The Beatles were an English pop and rock group from Liverpool whose members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music.
In the United Kingdom, The Beatles released more than 40 different singles, albums, and EPs that reached number one. This commercial success was repeated in many other countries: their record company, EMI, estimated that by 1985 they had sold over one billion discs and tapes worldwide. The Beatles are the best-selling musical act of all time in the United States, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked The Beatles #1 on its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. According to that same magazine, their innovative music and cultural impact helped define the 1960s, and their influence on pop culture is still evident today.
The Beatles led the mid-1960s musical "British Invasion" into the United States. Although their initial musical style was rooted in 1950s rock and roll and homegrown skiffle, the group explored genres ranging from Tin Pan Alley to psychedelic rock. Their clothes, styles, and statements made them trend-setters, while their growing social awareness saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.
In March 1957, while attending Quarry Bank Grammar School in Liverpool, John Lennon formed a skiffle group called The Quarrymen. Lennon and the Quarrymen met guitarist Paul McCartney at the Woolton Garden Fête held at St. Peter's Church on 6 July 1957 and added him to the group a few days later. On 6 February 1958, the young guitarist George Harrison was invited to watch the group (who played under a variety of names) at Wilson Hall, Garston, Liverpool. McCartney had become acquainted with Harrison on the morning school bus ride to the Liverpool Institute, as they both lived in Speke. At McCartney's insistence, Harrison joined the Quarrymen as lead guitarist, after a rehearsal in March 1958, overcoming Lennon's initial reluctance because of Harrison's young age. Lennon and McCartney both played rhythm guitar during that period, and had a high turnover of drummers. The Quarrymen went through a progression of names — "Johnny and the Moondogs" and "Long John and the Beatles". Lennon's art school friend Stuart Sutcliffe joined on bass in January 1960, when they were called "The Silver Beetles" (derived from Larry Parnes' suggestion of "Long John and the Silver Beetles") — before settling on "The Beatles" in August 1960. Sutcliffe suggested 'The Beetles' as a tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets, which he and Lennon then thought of changing to 'The Beatals'. They changed their name again to the 'Silver Beats', The Silver Beetles, and the 'Silver Beatles', but Lennon shortened it to The Beatles, to avoid being introduced as "Long John Silver of the Silver Beatles", which was too similar to 'Johnny and the Moondogs'. After a tour with Johnny Gentle in Scotland, they changed their name to the 'Beatles'. Cynthia Lennon suggests that Lennon came up with the name Beatles at a "brainstorming session over a beer-soaked table in the Renshaw Hall bar." Lennon, who was well known for giving multiple versions of the same story, joked in a 1961 Mersey Beat magazine article that "It came in a vision — a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them, 'From this day on you are Beatles with an A'". During an interview in 2001, Paul McCartney took credit for the peculiar spelling of the name, saying that "John had the idea of calling us the Beetles, I said, 'how about the Beatles; you know, like the beat of the drum?' At the time, everyone was stoned enough to find it hilarious. It's funny how history is made."
In May 1960, the Silver Beetles toured northeast Scotland as a back-up band with singer Johnny Gentle. They met Gentle an hour before their first gig, and McCartney referred to the tour as a great experience for the band. For the tour the often drummerless group secured the services of Tommy Moore, who was considerably older than the others. Moore left the band soon after the tour and went back to work in a bottling factory as a forklift truck driver. Norman Chapman was the band's next drummer, but was called up for National Service a few weeks later. His departure posed a serious problem as the group's unofficial manager, Allan Williams, had arranged for them to perform in clubs on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany.
John Lennon said: "It was Elvis who really got me buying records. I thought that early stuff of his was great. The Bill Haley era passed me by, in a way. When his records came on the wireless, my mother used to hear them, but they didn’t do anything for me. It was Elvis who got me hooked on beat music. When I heard 'Heartbreak Hotel', I thought ‘this is it’ and I started to grow sideboards and all that gear...." He also commented: "Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn't been an Elvis, there wouldn't have been a Beatles." (See also the Beatles musical evolution, below.)
1960–70: The Beatles
Finding themselves drummerless before their upcoming engagement in Hamburg, on 12 August 1960 the group invited Pete Best to become their drummer. Best had played with The Blackjacks in The Casbah Coffee Club, owned by Pete's mother, Mona Best. This was a cellar club in West Derby, Liverpool, where The Beatles played and often visited. In the documentary The Compleat Beatles, Williams said that Best "played not too cleverly, but passable".
Four days after hiring Best, the group left for Hamburg. The Beatles began playing in Hamburg at the Indra Club and moved on 4 October 1960 to the Kaiserkeller. They were required to play six or seven hours a night, seven nights a week. On 21 November 1960, Harrison was deported for having lied to the German authorities about his age. A week later, having started a small fire at their living quarters while vacating it for more luxurious rooms, McCartney and Best were arrested, charged with arson, and deported. Lennon followed the others to Liverpool in mid-December while Sutcliffe stayed behind in Hamburg with his new German fiancée Astrid Kirchherr. The reunited group played an engagement on 17 December 1960 at the Casbah Club (with Chas Newby substituting for Sutcliffe).
The Beatles returned to Hamburg in April 1961, performing at the "Top Ten Club". While playing at the Top Ten Club they 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 on 22 June 1961. On 31 October Polydor released the recording "My Bonnie (Mein Herz ist bei dir nur)", which appeared on the German charts under the name "Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers", a generic name used for whoever happened to be in Sheridan's backup band. In addition to the legend that this record led to the group's eventual meeting with Brian Epstein, it also resulted in their first mention in the American press.
Around the beginning of 1962, Cashbox mentioned "My Bonnie" as the debut of a "new rock and roll team, Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers". A few copies were also pressed under the Decca label for U.S. disc jockeys, as American Decca had a distribution deal with Polydor parent Deutsche Grammophon. (This was ironic, considering that by this time the then-unaffiliated British Decca had turned down the group's attempt to gain a recording contract.) When the group returned to Liverpool, Sutcliffe stayed on in Hamburg with Kirchherr. By then McCartney had taken over bass duties.
Their third stay in Hamburg was from 13 April to 31 May 1962, when they opened The Star Club. Upon their arrival, they were informed of Sutcliffe's death from a brain haemorrhage.
Epstein took over as the group's manager in January 1962 and led The Beatles' quest for a British recording contract. Epstein had been manager of the record department at North End Music Store (NEMS), an offshoot of his family's furniture store. He played on the status of NEMS as a major record dealer to gain access to producers and recording company executives. In a now-famous exchange, Decca Records A&R executive Dick Rowe turned Epstein down flat, informing him that "Guitar groups are on the way out, Mr. Epstein." (See The Decca audition.) While Epstein was negotiating with Decca, he also approached EMI marketing executive Ron White. White (who was not himself a record producer) in turn contacted EMI producers Norrie Paramor, Walter Ridley, and Norman Newell, all of whom declined to record The Beatles. White did not approach EMI's fourth staff producer—George Martin—who was on holiday at the time.
After failing to impress Decca Records, Epstein went to the HMV store on Oxford Street in London to transfer the Decca tapes to discs. There, recording engineer Jim Foy referred him to Sid Coleman, who ran EMI's publishing arm. When Coleman heard the demo tapes he suggested taking the tapes to George Martin, who, Coleman explained, "does comedy records" and headed the Parlophone label at EMI. Epstein eventually met with Martin, who signed the group to EMI on a one-year renewable contract and scheduled their first recording session on 6 June 1962 at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in north London. Martin had not been particularly impressed by the band's demo recordings, but he instantly liked them as people when he met them. He concluded that they had raw musical talent, but said (in later interviews) that what made the difference for him was their wit and humour.
Martin did have a problem with Pete Best, whom he criticised for not being able to keep time. He privately suggested to Epstein that the band use another drummer in the studio. There was speculation by some that Best's popularity with fans was another source of friction. In addition, Epstein had become exasperated with his refusal to adopt the distinctive hairstyle as part of their unified look. Best also had missed a number of engagements because of illness. The three founding members enlisted Epstein to dismiss Best, which he did on 16 August 1962. They asked Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey), the drummer for one of the top Merseybeat groups, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, to join the band; Starr had performed occasionally with The Beatles in Hamburg. The first recordings of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr together were made as early as 15 October 1960, in a series of demonstration records privately recorded in Hamburg while acting as the backing group for singer Lu Walters. Starr played on The Beatles' second EMI recording session on 4 September 1962, but Martin hired session drummer Andy White for their next session on 11 September.
Their recording contract paid them one penny for each single sold, which was split amongst the four Beatles — one farthing per group member. This royalty rate was further reduced for singles sold outside the UK, on which they received half of one penny (again split between the whole band) per single. Martin said later that it was a "pretty awful" contract.
The Beatles' first EMI session on 6 June 1962 did not yield any recordings considered worthy of release, but the September sessions a few months later produced a minor UK hit, "Love Me Do", which peaked on the charts at number 17. ("Love Me Do" reached the top of the U.S. singles chart over 18 months later in May 1964.) On 26 November 1962, they recorded their second single "Please Please Me", which reached number two on the official UK charts and number one on the NME chart. Three months later, they recorded their first album (also titled Please Please Me). The band's first televised performance was on the People and Places programme, transmitted live from Manchester by Granada Television on 17 October 1962. As The Beatles' fame spread, the frenzied adulation of the group, predominantly from teenage female fans, was dubbed Beatlemania.
The band also began to be noticed by serious music critics. On 23 December 1963, The Times music critic William Mann published an essay extolling The Beatles' compositions—their "fresh and euphonious" guitars in "Till There Was You", their "submediant switches from C major into A flat major", and the "octave ascent" in "I Want to Hold Your Hand", for example. The Beatles themselves were perplexed by this analysis by Mann: "...one gets the impression that they think simultaneously of harmony and melody, so firmly are the major tonic sevenths and ninths built into their tunes, and the flat-submediant key-switches, so natural is the Aeolian cadence at the end of 'Not a Second Time' (the chord progression which ends Mahler's 'Song of the Earth')." In 1980, Lennon commented, "To this day I don't have any idea what [Aeolian cadences] are. They sound like exotic birds."
Although the band experienced huge popularity on the UK record charts in early 1963, EMI's American operation, Capitol Records, declined to issue the singles "Please Please Me" and "From Me to You" (their first official number one hit in the UK). Vee-Jay Records, a small Chicago label, issued the 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 radio rotation in late February 1963, making it the first time a Beatles record was heard on American radio. Vee-Jay's rights to The Beatles were later cancelled for non-payment of royalties.
In August 1963, Philadelphia-based Swan Records released "She Loves You", which also failed to receive airplay. A testing of the song on Dick Clark's TV show American Bandstand produced laughter from American teenagers when they saw the group's distinctive hairstyles. In early November 1963, Brian Epstein persuaded Ed Sullivan to present 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". On 7 December 1963, a clip of The Beatles was shown on the CBS Evening News. (The story originally had been scheduled to air on 22 November, and was aired on the CBS Morning News, but was preempted by the assassination of John F. Kennedy.) The clip inspired a teenage girl in Washington, D.C. to request a Beatles song on a local radio station. The station secured an imported copy of "I Want to Hold Your Hand"–forcing Capitol Records to release the song ahead of schedule on 26 December 1963.
Several New York radio stations—first WMCA, then WINS and WABC—began playing "I Want to Hold Your Hand" on its release day. 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 16 January 1964, Cashbox magazine had certified the record number one (in the edition marked 23 January). On 3 January 1964, a film of The Beatles performing "She Loves You" was aired on the late-night Jack Paar Show.
Beatlemania crosses the Atlantic
On 7 February 1964, a crowd of four thousand fans at Heathrow Airport waved to The Beatles as they took off for their first trip to the United States as a group. They were accompanied by photographers, journalists (including Maureen Cleave), and Phil Spector, who had booked himself on the same flight. The pilot had radioed ahead, and as they prepared to land said, "Tell the boys there's a big crowd waiting for them." New York's newly-renamed JFK Airport had never experienced such a crowd, estimated at about 3,000 screaming fans. After a press conference (where they first met Murray the K) they were put into limousines and driven to New York City. On the way, McCartney turned on a radio and listened to a running commentary: "They [The Beatles] have just left the airport and are coming to New York City...". After reaching the Plaza Hotel, they were besieged by fans and reporters. Harrison had a fever of 102 °F (39 °C) the next day and was ordered to stay in bed, so Neil Aspinall replaced him for the first television rehearsal.
Their first live American television appearance was on the The Ed Sullivan Show on 9 February 1964. The next morning practically every newspaper wrote that The Beatles were nothing more than a "fad", and "could not carry a tune across the Atlantic". Their first American concert appearance was at Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C. on 11 February 1964.
After The Beatles' huge success in 1964, Vee-Jay Records and Swan Records took advantage of their previously secured rights to the group's early recordings and reissued the songs, all of which reached the top ten the second time around. (MGM and Atco also secured rights to The Beatles' early Tony Sheridan-era recordings and had minor hits with "My Bonnie" and "Ain't She Sweet", the latter featuring John Lennon on lead vocal.) In addition to Introducing... The Beatles, which was essentially The Beatles' debut British album with some minor alterations, Vee-Jay also issued an unusual LP called The Beatles Vs The Four Seasons. This 2-LP set paired Introducing... The Beatles and The Golden Hits Of The Four Seasons, another successful act that Vee-Jay had under contract, in a 'contest' (the back cover featured a 'score card'). Another unusual release was the Hear The Beatles Tell All album, which consisted of two lengthy interviews with Los Angeles radio disc jockeys (side one was titled "Dave Hull interviews John Lennon", while side two was titled "Jim Steck interviews John, Paul, George, Ringo"). No Beatles music was included on this interview album, which turned out to be the only Vee-Jay Beatles album Capitol Records could not reclaim.
The Vee-Jay/Swan-issued recordings eventually ended up with Capitol, which issued most of the Vee-Jay material on the American-only Capitol release The Early Beatles, with three songs left off this final US version of the album. ("I Saw Her Standing There" was issued as the American B-side of "I Want to Hold Your Hand", and also appeared on the Capitol Records album Meet The Beatles. "Misery" and "There's a Place" were issued as a Capitol "Starline" reissue single in 1964, and reappeared on the 1980 Rarities compilation album.) The early Vee-Jay and Swan Beatles records command a high price on the record collectors' market, and all have been copiously bootlegged. The Swan tracks ("She Loves You" and "I'll Get You") were issued on the Capitol LP The Beatles' Second Album. (Swan also issued the German-language version of "She Loves You", called "Sie Liebt Dich". This song later appeared (in stereo) on Capitol's US version of the Rarities compilation album.)
In mid-1964 the band undertook their first appearances outside of Europe and North America, touring Australia without Ringo Starr, who was suffering from tonsillitis and was temporarily replaced by session drummer Jimmy Nicol. In Adelaide they were greeted by over 300,000 people who turned out at Adelaide Town Hall. Ringo had rejoined by the time they arrived in New Zealand on 21 June 1964.
In June 1965, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II appointed the four Beatles Members of the Order of the British Empire, MBE. The band members were nominated by Prime Minister Harold Wilson (who also was the M.P. for Huyton, Liverpool). The appointment – at that time primarily bestowed upon military veterans and civic leaders – sparked some conservative MBE recipients to return their insignia in protest. The first two were returned on 14 June 1965, before The Beatles received theirs on 26 October.
On 15 August 1965, the Beatles performed the first major stadium concert in the history of rock 'n' roll at Shea Stadium in New York to a crowd of 55,600. Their sixth album, Rubber Soul, was released in early December 1965. It was hailed as a major leap forward in the maturity and complexity of the band's music.
Backlash and controversy
In July 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. The group soon found that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed to accepting "no" for an answer. After the 'snub' was broadcast on Philippine television and radio, all of The Beatles' police protection disappeared. The group and their entourage had to make their way to Manila airport on their own. At the airport, road manager Mal Evans was beaten and kicked, and the band members were pushed and jostled about by a hostile crowd. Once the group boarded the plane, Epstein and Evans were ordered off, and Evans said, "Tell my wife that I love her." 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.
Almost as soon as they returned from the Philippines, an earlier comment by Lennon made in March that year launched a backlash against The Beatles from religious and social conservatives in the United States. In an interview with British reporter Maureen Cleave, Lennon had offered his opinion that Christianity was dying and that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus now". Afterwards, a radio station in Birmingham, Alabama, ran a story on burning Beatles records, in what was considered to be a joke. However, many people affiliated with rural churches in the American South started taking the suggestion seriously. Towns across the United States and South Africa started to burn Beatles records in protest. Attempting to make light of the incident, McCartney said, "They've got to buy them before they can burn them." Under tremendous pressure from the American media, Lennon apologised for his remarks at a press conference in Chicago on 11 August 1966, the eve of the first performance of what turned out to be their final tour.
The group's two-year series of Capitol compilations also took a strange twist in the United States when one of their publicity shots, used for a Yesterday and Today album and a poster promoting the UK release of "Paperback Writer", created an uproar, as it featured the band dressed in butchers' overalls, draped in meat and plastic dolls. A popular, though apocryphal, rumour said that this was meant as a response to the way Capitol had "butchered" their albums. Thousands of copies of the album had a new cover pasted over. Years later, a commentator linked the cover shot with the group's interest in German expressionism. Uncensored copies of Yesterday and Today command a high price today, with one copy selling for $10,500 at a December 2005 auction.
Elvis Presley disapproved of The Beatles's anti-war activism and open use of drugs, later asking President Richard Nixon to ban all four members of the group from entering the United States. Peter Guralnick writes, "The Beatles, Elvis said, [...] had been a focal point for anti-Americanism. They had come to this country, made their money, then gone back to England where they fomented anti-American feeling." Guralnick adds, "Presley indicated that he is of the opinion that The Beatles laid the groundwork for many of the problems we are having with young people by their filthy unkempt appearances and suggestive music while entertaining in this country during the early and middle 1960s." Despite Elvis' remarks, Lennon still had some positive feelings towards him: "Before Elvis, there was nothing."
In contrast, Bob Dylan recognised the Beatles' contribution, stating: "America should put up statues to The Beatles. They helped give this country's pride back to it."
In April 1966, the group began recording what would be their most ambitious album to date, Revolver. During the recording sessions for the album, tape looping and early sampling were introduced in a complex mix of ballad, R&B, soul, and world music.
The Beatles performed their last concert before paying fans at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on 29 August 1966. McCartney asked Tony Barrow to tape the event, but the 30-minute tape he used ran out halfway through the last song. The concert lasted a little under 35 minutes.
From then on, The Beatles concentrated on recording. Less than seven months after recording Revolver, The Beatles returned to Abbey Road Studios on 24 November 1966 to begin the 129-day recording sessions for their eighth album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released on 1 June 1967.
On 25 June 1967, The Beatles became the first band globally transmitted on television, before an estimated 400 million people worldwide. The band appeared in a segment within the first-ever worldwide television 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, albeit to the accompaniment of a backing track they had spent five days recording and mixing in the studio prior to the broadcast.
The band's business affairs began to unravel after manager Brian Epstein died of an accidental prescription drug overdose on 27 August 1967 at the age of 32. At the end of 1967, they received their first major negative press in the UK with disparaging reviews of their surrealistic TV film Magical Mystery Tour. Part of the criticism arose because colour was an integral part of the film, but in 1967 few viewers in the UK had colour televisions. The film's soundtrack, which features one of The Beatles' few instrumental tracks ("Flying"), was released in the United Kingdom as a double EP, and in the United States as a full LP (the LP is now the official version).
The group spent the early part of 1968 in Rishikesh, Uttar Pradesh, India, studying transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Upon their return, Lennon and McCartney went to New York to announce the formation of Apple Corps. The middle of 1968 saw the band busy recording the double album The Beatles, popularly known as The White Album because of its plain white cover. These sessions saw deep divisions opening within the band, with Starr temporarily walking out. The band carried on, with McCartney recording the drums on the songs "Martha My Dear", "Wild Honey Pie", "Dear Prudence" and "Back in the USSR". Among the other causes of dissension were that Lennon's new girlfriend, Yoko Ono, was at his side through almost all of the sessions, and that the others felt that McCartney was becoming too domineering. Internal divisions had been a small but growing problem in the band; most notably, this was reflected in the difficulty that Harrison experienced in getting his songs onto Beatles albums.
On the business side, McCartney wanted Lee Eastman, the father of his then-girlfriend Linda Eastman, to manage The Beatles, but the other members wanted New York manager Allen Klein. All past Beatles decisions had been unanimous, but this time the four could not agree. Lennon, Harrison and Starr felt the Eastmans would put McCartney's interests before those of the group. In 1971, it was discovered that Klein, who had been appointed manager, had stolen £5 million from The Beatles' holdings. Years later, during the Anthology interviews, McCartney said of this time, "Looking back, I can understand why they would feel that he [Lee Eastman] was biased for me and against them."
Breakup: Let It Be
Their final live performance was on the rooftop of the Apple building at 3 Savile Row, London, on 30 January 1969, the next-to-last day of the difficult sessions for what eventually became the Let It Be album. Most of the performance was filmed and later included in the film Let It Be. While the band was playing, the local police were called because of complaints about the noise. Although the group was simply asked to end their performance, the band members later remarked in the Anthology video that they were disappointed they were not arrested – pointing out that the police hauling the band members off in handcuffs would have been "an appropriate ending" for the film.
The Beatles recorded their final album, Abbey Road, in the summer of 1969. The completion of the song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" for the album on 20 August 1969 was the last time all four Beatles were together in the same studio.
Their final new song was Harrison's I Me Mine, recorded 3 January 1970 and released on the Let It Be album. It was recorded without Lennon, who was in Denmark at the time.
John Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group on 20 September 1969, but agreed that no announcement was to be publicly made until a number of legal matters were resolved.
In March 1970, the Get Back session tapes were given to American producer Phil Spector, who had produced Lennon's solo single "Instant Karma!". Spector's Wall of Sound production values went against the original intent of the record, which had been to record a stripped-down live performance. McCartney was deeply dissatisfied with Spector's treatment of "The Long and Winding Road" and unsuccessfully attempted to halt release of Spector's version of the song. McCartney publicly announced the break-up on 10 April 1970, a week before releasing his first solo album, McCartney. Pre-release copies included a press release with a self-written interview explaining the end of The Beatles and his hopes for the future. On 8 May 1970, the Spector-produced version of Get Back was released as Let It Be, followed by the documentary film of the same name. The Beatles' partnership was finally dissolved in 1975.
1970–present: After The Beatles
Shortly before and after the official dissolution of the group, all four Beatles released solo albums, including Lennon's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, McCartney's McCartney, Starr's Sentimental Journey, and Harrison's All Things Must Pass. Some of their albums featured contributions by other former Beatles; Starr's Ringo (1973) was the only one to include compositions and performances by all four, albeit on separate songs. Harrison showed his socio-political consciousness and earned respect for his contribution for arranging the Concert For Bangladesh in New York City in August 1971 along with sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.
Other than an unreleased jam session in 1974 (later bootlegged as A Toot and a Snore in '74), Lennon and McCartney never recorded together again.
In the wake of the expiration in 1975 of The Beatles' contract with EMI-Capitol, the American Capitol label, rushing to cash in on its vast Beatles holdings and freed from the group's creative control, released five LPs: Rock 'n' Roll Music (a compilation of their more uptempo numbers), The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (containing portions of two unreleased shows at the Hollywood Bowl), Love Songs (a compilation of their slower numbers), Rarities (a compilation of tracks that either had never been released in the U.S. or had gone out of print), and Reel Music (a compilation of songs from their films). There was also a non-Capitol-EMI release of a show from the group's early days at the Star Club in Hamburg captured on a poor-quality tape. Of all these post-breakup LPs, only the Hollywood Bowl LP had the approval of the group members. Upon the American release of the original British CDs in 1986, these post-breakup Capitol American compilation LPs were deleted from the Capitol catalogue.
Lennon was shot and killed by Mark Chapman on 8 December 1980 in New York City. In May 1981, George Harrison released "All Those Years Ago"; a single written about Harrison's time with The Beatles. It was recorded the month before Lennon's death, with Starr on drums, and was later overdubbed with new lyrics as a tribute to Lennon. McCartney and Linda McCartney later contributed backing vocals to the track.
The BBC has a large collection of Beatles recordings, mostly comprising original studio sessions from 1963 to 1968. Much of this material formed the basis for a 1988 radio documentary series The Beeb's Lost Beatles Tapes. In 1989, many outtakes from The Beatles sessions appeared on the radio series The Lost Lennon Tapes. Later, in 1994, the best of the BBC sessions were given an official EMI release on Live at the BBC.
In 1988, The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a group during their first year of eligibility. On the night of their induction, Harrison and Starr appeared to accept their award along with Lennon's widow Yoko Ono and his two sons. McCartney stayed away, issuing a press release citing "unresolved difficulties" with Harrison, Starr, and Lennon's estate. Solo Beatles later inducted were Lennon in 1994, McCartney in 1999 and Harrison in 2004.
In February 1994, the three surviving Beatles reunited to produce and record additional music for a few of Lennon's home recordings. "Free as a Bird" premiered as part of The Beatles Anthology series of television documentaries and was released as a single in December 1995, with "Real Love" following in March 1996. These songs were also included in the three Anthology collections of CDs released in 1995 and 1996, each of which consisted of two CDs of never-before-released Beatles material. Klaus Voormann, who had known The Beatles since their Hamburg days and had previously illustrated the Revolver album cover, directed the Anthology cover concept. 450,000 copies of Anthology 1 were sold on its first day of release. In 2000, the compilation album 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 (selling 3 copies a second) and more than 12 million in three weeks worldwide. The collection also reached number one in the United States and 33 other countries, and had sold 25 million copies by 2005 (about the ninth best selling album of all time).
In the late 1990s, George Harrison was diagnosed with lung cancer. He succumbed to the disease on 29 November 2001.
In 2006, George Martin and his son Giles Martin remixed original Beatles recordings to create a soundtrack to accompany Cirque du Soleil's theatrical production Love. In 2007, McCartney and Starr reunited for an interview on Larry King Live to discuss their thoughts on the show. Beatles widows Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison also appeared with McCartney and Starr in Las Vegas for the one-year anniversary of Love.
Also in 2007, reports circulated that McCartney was hoping to complete "Now and Then", the third Lennon track the band worked on during the Anthology sessions, as a "Lennon/McCartney composition" by writing new verses, laying down a new drum track recorded by Starr, and utilizing archival recordings of Harrison's guitar work.
The Beatles' constant demands to create new sounds on every new recording, combined with George Martin's arranging abilities and the studio expertise of EMI staff engineers such as Norman Smith, Ken Townsend and Geoff Emerick, all played significant parts in the innovative sounds of the albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).
The Beatles continued to absorb influences long after their initial success, often finding new musical and lyrical avenues by listening to their contemporaries. Among those influences were Bob Dylan, who influenced songs such as "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" and "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)". Other contemporary influences included the Byrds and the Beach Boys, whose album Pet Sounds was a favourite of McCartney's. Beatles producer George Martin stated that "Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds." After Sgt. Pepper was released, Wilson was so despondent that he went to bed for months.
Along with studio tricks such as sound effects, unconventional microphone placements, tape loops, double tracking and vari-speed recording, The Beatles began to augment their recordings with instruments that were unconventional for rock music at the time. These included string and brass ensembles as well as Indian instruments such as the sitar as in "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" and the swarmandel as in "Strawberry Fields Forever". They also used early electronic instruments such as the Mellotron, with which McCartney supplied the flute voices on the intro to "Strawberry Fields Forever", and the ondioline, an electronic keyboard that created the unusual oboe-like sound on "Baby You're a Rich Man".
Beginning with the use of a string quartet (arranged by George Martin with input from McCartney) on "Yesterday" in 1965, The Beatles pioneered a modern form of art song, exemplified by the double-quartet string arrangement on "Eleanor Rigby" (1966), "Here, There and Everywhere" (1966) and "She's Leaving Home" (1967). A televised performance of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 directly inspired McCartney's use of a piccolo trumpet on the arrangement of "Penny Lane". The Beatles moved towards psychedelia with "Rain" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" from 1966, and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am the Walrus" from 1967.