The Beatles are the most popular rock band in history. The craze for the band became so intense that there was a new term coined for it: Beatlemania. Here are 10 interesting facts about the formation of the band, more popular than Jesus controversy, last performance, last released single, their solo careers after they split and more…
#1 Stu Sutcliffe came up with the name ‘Beatles’ for the band
It all started in March 1957 when sixteen year old John Lennon formed a band with several friends. It was initially called the Blackjacks but soon afterwards they changed its name to the Quarrymen. Later that year fifteen year old Paul McCartney joined the band. The next year McCartney’s friend George Harrison, who was fourteen years old, auditioned for Lennon. Though Lennon thought that George had talent, he believed that he was too young for the band. However after a month of persistence, George Harrison joined the band as lead guitarist. By 1959, Lennon’s friends had left the group. In 1960 Lennon’s art school friend Stu Sutcliffe joined the group. It was Stu who came up with the idea of changing the name of the band to ‘Beetals’ as a tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. By mid-August 1960 they were playing as the Beatles.
#2 Ringo Starr was the last to join the band
The band lacked a consistent drummer until they auditioned and hired Pete Best in 1960. In 1961 Sutcliffe left the band to resume his art studies. In January 1962 the Beatles appointed Brian Epstein as their manager and in May George Martin signed the group to EMI’s Parlophone label. Martin complained to Epstein about Best’s poor drumming and he was replaced by Ringo Starr, who left Rory Storm and the Hurricanes to join them. Hence the line-up of the band which would later be referred to as the ‘Fab Four’ was complete.
#3 Both McCartney and Lennon lost their mothers in their teens
McCartney and Lennon formed one of the most celebrated song-writing partnerships of the twentieth century. A point of connection between them was that they lost their mothers to early and untimely deaths. McCartney’s mother died when he was fourteen due to a blood clot following surgery for breast cancer. John’s mother was struck by a car and killed while walking along the street. He was then seventeen years old.
#4 The extreme craze the band during the time was called Beatlemania
At concerts and during their travel, The Beatles were greeted with riotous enthusiasm by screaming fans. This intense fan frenzy was dubbed by the press as Beatlemania. It was characterised by intense levels of hysteria and high-pitched screaming demonstrated by female fans. Beatlemania spread to the United States after the band performed on several editions of The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Their first live US television performance on the show was watched by approximately 70 million viewers or 34% of the American population.
#5 The Fab Four were introduced to marijuana by Bob Dylan
In August 1964, a journalist arranged a meeting of the Beatles with Bob Dylan. It was Bob Dylan who introduced the Beatles to marijuana. Bob thought the boys had smoked before due to their “I get high” lyrics in “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” He didn’t know that the lyrics were actually “I can’t hide” and that the Beatles had never smoked marijuana before. This meeting is also considered musically significant with both Dylan and the Beatles incorporating each others style in some of their future songs.
#6 They were introduced to LSD by a sly dentist
In early 1965 Lennon and Harrison’s dentist invited them to dinner and secretly added LSD to their coffee. Lennon described the experience as “It was just terrifying, but it was fantastic. I was pretty stunned for a month or two”. Lennon and Harrison became regular users of the drug and Starr too took it occasionally. McCartney was initially reluctant to use it but did so by late 1966. He was the first Beatle to discuss LSD publically. In a magazine interview he declared that “it opened my eyes” and “made me a better, more honest, more tolerant member of society.”
#7 ‘More Popular Than Jesus’ controversy led to protests against the Beatles
In an interview in March 1966, John Lennon said that the Beatles had become “more popular than Jesus”. When published in U.K. Lennon’s words didn’t provoke any public reaction. However in August 1966, an American teen magazine, Datebook, printed Lennon’s quote on its front cover and this led to anti-Beatles demonstrations in America. Their music was banned from many radio stations and the protest spread to other countries including Mexico, South Africa and Spain. The manager of The Beatles, Brian Epstein and Lennon held two press conferences in U.S. in which they said that Lennon’s words were taken out of context. Lennon apologized and said that he was just speaking about the decline of Christianity. Lennon was murdered in December 1980 by Mark David Chapman who was enraged by Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” remark and called it blasphemy.
#8 They were caught in another controversy in Philippines
In July 1966 while touring the Philippines, the Beatles unintentionally snubbed the nation’s first lady, Imelda Marcos. When presented with an invitation to attend the breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace, the manager of the Beatles politely declined. The band soon found out that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to taking “no” for an answer. There were riots which endangered the group and they escaped with great difficulty.
#9 The last album released by The Beatles is Let It Be
The last time the Beatles performed live together was on the roof of Apple’s London office on January 30, 1969. In mid-September that same year John Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group. Both George and Ringo had left the group before that for short spells of time. On 10 April, 1970 Paul McCartney announced publicly that he had left the group. The final album release of the Beatles is Let It Be although it was mostly recorded before Abbey Road. Their last single to be released is “The Long and Winding Road”.
#10 The Fab Four went on to have successful solo careers
After their break-up, all the members of the band started solo careers, with each releasing a solo album in 1970. All four Beatles recorded #1 hit songs as solo acts. Apart from Ringo Starr all had a #1 album. The best-selling solo album among ex-Beatles is George Harrison’s 1970 album All Things Must Pass. The most popular single by an ex-Beatle is John Lennon’s “Imagine.” The overall best-selling ex-Beatle is Paul McCartney.