Before they Were Beatles

John Lennon met Paul McCartney when they were both performing in Skiffle Groups, which were homespun bands that played a combination of folk, rock and jazz. John was in a group called The Quarrymen. Paul introduced John to George Harrison. John, Paul and George, with the addition of Johns Friend from art college, Stu Sutcliffe and a guitarist named Pete Best, set out to work in German clubs, where musicians were able to make a paltry living playing strip clubs and low end establishments. During their time in Germany, Stu Sutcliffe decided to return to his first love, art, and a new love, a woman he had met in Germany named Astrid. Stu later died of a brain hemorrhage, which some suspect was due to his previous involvement in a club fight. The remaining members, now called The Silver Beatles returned to Liverpool, where John dealt with feelings of failure and a pregnant girlfriend, whom he reluctantly married. Their luck changed when a young record storeowner, named Brian Epstein, noticed the Beatles and thought they had something unique. After convincing the Beatles to clean up their tough image, they traded leather jackets for matching suits as Brian peddled their records from label to label with no success. Epstein never gave up on the Beatles and his business savvy, combined with the Beatles raw talent finally began to pay off.

Pre Beetle Mania

Ringo Starr, the drummer for another popular Liverpool band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, was recruited to replace Best. In September, 1962, the bands first single, Love Me Do was released, eventually reaching 17 in the UK. It would be almost two years until the song was released and became a 1 hit in the US, because of the skepticism of Parlophones sister label in the US, Capitol Records, about the prospects of a British band succeeding in America. Their first album, Please Please Me was released in the UK in March 1963. The singles, Please Please Me and She Loves You received scattered, limited airplay in the US. The teen audience on Dick Clarks American Bandstand reacted to She Loves You by laughing at the bands mop top haircuts. After their second album, With The Beatles became only the second album ever to sell a million copies in the UK, Vee Jay Records, predominantly an RB label, obtained the US rights to most of the songs from Please Please Me, and released them on an album titled Introducing The Beatles in January 1964.


A booking on Ed Sullivans popular CBS network variety show in February 1964 watched by an estimated 73million people and the fact that the band had two 1 albums in the UK the previous year, finally convinced Capitol Records to sign The Beatles to a US record deal. By April, 1964, the bands singles occupied the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. That summer, they toured New Zealand and Australia, where their arrival in Adelaide was greeted by a crowd estimated at more than 300,000. The first Beatles movie, A Hard Days Night was released in 1964. All told, the band released seven albums in the US and UK in 1964, all but three of them charting at 1. Two others peaked at 2, and the third, the soundtrack from a UK TV documentary The Beatles Story reached 7. Beatlemania was responsible for the concept of the stadium concert. More than 55thousand screaming fans at the time, the most ever to have attended a single concert packed New Yorks Shea Stadium in August 1965. Two months later, the Fab Four became Members of the Order of the British Empire, one of the highest honors bestowed in the UK, usually to military and government officials. The Beatles second movie, Help came out in 1965, and the soundtrack was one of the four albums the band released that year.


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