Lennon, a New York resident from 1971, was murdered there in 1980; Harrison died in a friend’s Los Angeles home in 2001, following a long illness. McCartney and Starr own homes in the United States and regularly tour the country with their respective bands.
Despite topping the British album charts every week for a full year beginning in May 1963 and gaining light radio exposure in Chicago and Philadelphia markets that summer, the Beatles remained largely unknown in America until November, 1963, when their management secured a contract to release recordings through Capitol Records. Capitol’s huge promotional budget resulted in sales in the multiple millions and chart domination beginning immediately with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” They were booked for February 1964 performances in Carnegie Hall and Washington, DC, and on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” which attracted 73 million viewers to one telecast (see BEATLEMANIA).
The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and Lennon (1994), McCartney (1999), and Harrison (2004) were also inducted as solo performers. In September 2009, specially packaged digitally remastered versions of the Beatles’ entire catalog and a Beatles version of the popular electronic music game Rock Band were released simultaneously.
In the spring of 1970 the Beatles formally disbanded. In the years that followed, all four members went on to produce solo albums of variable quality and popularity. Lennon released a corrosive set of songs with his new wife, Yoko Ono, and McCartney went on to form a band, Wings, that turned out a fair number of commercially successful recordings in the 1970s. Starr and Harrison, too, initially had some success as solo artists.
Above all, the Beatles remained curious about all types of music, and they continually reinvented their own music by injecting it with fresh influences from multiple cultures. This experimentation adds a dimension to their work that separates it from their contemporaries' music.
What is it about the Beatles that still fascinates and captivates many of us? Surely even the surviving Beatles were surprised when their collection of number-one hits, Beatles 1, was one of the biggest-selling albums of 2000 -- thirty years after the last song on the album was recorded!
For millions of young people, the Beatles represented freedom from authority and convention. Each member was charismatic, and together, they were irresistible to a young America that was embroiled in the unpopular Vietnam War (1954–75). The Beatles, their music, and their charm provided American youth a much-needed escape from the harsh realities of the era.
After this early success, the Beatles continued to grow as musicians and songwriters. They stopped touring in 1966, preferring to devote their time to recording. Moving away from their early song style, which focused on romantic love, the Beatles began to experiment with new themes and sounds...
In the history of rock and roll (see entry under 1950s—Music in volume 3), no group has had quite the impact on music and culture as did the Beatles, a quartet from Liverpool, England, consisting of John Lennon (1940–1980), Paul McCartney (1942–), George Harrison (1943–2001), and Ringo Starr (1940–). When they hit the world music stage in 1963, they reinvigorated rock and roll, moved the music in new directions, and set fashion and cultural trends, something they continued to do until their breakup in 1970. More than any other band, the Beatles set a standard for songwriting, musicianship, and cultural impact that has never been surpassed.
In 1963, "Beatlemania" was sweeping the world. The Beatles (see entry under 1960s—Music in volume 4), a Liverpool, England, rock-pop group whose members were John Lennon (1940–1980), Paul McCartney (1942–), George Harrison (1943–2001), and Ringo Starr (1940–), were capturing the souls and hearts of young people worldwide.
The Beatles first visited America on February 8, 1964, to appear on the popular television variety program The Ed Sullivan Show. Seventy million viewers tuned in, and a new record was set for the most-watched television appearance. It helped that America's media publicized the event...