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The Beatles were an english rock band from Liverpool.
Sir John Winston Lennon
Sir James Paul McCartney
Sir George Harold Harrison
Sir Ringo Starr (formerly Richard Starkey)
Non-Offical and Ex-Members of the group were:
The "fifth Beatle" Brian Epstein
Main article: History of The Beatles
Formation and early years
In March of 1957, John Lennon formed a skiffle group called The Quarrymen (fleetingly known as The Blackjacks). On 6 July that year Lennon met Paul McCartney while playing at the Woolton Parish Church Fete. In February of 1958, the young guitarist George Harrison joined the group, which was then playing under a variety of names. A few primitive recordings of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison from that era have survived. During this period, members continually joined and left the line up. Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison were the only constant members.
The Quarrymen went through a progression of names: Johnny and The Moondogs, Long John and The Beatles, The Silver Beetles, The Beat Brothers, and eventually decided on The Beatles. The origin of the name "The Beatles" — with its unusual spelling — is usually credited to John Lennon, who said that the name was a combination word-play on the insects "beetles" as a nod/compliment to Buddy Holly's band (The Crickets) and the word "beat". He also later said that it was a joke, meaning a pun on "Beat-less".
In May of 1960, The Beatles were hired to tour the north-east of Scotland as a back-up band with singer Johnny Gentlewho was signed to the Larry Parnes agency. They met Gentle an hour before their first gig, and McCartney referred to that short tour as a great experience for the band. Their drummer at that time was Tommy Moore. The band’s van (driven by Gentle) had a head-on crash with another vehicle on their way back from Scotland and Moore lost some teeth and had stitches after being hit in the mouth by a guitar. Nobody else was seriously injured. He left the band shortly after, and went back to work in a bottling factory as a fork-lift truck driver, on the advice of his girlfriend. 
Norman Chapman was their next drummer, but only for a few weeks, as he was called up for National Service. This was a real problem as their unofficial manager, Allan Williams, had arranged for them to perform in clubs on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany. (Paul McCartney has often said that if The Beatles had been individually called-up for National Service, The Beatles would never have existed, because of their different ages; meaning the time spent apart when one of them would have been in the army.)
In August of 1960, McCartney invited Pete Best to become the group's drummer, after watching Best playing with The Blackjacks  in Mona Best's (Pete's mother) Casbah Club; a cellar club in Hayman's Green, Liverpool, where The Beatles had played, and often used to visit.
While in Hamburg, The Beatles were recruited by singer Tony Sheridan to act as his backing band on a series of recordings for the German Polydor Records label, produced by famed bandleader Bert Kaempfert. Kaempfert signed the group to its own Polydor contract at the first session in June 1961. On 23 October Polydor released the recording "My Bonnie (Mein Herz ist bei dir nur)", which made it into the German charts under the name "Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers".
Upon their return from Hamburg, the group was enthusiastically promoted by Sam Leach, who presented them over the next year and a half on various stages in Liverpool forty-nine times. Brian Epstein, manager of the record department at NEMS, his family's furniture store, took over as the group's manager in 1962 and led The Beatles' quest for a British recording contract. Epstein met with producer George Martin of EMI's Parlophone label. George Martin, a producer of comedy and novelty albums, expressed an interest in hearing them in the studio. On 6 June he invited the quartet to London's Abbey Road studios, and - after some deliberation - decided to grant The Beatles a recording contract.
The Beatles auditioned on June 6, 1962. Martin, who was at first unimpressed by the band's demos, liked them as people when he met them. Not only did he feel that they had musical talent, but he also felt that their wit and humor made them extremely "likeable." When he asked them if there was anything they wanted to change, Harrison said, "I don't like your tie".
Their contract was probably one of the worst at the time, as they were paid one penny for every single sold, which was split among the four Beatles. This amounted to less than one farthing per Beatle. They were paid half of one penny (split between the whole band) for sales outside of the UK. Even George Martin said later that it was "pretty awful". 
(Their record contract royalties were considerably improved after Allen Klein took over the management of the band. Their publishing contract with Dick James Music (DJM) was also terrible; they only got 50% of the money received, while James took the other 50%. Epstein also took a percentage of Lennon and McCartney´s share.)
Martin did have a problem with Best however, whom he criticised for not being able to keep time. For this and other reasons, The Beatles let Best go on August 16, 1962, although it was left to Brian Epstein to tell him. They immediately asked Starr, whom they had met and even performed with previously, to join the band permanently. Starr had been the drummer for Rory Storm and The Hurricanes, at a time when they had been one of the top Merseybeat groups, a bigger group than The Beatles were. Martin, unaware of this personnel change, hired session drummer Andy White to play drums on The Beatles' first studio session on September 4, 1962. Andy would be the session drummer during their 3rd EMI session on September 11, 1962.
In August 1962 Pete Best was dismissed and replaced by Ringo Starr (real name: Richard Starkey). Starr had been the drummer for rival Liverpool band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, and had played with The Beatles several times in Hamburg. George Martin was not impressed with Best's playing and privately suggested to Brian Epstien that the band should use another drummer in the studio. Though Best had some popularity and was considered good-looking by many female fans, the three founding members had become increasingly unhappy with his drumming and his moody personality, and Epstein had become exasperated with his refusal to adopt the distinctive hairstyle as part of their unified look.
The Beatles' first recording session, in June 1962, was unsatisfactory to Martin, but a second in September 1962 produced a UK hit, "Love Me Do", which charted. ("Love Me Do" reached the top of the U.S. singles chart over 18 months later in May 1964.) This was swiftly followed by the recording of their second single "Please Please Me". Three months later they recorded their first album (also titled Please Please Me), a mix of original songs by Lennon and McCartney with some covers of their favourite songs. The band's first televised performance was on a program called People and Places transmitted live from Manchester by Granada Television on 17 October 1962.
Although the band experienced huge popularity in the record charts in Britain from early 1963, Parlophone's American counterpart, Capitol Records (owned by EMI), refused to issue the singles "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me" and "From Me to You" in the United States, partly because no British act had ever yet had a sustained commercial impact on American audiences.
Vee-Jay Records, a small Chicago label, is said by some to have been pressured into issuing these singles as part of a deal for the rights to another performer's masters. Art Roberts, music director of Chicago powerhouse radio station WLS, placed "Please Please Me" into rotation in late February 1963, making it possibly the first time a Beatles' record was heard on American radio. Vee-Jay's rights to The Beatles were cancelled for non-payment of royalties.
In August 1963 the Philadelphia-based Swan label tried again with The Beatles' "She Loves You", which also failed to receive airplay. A testing of the song on Dick Clark's TV show American Bandstand resulted only in laughter and scorn from American teenagers when they saw the group's Beatle haircuts. The famous radio DJ, Murray the K featured "She Loves You" on his 1010 WINS record revue in October, to an underwhelming response. 
In November 1963, The Beatles appeared on the Royal Variety Performance and were photographed with Marlene Dietrich who also appeared on the show. In early November 1963 Brian Epstein persuaded Ed Sullivan to commit to presenting The Beatles on three editions of his show in February, and parlayed this guaranteed exposure into a record deal with Capitol Records. Capitol committed to a mid-January release for "I Want to Hold Your Hand", but a series of unplanned circumstances triggered premature airplay of an imported copy of the single on a Washington DC radio station in mid-December. Capitol brought forward release of the record to December 26, 1963.
Several New York radio stations — first WMCA, then WINS and WABC — began playing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on its release day, and the Beatlemania that had started in Washington was duplicated in New York and quickly spread to other markets. The record sold one million copies in just ten days, and by January 16, Cashbox Magazine had certified The Beatles record number one (in the edition published with the cover-date January 23).
This contributed to the hysterical fan reaction at JFK Airport on February 7, 1964. A record-breaking seventy-three million viewers — approximately 40% of the U.S. population at the time — tuned in to the first Sullivan appearance on February 9. During the week of April 4, The Beatles held the top five places on the Billboard Hot 100 (see The Beatles record sales, worldwide charts), a feat that has never been repeated.
In mid-1964 the band undertook their first appearances outside of Europe and North America, touring Australia and New Zealand (notably without Ringo Starr who was ill and was temporarily replaced by session drummer Jimmy Nicol). When they arrived in Adelaide, The Beatles were greeted by what is reputed to be the largest crowd of their touring career, when over 300,000 people — about one-third of the population of the city — turned out to see them. In September that year baseball owner Charles O. Finley paid the band the unheard of sum of $150,000 to play in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1965 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon them the MBE, a civil honour nominated by Prime Minister Harold Wilson. The award, at that time primarily given to military veterans and civic leaders, sparked some conservative MBE recipients to return their awards in protest.
On August 15 that year, The Beatles performed the first stadium concert in modern rock, playing at Shea Stadium in New York to a crowd of 55,600.. The band later admitted that they had been totally unable to hear themselves play or sing, due to the screaming and cheering. This concert is often considered the point their disenchantment with performing live began. 
Backlash and breakup
In June 1966, when The Beatles toured the Philippines, they unintentionally snubbed the nation's first lady, Imelda Marcos, who had expected the group to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace. When presented with the invitation, Brian Epstein politely declined on behalf of the group, as it had never been the group's policy to accept such "official" invitations. After the snubbing was widely-broadcast on Philippine television, and radio, all The Beatles' police protection disappeared, and they and their entourage had to make their way to Manila airport on their own, with the authorities throwing up every road block they could to harrass them as much as possible. At the airport, roadie Mal Evans was beaten and kicked, and The Beatles themselves were pushed and jostled about by a hostile crowd. Once the group boarded the plane, Brian Epstein and Mal Evans were ordered off, and Mal Evans said, "Tell my wife that I love her..." (showing how seriously he thought the danger was of them both being shot). Epstein was forced to give back all the money that the band had earned while they were there, before being allowed back on the plane.
The next month, a comment from an interview launched a backlash against The Beatles from religious and social conservatives in the Bible Belt of the US. Lennon had offered his opinion that Christianity was dying when interviewed by a British magazine on the decline of Christianity and that the group was "bigger than Jesus" (by which he meant that the group was more popular with youngsters), something that he referred to as a topic that caused concern and consideration. Beatles records were banned and burned in many cities and towns across America (primarily in the South) and from countries such as South Africa. Under pressure from American media, Lennon apologised for his remarks at a press conference in Chicago, on the eve of their first performance of what would turn out to be their final tour.
The Beatles performed their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on 29 August 1966. From then on, they concentrated on recording music.
The Beatles' situation took a turn for the worse when manager Brian Epstein died of a drug overdose on 25 August 1967, at the age of 32, and the band's business affairs began to unravel. Just two months earlier, on 25 June 1967, The Beatles became the first band globally transmitted on television, in front of an estimated 400 million people worldwide. The Beatles were a segment within the first-ever worldwide TV satellite hook-up — a show titled Our World. The Beatles were transmitted live from Abbey Road Studios, and their new song "All You Need Is Love" was recorded live during the show.
At the end of 1967, they received their first major negative press criticism in the UK with disparaging reviews of their surrealistic TV film Magical Mystery Tour. The film was also panned by the public, although the vast majority of viewers saw the film in black-and-white, when colour was such an integral part of the film. Moreover, even if the film had been shown in colour, relatively poor picture quality and even poorer sound reproduction would have negatively affected it. The film's soundtrack is notable, since the song "Flying", written especially for the film, is The Beatles' only instrumental track.
In 1968 the group spent the early part of the year in Rishikesh, Uttar Pradesh, India, studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Upon their return, Lennon and McCartney took a trip to New York to announce the formation of Apple Corps; an initially altruistic business venture which they described at the time as an attempt at "western communism." The latter part of 1968 saw the band busy recording the double album The Beatles, popularly known as The White Album due to its stark white cover. These sessions saw deep divisions opening within the band.
Their final live performance was on the rooftop of the Apple building in Savile Row, London on 30 January 1969, during the difficult Get Back sessions (later used as a basis for the Let It Be album). Largely due to McCartney's efforts, they recorded their final album, Abbey Road in summer 1969. The band officially broke up in April 1970, and one month later Let It Be followed as their last commercial album release.
McCartney gradually took greater charge of their own production, growing dominant in that role. Internal divisions within the band had been a small but growing problem during their earlier career; most notably, this was reflected in the difficulty that George Harrison experienced in getting his own songs onto Beatles' albums, and in the growing artistic and personal estrangement between Lennon and McCartney. Lennon also had problems getting songs onto albums, as he once complained; "Give me my three tracks on an album, and I'll be satisfied; that's all I want..."
On the business side McCartney wanted wife Linda Eastman's father Lee Eastman to manage The Beatles, but the remaining Beatles wanted New York manager Allen Klein to represent them. All Beatles decisions in the past were unanimous but the four could not, and would not unanimously agree on a manager. This was the final straw in the relationship between McCartney and the rest of the band. Lennon, Harrison and Starr felt the Eastmans would look after McCartney's well-being before that of the group. In view of this impasse, they decided to go their separate ways with their business affairs. However, in 1971 it was discovered that Klein had stolen £5m from The Beatles holdings. McCartney could not just dissolve his business with The Beatles easily, and this led to him suing to disband all business with the group.
For the most part not speaking with the other band members until 1973, Lennon admitted to McCartney that they should have gone with the Eastmans' management and this helped mend the personal relationship between the two. 
Following the breakup, the only album to feature all four Beatles (although not on the same song) was Ringo, a 1973 Starr solo album.
A jam session between John Lennon and Paul McCartney was recorded on March 31, 1974, when McCartney visited Lennon in Los Angeles, California. They played with a number of other musicians, including Stevie Wonder. Believed to be the last time the pair recorded together, this tape has been released on bootleg as A Toot and a Snore in '74.
Any hopes of a reunion were dashed when Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman, a mentally deranged fan, on December 8, 1980. However, in 1981 the three remaining Beatles (with Linda McCartney and Denny Laine doing backing vocals) recorded the song "All Those Years Ago", a tribute to John Lennon written by George Harrison and released on his album Somewhere in England. Another virtual reunion occurred in 1995 with the release of two original Lennon recordings which had the additional contributions of the remaining Beatles mixed in to create two hit singles, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love".
Three volumes (six CDs in total) of unreleased material and studio outtakes were also released, as well as a documentary and television miniseries, in a project known as The Beatles Anthology. On December 15, 2005, McCartney and Starr, along with the families of Lennon and Harrison (who died 29 November 2001) sued EMI in a royalties dispute in which Apple Corps claimed EMI owes The Beatles £30 million.
They remain enormously popular. In 1995 and 1996 three Anthology collections of CDs were released, each containing two CDs of never-before-released Beatles material, based on the Anthology documentary series. 450,000 copies of Anthology 1 were sold in its first day of release, the highest volume of single-day sales ever for an album. In 2000 a compilation album named 1 was released, containing almost every number-one single released by the band from 1962 to 1970. The collection sold 3.6 million copies in its first week and more than 12 million in three weeks worldwide, becoming the fastest-selling album of all time and the biggest-selling album of the year 2000. The collection also premiered at number one in the United States and other countries.
The BBC had a large collection of Beatles recordings, mostly comprising original studio sessions from 1963 - 1968. Much of this material formed the basis for a 1988 radio documentary series The Beeb's Lost Beatles Tapes. Later, in 1994, the best of these sessions were given an official EMI release on Live at the BBC.
On June 30, 2006, Cirque de Soleil opened their show LOVE, a tribute to The Beatles, at the The Mirage in Las Vegas.
-taken from wikipedia, the free encyclopedia