- As of 2012, the Beatles have sold over 2 billion albums.
- The total number of Beatles albums sold on iTunes as of July 2012 is 585,000. The total amount of their iTunes singles is 2.8 million.
- John Lennon started a band in 1957 called the Quarry Men and later asked Paul McCartney to join. Paul brought in George Harrison, and later Ringo Starr would replace Peter Best as drummer. The band changed its name a few times, which included the names Johnny and the Moondogs, The Rainbows, and British Everly Brothers.
- The Beatles have spent a record 1,278 weeks on the Billboard chart.
- The Beatles have spent 175 weeks at number one on the charts.
- The Beatles album with the longest consecutive time spent at number one is their debut album Please Please Me at 30 weeks.
The band went through several name changes
- No one is quite sure where the name “Beatles” originated, though the most likely story is that John Lennon liked the name The Crickets after Buddy Holly’s band. Early band member Stuart Sutcliff suggested “Beetles,” and they were for some time known as The Silver Beetles or, occasionally, Long John and the Silver Beatles before becoming the Beatles. The Beetles were also a rival gang in Marlon Brando’s movie The Wild One, which may have also been an influence. John Lennon is usually credited with changing the spelling to “Beatles” to reflect Beat music and the Beat generation.
- The Beatles are the only band to twice knock itself off the top of the chart.
- The Beatles are the only band in history to have a “double whammy” when they knocked the Rolling Stones off the top spot in both the singles and album charts on July 23, 1964.
- The Beatles’ first-ever album to debut at number one was Help!
- The Beatles’ first single in 1962 was “Love Me Do.” In 2012, the song became Public Domain in Europe.
- The Beatles’ last live performance was in 1966 at Candlestick Park, San Francisco.
- The Beatles song “Dear Prudence” was written for Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence Farrow. John Lennon thought she spent too much time meditating and encouraged her through the song to “come out and play.”
- The only George Harrison song to be played live by the Beatles was “If I Needed Someone,” which they played on their 1966 tour.
- All four Beatles contracted gonorrhea in Hamburg early in their career.
- The Beatles’ longest single, at 7 minutes and 15 seconds, is “Hey Jude.” It was also their first to be issued on the Apple label.
- The Beatles became a catalyst for bohemianism and activism that fueled such movements as women’s liberation, gay liberation, and environmentalism.
We were all on this ship in the sixties, our generation, a ship going to discover the New World. And the Beatles were in the crow's nest of that ship.
- John Lennon
- The first Beatle to become a grandfather was Ringo, with the birth of his granddaughter Tatia Jayne in 1985.
- John Lennon said the only true songs he ever wrote were “Help!” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” He says they were the only songs he wrote from experience and not by projecting himself into a situation and “writing a nice little story about it.”
- “Julia” was the only Beatles song John Lennon performed without assistance from the other band members. “Blackbird” was the only song sung alone by Paul when he was part of the Beatles.
- George Harrison’s song “Blue Jay Way” has led to the repeated theft of that street sign in Los Angeles. The song was written at a house on Blue Jay Way in the Hollywood Hills.
- The last album recorded by the Beatles was Abbey Road. The last album released was Let It Be.
- Frank Sinatra described the Beatles song “Something” as the greatest love song ever written.
- Mae West initially refused to have her image on the cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but changed her mind after receiving a personal letter from the band. Other famous women on the cover include Marilyn Monroe and Shirley Temple.
- In “Hey Jude,” Paul McCartney can be faintly heard saying “Oh f***ing hell” after he made a mistake during the recording of the song.
John Lennon was a choir boy and a boy scout (Krafft Angerer / Stringer)
- John Lennon was dyslexic and legally blind.
- The Beatles song “Got to Get You into My Life” (1966) is generally thought to be about a girl, but McCartney later claimed that it is actually marijuana.
- The Beatles had seven consecutive number one hit albums, just behind Abba and Led Zeppelin, who each had eight.
- The Beatles song “Lucy in Sky with Diamonds” sparked controversy because many believed it was a reference to LSD. Lennon, who wrote the song, denied the reference. Many believe the real reference is to a girl named Lucy Vodden (a classmate of his son Julian) who was gravely ill with lupus.
- The first time the term “Beatlemania” appeared in print was in a 1963 review by the Daily Mirror.
- After a 2008 topiary tribute to the Beatles was unveiled in Liverpool, Ringo’s leafy head was cut off after he said he missed nothing about his hometown.
- The very first British rock album to have lyrics to every song printed on the album was the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
- The Beatles earned $90,000 in 35 minutes for their Minneapolis show in August 1965.
- John Lennon changed his middle name from Winston to Ono after marrying Yoko Ono in 1969.
- At the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” John Lennon appears to mumble something that sounds like “ I buried Paul,” which fueled a “Paul is Dead” rumor. He is actually saying “cranberry sauce.”
- “Flying” and “Dig It” are the only two album tracks to be credited to all four Beatles.
- The BBC banned several Beatles songs, including “I Am the Walrus”(for the use of the word “knickers”), and “Fixing a Hold,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “A Day in the Life” (for alleged drug references).
- The closest the Beatles came to reuniting after their 1970 split was at Eric Clapton’s wedding when he married Patti Boyd in 1979. McCartney, Harrison, and Starr played, but Lennon did not attend.
None of the Beatles could read music
- None of the Beatles could read music. They could play the guitar, piano, and drums and write lyrics, but they never learned to read music.
- The Beatles formed in Liverpool in 1960, and their most famous lineup consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Their music is rooted in skiffle, 1950s popular music influenced by folk, jazz, and blues music. It also appropriated several genres, including pop ballads and psychedelic rock.
- As of 2013, the Beatles hold the record for the most number one hits on the Hot 100 charts.
- The Beatles have been awarded 7 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score, and 15 Ivor Novello Awards.
- In 2004, Rolling Stone crowned the Beatles as the best artists of all time.
- The Beatles’ last single, “The Long and Winding Road,” was released on June 13, 1970, in the U.S. but not in Britain. It was the group’s twentieth and last number one song in the U.S. It ended six years of Beatle domination in America that had started with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
- John Lennon was murdered in December 1980, and George Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are still alive and musically active.
- The Beatles as a group were active from 1960 to 1970. Paul McCartney publicly acknowledged their breakup in a 1969 interview. He later released a press release on April 10, 1970.
- Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon on December 8, 1980, by firing at him five times. He remained at the scene reading J.D. Salinger’s novel Catcher in the Rye, claiming the book was his statement. He said he chose to murder Lennon after seeing him on the cover of the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He said he also considered killing Johnny Carson, Walter Cronkite, Elizabeth Taylor, and Jacqueline Kennedy, but that Lennon seemed easier to find.
- The Beatles auditioned for Decca records on January 1, 1962, but were turned down because “groups of guitars are on the way out.” Decca instead chose a group called the Tremeloes, which were local and cheaper. This is widely considered to be one of the biggest mistakes in music history.
The Beatles auditioned for Decca records on January 1, 1962, but were turned down because “groups of guitars are on the way out.” (Getty Images / Staff)
- The breakup of the Beatles has been attributed to several things, such as their manager Brian Epstein’s death, George Harrison’s emergence as a songwriter, difficulty in collaboration, Yoko Ono, and McCartney’s deep dissatisfaction with the way Phil Spector overdubbed “The Long and Winding Road.”
- The first British performance of the Beatles as a group was on December 17, 1960, at the Casbah Coffee Club in Liverpool.
- When Paul McCartney was asked why the Beatles broke up, he said, “Personal differences, business differences, musical differences—but most of all, because I have a better time with my family.”
- After George Harrison mentioned during an interview that he liked Jelly Babies, fans began to throw the sweets at the Beatles on stage.
- Carl Sagan, an astronomer working on the Voyager project in the 1970s, had wanted to include the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” on the Voyager Golden Records to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. While the Beatles favored the idea, their recording company, EMI refused to release the rights, and it was not included.
- The Beatles once bought a private island in Greece with the hopes of living there together, away from screaming fans. They later sold the island when they were breaking up.
- During the week of April 4, 1964, the Beatles held 12 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, including the top 5. No one has ever beaten this record.
Paul finalized the break up of the Beatles (Oli Gill / Flickr)
- On December 31, 1970, Paul McCartney filed a lawsuit against the other three Beatles for the dissolution of the Beatles’ contractual partnership. The final dissolution of the partnership took place on January 9, 1975.
- Strawberry Fields was a Salvation Army children’s home in a Liverpool suburb that John Lennon remembered from his childhood. The song “Strawberry Fields Forever” (1967) came after one of the most difficult periods of the Beatles’ career, including the “more famous than Jesus” controversy, the unintentional snubbing of the Philippine’s First Lady Imelda Marcos, Lennon’s failing marriage to Cynthia Powell, and Lennon’s increased drug use. Lennon said the song was “psychoanalysis set to music.” To many musicians, it raised the ante as to what a pop record should be.
- Bob Dylan introduced the Beatles to marijuana. Paul McCartney would later become an outspoken advocate for its legalization.
- In 1964, BBC announcer Roy Williams accidentally reported that Ringo Starr had his toenails removed. He had misread “tonsils” as “toenails.”
- The period from 1973–1975 is known as “Lennon’s Lost Weekend.” John Lennon and Yoko Ono separated temporarily, and he fled to L.A. with his assistant/lover May Pang. While there, he completed three albums, produced for Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson. He recorded with David Bowie, Elton John, and Mick Jagger. And on March 28, 1974, Lennon and McCartney had their only post-Beatles recording session.
- Some researchers note that several songs by the Beatles may help children with autism and other disabilities. Specifically, they cite the songs “Here Comes the Sun,” “Octopus’ Garden,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Hello Goodbye,” “Blackbird,” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”
- The Beatles are the most famous group in music history, and Elvis Presley is the most famous solo singer.
- One critic noted that the release of the Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was the closest Europe had been to unification since the Congress of Vienna in 1815.
- George Harrison was stabbed seven times by an intruder in 1999.
- The Beatles wanted to star in a film version of The Lord of the Rings and wanted Stanley Kubrick to direct it.
- The title of the Beatles’ debut album was Please Please Me.
- The most photographed subject of the 1960s was the Beatles.
The most photographed subject of the 1960s was the Beatles. (Martin Wahlborg / iStock)
- The “Fifth Beatle” was an informal title that referred to those who were at one point a member of the Beatles or who had been strongly associated with the Fab Four (Lennon, McCartney Harrison, and Starr). People known as the “Fifth Beatle” include Tony Sheridan, Jimmie Nicol, and Eric Clapton, among others.
- After the Beatles broke up, Eric Clapton was one of the few musicians who appeared on solo recordings by each of the four.
- The Imperial Wizard of the Klan denounced the Beatles as atheistic, and members of the KKK picketed Beatles concerts during their 1966 U.S. tour.
- The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover was shot in just 10 minutes in six frames by photographer Iain Macmillan, who was sitting on a stepladder. The group had originally planned to call the album Everest and shoot the cover together in the Himalayas. Instead, they were photographed walking away from the studio and, in the midst of a bitter breakup, away from their shared history.
- In March 1966, John Lennon controversially remarked that Christianity was in decline and that the Beatles had become more popular than Jesus Christ. His remarks resulted in protests in America’s South, where the Beatles' records were publicly burned. The protests even spread to other countries, such as Mexico, South Africa, and Spain.
- The Beatles’ Abbey Road album has become one of the most iconic covers in history for two reasons: 1) no album cover has inspired more imitations and 2) none has spawned so many conspiracy theories—most notably, rumors Paul McCartney’s death.
- According to Yoko Ono, the Beatles “divorced” because they were becoming very independent. She said Paul was the only one trying to hold the Beatles together, but the other Beatles thought Paul was trying to make it into his band, which they didn’t like.
Yoko Ono met John Lennon in 1966 when he visited her art exhibit in London (Ben A. Pruchnie / Stringer)
- The location of John Lennon’s ashes has never been disclosed by Yoko Ono.
- In 1968, the Beatles began studying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at his Himalayan retreat. They would later grow disillusioned after accusations of sexual improprieties by the Maharishi, an avowed celibate.
- Yoko Ono said the Beatles’ breakup put a strain on her relationship with John Lennon because she felt he missed his band mates and that he expected all that “to be replaced by me.”
- Stuart Sutcliffe has been called the original “Fifth Beatle.” He was the original bassist of the five-member band. Instead of replacing him when he died of a brain hemorrhage, Paul McCartney changed from rhythm guitar to bass and the band became a four-piece group. While Sutcliffe was mainly in the band because he was friends with Lennon, he was the first to wear the Beatles' famous “mop top” hairstyle.
- Paul McCartney argued that Yoko Ono “did not break the group up” because the Beatles were already breaking up.
- Yoko Ono once said that the Beatles helped feminize the culture by the prominence they accorded to women in their songs and the way they spoke to millions of young teenage girls of new possibilities. It has been said they were the trigger that broke down the last restraints of the Victorian era.
- Billy Preston was an American musician who is sometimes referred to as “the Black Beatle” to both distinguish him from the other “Fifth Beatles” and to give him a unique title that highlights his important role in the band. Apart from Tony Sheridan, Preston was the only artist to receive joint credit on a Beatles single (“Get Back”).
- One critic noted that the Beatles are “not a pop group” but “an abstraction—a repository for many things.” And that they are “a cynosure of the world’s eyes and the century’s major symbols of cultural transformation.” Another critic noted that “celebrities like the Beatles don’t live in fishbowls. They are the fishbowl.”
On the cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, there is a Volkswagen Beetle behind George Harrison (Krafft Angerer / Stringer)
- On the cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, there is a Volkswagen Beetle behind George Harrison—another instance of “the Fifth Beatle” wordplay.
- Charles Manson claimed that there were hidden meanings in the Beatles hit “Helter Skelter.” He believed the group was imparting a secret message heralding Armageddon.
- The death of Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ manager, marked the beginning of the group’s dissolution, according to John Lennon.
- “Yesterday” by the Beatles has been covered over 1,600 times. It has been covered by Elvis, Boyz II Men, Frank Sinatra, Gladys Knight, and James Brown, among many others. The group’s original title for this song was actually “Scrambled Eggs.”
- The Beatles were supposed to voice the vultures in the movie The Jungle Book, but Lennon allegedly said, “There’s no way the Beatles are going to sing for Mickey ****ing Mouse!”
- Former drummer for the Beatles, Pete Best, and Paul McCartney were deported from Germany for arson. They had burned condoms as a source of light inside their van and were suspected of arson. The condoms were unused.
- John Lennon said that the song “Good Morning, Good Morning” was inspired by a cornflake advertisement.
- The Beatles had 21 number one hits in America and 17 in the U.K.
- The Beatles’ top 10 number one hits on both sides of the Atlantic are 1) “Hey Jude,” 2) “Get Back,” 3) “She Loves You,” 4) “Can’t Buy Me Love,” 5) “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” 6) “Ticket to Ride,” 7) “Paperback Writer,” 8) “A Hard Day’s Night,” 9) “Hello, Goodbye,” and 10) “Help!”
- An off-the-cuff remark by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr was the inspiration of the album title song “A Hard Day’s Night.” Both the single and the album held the top position in their respective charts for a couple weeks in August 1964 on both sides of the Atlantic, which was the first time any artist had done this.
Billy Preston was an American musician who is sometimes referred to as “the Black Beatle”
- Pete Best has been called a “Fifth Beatle” because he was the original drummer of the Beatles. He was let go in 1962 when his musical abilities were considered “inadequate” and was replaced by Ringo Starr.
- The single that made the breakthrough in America and sparked Beatlemania in the United States was “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” making it possibly the most significant Beatles single. It eventually sold over 15 million copies worldwide.
- Most believe “Hey Jude” was written by Paul McCartney to comfort John Lennon’s son Julian during his parents’ divorce. Others say it was inspired by the journalist Judith Simons of the Daily Express. John Lennon believed that Paul had produced a subliminal message to him in which he blessed John’s new relationship with Yoko Ono.
- The Beatles songs “Love Me Do,” “Eight Days a Week,” “Yesterday,” “Penny Lane,” “Something/Come Together,” “Let It Be,” and “The Long and Winding Road” all reached number one in the U.S. but not in the U.K. “From Me to You,” “Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine,” “Lady Madonna,” and “The Ballad of John and Yoko” all reached number one in the U.K. but not in the U.S.
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