me Do’, ‘P.S. I Love You’ and ‘Please Please Me’.  The best of the rest may be the frenzied opening song, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, with Paul on lead vocals.  ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’ is handed to George Harrison to give him a vocal spotlight.  Ringo Starr gets the lead vocal on ‘Boys’, a cover version of a Shirelles song from 1960.  Paul’s ambitions can be seen in his singing the ballad ‘A Taste Of Honey’, first recorded as an instrumental in 1960 with the earliest vocal version being by Billy Dee Williams in 1961.  The album closes with John’s crazed vocal on ‘Twist And Shout’, a song first performed by The Top Notes in 1961 but perhaps better known for The Isley Brothers interpretation in 1962.  “I couldn’t sing the damn thing, I was just screaming,” reports Lennon.  ‘Please Please Me’ is considered ‘one of the greatest first albums in rock.’

John and Cynthia Lennon’s son, Julian, is born on 8 April 1963.  Cynthia is still ‘the secret wife’ and the birth takes place with as much privacy as possible at Sefton General Hospital.

The Beatles’ third single, the huggable ‘From Me To You’ (UK no. 1) b/w ‘Thank You Girl’, is issued on 11 April 1963.  If there is some question about whether ‘Please Please Me’ counts as a no. 1 single, no such doubt exists about ‘From Me To You’ with John Lennon on lead vocals.

On 9 May 1963 Paul McCartney meets Jane Asher.  They meet at the Royal Albert Hall at a pop concert Jane attends as a celebrity teen reporter for ‘The Radio Times’.  Jane is better known as a rising young actress on the London scene.  Jane becomes Paul’s girlfriend and he often stays at her family’s London home.

Around the same time, Ringo Starr finds a steady girlfriend in the person of Maureen Cox (born Mary Cox).  She is an assistant hairdresser from Liverpool.

The Beatles’ third national tour of the U.K. occurs in May 1963.  For the first time, they top the bill.  Support acts are another group managed by Brian Epstein, Gerry And The Pacemakers, and visiting U.S. rock star Roy Orbison.

On 23 August 1963 The Beatles release the single ‘She Loves You’ (U.K. no. 1) b/w ‘I’ll Get You’.  John Lennon is the featured vocalist.  ‘She Loves You’ is the most recognised of The Beatles’ early hits.  The “Yeah, yeah, yeah” refrain is used by adults and non-fans as a kind of derogatory shorthand for all the madness associated with rock ‘n’ roll in general and The Beatles in particular.  The song is actually quite inventive.  The more obvious lyrical tack would have been ‘She Loves Me’ or ‘I Love You’.  Instead, the narrator tells a friend of a woman’s affection for the unwary fellow (“And you know that can’t be bad”).

The Beatles’ burgeoning popularity is acknowledged by their inclusion in the Royal Command Performance on 5 November 1963.  This show, in turn, leads to ‘The Daily Mirror’ coining the term ‘Beatlemania’.  Packs of screaming girls pursuing them becomes part of the average day of ‘the Fab Four’.

The Beatles’ second album, ‘With The Beatles’ (1963) (UK no. 1), is released on 22 November 1963.  Seven of the disc’s fourteen tracks are composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  The highlight may be the warm ‘All My Loving’, a showcase for Paul McCartney’s vocals.  Ringo Starr handles the lead vocals on Lennon & McCartney’s raving rocker ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, a song which is also flogged to the neophyte Rolling Stones and becomes one of their early singles.  ‘Don’t Bother Me’ is the first George Harrison composition recorded by The Beatles.  George wrote the song while he had a brief stay in hospital.  “It was an exercise to see if I could write a song,” he explains.  One of the album’s six cover versions is Paul’s take on ‘Till There Was You’, a classy ballad.  It comes from the stage-show ‘The Music Man’ (1957) which became a film in 1962.  Earlier well known versions of ‘Till There Was You’ are by Anita Bryant (1959) and Peggy Lee (1961).  George Harrison knocks out an interpretation of Chuck Berry’s 1956 rocker ‘Roll Over Beethoven’.  John Lennon handles lead vocals on three songs associated with the U.S. Motown label: The Marvelettes’ 1961 song ‘Please Mr Postman’; The Miracles’ 1962 hit ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’; and, the closing song on this album, a scorching version of Barrett Strong’s 1959 song ‘Money’.  Keyboard work on this disc is shared amongst John Lennon, Paul McCartney and producer George Martin.

Released on 29 November 1963 is The Beatles’ fifth single, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) b/w ‘This Boy’.  ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ was composed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney on the piano in the basement of the home of Paul’s girlfriend, Jane Asher.  John Lennon is the lead vocalist and the song is helped along by attractive hand-clapping percussion and George Harrison’s distinctive guitar.  ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ is intended to have an ‘American sound.’  It is released in the U.S. on 26 December 1963 and tops the U.S. charts on 1 February 1964.  Earlier British rock acts like Cliff Richard had failed to make an impact in the spiritual home of rock, the U.S.A.  Until this point, The Beatles looked like they were doomed to the same fate, as such U.K. favourites as ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘She Loves You’ were studiously ignored on the other side of the Atlantic.  More, The Beatles blaze a trail for a ‘British invasion’ of the U.S. charts by acts like The Animals and The Rolling Stones.

In February 1964, The Beatles visit the U.S.A. for a few concert dates and television appearances.  Their U.S. press conference on 7 February is a showcase for their wit and charm.  When asked if they will sing a song, all four chorus, “No.”  “Do you ever have haircuts?” asks one reporter, stunned at their ‘mop-tops.’  “I had one yesterday,” retorts George Harrison.  When asked what they think of Beethoven, Ringo responds, “Great, especially his poems.”  Such is their impact that The Beatles have five different songs in the U.S. ‘Hot 100’ playlist.

As the U.S. – and other foreign territories – play catch-up, The Beatles previous British hits chart internationally.  Some do better now than they had originally.  Other songs – that were never singles in their homeland – also chart.  These ‘catch-up’ foreign hits include: ‘My Bonnie’ (UK no. 61, US no. 26, AUS no. 29), ‘Love Me Do’ (US no. 1, AUS no. 1), ‘P.S. I Love You’ (US no. 10), ‘Please Please Me’ (US no. 3), ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ (US no. 14, AUS no. 1), ‘Boys’ (US no. 102), ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’ (US no. 2), ‘Twist And Shout’ (US no. 2, AUS no. 5), ‘From Me To You’ (US no. 41), ‘Thank You Girl’ (US no. 35), ‘She Loves You’ (US no. 1), ‘All My Loving’ (US no. 45, AUS no. 1) and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ (US no. 68, AUS no. 1).

John Lennon becomes a published author on 23 March 1964 with ‘In His Own Write’, ‘a slim edition of his doodlings and puns.’

The next step in the career of The Beatles is to star in a feature-length movie.  Filming begins on 2 March 1964.  The first taste is the single ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1), a storming track that tops the charts on 28 March (U.K.) and 4 April (U.S.).  This is the first new Beatles no. 1 single to feature Paul McCartney as lead vocalist.  On the film set, George Harrison falls in love with Pattie Boyd.  Although not a featured star of the film, the former model and young actress is quickly singled out by George.  Harrison is the last of The Beatles to settle down to a regular girlfriend (or wife in the case of John Lennon).  (Note: The existence of Cynthia and Julian Lennon is no longer a secret thanks to the increased scrutiny of the media.)

Tours – both domestic and international – are a constant in The Beatles’ lives.  On 3 June 1964 they begin a tour of Europe, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.  Ringo Starr contracts tonsillitis on the eve of departure so a session drummer named Jimmy Nichol fills in until Ringo rejoins the group in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.  In Adelaide, South Australia, The Beatles are greeted by the largest crowd yet: three hundred thousand people.

On 6 July 1964 The Beatles’ first film premieres at the Pavilion Theatre in London, England.  Provisionally, the film had been titled ‘Beatlemania’, but by the time it is released, it is called ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.  The title comes from an off-the-cuff remark made by drummer Ringo Starr when a reporter asked him how that evening’s gig went.  “It was a hard day’s night,” puffed Ringo.  Films about pop stars had been part of the business virtually since rock began, but they were usually tacky and exploitive cash-ins.  ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ proves to be different.  Liverpool playwright Alun Owen catches the personalities of ‘the Fab Four’ as the film fictionalises to madcap effect the real life chases from hotels to television studios, pursued by hordes of screaming fans.  Directed by Richard Lester, the movie captures Beatlemania at its ‘maddest and happiest.’  The best reviews for acting go to Ringo Starr, particularly the solo, wandering ‘This Boy’ sequence.  Modestly, Ringo just remembers battling a really bad hangover in the scene.

The Beatles’ third album, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (1964) (UK no. 1, AUS no. 1), is released on 10 July.  The album is notable for being the only one in their catalogue consisting purely of compositions by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  There are no cover versions on this album and no songs written by George Harrison.  Side one of the album consists of songs seen in the film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, while the scarcely less satisfying side two offers unused material.  The previously released ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ is present.  Launched from a crashing guitar chord, the title track of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) rockets along at a frenetic pace, matching the theme of the movie.  John Lennon is the lead vocalist on the song, though Paul McCartney sings the contrasting refrains.  ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ and ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ are up-tempo pieces but there is also a pair of pretty ballads, ‘If I Fell’ (US no. 53, AUS no. 1) (sung by John and Paul in harmony) and ‘And I Love Her’ (US no. 12) (featuring Paul).  ‘I Should Have Known Better’ (US no. 53, AUS no. 1) shows off John’s vocals and harmonica while ‘Tell Me Why’ is again devoted to the harmonies of Lennon and McCartney.  George Harrison gets to sing ‘I’m Happy Just To Dance With You’ (US no. 95), but Ringo Starr misses out on a lead vocal on this album.  The six new songs that are not in the movie are of fairly uniform quality.  If some must be singled out, perhaps it should be ‘I’ll Cry Instead’ (US no. 25), a neat blend of John and Paul, or John’s punishing ‘You Can’t Do That’ (US no. 48).

From 19 August 1964 to 20 September 1964 The Beatles tour the U.S.A. for the first time.  On 28 August 1964 at the Delmonico Hotel in New York the group meets U.S. folk rock icon Bob Dylan.  The meeting is notable not just because both acts are legendary but because Dylan introduces the lads from Liverpool to marijuana.

On 27 November 1964 The Beatles release the single ‘I Feel Fine’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) b/w ‘She’s A Woman’ (US no. 4).  John Lennon handles the lead vocal on ‘I Feel Fine’, a track announced by some deliberately induced guitar feedback, while Paul McCartney takes the lead on ‘She’s A Woman’.

‘Beatles For Sale’ (1964) (UK no. 1, AUS no. 1) is issued on 4 December 1964.  With this album, it seems like the strain is beginning to show on The Beatles.  From the album title, ‘Beatles For Sale’, to the autumnal sleeve photos and the large number of sad song titles, the band seems rather glum.  Additionally, after the all original ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, The Beatles fall back on their old formula of pairing eight compositions by the team of John Lennon and Paul McCartney with six cover versions.  ‘Eight Days A Week’ (US no. 1), the most cheerful song, features John’s vocals.  Songs like ‘Baby’s In Black’ and ‘I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party’ (US no. 39) are more lugubrious.  Perhaps the most telling is ‘I’m A Loser’: “Although I laugh and I act like a clown / Beneath this mask I am wearing a frown.”  Vocalist John Lennon seems to be saying that being a famous Beatle is not as much fun as it seems.  The best of the covers may be a fiery version of Chuck Berry’s 1957 hit ‘Rock And Roll Music’ (AUS no. 1) with another impressive Lennon vocal.  Paul McCartney trots out the 1959 Wilbert Harrison song ‘Kansas City’ – though judging by the added ‘Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey’ section, McCartney has been inspired more by Little Richard’s version of the song (also from 1959).  Ringo Starr and George Harrison both get vocal spotlights with cover versions of Carl Perkins songs: 1956’s ‘Honey Don’t’ (for Ringo) and 1957’s ‘Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby’ (for George).  None of George Harrison’s own compositions are on this album.

When Brian Epstein’s managerial duties with The Beatles and a clutch of other acts became too time consuming, Peter Brown was hired to manage the NEMS stores.  At the start of 1965 Peter Brown is asked to move to London to assist Brian in dealing exclusively with The Beatles.

Early in 1965 The Beatles are introduced to LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide), a mind-expanding drug.  John Lennon recalls, “A dentist in London laid it on George [Harrison], me and our wives [Note: George and Pattie are not yet married] without telling us at a dinner party at his house…He just put it in our coffee or something…It was insane going around London on it.”

Ringo Starr marries Maureen Cox on 11 February 1965, becoming the second member of The Beatles to wed.  Ringo and Maureen go on to have three children: two boys, Zak (born 13 September 1965) and Jason (born 19 August 1967), and a girl, Lee (born 17 November 1970).

Inevitably, given the success of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, plans begin to be made for a second feature film starring The Beatles.  Early rumours suggest the movie will be called ‘Eight Arms To Hold You’.  The first song from the project is ‘Ticket To Ride’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) which has John Lennon on lead vocals.  ‘Ticket To Ride’ may be The Beatles’ most ambitious song yet.  It features a descending, chiming guitar figure and a shunting rhythm track.  ‘Ticket To Ride’ tops the charts on 11 April 1965 (U.K.) and 23 May 1965 (U.S.).  The B side of the single is the three part harmony song ‘Yes It Is’ (US no. 46).

On 12 June 1965 the place of The Beatles in British society is acknowledged when it is announced that each of the four musicians will be awarded an M.B.E. (Membership of the Most Excellent order of the British Empire).  A befuddled John Lennon says, “I thought you had to drive tanks and win wars to get the M.B.E.”  Or, as George Harrison puts it, “I didn’t think you got that sort of thing just for playing rock ‘n’ roll.”  The award ceremony does not take place until 26 October 1965.

The Beatles’ cover version of Larry Williams’ 1958 song ‘Bad Boy’, with John Lennon as lead vocalist, is a bit of an odd release.  It first shows up on a U.S. Beatles album (‘Beatles VI’) on 14 June 1965.  It is not released in Britain until 9 December 1966 (on the compilation disc ‘A Collection of Beatles Oldies’).

John Lennon’s second book of whimsical writings, ‘A Spaniard In The Works’, is published on 24 June 1965.

Starting in June 1965 The Beatles undertake a European tour including France, Italy and Spain.

The Beatles’ second movie, now titled ‘Help!’, premieres on 29 July 1965 at the Pavilion Theatre in London.  ‘Help!’ is glossier and sillier than ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, though both are directed by Richard Lester.  The screenplay of ‘Help!’ is written by Marc Behm and Charles Wood.  The daft plot involves spies chasing the band’s drummer for a ring he wears because it is coveted by a mad scientist.  International locations for the filming include Austria and the Bahamas in an attempt to keep some of the group’s burgeoning income away from Britain’s tax laws.

The album ‘Help!’ (1965) (UK no. 1, AUS no. 1) is released on 6 August.  As with ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, the songs on side one are from the movie.  These tracks include earlier single ‘Ticket To Ride’.  The title track, ‘Help!’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1), is notable for its trademark propulsive enthusiasm.  However, underneath the surface rush, vocalist John Lennon is sounding warning notes: “When I was younger, so much younger than today / I never needed anybody’s help in any way…Help me if you can, I’m feeling down.”  In a later interview, John clarifies, “I meant it, it’s real…It was just me singing, ‘Help’, and I meant it.”  A similar disenchantment pervades the Bob Dylan-influenced ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’, again sung by Lennon: “Here I stand, head in hand / Turn my face to the wall.”  Paul McCartney is represented by the jaunty ‘The Night Before’ while ‘I Need You’ is written by George Harrison.  Side two throws in two cover versions: ‘John’s take on Larry Williams’ 1958 song ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’ and Ringo Starr’s vocal spotlight for this set is the country music song ‘Act Naturally’ (US no. 47), originally recorded by Buck Owens And The Buckaroos in 1963.  Paul McCartney is better served on side two with the folky ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’ and the gorgeous ballad ‘Yesterday’ (US no. 1, AUS no. 2).  Speaking of the latter, Paul explains that, “I just fell out of bed and it was there.  I have a piano by the side of my bed and just got up and played the chords.”  The lyrics are a bit more troublesome.  Paul calls the tune ‘Scrambled Eggs’ for a while until he comes up with the plaintive, “Yesterday / Love was such an easy game to play.”  “I really reckon ‘Yesterday’ is probably my best,” says McCartney, and it is all his own work.  “’Yesterday’ I had nothing to do with,” confirms John Lennon.  Producer George Martin helps the song’s effectiveness by scoring it for a string quartet to provide the backing music.  Aside from Paul singing and playing acoustic guitar, The Beatles are absent.  ‘Yesterday’ attracts many cover versions and gains recognition from older listeners who may have previously found The Beatles’ recordings too noisy.  A special mention is due for ‘I’m Down’ (US no. 101), a song not on the ‘Help!’ album, but consigned to the B side of the ‘Help!’ single.  This is the other side of Paul McCartney’s musical persona, a screaming Little Richard-influenced rocker.

The Beatles second U.S. tour takes place from 13 August 1965 to 30 August 1965.  This trip includes a show at New York’s Shea Stadium on 15 August 1965 attended by fifty-six thousand people (‘the largest crowd to see a rock ‘n’ roll concert to date’) and a meeting with Elvis Presley on 27 August 1965 at the Beverly Hills, Hollywood, home of the 1950s King of Rock ‘N’ Roll.

‘The Beatles’, a half hour Saturday morning cartoon, starts on the U.S. ABC Television Network on 25 September 1965.  It runs until 7 September 1969.

The double A side single ‘We Can Work It Out’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) b/w ‘Day Tripper’ (US no. 10) is released on 3 December 1965.  Paul McCartney provides most of the lead vocals on the more folk-influenced ‘We Can Work It Out’.  “Paul wrote the chorus,” says John Lennon.  “I wrote [and sang] the middle bit about ‘Life is very short, there is no time for fussing and fighting…’ all that bit.”  Lennon says that ‘Day Tripper’ is “a drug song in a way…because it was a day tripper.  I just liked the word…’Day Tripper’ wasn’t a serious message song.”  An LSD experience is sometimes called ‘a trip’ so, presumably, that is the drug connection in this reverberating riff-based number.

Released the same day (3 December) is The Beatles’ album ‘Rubber Soul’ (1965) (UK no. 1, AUS no. 1) – but it includes neither ‘We Can Work It Out’ nor ‘Day Tripper’.  ‘Rubber Soul’ is a pun on rubber-soled shoes and the idea that, as white Englishmen, The Beatles can only play a fake version of the soul music being popularised by African-Americans.  “That was Paul’s title,” points out John Lennon referring to Paul McCartney.  The album contains nothing that even remotely sounds like an attempt at soul, but that doesn’t spoil the joke.  ‘Rubber Soul’ is the first Beatles disc since ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ not to contain any cover versions – and all original material becomes the new norm for the group.  ‘Nowhere Man’ (US no. 3, AUS no. 1) ‘is one of the few Lennon songs in which he doesn’t write about himself’, but its sumptuous harmonies make it a popular favourite.  ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’ also is predominately Lennon.  “I was writing about an affair without letting me wife know I was writing about an affair, so it was very gobbledegook,” he notes.  The song is marked by the use of a sitar – a giraffe-necked instrument akin to the guitar.  During the filming of the movie ‘Help!’ (1965), George Harrison first encountered this Eastern instrument.  “George had just got the sitar and I said, ‘Could you play this piece?’” Lennon recalls.  This is the first evidence of George’s interest in India and all things Eastern.  ‘In My Life’ is one of Lennon’s gentlest and most touching songs: “There are places I remember all my life / Though some have changed / Some forever, not for better / Some have gone and some remain.”  “Paul [McCartney] helped with the middle eight, to give credit where it’s due,” says John.  He also credits producer George Martin with creating the ‘Elizabethan piano solo’ on the song.  Paul McCartney’s biggest moment on the disc is ‘Michelle’, a European ballad that breaks into French part way through: “Ma belle (my beautiful) / Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble (These are words that go together well).”  George Harrison contributes two songs, ‘Think For Yourself’ and ‘If I Needed Someone’, the latter adorned with ringing guitars.  ‘If I Needed Someone’ is the first of George’s compositions to be covered by another artist – in this case, by The Hollies.  Ringo Starr provides the lead vocals on ‘What Goes On’ (US no. 81), a country & western flavoured song that he co-writes with Lennon and McCartney.  Though virtually every Beatles album has its supporters, ‘Rubber Soul’ seems their finest hour.  Innocence and experience, bravado and talent are all held in equal, satisfying proportions.  George Harrison agrees that ‘Rubber Soul’ is “the best one we made.”  He adds, “We were suddenly hearing sounds that we weren’t able to hear before.”  John Lennon suggests, “We were just getting better, technically and musically, that’s all.  We finally took over the [recording] studio…On ‘Rubber Soul’, we were sort of more precise about making the album, that’s all…”

In December 1966 The Beatles begin what will be their final U.K. tour – though it is not announced as such at the time and, quite possibly, even the group is unaware at this point that it will be their final concert tour of their homeland.

George Harrison proposes to his girlfriend Pattie Boyd on Christmas Day 1965.  They marry on 21 January 1966.

On 4 March 1966, ‘The Evening Standard’, a London newspaper, publishes an interview with John Lennon conducted by Maureen Cleave.  Lennon is quoted as saying, “Christianity will go.  It will vanish and shrink.  I needn’t argue about that, I’m right and will be proved right.  We’re more popular than Jesus Christ right now.”  At the time, the U.K. readers are untroubled by Lennon’s words…but the sentiments will come back to haunt The Beatles.

On 10 June 1966 The Beatles release the single ‘Paperback Writer’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) b/w ‘Rain’ (US no. 31).  Paul McCartney is the featured vocalist on ‘Paperback Writer’, a song about an aspiring author that references the U.K. newspaper ‘The Daily Mail’.  Musically, it has dive-bombing guitar chords and complex harmonies.  Yet The Beatles stitch it all together with customary panache for an attractive result.  John Lennon is lead singer on ‘Rain’, a song that – for the first time – uses tapes run backwards in its finale.  The disorienting effect evokes a drug influence but also demonstrates the group’s increasingly experimental use of recording studio technology.

The Beatles undertake another world tour.  They start out in Germany (23 June 1966), move on to Japan (24 June 1966) and the Philippines (4 July 1966).  The shows in Tokyo, Japan, are notable for the police being perhaps a bit heavy-handed in their approach to the screaming crowds.  It is even worse in Manila, the Philippines, where the group inadvertently offends President Marcos by not making a showing at the Presidential Palace.  Consequently, no official protection is offered to The Beatles when they make a race for the airport to leave.  The Beatles are shaken.  They are already bored and tired of touring, particularly since the fans create such a din the music can’t be heard anyway.  On the departing aircraft, the group tells manager Brian Epstein that after the impending U.S. concert dates, they want to stop touring for the foreseeable future.

The Beatles’ seventh album, ‘Revolver’ (1966) (UK no. 1, AUS no. 1), is released on 5 August.  The black-and-white cover, a montage of drawings and photographs, is by Klaus Voorman, The Beatles’ old friend from Hamburg, Germany.  Voorman moved to London in the early 1960s.  From July 1966 to June 1969 he plays bass in British pop group Manfred Mann.  “I don’t see much difference between ‘Revolver’ and [The Beatles’ previous album] ‘Rubber Soul’,” says George Harrison.  “To me, they could be Volume One and Volume Two.”  The single from ‘Revolver’ pairs two starkly contrasting songs.  ‘Yellow Submarine’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) is a humorous children’s song penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney for drummer Ringo Starr to sing.  It’s full of sloshing sounds, blowing bubbles and a silly answering voice from John Lennon.  On the single’s other side, Paul’s ‘Eleanor Rigby’ (US no. 12) is a dramatic story-song about “All the lonely people,” with producer George Martin scoring a string octet accompaniment.  Although it is primarily Paul’s song, John Lennon claims to have written about half the lyrics for ‘Eleanor Rigby’.  George Harrison makes his strongest showing yet, contributing three songs: the bouncy ‘I Want To Tell You’, the mordant wit of ‘Taxman’ and a full-blown piece of Indian music called ‘Love You To’ which features not only George on sitar, but percussionist Anil Bhagwat on tabla.  Paul McCartney demonstrates his versatility on ‘Revolver’.  Aside from ‘Eleanor Rigby’, he offers the mature ‘For No One’ (with Alan Civil on horn), the lovely ballad ‘Here, There And Everywhere’ (inspired by his girlfriend, Jane Asher, and one of his most genuine love songs), the punchy, brass-driven ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ and the pop perfection of ‘Good Day Sunshine’.  John Lennon’s ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ and ‘Dr Robert’ (written about Charles Roberts, a real New York doctor who gave ‘vitamin’ shots to the rich and famous) are both sharp and acerbic.  ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ features an appropriately groggy Lennon vocal.  Lennon’s ‘She Said She Said’ is inspired by the ravings of American actor Peter Fonda while he and John were both taking LSD.  Also ‘influenced by LSD’ is the closing track, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’.  Originally to be titled ‘The Void’, John’s lyrics are drawn from the Tibetan ‘Book of the Dead’ and the music’s components include tape loops and recordings played in reverse.

Up to this point, songs from The Beatles’ British albums, singles and EPs have been reformatted by Capitol Records into albums for the U.S. market.  Despite some of the U.S. albums having the same names as U.K. albums, the contents are always at least marginally different.  The Beatles’ U.S. albums have been: ‘Introducing…The Beatles’ (1964) [Note: This was issued by Vee-Jay Records and only became a hit after the Capitol Records breakthrough.] (US no. 2); ‘Meet The Beatles’ (1964) (US no. 1); ‘The Beatles’ Second Album’ (1964) (US no. 1); ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (1964) (US no. 1); ‘Something New’ (1964) (US no. 2); ‘Beatles ‘65’ (1965) (US no. 1); ‘Help!’ (1965) (US no. 1); ‘Rubber Soul’ (1965) (US no. 1); ‘Yesterday And Today’ (1966) (US no. 1); and ‘Revolver’ (1966) (US no. 1).  From this point, the U.K. and U.S. releases are almost always the same.

The Beatles’ third and final U.S. tour takes place from 12 August 1966 to 29 August 1966.  The John Lennon interview from ‘The Evening Standard’ has been reprinted by this time in ‘Datebook’, a U.S. teen magazine.  The South African government bans the playing of Beatles records on 5 August 1966.  Many U.S. radio stations also ban the broadcast of Beatles music.  Beatles records are publicly burned.  The Ku Klux Klan makes ‘dark threats against The Beatles’ safety.’  On 12 August 1966 John Lennon makes a fumbling apology to try to quell the furore.  The Beatles play their final concert date at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park on 29 August 1966.

John Lennon spends some time in autumn 1966 working on the comedy/war movie ‘How I Won the War’.  It is directed by Richard Lester, director of ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and ‘Help!’.  Lennon plays the part of Private Gripweed.  For the first time, the short-sighted John Lennon wears his glasses in public, though he will continue to do so from this point.  The role also requires a change in hairstyle so Lennon’s ‘mop top’ is consigned to history.  ‘How I Won the War’ is not released until 18 October 1967.

George Harrison meets Ravi Shankar, an Indian sitar virtuoso, at a dinner party in 1966.  Shankar invites George to come to India to study with him.  In October 1966 George and Pattie Harrison travel to Kashmir, India.  For seven weeks they study Indian mysticism and religion and George improves his sitar skills.

On 9 November 1966 John Lennon attends a show at the Indica Art Gallery.  It is there that he meets a Japanese artist named Yoko Ono.  “We were very shy, we sort of nodded at each other,” recalls Lennon.  Yoko Ono had been married to Japanese artist Toschi Ichiyanagi from 1957 to 1963.  She then married avant-garde artist Tony Cox in 1963 and had a daughter with him, Kyoko (born 1963).  They moved from New York to London in October 1966.  So when John meets Yoko, she is still married to Tony Cox.  Over the next two years John Lennon and Yoko Ono will encounter each other a number of times.  Some suggest that she pursues Lennon as a wealthy patron for her art.

The Beatles’ first compilation album ‘A Collection Of Beatles’ Oldies’ (1966) (UK no. 7, AUS no. 7) is released on 9 December 1966.

Without another tour to arrange, Brian Epstein – The Beatles’ manager – becomes increasingly concerned about his position in the lives of his charges.  Epstein drops by the Abbey Road studio where The Beatles are recording with George Martin.  When Epstein ventures an opinion, John Lennon tartly responds, “You stick to your percentages, Brian.  We’ll look after the music.”

On 17 February 1967 The Beatles release the double A side single ‘Penny Lane’ (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) b/w ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ (US no. 10).  ‘Penny Lane’ is a pretty song about a real street in Liverpool with Paul McCartney providing the whimsical lead vocal.  John Lennon’s ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ is about a Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool.  At first, John records it as an acoustic number, and then tries it with the whole band. Liking elements of both, he asks producer George Martin to stitch the two together which he miraculously accomplishes.  ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ complement one another.

In May 1967 Paul McCartney meets Linda Eastman for the first time.  The meeting takes place at a London nightclub called the Bag o’ Nails.  Linda is an American photographer from New York.  She had been briefly married to a geology student named Bob See with whom she had a daughter, Heather (born 1963).  Linda is invited to The Beatles’ meeting with the press on 19 May 1967 to publicise their forthcoming album.  She ‘zeroes in on Paul’ but, at this time, nothing further happens.  As with John Lennon’s meeting with Yoko Ono, Paul’s meeting with Linda will not bear fruit until later.

‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (1967) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) is released on 1 June.  Paul McCartney is the featured vocalist on the rocking title track.  The album is thematically tied together as though it is a performance given by the fictitious group led by Sgt Pepper.  Sporting moustaches and clad in bright satin versions of old military uniforms, The Beatles cast themselves as the act of the album’s title.  Ringo Starr (as Billy Shears) performs the endearing ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, a bespoke John Lennon and Paul McCartney composition.  Paul McCartney is featured on most tracks: the staccato ‘Getting Better’; the psychedelic ‘Fixing A Hole’; a lush ballad with strings called ‘She’s Leaving Home’; and a jokey ode to a meter maid, ‘Lovely Rita’.  However, the most notable of his works here may be ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’, a song Paul wrote when he was 16.  The music hall instrumentation makes it sound like something Paul’s father may have played in the Jim Mac Jazz Band, but because it appears on a Beatles album it is considered rock ‘n’ roll.  It demonstrates how The Beatles redefine rock to be whatever they say it is.  George Harrison contributes ‘Within You, Without You’ to this album, an Indian number.  John Lennon’s featured songs here are inspired by a variety of sources: ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’ is a brassy blast born from a Kellogg’s cornflakes commercial while ‘Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite’ is an oddball hurdy-gurdy tune with lyrics from a vintage theatre bill.  His best offering is ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ (whose initials are – coincidentally? – LSD).  The song is inspired by a painting created by his son Julian that the young boy brings home from school.  The lyrics contain images of “marmalade skies” and “plasticine porters.”  The disc’s – literally – mind-blowing finale is ‘A Day In The Life’, a song primarily written by John – though Paul writes the “Woke up, fell out of bed” sequence.  But ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ is more than just the songs.  It is Peter Blake’s complex cover art; it is the first rock ‘n’ roll album to print the lyrics on its sleeve; it is the dazzling production work George Martin affords his young charges’ gaudy confections.  ‘Sgt Pepper’s’ lays to rest any thoughts that The Beatles were washed up when they put a stop to concert tours.  It is their biggest success.  John Lennon admits, “’Pepper’ was a peak all right.”

On 25 June 1967, riding on the crest of the success of ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, The Beatles appear on the television program ‘Our World.’  The global telecast shows them singing a new tune.  The utopian anthem ‘All You Need Is Love’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) features John Lennon on lead vocals.  It duly tops the pop charts in July (U.K.) and August (U.S.).  The B side is the Lennon led sing-along ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man’.

On 24 August 1967 George and Pattie Harrison bring The Beatles to London’s Hilton Hotel to hear a lecture by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  The Harrisons’ interest in all things Indian led them to take note of this guru who advocates transcendental meditation as the path to spiritual enlightenment.  The Maharishi remains worldly enough to welcome four very wealthy young disciples.  The Beatles agree to join the holy man on a ten day retreat in Bangor, North Wales – though Cynthia Lennon misses the train.  It is while attending this course that tragic news reaches the group.  On 27 August 1967 The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein dies due to an overdose of Carbitral, a barbiturate or sleeping pill.  He was 32 years old.

On 24 November 1967 The Beatles release a new single.  Paul McCartney’s light ‘Hello Goodbye’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) is backed by the psychedelic weirdness of John Lennon’s ‘I Am The Walrus’ (US no. 46).  The latter has some of Lennon’s most potent word imagery (“Yellow matter custard / Dripping from a dead dog’s eye”).

These two songs come from a project called ‘Magical Mystery Tour’.  In the U.K., ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ (UK no. 2, AUS no. 3) is released as an EP on 8 December 1967.  In the U.S., ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ (1967) (UK no. 31, US no. 1, AUS no. 48) is an album issued on 27 November.  (The album version comes to be the survivor in later years.)  The EP consists of the previously released ‘Hello Goodbye’ and ‘I Am The Walrus’; a rousing group vocal on the title track ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, a song credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney; the instrumental ‘Flying’, jointly composed by the group; George Harrison’s foggy ‘Blue Jay Way’; and the strongest of this bunch (not counting Lennon’s previously released ‘I Am The Walrus’), Paul’s ‘Fool On The Hill’, a delicate and sweet whimsy scored to a flute accompaniment.  The album version of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ adds the four songs from two previously unaffiliated singles: ‘Penny Lane’, ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, ‘All You Need Is Love’ and ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man’.

On 25 December 1967 Paul McCartney and Jane Asher announce that they are engaged to be married.

‘Magical Mystery Tour’ is a self-made television movie by The Beatles that is screened on Boxing Day – 26 December 1967.  Without Brian Epstein, Paul McCartney appoints himself to shepherd the project, cajoling the other three Beatles into participating.  ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ is a loose fable about a bus trip with the four Beatles, dwarves, fat ladies and whatnot snaking through the British countryside and having strange adventures.  ‘The Daily Express’ denounces the BBC TV show as ‘blatant rubbish.’

‘Magical Mystery Tour’ was the first production credited to Apple Films.  By this point, years of massive commercial success has made The Beatles financially well resourced.  They decide to go into business themselves in a venture called, simply, ‘Apple’.  The first fruit was the Apple boutique, a clothing store, opened on 7 December 1967.  All this proved was that, as retailers, The Beatles were great musicians.  Undeterred, in January 1968 The Beatles publicise the launch of Apple Corp.  “It’s a pun,” Paul McCartney explains.  “Apple-core – see?”  This hydra-headed business has many departments: films, electronics and the like.  Predictably, the only one that makes any sense – and achieves some positive returns – is Apple Records.  The Apple organisation provides employment for many of The Beatles associates.  For instance, John Lennon’s school friend from The Quarrymen Pete Shotton heads Apple Retail; Neil Aspinall, The Beatles roadie and assistant gets to make use of his accountancy studies as Managing Director of Apple; roadie and bodyguard Mal Evans is an executive at Apple; and Peter Brown, the late Brian Epstein’s assistant, is on Apple’s board of directors.

On 16 February 1968 The Beatles journey to Rishikesh, India, to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  One by one, they grow disenchanted and return to England.  Ringo Starr leaves after ten days, Paul McCartney quits after six weeks and George Harrison and John Lennon leave on 19 April 1968.  The guru proved a bit too fond of money, meat [since he is supposedly a vegetarian] and women.

On 15 March 1968 – while The Beatles are in India – a previously prepared single by the group is issued.  ‘Lady Madonna’ (UK no. 1, US no. 2, AUS no. 1) is a swaggering, fat and brassy tune with Paul McCartney providing the deep lead vocal.  The flipside is George Harrison’s ‘The Inner Light’, the third of his three Indian music pieces (after ‘Love You To’ and ‘Within You, Without You’).

On 22 May 1968 Cynthia Lennon returns from a holiday in Greece to find her husband sitting in the kitchen with Yoko Ono.  John and Yoko’s long-simmering attraction has been consummated.  John and Cynthia’s marriage breaks down after this and finally ends in divorce on 8 November 1968.

At a New York City press conference on 15 June 1968 The Beatles renounce the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as “a public mistake.”

On 17 July 1968 the movie length animated feature ‘Yellow Submarine’ is released.  This is based on the 1966 Beatles song of the same name and cartoon versions of the group are the protagonists of the storyline.  The soundtrack album is not released until early the next year.

Jane Asher returns home after an acting tour of Great Britain with the Bristol Old Vic to find Paul McCartney sitting with Linda Eastman – and Linda is wearing Jane’s dressing gown.  Paul and Linda’s long-simmering attraction has been consummated.  It is eerily like a replay of John Lennon’s relationship breakdown.  Jane Asher calls off her engagement to Paul McCartney on 20 July 1968.

In the midst of all these romantic dramas, Paul McCartney takes time to check in on John Lennon’s son, Julian, and see how he is coping.  On the way home, Paul begins to sing to himself.  “I started with the idea ‘Hey Jules’ which was Julian, ‘Don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better’ – hey, try and deal with this terrible thing,” McCartney recalls.  “I always feel sorry for kids in divorces.  I changed it to Hey Jude because I thought it sounded better.”  ‘Hey Jude’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) b/w ‘Revolution’ (US no. 11) is the first Beatles single released on their own Apple label.  It is issued on 30 August 1968.  While ‘Hey Jude’ is a heartfelt anthem, John Lennon’s ‘Revolution’ is a harsh call to arms (or not) featuring fuzzed out and distorted guitars, with ace session musician Nicky Hopkins adding piano.

In October 1968 stories begin to appear in the press that Yoko Ono is pregnant with John Lennon’s child.  On 18 October 1968 John and Yoko are arrested and charged with possession of marijuana after a raid by the police drug squad on the London flat of Ringo Starr where John and Yoko are staying.  A few hours after the arrest, Yoko almost miscarries and is taken to Queen Charlotte’s Memorial Hospital on 18 October 1968 for blood transfusions.  Despite medical attention and some weeks in hospital, Yoko miscarries on 21 November 1968.

On 1 November 1968 George Harrison becomes the first of The Beatles to release a solo album.  ‘Wonderwall Music’ (1968) (US no. 49) is an amalgam of rock and Indian music, the soundtrack to the film ‘Wonderwall’ (1968).

The first album The Beatles release on their own Apple label is ‘The Beatles’ (1968) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) on 22 November.  This set is commonly referred to as ‘The White Album’ for its plain white sleeve.  ‘The Beatles’ is a double album, a format at the time still comparatively uncommon for a pop group.  Thirty songs are packed into the two discs.  Producer George Martin pleads with The Beatles ‘to lose the scribble’ and reduce it to ‘the fourteen best titles’ but The Beatles are adamant about retaining the whole sprawling result.  “It wasn’t a pleasant one to make,” recalls Paul McCartney.  At one point, such is the acrimony that drummer Ringo Starr – temporarily! – quits the group.  The album still winds up sounding like the work of four separate performers with little that reflects the group identity.  Perhaps the tracks that best present a united front are two of the album’s most rocking tracks: ‘Back In The U.S.S.R.’ and ‘Birthday’.  John Lennon serves up ‘Julia’, a gentle ballad using his mother’s name.  He also contributes an attack on the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi which, at the last minute, he renames ‘Sexy Sadie’ but, “That’s about the Maharishi, yes.  I copped out,” admits Lennon, “and wouldn’t write, ‘Maharishi what have you done? / You made a fool of everyone’.”  Paul McCartney offers the popular Caribbean sing-along ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ (AUS no. 1), the bruising rock of ‘Helter Skelter’ and ‘Martha My Dear’, a song inspired by his sheepdog.  With two discs to fill, George Harrison chalks up four pieces, the most notable being ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ with (uncredited) guest guitar work from his friend Eric Clapton, of the heavy rock group called Cream.  Ringo Starr gets his first solo songwriting credit for ‘Don’t Pass Me By’, a jaunty, shambling song with a country music fiddle featured.  The overall sound is more stripped back on ‘The Beatles’ than the psychedelic, florid tunes on ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.  ‘The Beatles’ is made up of hushed acoustics, harrowing hard rock and hard-to-classify other tunes – not to mention what George Martin called ‘scribble’.

‘Unfinished Music No 1: Two Virgins’ (1968) (US no. 124) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono is released on 29 November.  It is an album of electronic doodles recorded by John and Yoko on the night before Cynthia Lennon came home and found them together.  The most notable thing about the disc is its sleeve: the nude photos of John and Yoko create controversy and some retailers only offer the album disguised within a plain brown paper bag.

‘Yellow Submarine’ (1969) (UK no. 3, US no. 2, AUS no. 4) is released on 17 January.  This is the soundtrack to the animated movie released back on 17 July 1968.  The Beatles’ involvement in the project is minimal.  They contribute four new songs: Paul McCartney’s childlike ‘All Together Now’, John Lennon’s hard-nosed ‘Hey Bulldog’ and two George Harrison pieces, ‘Only A Northern Song’ (Northern Songs is the publishing company for Lennon & McCartney compositions) and the psychedelic blow-out ‘It’s All Too Much’.  Together with the title song (from 1966) and ‘All You Need Is Love’ (from 1967), these songs make up side one of the disc.  Side two is George Martin’s score of incidental music for the film’s cues performed by an orchestra under Martin’s direction.

In January 1969 work begins on The Beatles’ next project.  The idea comes mostly from Paul McCartney.  More than his comrades, Paul misses the days of going on tour.  However, unable to convince the others to agree to a tour, Paul does obtain consent to put on one show.  The whole rehearsal process and the writing and recording of new songs is to be filmed for a documentary to be issued by Apple’s movie division.  The project is to be called ‘Get Back’ – as in The Beatles ‘get back’ to their roots.  The atmosphere is strained.  Paul plays ‘the schoolmarm, coaxing them to work.’  At one point, he tries to tell George Harrison how to play a guitar part and George explodes, “Look, I’ll play whatever you want me to play, or I won’t play at all.  Whatever it is that’ll please you, I’ll do it!”  John Lennon asks visiting producer George Martin what he thinks of an attempted song.  Martin says, “John – I honestly don’t know.”  This draws the withering response, “You’re no f***in’ good then are you.”  African-American keyboardist Billy Preston joins the sessions.  Finally, on 30 January 1969, The Beatles put on a show…on the roof of Apple headquarters at 3 Saville Row, London.  They play a few songs; among them, one tune  Paul had originally titled ‘Loretta’, but is now called ‘Get Back’, and John’s soulful ‘Don’t Let Me Down’…then the police shut them down for making too much noise.  It is The Beatles last live public performance as a group.  All the recordings are put on a shelf because, as John puts it, “Nobody could face looking at it.”

On 12 March 1969 Paul McCartney marries Linda Eastman.  Paul adopts Linda’s daughter from her previous marriage, Heather.

On 13 March 1969 George and Pattie Harrison are arrested in London for possession of marijuana.  They subsequently plead guilty and pay a fine.

On 20 March 1969 John Lennon marries Yoko Ono.  (Yoko’s divorce from Tony Cox had been finalised on 2 February 1969.)

On 11 April 1969 The Beatles release the single ‘Get Back’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) b/w ‘Don’t Let Me Down’.  Unusually, the lead guitar on this song (sung by Paul McCartney) is played by John Lennon rather than George Harrison.  “When Paul was feeling kindly he would give me a solo,” notes John.  The song also features a tasty drum break from Ringo Starr at the three quarter mark.  Though it may have been born from a difficult period, the simple, uncomplicated drive of ‘Get Back’ makes it perhaps The Beatles’ best song.  It is described as one of ‘the strongest rockers’.  Nonetheless, for now the rest of the songs from the accompanying project continue to gather dust.

On 22 April 1969 John Lennon changes his middle name from Winston to Ono in a ceremony on the roof of the Apple building.  “Yoko [Ono] changed her name for me; I’ve changed mine for her,” explains John.

On the same day, 9 May, two Beatles release solo albums of an experimental nature.  George Harrison’s ‘Electronic Sound’ (1969) (US no. 191) and ‘Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions’ (1969) (US no. 174) by John Lennon and Yoko Ono are both rather avant-garde.

By this time, Apple is in financial trouble.  Paul McCartney favours having his new father-in-law, New York attorney Lee Eastman, sort it out.  John Lennon is won over by Allen Klein, a notorious New York business shark in the music industry.  “I had heard about all these dreadful rumours about him,” admits John.  Still, when John Eastman (Lee’s son and representative) is sent to a meeting with Klein and The Beatles, it is John Eastman who describes his rival as “the perfect a**hole.”  The battle lines are drawn and – unsurprisingly, given Paul’s ties to the Eastman family – George Harrison and Ringo Starr side with Lennon and, on 21 May 1969, Allen Klein is officially announced as the person handling The Beatles’ finances.

30 May 1969 is the release date for The Beatles’ single ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko’ (UK no. 1, US no. 10, AUS no. 1).  Naturally, John Lennon provides the lead vocal on this instant piece of self-mythology.  It tells the story of John’s adventures with the media leading up to his marriage.  The lyrics are sharp and witty and it maintains a quick rocking tempo.  Curiously, only John Lennon and Paul McCartney play on the song.  Thanks to the wonders of over-dubbing, John supplies all the guitar parts while Paul plays both bass and drums.  The refrain of, “Christ, you know it ain’t easy,” results in the song being banned by the BBC and several U.S. radio stations.  The B side of the single is George Harrison’s song ‘Old Brown Shoe’.

On 4 July 1969 John Lennon releases his first solo single.  ‘Give Peace A Chance’ (UK no. 2, US no. 14, AUS no. 6) is a folk protest song recorded by John and various hangers-on during a ten-day ‘bed-in’ in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada from 21 May 1969.  This was what passed as a honeymoon for John and Yoko Ono.

Paul and Linda McCartney’s first child together, a daughter named Mary, is born in August 1969.

On 13 September 1969 John Lennon performs live at the Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival Concert in Toronto, Canada.  His backing group is The Plastic Ono Band, an all-purpose name for whatever musicians John is employing at the time.  On this occasion, The Plastic Ono Band consists of Eric Clapton (guitar), Klaus Voorman (bass) and Alan White (drums).

The Beatles regroup for ‘Abbey Road’ (1969) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1), released on 26 September, an album named after the location of the studio where most of their work has been recorded.  With George Martin setting a firm agenda as producer, side one is a group of individual songs, while side two is a tapestry of interlinked short pieces.  The single is the double A side ‘Something’ (UK no. 4, US no. 2, AUS no. 1) b/w ‘Come Together’ (US no. 1).  Since these songs are by, respectively, George Harrison and John Lennon, it is the first single for some time without Paul McCartney being a major contributor – a situation probably arranged by the business manager for the group, Allen Klein.  ‘Something’ is a romantic ballad that could have passed for one of McCartney’s works.  ‘Come Together’ is a sultry number of loaded intent.  Aside from ‘Something’, George Harrison also contributes the delicate acoustic optimism of ‘Here Comes The Sun’, a song he wrote in the garden of his friend Eric Clapton.  Ringo Starr’s spotlight, ‘Octopus’s Garden’, is a charming tune in the style of ‘Yellow Submarine’.  Officially, ‘Octopus’s Garden’ is written by Ringo, but video footage shows George Harrison helping him.  Paul McCartney’s best moment is probably ‘Oh! Darling’, a song he showed up early to sing over and over so he could sound hoarse like a musician who had been on the road for a long time.  The album concludes with ‘The End’: “And in the end / The love you make / Is equal to the love you take.”  Since ‘Abbey Road’ is the final album The Beatles will record, this seems a profound conclusion – so thankfully it is undercut by Paul’s silly ditty ‘Her Majesty’ which is tacked on after ‘The End’.

‘The Northern Star’, the Illinois University newspaper, ran an article on 22 September 1969 suggesting that Paul McCartney had died and The Beatles were covering it up.  This is amplified and added to in a broadcast by disc jockey Russ Gibbs on Detroit radio station WKNR-FM on 12 October 1969.  The clues to the alleged conspiracy are in various Beatles lyrics and publicity photos.  The fanciful tale goes that Paul McCartney “blew his mind out in a car” (‘A Day In The Life’) because he “didn’t notice that the lights had changed” (also ‘A Day In The Life’).  This occurred on a “stupid bl**dy Tuesday” (‘I Am The Walrus’) in November 1966.  His place was taken by a look-alike named Billy Shears (introduced in the bridge from the song ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ to ‘A Little Help From My Friends’).  On one of the inner sleeve photos for ‘Sgt Pepper’s’, ‘Paul’ is the only one with his back to the camera – supposedly indicating he is dead – and the patch on his sleeve says ‘O.P.D.’ (‘Officially Pronounced Dead’).  ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ trails off with the words, “I buried Paul.”  The ‘Abbey Road’ sleeve depicts The Beatles as a graveside crew: John in white as the preacher; Ringo in black as a mourner; ‘Paul’ in a suit –but minus shoes – as the corpse; and George in denim as the gravedigger.  The number plate on the car in the background is ‘28IF’ – as in, Paul would have been 28 if he lived.  It doesn’t help that McCartney is in seclusion on his farm in Scotland as the ‘news’ breaks.  Eventually, Paul is prevailed upon to deny the story.  “The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” he says…but then, the conspiracy theorists argue, he would say that, wouldn’t he?  At least some of the ‘clues’ can be refuted.  It was John Lennon who got ‘so stoned on acid [LSD] he couldn’t figure out if the traffic light had changed’ and the relevant section of ‘A Day In The Life’ is actually about the late Guinness heir, Tara Brown.  What John says at the end of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ is not “I buried Paul” but “cranberry sauce”, a typical Lennon absurdity.  Paul took his shoes off for the cover of ‘Abbey Road’ because it was a warm summer’s day.  He would have been 27, not 28, ‘if he lived.’

John Lennon releases his second solo single, ‘Cold Turkey’ (UK no. 12, US no. 30, AUS no. 25), on 20 October 1969.  It is a song about the pain of heroin withdrawal – something John (and Yoko Ono) experienced first-hand in the summer of 1969.  The Beatles rejected ‘Cold Turkey’ so John recorded it himself.

On 7 November John Lennon and Yoko Ono issue their third full-length disc, ‘The Wedding Album’ (1969) (US no. 178).

On 26 November 1969 John Lennon returns his M.B.E. in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra conflict, Britain’s support of America in Vietnam and, he adds mischievously, ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts.

‘Live Peace In Toronto’ (1969) (US no. 10, AUS no. 7) is released on 12 December.  This is a concert recording of John Lennon’s performance at the Toronto Rock ‘N’ Roll Festival on 13 September 1969.

On 6 February 1970 John Lennon releases the single ‘Instant Karma’ (UK no. 3, US no. 5, AUS no. 6), a song seeking universal balance.  It is produced by Phil Spector, a man most associated with a string of hits in the late 1950s-early 1960s that were famed for a ‘wall of sound’ (i.e. a large number of musicians and some exotic percussion, all drenched in echo).

‘Hey Jude’ (1970) (US no. 1, AUS no. 2), issued on 26 February, is an American compilation of Beatles songs previously unavailable on any of their U.S. albums.

‘Sentimental Journey’ (1970) (UK no. 7, US no. 22, AUS no. 15) is Ringo Starr’s first solo album.  It is released on 27 March.  It is Ringo’s version of various old songs he remembers being sung in the pubs of Liverpool when he was a child.

Following in the footsteps of his companions, Paul McCartney prepares a solo album too.  However, the projected release date conflicts with that of the next Beatles album.  This causes ‘enormous arguments.’  After some haggling, the release date for Paul’s album is brought forward to avoid a clash.

On 11 April 1970 Paul McCartney announces a ‘temporary break with The Beatles’ due to ‘personal, business and musical differences.’  Although the tone of the press release seems a bit ambiguous, this is effectively the end of The Beatles.

‘McCartney’ (1970) (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 3), Paul McCartney’s homemade solo album, is released on 17 April.  It contains some strong pieces such as ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ and ‘Every Night’, but these are mixed with other songs considered by some to be ‘throwaways.’

Although ‘Abbey Road’ was the last album recorded by The Beatles, the last set of fresh Beatles songs is actually ‘Let It Be’ (1970) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1), issued on 8 May.  This is the abandoned ‘Get Back’ project from January 1969.  Production credits are shared by George Martin, Glyn Johns and Phil Spector.  The original tapes were remixed by Glyn Johns but it fell to Spector to make a finished product.  Although John Lennon says, “He did a great job of it,” Paul McCartney is dismayed at some of Spector’s work but finds himself fighting against the odds.  “This is a new phase Beatles album,” crows the sleeve notes optimistically.  “They performed live for many of the tracks; in comes the warmth and the freshness of a live performance.”  John Lennon’s best moment on the disc is ‘Across The Universe’ – though an earlier version of this appeared on a charity album for the World Wildlife Fund released on 12 December 1969.  ‘One After 909’ is an old Quarrymen era song in keeping with the album’s original ‘get back’ intent.  ‘Get Back’ itself closes the album, but in a different version than the one released as a single in 1969.  Paul McCartney supplies the album’s most commercially successful songs.  The title track, ‘Let It Be’ (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) is a fine semi-gospel song, though the ‘Mother Mary’ to which it refers may be Paul’s own mother – born Mary Patricia Mohin – rather than The Blessed Virgin.  ‘The Long And Winding Road’ (US no. 1, AUS no. 7) features violins, horns and a choir.  These are instrumental touches added by producer Phil Spector but McCartney bitterly disagreed with the decision.  George Harrison is represented by two songs, ‘I Me Mine’ and ‘For You Blue’.  There is no song from Ringo Starr on this disc.  ‘Let It Be’ is described as ‘the sound of the world’s biggest pop group at war with itself.’

The documentary film ‘Let It Be’ directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg premieres on 20 May 1970.  None of The Beatles attend.

If the division in The Beatles was hoped to be ‘temporary’, that hope ends on 31 December 1970 when Paul McCartney sues Allen Klein, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr for the dissolution of the Apple partnership. The Beatles are history.  John Lennon: “One of the main reasons The Beatles ended [is]…we got fed up of being sidemen for Paul.”  Paul McCartney: “I didn’t leave The Beatles…The Beatles have left The Beatles – but no one wants to be the one to say the party’s over.”

So what happens to The Beatles subsequently?

In September 1971 John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono move to the Unites States of America.  On 29 February 1972 John’s U.S. immigration visa expires and a lengthy legal battle begins for him to remain in the U.S.A.  In early 1973 John and Yoko move into an apartment at the Dakota in New York City.  John and Yoko separate.  From 1973 to 1975 Lennon is romantically involved with May Pang, a New York secretary who had been John and Yoko’s administrative assistant.  John and Yoko reconcile in 1975.  After multiple miscarriages in previous years, Yoko again falls pregnant.  On 7 October 1975 John’s battle with the U.S. immigration authorities ends and the singer is allowed to remain in the U.S.  John and Yoko’s son, Sean, is born on 9 October 1975.  John sets aside his own career to be a house-husband and care for Sean.  In 1980 Lennon returns to the music industry.  On 8 December 1980 John Lennon is shot dead outside the Dakota by a crazed fan, Mark David Chapman.  At the time of his death, John Lennon was 40 years old.  The solo albums recorded by John Lennon are: ‘Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins’ (1968) (with Yoko Ono) (US no. 124); ‘Unfinished Music No. 2: Life With The Lions’ (1969) (with Yoko Ono) (US no. 174); ‘The Wedding Album’ (1969) (with Yoko Ono) (US no. 178); ‘Live Peace In Toronto’ (1969) (US no. 10, AUS no. 7); ‘John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’ (1970) (UK no. 11, US no. 6, AUS no. 3); ‘Imagine’ (1971) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1); ‘Some Time In New York City’ (1972) (UK no. 11, US no. 48, AUS no. 10); ‘Mind Games’ (1973) (UK no. 13, US no. 9, AUS no. 8); ‘Walls And Bridges’ (1974) (UK no. 6, US no. 1, AUS no. 4); ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’ (1975) (UK no. 6, US no. 6, AUS no. 5) – cover versions of old rock ‘n’ roll songs; ‘Double Fantasy’ (1980) (with Yoko Ono) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1); ‘Milk And Honey’ (1984) (with Yoko Ono) (UK no. 3, US no. 11, AUS no. 4) – a posthumous set; and ‘Menlove Avenue’ (1986) (US no. 127) – outtakes from the mid-1970s.  John Lennon’s most successful singles include: 1969’s ‘Give Peace A Chance’ (UK no. 2, US no. 14, AUS no. 6); 1970’s ‘Instant Karma’ (UK no. 3, US no. 5, AUS no. 6) and ‘Power To The People’ (UK no. 6, US no. 11, AUS no. 21); 1971’s ‘Imagine’ (UK no. 1, US no. 3, AUS no. 1); 1972’s ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ (UK no. 2, US no. 9); 1974’s ‘Whatever Gets You Through The Night’ (UK no. 36, US no. 1, AUS no. 34) and ‘#9 Dream’ (UK no. 23, US no. 9); 1980’s ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) and ‘Woman’ (UK no. 1, US no. 2, AUS no. 4); and 1984’s ‘Nobody Told Me’ (UK no. 6, US no. 5, AUS no. 6).

Paul McCartney and his wife Linda eventually have four children: Heather (born 1963 – adopted by Paul from Linda’s previous marriage), Mary (born 1969), Stella (born 1971) and James (born 1977).  Paul forms a group called Wings (1971-1979) – though initially they are known as Paul McCartney And Wings (1971-1973).  The membership of Wings shifts over the years.  Aside from Paul, the only other two constants are Linda McCartney (keyboards, vocals) and Denny Laine (guitar, vocals).  In March 1997 the ex-Beatle is knighted, becoming Sir Paul McCartney.  Linda McCartney dies from breast cancer – the same disease that killed Paul’s mother – on 17 April 1998.  Paul McCartney weds his second wife, model and activist Heather Mills, on 11 June 2002.  They have a daughter, Beatrice (born 28 October 2003).  Paul and Heather separate in April 2006 and divorce on 12 May 2008.  Paul McCartney marries for a third time on 9 October 2011.  His third wife is Nancy Shevell, the Vice-President of New England Freight Motors, Inc., a New Jersey based trucking business.  The solo albums recorded by Paul McCartney are: ‘McCartney’ (1970) (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 3); ‘Ram’ (1971) (with Linda McCartney) (UK no. 1, US no. 2, AUS no. 3); ‘Wild Life’ (1971) (by Paul McCartney And Wings) (UK no. 11, US no. 10, AUS no. 3); ‘Red Rose Speedway’ (1973) (by Paul McCartney And Wings) (UK no. 5, US no. 1, AUS no. 1); ‘Band On The Run’ (1973) (by Paul McCartney And Wings) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1); ‘Venus And Mars’ (1975) (by Wings) (US no. 1, UK no. 1, AUS no. 2); ‘Wings At The Speed Of Sound’ (1976) (by Wings) (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 2); ‘Wings Over America’ (1976) (a live album by Wings) (UK no. 8, US no. 1, AUS no. 3); ‘London Town’ (1978) (by Wings) (UK no. 4, US no. 2, AUS no. 3); ‘Back To The Egg’ (1979) (by Wings) (UK no. 6, US no. 8, AUS no. 3); ‘McCartney II’ (1980) (UK no. 1, US no. 3, AUS no. 6); ‘Tug Of War’ (1982) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 2); ‘Pipes Of Peace’ (1983) (UK no. 4, US no. 15, AUS no. 9); ‘Give My Regards To Broad Street – Soundtrack’ (1984) (UK no. 1, US no. 21, AUS no. 10); ‘Press To Play’ (1986) (UK no. 8, US no. 30, AUS no. 22); ‘Flowers In The Dirt’ (1989) (UK no. 1, US no. 21, AUS no. 18); ‘Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio’ (1991) (US no. 177) – classical music; ‘Strawberries Oceans Ships Forests’ (1993) – electronic music recorded under the alias of The Fireman; ‘Off The Ground’ (1993) (UK no. 5, US no. 17, AUS no. 8); ‘Standing Stone’ (1997) (US no. 194) – classical music; ‘Flaming Pie’ (1997) (UK no. 2, US no. 2, AUS no. 9); ‘Rushes’ (1998) (by The Fireman); ‘Working Classical’ (1999) – classical music; ‘Run Devil Run’ (1999) (UK no. 12, US no. 127); ‘A Garland For Linda’ (2000) – classical music; ‘Driving Rain’ (2001) (UK no. 46, US no. 26); ‘Chaos And Creation In The Backyard’ (2005) (UK no. 10, US no. 6, AUS no. 33); ‘Ecce Cor Meum’ (2006) (UK no. 141) – classical music; ‘Memory Almost Full’ (2007) (UK no. 5, US no. 3, AUS no. 33); ‘Electric Arguments’ (2008) (by The Fireman) (UK no. 79); ‘Ocean’s Kingdom’ (2011) (US no. 143) – classical music; ‘Kisses On The Bottom’ (2012) (UK no. 3, US no. 5, AUS no. 15) – cover versions of old pop and jazz hits; and ‘New’ (2013) (UK no. 3, US no. 3, AUS no. 22).  Paul McCartney’s most popular singles include: 1971’s ‘Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey’ (with Linda McCartney) (US no. 1, AUS no. 5); 1973’s ‘My Love’ (by Paul McCartney And Wings) (UK no. 9, US no. 1, AUS no. 5) and ‘Band On The Run’ (by Paul McCartney And Wings) (UK no. 3, US no. 1); 1975’s ‘Listen To What The Man Said’ (by Wings) (UK no. 6, US no. 1, AUS no. 14); 1976’s ‘Silly Love Songs’ (by Wings) (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 20); 1977’s ‘Mull Of Kintyre’ b/w ‘Girlschool’ (by Wings) (UK no. 1, US no. 33, AUS no. 1); 1978’s ‘With A Little Luck’ (by Wings) (UK no. 5, US no. 1, AUS no. 11); 1980’s ‘Coming Up’ (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 2); ‘Ebony And Ivory’ (with Stevie Wonder) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 2); and 1983’s ‘Say Say Say’ (with Michael Jackson) (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 4).

George Harrison’s marriage breaks down in September 1974.  Pattie Harrison had an affair with George’s friend Eric Clapton in 1970 but returned to George at that time.  Their separation in 1974 is due to Pattie resuming her romantic relationship with Clapton.  George and Pattie divorce in 1977.  Pattie weds Eric Clapton on 27 March 1979.  Their union lasts until 1985 and ends in divorce in 1989.  Amazingly, George Harrison’s friendship with Eric Clapton survives.  George Harrison falls in love with Olivia Trinidad Arias, a record company secretary.  Olivia and George have a son, Dhani (born 1 August 1978) and then marry on 2 September 1978.  From 1988 to 1990 George Harrison is involved in a casual supergroup called The Traveling Wilburys with whom he makes two albums.  The other members of the group are Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne (from Electric Light Orchestra) and Roy Orbison – though Orbison dies after the first Traveling Wilburys disc so the act is reduced to a four-piece for their second and final effort.  In mid-1997 George Harrison is diagnosed with throat cancer.  On 30 December 1999, Michael Abram, a deranged intruder at Harrison’s home, attacks the ex-Beatle with a knife, inflicting forty stab wounds.  The encounter may well have been fatal had not Harrison’s wife Olivia bravely driven off the assailant.  George Harrison’s cancer spreads to his lungs and then, finally, to his brain, causing his death on 29 November 2001.  He was 58 years old.  The solo albums recorded by George Harrison are: ‘Wonderwall Music’ (1968) (US no. 49); ‘Electronic Sound’ (1969) (US no. 191); ‘All Things Must Pass’ (1970) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1); ‘Concert For Bangla Desh’ (1972) (UK no. 1, US no. 2) – an all-star charity benefit; ‘Living In The Material World’ (1973) (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 2); ‘Dark Horse’ (1974) (US no. 4, AUS no. 47); ‘Extra Texture – Read All About It’ (1975) (UK no. 16, US no. 8, AUS no. 36); ’33 1/3’ (1976) (UK no. 35, US no. 11, AUS no. 27); ‘George Harrison’ (1979) (UK no. 39, US no. 14, AUS no. 52); ‘Somewhere In England’ (1980) (UK no. 13, US no. 11, AUS no. 17); ‘Gone Troppo’ (1982) (US no. 8); ‘Cloud Nine’ (1987) (UK no. 10, US no. 8, AUS no. 10); ‘Volume One’ (1988) (by The Traveling Wilburys) (UK no. 16, US no. 3, AUS no. 1); ‘Volume Three’ (1990) (by The Traveling Wilburys) [Note: There is no ‘Volume Two’.] (UK no. 14, US no. 11, AUS no. 14); ‘Live In Japan’ (1992) (US no. 126) – a concert recording; and ‘Brainwashed’ (2002) (UK no. 19, US no. 18, AUS no. 29) – a posthumous release.  George Harrison’s most popular singles include: 1970’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) and ‘What Is Life’ (US no. 10, AUS no. 5); 1971’s ‘Bangla Desh’ (UK no. 10, US no. 23); 1973’s ‘Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)’ (UK no. 8, US no. 1); 1974’s ‘Dark Horse’ (US no. 15); 1975’s ‘You’ (UK no. 38, US no. 20); 1976’s ‘Crackerbox Palace’ (US no. 19); 1979’s ‘Blow Away’ (UK no. 51, US no. 16); 1980’s ‘All Those Years Ago’ (UK no. 13, US no. 2, AUS no. 14); and 1987’s ‘Got My Mind Set On You’ (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 8).

Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen divorce on 17 July 1975.  Ringo Starr falls in love with actress Barbara Bach while both are appearing in a movie called ‘Caveman’ (1980).  Ringo and Barbara marry on 27 April 1981.  The solo albums recorded by Ringo Starr are: ‘Sentimental Journey’ (1970) (UK no. 7, US no. 22, AUS no. 15); ‘Beaucoups Of Blues’ (1970) (US no. 65, AUS no. 33); ‘Ringo’ (1973) (UK no. 7, US no. 2, AUS no. 2); ‘Goodnight Vienna’ (1974) (UK no. 30, US no. 8, AUS no. 11); ‘Ringo’s Rotogravure’ (1976) (US no. 28, AUS no. 19); ‘Ringo The 4th’ (1977) (US no. 162, AUS no. 65); ‘Bad Boy’ (1978) (US no. 129, AUS no. 98); ‘Stop And Smell The Roses’ (1981) (US no. 98); ‘Time Takes Time’ (1992); ‘Vertical Man’ (1998) (UK no. 85, US no. 61); ‘I Wanna Be Santa Claus’ (1999); ‘Ringo Rama’ (2003) (US no. 113); ‘Choose Love’ (2005); ‘Liverpool 8’ (2008) (UK no. 91, US no. 94); ‘Y Not’ (2010) (US no. 58); ‘Ringo 2012’ (2012) (UK no. 181, US no. 80); and ‘Postcards From Paradise’ (2015) (UK no. 157, US no. 99).  Ringo Starr’s most popular singles include: 1970’s ‘Beaucoups Of Blues’ (US no. 87, AUS no. 66); 1971’s ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ (UK no. 4, US no. 4, AUS no. 3); 1972’s ‘Back Off Boogaloo’ (UK no. 2, AUS no. 14); 1973’s ‘Photograph’ (UK no. 8, US no. 3, AUS no. 1), ‘You’re Sixteen’ (UK no. 4, US no. 2, AUS no. 16) and ‘Oh My My’ (US no. 24, AUS no. 62); 1974’s Only You (And You Alone)’ (UK no. 28, US no. 1, AUS no. 45); 1976’s ‘A Dose Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’ (US no. 44, AUS no. 37); 1992’s ‘Weight Of The World’ (UK no. 74); and 1998’s ‘La De Da’ (UK no. 63).

Although The Beatles break-up in 1970, their musical legacy continues.  Not only are their albums reissued, but their catalogue is repackaged in various ways.  Live albums of their performances in the 1960s include: ‘Live! At The Star-Club In Hamburg, Germany 1962’ (1977) (US no. 111, AUS no. 24); ‘The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl’ (1977) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 8); ‘Live At The BBC’ (1994) (UK no. 1, US no. 3, AUS no. 2); and ‘On Air: Live At The BBC Volume 2’ (2013) (UK no. 12, US no. 7, AUS no. 28).  Compilations of The Beatles’ hits are put together in such forms as these: ‘1962-1966’ (1973) (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 9); ‘1967-1970’ (1973) (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 8); ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Music’ (1976) (UK no. 11, US no. 2, AUS no. 4); and ‘Love Songs’ (1977) (UK no. 7, US no. 24, AUS no. 59).  The compilation album ‘Anthology’ (1995) (UK no. 2, US no. 1, AUS no. 1) is notable for including a pair of ‘new’ songs.  Two unused demos of songs recorded by John Lennon are reworked by the three surviving Beatles (this being before the 2001 death of George Harrison) and producer Jeff Lynne.  These songs are ‘Free As A Bird’ (UK no. 2, US no. 6, AUS no. 6) and ‘Real Love’ (UK no. 4, US no. 11, AUS no. 6).  Another latter day Beatles compilation is ‘1’ (2000) (UK no. 1, US no. 1, AUS no. 1).

‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years’ (2016) is a documentary movie directed by Ron Howard and released on 15 September.  It contains footage from 1962 to 1966.

The Beatles were the single most important act in the history of rock ‘n’ roll.  They were not infallible, but they left behind a very strong and creative catalogue of recordings that could be enjoyed by jewellery-rattlers and those ‘in the cheaper seats’ alike.  ‘It is extremely unlikely that rock, as it is presently commercially structured, will ever again offer the claustrophobic, hot-house urgency of the conditions in which The Beatles made their most revolutionary music.’  They were ‘four ordinary, modest, no-nonsense, entirely superhuman beings’.


  1. ‘Shout –The True Story Of The Beatles’ by Philip Norman (Corgi Books, 1981) p. 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 38, 39, 41, 43, 44, 45, 51, 56, 58, 64, 65, 66, 71, 82, 85, 86, 103, 106, 107, 108, 109, 115, 120, 121, 123, 124, 138, 143, 145, 159, 161, 164, 165, 166, 167, 170, 171, 172, 176, 178, 180, 194, 209, 210, 250, 257, 259, 278, 293, 296, 303, 305, 332, 333, 337, 338, 350, 360, 366, 406, 409, 410
  2. ‘The Love You Make – An Insider’s Story Of The Beatles’ by Peter Brown, Steven Gaines (Pan Books, 1983) p. 3, 9, 11, 25, 26, 32, 43, 57, 73, 76, 82, 83, 87, 88, 89, 93, 96, 115, 120, 127, 134, 147, 148, 149, 162, 165, 170, 172, 180, 181, 182, 193, 195, 198, 201, 214, 215, 232, 242, 243, 252, 253, 254, 268, 272, 281, 283, 288, 289, 292, 293, 296, 309, 313, 315, 331, 332, 334, 335, 336, 348, 374, 375, 384
  3. Notable names database – – as at 14 January 2016
  4. as at 13 January 2016, 4 January 2017
  5. Internet movie database – – as at 16 January 2016
  6. ‘The Beatles’ edited by Jeremy Pascall, Robert Burt (Octopus Books, 1975) p. 11, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 29, 32, 33, 34, 43, 45, 62, 86, 87, 88
  7. ‘Paul McCartney – In His Own Words’ – interview conducted by Paul Gambaccini (Omnibus Press. 1976) (reproduced on
  8. as at 14 January 2016
  9. ‘Lennon Remembers’ interview conducted by Jann Wenner (Penguin Books, 1970) p. 36, 55, 73, 82, 83, 115, 120, 122, 126, 128, 132, 138, 140, 156, 158
  10. as at 15 January 2016
  11. as at 14 January 2016
  12. ‘The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, ‘The Beatles’ by Greil Marcus, ‘The Solo Beatles’ by Allan Kozinn (Plexus Publishing, 1992), p. 210, 225, 234
  13. ‘The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away’ by Allan Williams, William Marshall (Coronet Books, 1975) p. 137, 163, 193, 197, 209
  14. ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 45, 58
  15. ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 65, 72, 73, 85, 86, 89, 90, 91, 92, 103, 104, 105, 106, 119, 132, 133, 143, 145, 149, 154, 158, 162, 171, 197
  16. ‘Rock Stars’ by Timothy White (Columbus Books, 1984) p. 101, 104, 112
  17. ‘Past Masters- Volume One’ –Sleeve notes by Mark Lewisohn (EMI Records Ltd., 1988) p. 4, 5, 8, 9, 10
  18. ‘The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’ – ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (February 2004) p. 33, 34, 36, 37, 42, 44, 47
  19. ‘With The Beatles’ – Sleeve notes by Tony Barrow (EMI Records Ltd., 1963) p. 8, 10
  20. – ’50 Years Ago: John Lennon Publishes Second Book: A Spaniard in the Works’ by Dave Lifton (29 June 2015)
  21. ‘Past Masters- Volume Two’ –Sleeve notes by Mark Lewisohn (EMI Records Ltd., 1988) p. 4, 5, 8, 9
  22. ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 141
  23. ‘Revolver’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (EMI Records Ltd., 1966) p. 2
  24. ‘Let It Be’ – Anonymous sleeve notes (EMI Records Pty. Ltd., 1970) p. 4
  25. ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p.25
  26. ‘Awopbopaloobop’ (?) by Nik Cohn, via (6) above, p. 43
  27. as at 2 February 2016


Song lyrics copyright Northern Songs Ltd with the exceptions of ‘All You Need Is Love’, ‘She Loves You’, ‘I’m A Loser’, ‘In My Life’, ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘I Am The Walrus’, ‘Hey Jude’ (all MCA Music); ‘Love Me Do’ (EMI Music Publishing); and ‘I Am The Walrus’, ‘The Ballad Of John And Yoko’, ‘The End’, ‘A Day In The Life’ and ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ (all Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC).


Last revised 12 January 2017




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