Timeline of the Rise of The Beatles

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Background

When we talk about the most popular bands in the world, one of the bands that many people would think of is The Beatles. There is no doubt that everyone, at one point or another, has heard a song by The Beatles. But did you know that before John, Paul, George, and Ringo became The Beatles, they were ordinary teenagers from Liverpool? That’s right, and never have they imagined that they would go on to create one of the most successful groups in modern history, which influenced pop culture not only in music but as well as in film, fashion, and global representation.

Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it was quite hard to imagine a band coming from the poor northwest port city of Liverpool, England, could get a show in the booming London music scene of the south, let alone brighten their homegrown success to a world enthusiastically opening up to the counterculture movement of the ‘60s and the increasing phenomenon that was referred to as rock ‘n’ roll. [1] With this, how do you think The Beatles became so popular? If you have the same question in mind, you’re in the right place. In this post, we are giving you a timeline of the rise of The Beatles.

Timeline of the Rise of the Beatles

The Beginning

The Beatles wall art

The meeting of two teenagers who both love music back in 1957 was the beginning of it all. John Lennon was a sixteen-year-old rhythm guitarist performing with the Quarrymen. It was a skiffle or folk music combined with a jazz or blues band that was booked to perform at events at a church commemoration in Woolton, Liverpool. As they were setting up their instruments for an evening performance, the bassist of the band, Stuart Sutcliffe, introduced John Lennon to a classmate, who was fifteen-year-old Paul McCartney. He joined in on a couple of performances that night. Later on, he was offered a permanent spot in the Quarrymen. [1]

Paul McCartney was the son of a former band member and nurse. He played his first official event with the group in October 1957. However, he wasn’t able to play well as he got sticky fingers on the day of the performance. This was the reason George Harrison was brought in.

George Harrison was a son of a bus conductor and shop assistant. At the age of fifteen, he joined the Quarrymen as a lead guitarist. He was influenced by rockabilly, and his guitar licks helped shape the early sound of the group. Even though they were still performing as the Quarrymen, they would go on to form the core that would soon become The Beatles.

The Quarrymen were in need of a drummer. They went through at least a dozen drummers before they came across one whom they believed would be a permanent member, and that was Pete Best. He became the official drummer of the Quarrymen. [2]

From 1958 to 1959, the Quarrymen gigged every chance they got. These include doing performances at local parties and family events. There were also professional bookings that included venues like the Casbah Coffee Club in Liverpool and Hippodrome in Manchester. [1]

In August 1960, Lennon, Harrison, McCartney, Sutcliffe, and Best left England. They played regular gigs at the Indra Club, Kaiserkeller, and the Top Ten Club in Hamburg, forged them as a group. According to Lennon, it was in Hamburg where they really developed. They have to play for 12 hours at a time to get the Germans going. They also do not have anybody to copy from. They just played what they liked best, and the Germans liked it as long as it was loud. [1]

The Beatles’ Road to Fame

The Cavern in Liverpool

From 1960 to 1962, The Beatles performed in Hamburg on and off, with engagements back in Liverpool interspersed. It was at a performance at their hometown venue, the Cavern Club, where Brian Epstein first watched and heard them play. After learning about them in his family-owned record store and seeing them in the pages of Mersey Beat magazine, he became curious about the band. He returned to watch the shows a few more times.

On December 10, 1961, Epstein approached The Beatles and talked about managing them. In January 1962, a five-year contract was signed by the band. The year 1962 would prove to be momentous for The Beatles. Sutcliffe died on April 10 due to a brain hemorrhage. On June 6, it was the first time that The Beatles would record at EMI studios, which was located at 3 Abbey Road, St. Johns Wood, London. It was produced by George Martin.

The Beatles recorded four songs at EMI studios, namely “Love Me Do,” “Besame Mucho,” “Ask Me Why,” and “PS I Love You.” Martin was impressed with the group’s performance. However, he believed that Best was not up to the job as a drummer. On August 16, Best was fired by Epstein and was replaced by the 21-year-old Ringo Starr. He was the son of local confectioners who had been playing with bands around the area. After two days, Ringo Starr made his debut with The Beatles.

The Success of The Beatles

Abbey Road Studios lights and books

The potential of the band was seen by Epstein, not just in their hometown but as well as far beyond, especially since the core four members of the band were in place. Epstein worked to clean up the image of The Beatles and promote them. The first U.K. single of the band was “Please, Please Me,” which was recorded in November 1962 and released in January 1963.

The single topped the U.K. charts and started a streak that would see 11 of their 12 studio albums through 1970 reach number one in the United Kingdom. Eventually, Epstein would travel to the United States to book The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. In February 1964, The Beatles made their first appearance on the United States variety show The Ed Sullivan Show. It was an event that was witnessed by a reported audience of about 70 million. [1]

The Beatles became a sociocultural phenomenon after the release of their “Please, Please Me” album. From then on, every album they released became a bestseller. Hundreds of thousands of fans would fly in from different countries just to be in the same city as the band. Their fans would crowd around their hotels, hoping to see them. In fact, people would even go to airports just to see them get off the plane. The venues of their events became larger as tickets sold out quicker. [2]

However, their fame raised major concerns, too. One is that they could barely hear themselves play. The crowds at their concerts were rowdy and vocal, making it difficult for the band to perform. As the popularity and audience of The Beatles grew, so did their need for security. They were starting to feel uneasy when it came to their safety and as well as the safety of their audiences or fans. Due to the large crowds in their shows, people were often trampled or received minor to serious injuries. The Beatles did a live concert for the last time in Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 29, 1966. It marked the end of the Rolling Stone referred to as a disastrous tour.[2]

Conflicts

various The Beatles wall art

George Harrison started to lose his faith in The Beatles in 1965 after he decided to stop using acid. Later on, he told Rolling Stone that it was good being popular and being in demand, but it was also ridiculous. He realized that it was something serious that affected his mental health and safety. He said that it was his life being affected by all the people shouting. With this, he no longer felt that the band would sustain him.

In addition to that, McCartney and Harrison also shared a rather abusive relationship. There were countless instances when McCartney would dismiss the ideas of Harrison harshly while they were in the studio. McCartney constantly patronized Harrison, treating him like a mediocre member. Aside from being rude to Harrison, a documentary revealed that he was also controlling over the rest of the band.

But the sudden aggression of McCartney may also have something to do with the death of their manager. Epstein inadvertently overdosed due to barbiturates and alcohol intoxication in 1967. After his death, The Beatles were left without management. Being overwhelmed with shock and grief, the band decided to manage themselves. They were still able to create content. However, they lacked structure and motivation. Without a manager, The Beatles were slowly falling apart.

Later on, in the first episode of “Get Back,” Harrison decided to leave the band. He informed their producer, George Martin, that he was parting and continued to go home, leaving the band in doubt. Over the weekend after that, the band met with Harrison, but it did not go well. In their next practice, Ringo Starr was the first to show up. He said that they all kind of fell apart in the end. The Beatles also considered bringing in Eric Clapton, who was a close friend of Harrison, and one of the best rock guitarists of all time.

The Decline of The Beatles

The Beatles statues

In 1969, John Lennon got married to Yoko Ono. She was often blamed for splitting up The Beatles. However, in reality, the band was already on the verge of ending. Throughout the documentary, both Lennon and Harrison expressed their doubt about the survival of the band. Ono was only a minor detail that may have just pushed The Beatles past their limits.

Yoko Ono was the first of The Beatles’ wives that were given access to their recording studio. As years passed, Lennon and Ono only became closer and were practically inseparable. It was also included in the documentary how Starr and McCartney discussed that they believed Ono was talking for Lennon instead of him making his own choices. They blamed her for them not getting along well anymore and for disturbing their writing process. [2]

Before Ono, The Beatles’ members always spent time together. They lived together and traveled from one hotel to another, allowing them to write as soon as they woke up. However, when Ono came in, Lennon spent less time with the band. And when the band was no longer spending much time together, that was the time they started to fall apart.

The End of The Beatles

The Beatles turntable

Paul McCartney announced on April 10, 1970, that The Beatles had officially broken up. After that, each member of the band went their separate ways. [2] But their final album, “Let It Be,” was released on May 8, 1970, in the United Kingdom, and it topped the British album chart. On May 20, 1970, a documentary titled “Let It Be” premiered in London. However, none of The Beatles members attended.

After the separation of the band, George Harrison went on to release many solo albums. However, in 1997, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to undergo radiation therapy. After two years, he was stabbed in the lung by a deranged man at Friar Park. The injuries he got from that made it harder for him to fight cancer. The disease spread to his brain, and he passed away on November 29, 2001. Even 20 years later, he is still among the greatest guitar players of all time in the world.

John Lennon also released several albums and songs along with Yoko Ono’s band. He sang for peace and used his fame to spread positivity and awareness. He created songs like “All You Need is Love” and “Imagine.” However, on December 8, 1980, as he was standing outside his apartment in Manhattan, a mentally challenged fan named Mark David Chapman shot and killed him. His death was a worldwide tragedy mourned by millions of people.

Paul McCartney also has lots of solo albums, such as “Tug of War” and “Band on the Run.” He remains very successful to this day as a music icon. He helped in producing the “Get Back” documentary with Ringo Starr, and he is still an inspiration to music lovers globally.

For Ringo Starr, it was hard to leave The Beatles. In fact, he was in denial about the breakup of the band. It was shown in the documentary that he found it hard to believe that the band was truly splitting up. After The Beatles, Ringo Starr made albums, including “Bad Boy” and “Ringo the 4th.” He also released a popular song titled “It Don’t Come Easy.” His most recent album was released in 2019, and he produced the “Get Back” documentary of The Beatles along with McCartney. To this day, he is still one of the greatest drummers of all time. [2]

Conclusion

The Beatles were indeed among the most popular and iconic bands in the world. Many of the popular bands that we have today were formed due to their inspiration and influence. Even though the band was only together for eight years, from 1962 to early 1970, it was able to reach and inspire millions of fans all over the world. In fact, even today, their songs are still being played by a lot of people, which is proof of their success. We hope this post helped you learn more about the rise of The Beatles.

References

[1] Bertram, C. (2020, September 8). How The Beatles got together and became the best-selling band of all time. Biography.com. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.biography.com/news/how-the-beatles-formed

[2] Bitton, T. (2021, December 16). The Beatles: The rise and fall of a global phenomenon. The Milken Roar. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://milkenroar.com/49873/featured/the-beatles-the-rise-and-fall-of-a-global-phenomenon/

[3] Wood, J. (2017, February 13). Timeline: The Beatles. Infoplease. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://www.infoplease.com/entertainment/timeline-beatles

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