Saturday, February 18, 2012

10 Fun Facts About The Beatles

The Beatles in August, 1969, in their final photo-shoot together.

1.  The Beatles were formed in March of 1957 by 16-year-old John Lennon and several friends.  First called the Blackjacks, and later the Quarrymen, Paul McCartney joined the band later the same year, after hearing them play at a church social.  By early 1958, George Harrison had joined.  They toured off and on for the next several years, eventually adding a fourth guitarist, Stu Sutcliffe, who was slated to play bass.  They lacked a consistent drummer until Pete Best was hired in 1960.  Shortly after this, the Quarrymen, now going by the name The Beatles, left for Germany where they were slated to play as the house band in a number of clubs operated by the same owner.  They performed in Germany for much of the next two years, and played as the backing band for a German pop star named Tony Sheridan.  Sheridan's song "My Bonnie" - credited to Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers - charted at #32 in Germany, giving the band their first hit.  Sutcliffe had left the band shortly before this time, and McCartney had taken over bass guitar duties.

The Beatles in Germany in the early 60's.  From left: Lennon, Harrison, Best, McCartney, Sutcliffe.

2.  In 1962, shortly after being signed to their first major record contract, the band fired Pete Best at the request of the record company, which felt that his drumming wasn't up to par.  He was replaced by another local drummer, Ringo Starr, who had, in fact, filled in for Best on several previous occasions.  Starr was left-handed, but played a right-handed drum kit.

3.  The Beatles' early image of clean-cut teen heart-throbs was, in many ways, largely a ruse.  All four were in their 20's before they were ever heard of in the United States.  When Beatlemania began, in February of 1964 with the band's performance on The Ed Sullivan Show, John Lennon was already married with a child.  By 1966, three of the four band members were married.  Lennon himself was hardly a clean-cut "boy next door."  He had a rocky childhood, frequently got in trouble in school, and was widely considered a "bad influence" on his friends.  As seen in the photograph above, The Beatles dressed more in the "dangerous" style of James Dean in their early days, and only switched to well-tailored suits and clean-cut appearances at the behest of their record company after returning to the UK from Germany.

The "clean-cut" Beatles look of the mid-60's.  

4.  Both Paul McCartney and John Lennon lost their mothers to early and untimely deaths - a fact that no doubt helped unite them.  McCartney's mother died of a blood clot following surgery for breast cancer in 1956.  John's mother was struck by a car and killed while walking along the street in 1958.  Neither lived to see their sons become world-renowned musicians.

5.  The song "When I'm Sixty-Four," from the Sgt. Pepper album, was written by Paul McCartney when he was just a teenager, long before his success with The Beatles.  Both Lennon and McCartney insisted that the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was not about LSD, despite the apparent connection of the letters.  Instead, it was based on a drawing by John's son Julian, showing a blonde-haired girl under a starry sky.  When asked by McCartney what the drawing was, toddler Julian responded: "It's Lucy - in the sky with diamonds."  The McCartney song "Hey Jude" was originally titled "Hey Jules," and was intended as a message to Julian Lennon during his parents' divorce.  The song "A Day in the Life" was originally two separate songs, one by Lennon and one by McCartney, that were merged together with a heavy overdub of orchestration.  The final note of the song is played by three pianos and one organ hitting the same chord simultaneously.

6.  The song "My Majesty," from the Abbey Road album, was originally intended to be placed between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam."  McCartney, however, didn't like the song and told the recording engineer to get rid of it.  The engineer complied, cutting the song out of the master tape.  However, after Paul left, he spliced it back onto the end of the reel, fearing he might lose his job if he got rid of something The Beatles recorded.  It had long been an unwritten rule in the recording studio that nothing The Beatles recorded was ever to be destroyed.  When Paul heard the tape again, now with "My Majesty" at the end of the record, he decided he liked it.  As a result, "My Majesty" effectively became the first "hidden track" in popular music, as there is a 14-second pause after the end of the previous song, due to the tape splicing.  Additionally, on the original release, "My Majesty" was not listed on either the album cover or the record's label.  

7.  Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is widely regarded not only as The Beatles' breakout album, but also as the first "concept album" in rock history.  However, the "concept" the album was based on was largely abandoned by the group during recording, and only the first two tracks, together with the 13th track, actually retain the original concept of an "alter-ego" Beatles band.  The lead singer of this alter-ego band was Ringo Starr - called Billy Shears on the album.  The song he sings as Billy Shears - "With A Little Help From My Friends" - is one of The Beatles' most famous songs.  It has been covered by more than 50 mainstream acts, and has hit #1 on the UK charts three different times.  The character of "Sgt. Pepper" was conceived when someone misunderstood the phrase "salt and pepper."

8.  The album Let It Be was the final album released by The Beatles.  However, Abbey Road was actually the last album they recorded.  With Let It Be in the mixing stage, the band - unhappy with the final results - shelved the whole thing and recorded Abbey Road.  After Abbey Road was released, Let It Be was re-mixed and finally released in early 1970, right as the band was breaking up.  In the final medley on Abbey Road - the so-called "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End" medley - all four Beatles sing, and all four Beatles have instrumental solos - the only time that ever happened.  These were also the last songs they ever recorded together.

9.  The first member to leave the band was Ringo Starr - in 1968.  He rejoined several months later, however.  The following year, in late 1969, John Lennon left the band, although he agreed not to make his departure public, because Abbey Road was being released the following week.  In early 1970, just before Let It Be was released, Paul McCartney left the band, released a solo album, and publicly announced that The Beatles were breaking up.  Lennon was incensed by this, feeling that McCartney had conned him into keeping his departure quiet so that McCartney could get the "credit" for breaking up the band, and so he could use the break-up to promote his own solo album.  Lennon later said: "I started the band.  I disbanded it.  It's as simple as that."

10.  Following their break-up, all four Beatles embarked on solo careers, with each releasing a solo album in 1970.  All four recorded #1 hit songs as solo acts.  Everyone but Ringo had a #1 album.  The best-selling solo album among ex-Beatles in George Harrison's 1970 album All Things Must Pass, which has been certified 6-times platinum in the United States.  The most enduring single by an ex-Beatle is John Lennon's song "Imagine."  The overall best-selling ex-Beatle is Paul McCartney.



39 comments:

Anonymous said...

george harrison also left the band during let it be

LivingLifeWilson said...

#6--the song title is "Her Majesty" not "My Majesty".

Sandy Ragsdale said...

This was very interesting reading...I am a total Beatles fan...They are the BEST Group EVER...They broke through & brought us truely rock n roll music for eternity!!!! Love Everything the Beatles have done..They are True musical artists & can NEVER be replaced!!!!

John Napper said...

There are lots of errors here. Some have already been mentioned.

Tony Sheridan is English.

It was John, Paul & George's decision to fire Pete Best, not the record company. The record company did not have confidence in Ringo's ability and used a session drummer on an alternative take of Love Me Do.

The suits were the idea of Brian Epstein, before they got a recording contract.

Eclair said...

I feel so blessed to have seen them perform live twice, with 3rd row seats at the Chicago Amphitheater the second time. Thank you to those who corrected the errors, any true Beatles fan could have done so. THe Beatles were the best band not only for the music they created AND inspired others to create but also for the vast changes in society that they influenced. The Rolling Stones may still be rocking after 50 years but without the Beatles they would not have existed at all. RIP to John, George, Stu and Brian.
Love you forever.

Cyndi Barter said...

Yes, I agree it is "Her Majesty"...also a few errors. John Lennon was my first "Crush" at 6 years old, Ha!

mike griffin said...

Nicely put , all those above and generally a nice site. I didn't know about the salt and pepper bit so many thanks for that. All WE need is Love X michael g

mike griffin said...

Well done and thank you to all. Didn't know about salt and pepper.
All WE need is LOVE x MG

Gary Smith said...

I feel very special to have actually met Paul and George on 2 separate occasions while I was working in London. It was an experience I will never forget and now at age 61 look back on it as a real prviledge

Robert M. said...

Ringo was a southpaw? Can this be verified? I always thought Paul was the only lefty.

Robert M. said...

Ringo was a southpaw? I had never heard that before. I was always under the impression that Paul was the only lefty out of the four.

Can this be verified one way or another?

dennis kraft said...

in reference to john lennon's distain of paul, john was asked on a daytime talkshow,(mike douglas?), what he thought of paul's songwritting now that they had broken up and john famously retorted that they were just silly love songs... ticked off paul and he promptly wrote "Silly love songs". I am pretty sure that Paul said, "Thank you John Lennon"

Lynnie said...

It's odd that with all the information out there that misinformation is still printed about my Boys....that's okay though because those that really love them know....Paul is credited with SGT.Pepper/salt and pepper idea while riding on a train....I've never heard that Ringo was left-handed either. No matter who left first or said what, they loved each other and it was MAGIC that will never be again. I'm so pleased to have been a part of it all...

Anonymous said...

Ringo didn't leave the band for 'several months'...It was just for a few weeks at the most...

Anonymous said...

Who wrote this?? So many mistakes that any real Beatle fan can pick up on. LOVED them and still do!! They will always have a special place in my heart! Was lucky enough to see them In Toronto in 1966!! Saw Paul two years ago and have seen Ringo and the All Star Band about 3 times. There was just something special about them! They never could read music or took any music lessons....they were just destined to be The Beatles!!

Scott said...

Hi. I wrote this.

I appreciate the correction of any inadvertent errors, but the high-minded "any real Beatles fan would know this" bullshit just makes you look pathetic and petty.

In an interview in 2007 with Time Magazine, Ringo was asked how he would describe his drumming style. He said one of his strengths was, "I was born left-handed...I'm actually ambidextrous." Here's the link so you Real Beatles Fans can verify it for yourselves. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1694690,00.html

John B. Lee said...

Whatever the facts are, the truth is these guys remain the most important musical influence in popular music. Just listen, and you'll hear.

Scott said...

Agreed, John B. Their influence and importance cannot possibly be overestimated.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Mal Evans asked Paul waht the s & p meant on the bottles on their food try on an airplane in Califorinia.

You also didnt mention the hidden track on Peppers at the end of the album, for dogs, "never could see any other way"

I also believe it was George Martin who was not fond of Pete Bests drumming and asked Brian Epstein to replace him.

All in all, nice job.

Van Laskaris said...

As for Ringo being left handed, there was a TV special with Ringo and Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics where Ringo discusses how he learned to play drums on a kit that was set up for a right-handed person and he was left-handed. He felt that this gave his drumming a unique technique

Jayne Naylon said...

I LOVE all the Beatles, I have since I was 8 years old. And I always will!Thanks for this article, as a few things I DID NOT know. (and I thought I knew A LOT! )No group OR musician will EVER be able to do what they did! EVER! I'm so blessed to have been able to live it! Memories I cherish! Even at age 56, I am STILL in love with them. And life goes on...........

Anonymous said...

The Beatles have formed my love of music and over the years I continue to listen to their music, on every available outlet I can buy..I have liked some other popular bands and I listen to those as well but not with the same emotion that I have for the Beatles...they have impacted the whole world like no other band I have ever heard..before or since...fan forever more

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

Overall I'd give your effort a solid "B". Most of your errors have been mentioned (and you were right to tell off that jerk) but I've also noted:

1. The Quarrymen became The Silver Beatles. "Silver" was later dropped.

2. It really was John that didn't like Pete. He explained, "Pete was a good drummer. Ringo was a better Beatle." The record company didn't like RINGO, and on "Love Me Do" they used Alan White on drums. Ringo covered "Love Me Do" years later on a solo album as a "get even" and funny retort.

3. Paul recently conceded that while the Lucy story was true, the song was about LSD. Julian would later record a song called "Lucy".

4. If you saw the "Let It Be " movie you'd know that both albums were recorded together. Most of what you said is true about why they were released out of sequence. That collage of solos were done because all those songs wee written but not completed. Paul and John decided to use them as far as they were written in a collage.

5. Paul only sold more music because he's had about twice the years, IMO.

Peace & Love

Scott said...

Thanks for the comment, Bud. Appreciate all the information and clarification! And I agree that Paul has sold more music because John's career got cut short. No doubt of that.

Anonymous said...

I think other than your few mistakes you did pretty well. A few things I'd like to mention that I think you should have posted were that:

1. They were also called Johnny and the moon dogs before they were the Beatles

2 John was raised by his aunt Mimi after his father left to work at sea, so he wasn't all alone when his mother died. (but I'm also not sure if he was in hamburg at that time so maybe all he did have was Paul, George and Ringo)

3. Before the recordings for Abbey road started John did get in a car crash with his wife Yoko, her daughter Kyoko and Julian while in Scotland for their vacation. They had to stay in Scotland for a few extra days because everyone except Julian had physical injuries. Which might of been a reason why John didn't sing on many of the abbey road songs, even though they did overdubs. But on the good side John basically said it was the best hospital he had ever been to.

(although you didn't mention much on the white album I thought that this might have been helpful)

4. Sexy Sady was a hate song about Maharishi but George convinced him to change the title to Sexy Sady

5. Revolution 9 was made out of layers of the actual revolution

6. Paul and John thought that Happiness is a warm gun was the only real Beatles song on the white album

7. Also for the Paul is dead theory's back masking could be used to hear things in Revolution 9, I am the walrus, strawberry fields, and the end of A day in the life. Also in the covers of Abbey road, the magical mystery tour and srg. Pepper.








Scott said...

Interesting stuff. Thanks for the addendum!

Gregarious said...

JOHN LENNON

My friend’s John Lennon’s left us, and his life was a part of ours.
Now, his news is in the papers, over the air, and in the stars.
It was a lonely Monday night, in the depths of New York City,
And the gunman was just a screwball, allowing the world no pity.

He crouched in the hallway, of John and Yoko’s home,
No one knew he was there, in the dark and all alone.
The Lennon’s limo pulled up, to the curb outside at the street.
If only they could’ve known, the tragedy they would meet.

They were only going home, with life and love on their minds,
When they met the other side of life, the type we call unkind.
The .38 glared, five times, no more,
And there lay John Lennon, near death on the floor.

A man named Straub heard the shots from nearby,
He went to John’s aid, to help, or to try.
He rolled John over, but there was just no way,
And then New York’s finest came, and took John Lennon away.

It wasn’t too long before the news had spread,
The world was shocked, John Lennon was dead.
Five bullets from a gunman, unstable and totally crazed,
Who stunned the world, destroyed John and Yoko’s,
And left us totally dazed.

An assassin’s bullets have taken our friend,
Goodbye, John Lennon. Goodbye, our friend.

GRUBE
©12-10-80
11 x 17 prints available: gagrube@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Love the Beatles. They are the best band ever. I will never forget the night that John was killed it still makes me cry to this day.John is my Husband's Idol he goes by Shvdfish on line (Shavedfish without the "A")we have quite collection of the Beatles. To bad I was only 5yrs old when they became popular.

Scott said...

Thanks for the comments folks. Great poem, by the way!

Viola Russell said...

The Beatles helped me get through miserable times at school. I'd seen these before, but I love reading Beatles trivia.

sacha said...

i am such a huge beatles fan even though i was born basically decades after they disbanded. anytime i read something like this it makes me sad. i have missed out on the BEATLES!!!

Freatlebeak said...

From the beginning of the BEATLES we were blessed with their charm and music,may it live on FOREVER in all who do Rock & Roll!!!!

Freatlebeak said...

I have seen the BEATLES cover band "1964" three times and if you want to live a part of the BEATLES,I sugesr you try to see them,they aregreat as the "FAB FOUR" !!!!

Jamie Ogg said...

A story or 2 from a friend of Paul's from grade school. Some bullies were picking on a kid in the playground of school. Paul went and broke up the fight about to happen. The student about to be picked on was George Harrison.. First time the 2 had met. story 2. This friend of Paul's I met was with him when they each bought their first ever guitars. They bought 2 guitars and upon getting home with them Paul realized he had a right handed guitar and he instead kept the guitar and changed the bridge around and the strings to make it work left.

Ed Rudy said...

Thank you, Scott!
Very interesting piece, with a few errors.
Richard Starkey "Ringo Starr" is NOT a southpaw. That distinction among The Beatles famously belongs only to Paul McCartney. I believe that have seen Ringo sign his autograph with his right hand which is usually, though perhaps not always, indicative of right handedness.
As pointed out, the correct song title was "Her Majesty".
A&R man George Martin, of EMI, was unhappy with Pete Best's drumming skills, confirming John Lennon's opinion.
Experienced older drummer Ringo Starr lucked out and became the fourth member of what was to become the world's most popular musical group, The Beatles.
Tony Sheridan was, of course, a well known English performer who was working in Germany. Tony was not German.
As was the custom of many show biz managers, fastidious Brian Epstein changed the "rocker" style of the for Liverpool lads to very classical velvet collared uniforms when he sent them on tour. It was a great idea and gave The Beatles a very safe, clean cut look.
Excellent and interesting piece.
Ed Rudy
The Fifth Beatle
WWW.EdRudy.com
MrEdRudy@aol.com

Ed Rudy said...

Thank you, Scott!
Very interesting piece, with a few errors.
Richard Starkey "Ringo Starr" is NOT a southpaw. That distinction among The Beatles famously belongs only to Paul McCartney. I believe that have seen Ringo sign his autograph with his right hand which is usually, though perhaps not always, indicative of right handedness.
As pointed out, the correct song title was "Her Majesty".
A&R man George Martin, of EMI, was unhappy with Pete Best's drumming skills, confirming John Lennon's opinion.
Experienced older drummer Ringo Starr lucked out and became the fourth member of what was to become the world's most popular musical group, The Beatles.
Tony Sheridan was, of course, a well known English performer who was working in Germany. Tony was not German.
As was the custom of many show biz managers, fastidious Brian Epstein changed the "rocker" style of the for Liverpool lads to very classical velvet collared uniforms when he sent them on tour. It was a great idea and gave The Beatles a very safe, clean cut look.
Excellent and interesting piece.
Ed Rudy
The Fifth Beatle
WWW.EdRudy.com
MrEdRudy@aol.com

Scott said...

Thanks for the information, Mr. Rudy!

My source for Ringo being a southpaw comes from his own words in a 2007 Time Magazine interview:

"I was blessed with great timing. The other blessing that makes my drumming individual is that I was born left-handed. But my grandmother turned me into a right-handed person. So, I'm actually ambidextrous. If I throw anything, play cricket or golf, it's done left-handed, but I write and cut with my right hand. I'm a weird, handy guy. That makes my style really personal."

Link: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1694690,00.html

Anonymous said...

As other errors have been corrected, I would just add my main quibble: #4. IMHO the fact that John's & Paul's mothers both met "early and untimely deaths" qualifies as a "fun" fact. Otherwise, thanks for the article. Just BTW, my stepchild, when they moved in with me & my record collection, heard the Beatles & said to his father, "Why didn't you tell me there was music like this?!?"

BeatleGirl15 said...

I LOVE THE BEATLES THEY WERE THE BEST AND EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE NOT AROUND WHEN I WAS YOUNG I STILL LOVE THEM. And yes i agree "her Majesty" is a AWESOME song!!!

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