Biography and History of Famous Rock Band The Beatles Part 1

About the famous singers and songwriters English band The Beatles, history and biography of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr.

The Beatles: John Lennon (1940- ), Paul McCartney (1942- ), George Harrison (1943- ), Ringo Starr (1940- ). A washboard and banjo band thumped British skiffle tunes at Woolton Parish Church in Liverpool on June 15, 1956. Sixteen-year-old John Lennon, leader of John and the Quarrymen (and an occasional shoplifter as well as a prankish egotist), ended a set and met Paul McCartney, 14, from the nearby Liverpool Institute. Paul, who impressed John with new guitar chords, joined the band and later invited his classmate, George Harrison, 13, to meet John. All shared the American influences of Bill Haley, Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Britain's Lonnie Donnigan--whose upbeat version of "The Rock Island Line" motivated Liverpudlian youth to form numerous skiffle bands.

The nucleus of The Beatles had come together, but drums remained a constant problem. The group evolved into Johnny and the Moondogs. Then Lennon hit upon The Beatles, inspired by Buddy Holly's group, The Crickets. Lennon had considered the names of many insects and had added the "A" for the "Beat-" pun. This was modified to The Silver Beatles, a 5-man group during the summer of 1960. The group included Stu Stucliffe, an art student and intellectual friend of Lennon's, who learned bass and affected a James Dean personality style. He left The Beatles in February, 1962, to study art, but died the following April of a brain hemorrhage. The appearance of Peter Best, son of a Liverpool nightclub owner, temporarily solved the drummer problem.

The Beatles recorded "My Bonnie" (1961) in Hamburg and came to the attention of Brian Epstein--wealthy record-store owner, army reject, and frustrated actor, who felt "like a doomed, middle-aged businessman." Epstein found The Beatles back in Liverpool at The Cavern, a popular night spot. After losing Stu, they moved Paul to bass and became a popular local Merseyside band. Epstein signed them for 25% and negotiated a contract with George Martin, record producer at Parlophone.

The Beatles had returned from Hamburg with French hair styles, down across the eyebrows. Astrid Kichener, Stu's Hamburg girl friend in 1961, hadn't liked the greasy Teddy-boy look and had recombed his hair. George, and then Paul and John, had also changed to a "Beatle haircut." Peter Best, symptomatic of his not fitting in with the band, had kept his hondo hairdo. Best was dropped by the other Beatles on the eve of their major recording contract with Parlophone, and he was replaced by Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey) from Rory Storme's group.

Quite a Liverpudlian squabble erupted between the fans of Best and of The Beatles. Later, in 1965, at the peak of Beatlemania, an album of awful "Hamburg Silver Beatle" songs was released under the caption--in tiny letters--"Peter," and--in large bold print--"Best of The Beatles." The album died a quick and deserved death.

Epstein was a perfectionist as their manager. He carefully organized The Beatles, while the boys themselves remained amused and irreverent. Hunter Davies illustrates this in his biography, The Beatles:

Before they started [their 1st major recording] session, George Martin explained to them what he was trying to do. "Let me know if there's anything you don't like," said George Martin.

"Well, for a start," said George Harrison, "I don't like your tie."

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