John .. Paul .. George .. and Ringo, four Christian names that evoke enthusiastic emotions unanimously recognized as The Beatles. The Fab Four commenced the British Invasion with their inaugural visit to America on February 7, 1964. Forty years later, the impact of The Beatles continues to be validated by innumerable voices that personally felt that musical eruption firsthand.

     The universal appeal of The Beatles, their music, and their personalities resonated with young fans across all discernible boundaries. The original boy-band, every female teenager had her favorite Beatle. John - the Smart one, Paul - the Cute one, George - the Quiet one, and Ringo - the Funny one; the Liverpool quartet combined their individual personalities to propel The Beatles "To the topper most of the popper most".

Eight Arms to Hold You

     Beatlemania in the U.K. launched with The Beatles performance on the bill for Sunday Night at the London Palladium on October 13, 1963. Their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show ignited Beatlemania in the U.S. on Sunday, February 9, 1964. Having dominated the American youth market, the Beatles phenomenon endured media skepticism, fueled by the prolific partnership of Lennon & McCartney.

     In the modern technologically advanced age of the new millennium, one cannot imagine the handicapped level of sophistication that impeded state-of-the-art media in 1964. The Beatles sensation proliferated from hit singles and albums to radio, television and films, to record breaking attendances at stadiums. The merchandising bonanza that ensued was unheard of in its day.

     Recording techniques, Satellite communication, and the touring industry were in their infancy when their Mersey Sound conquered the youth of the free world. The Beatles were the first international entertainment attraction to benefit from an emerging embryonic global media. The positive impression their body of music left in its wake reverberates with subsequent new audiences year after year.

     Their musical journey to the hearts of fans the wide world over began in July 1957 at a Liverpool church function where Paul McCartney heard John Lennon on stage with his skiffle band The Quarrymen. A musical bond was forged that afternoon between John and Paul after McCartney demonstrated his prowess of "Twenty Flight Rock" on guitar.

     George Harrison was granted membership in 1958, and co-authored "In Spite Of All The Danger" with McCartney, a demo recording sung by Lennon. After having christened themselves Beatles in 1960, the fledgling young band with Stu Sutcliffe on bass guitar and Pete Best on drums embarked for Hamburg, Germany, where the group initiated an apprenticeship that would distill the distinct Beatle sound that would seize the world by their eardrums.

     The Beatles came to the attention of Brian Epstein in 1961, who convinced the band to sign him as their new manager. His intense love affair with The Beatles, which now featured Ringo Starr behind the drums, motivated him to secure a record deal with Parlophone Records in 1962. The EMI record producer on staff at Abbey Road Studios was George Martin. His interaction in the recording studio created the perfect chemistry to guide the lads as their fifth wheel.

     By the Fall of 1963, The Beatlesı popularity had swollen to incredible heights in Great Britain, Germany, and Sweden. American record executives could no longer ignore the commercial viability and energy of the Fab Four. Capitol Records prepared a substantial marketing assault as "I Want To Hold Your Hand" achieved #1 in America during January 1964.

     On April 6, 1964, The Beatles scored the Top Five singles on the American Billboard chart with "Can't Buy Me Love" at #1, "Twist And Shout" at #2, "She Love You" at #3, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" at #4, and "Please Please Me" at #5. This amazing musical achievement remains an unmatched record today unlikely to ever be broken.

     The Beatles encountered dynamic competition on the international pop charts from prolific British rivals. The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, the Moody Blues, The Yardbirds, and the Small Faces were a few contemporary contenders that have left a lasting musical legacy.

     Harrison and Starr both contributed to the musical soundtrack of The Beatles with competent original compositions. Other recording artists benefited from Lennon & McCartney pieces given to them to release. Many of them enjoyed hit singles including the Rolling Stones, Badfinger, Peter and Gordon, Mary Hopkin, Billy J. Kramer, and Cilla Black to name a few.

     Creatively, The Beatles reached a prolific career peak with Sgt. Pepperıs Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. Their film project, Magical Mystery Tour, produced following the death of their manager Brian Epstein, suffered critical misfortune with both the media and fans. The friction of composing competition emerging between Lennon and McCartney at the exclusion of Harrison generated fractures within the group that were no longer mediated by their deceased manager.

     The Beatles as individuals were all talented in their own right. Lennon acted in How I Won The War in 1967 and recorded a few singles. McCartney composed the soundtrack to The Family Way in 1967 and produced songs for other artists. Harrison delved into Indian music, recording the soundtrack Wonderwall Music in 1968 and learnt to play the sitar. Starr made his mark in movies, starring in Candy and The Magic Christian.

When They're Sixty-four

     Richard Starkey, M.B.E., will be 64 in 2004. Starr has carved out a successful career for himself as bandleader for his All Starr Band touring unit that spotlights changing personnel. Sir James Paul McCartney has remarried and is the father of a newborn baby girl. McCartney finally performed in Moscow last year at the end of another profitable massive world tour.

     The phenomenon of The Beatles reached far into the consciousness of a comprehensive generation of fans. Their influence impacted commercial fashion trends, music development, psychedelic artwork, hairstyles and mustaches, as well as promoting creativity and independence among the youth. Consequently, actions by the band to experiment with recreational substances were unwelcome behavior to the establishment.

     Unfortunately, only two Beatles survive to celebrate this musical milestone in February 2004. John Lennon died senselessly in December 1980. George Harrison passed peacefully in November 2001. The losses of these legends to their legion of fans will forever leave a void in their lives. An anticipated Beatles reunion eluded their fans ultimately, but captured celluloid images with have to keep Beatlemaniacs satisfied.

     The Liverpool lads were extremely photogenic and benefited enormously from their media charisma and sex appeal. It is highly doubtful that another band or performer will ever appear with a revolutionary impact or influence as tremendous as The Beatles. Many pretenders to their musical throne have come and gone already in the flash of a fisheye.

     Being a pop star or a rock star can be a hazardous lifestyle. Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Police, and Pink Floyd can attest to the pressures of producing music in a fishbowl and holding onto fame. Other than the Rolling Stones who have secured their position in Rockın Roll history through sheer longevity, The Beatles may legitimately lay claim to rising above all of their peers.

     The Beatles are BIG business in the new millennium. During the last decade, the defunct band has issued four double disc sets, three repackaged projects, and three posthumous singles. Rumors anticipate the belated reissue of The Beatles Live At The Hollywood Bowl on compact disc. DVD releases are the latest format offering lost live performances on the Fab Four.

     The Beatles' musical heritage encourages new fans, bridging a 25-year gap since their last appearance live in public together on a London Saville Row rooftop. Fan fascination with the Fab Four is impossible to contain. Each new generation of young listeners becomes hopelessly addicted to the positive power of The Beatles.

     From their first single in 1962, "Love Me Do", to their last recorded effort "I Me Mine" in 1970, The Beatles bequeathed a collective body of material for the ages. Together with Sir George Martin, the fantastic foursome produced a staggering amount of unparalleled popular music. Thankfully, digital technology empowers us to repeat the Beatles experience again and again; yeah, yeah, yeah!

RockonTour   Issue #29
Concert Fan - the Single Source for the Concertphile © 2004 RoT
                  the Single Source for the Concertphile

Beatlemania Revisited
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! All Hail The Fab Four

by Timothy Tilghman