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The Beatles

 

Introduction

 

 

Even when couching praise in specific terms, it's hard to convey the

scope of the Beatles' achievements in a mere paragraph or two. They

synthesized all that was good about early rock & roll, and changed it

into something original and even more exciting. They established the

prototype for the self-contained rock group that wrote and performed

their own material. As composers, their craft and melodic inventiveness

were second to none, and key to the evolution of rock from its

blues/R&B-based forms into a style that was far more eclectic, but

equally visceral. As singers, both John Lennon and Paul McCartney were

among the best and most expressive vocalists in rock; the group's

harmonies were intricate and exhilarating. As performers, they were (at

least until touring had ground them down) exciting and photogenic; when

they retreated into the studio, they were instrumental in pioneering

advanced techniques and multi-layered arrangements. They were also the

first British rock group to achieve worldwide prominence, launching a

British Invasion that made rock truly an international phenomenon.

 

More than any other top group, the Beatles' success was very much a case

of the sum being greater than the parts. Their phenomenal cohesion was

due in large degree to most of the group having known each other and

played together in Liverpool for about five years before they began to

have hit records.

 

Organization of ‘The Beatles’

 

Guitarist and teenage rebel John Lennon got hooked on rock 'n' roll in

the mid-1950s, and formed a band, the Quarrymen, at his high school.

Around mid-1957, the Quarrymen were joined by another guitarist, Paul

McCartney, nearly two years Lennon's junior. A bit later they were

joined by another guitarist, George Harrison, a friend of McCartney's.

The Quarrymen would change lineups constantly in the late '50s,

eventually reducing to the core trio of guitarists, who'd proven

themselves to be the best musicians and most personally compatible

individuals within the band.

 

The Quarrymen changed their name to the Silver Beatles in 1960, quickly

dropping the "Silver" to become just the Beatles. Lennon's art college

friend Stuart Sutcliffe joined on bass, but finding a permanent drummer

was a vexing problem until Pete Best joined in the summer of 1960. He

successfully auditioned for the combo just before they left for a

several-month stint in Hamburg, Germany.

 

Hamburg was the Beatles' baptism by fire. Playing grueling sessions for

hours on end in one of the most notorious red-light districts in the

world, the group were forced to expand their repertoire, tighten up

their chops, and invest their show with enough manic energy to keep the

rowdy crowds satisfied. When they returned to Liverpool at the end of

1960, the band — formerly also-rans on the exploding Liverpudlian "beat"

scene — were suddenly the most exciting act on the local circuit. They

consolidated their following in 1961 with constant gigging in the

Merseyside area, most often at the legendary Cavern Club, the incubator

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