The Beatles

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The The English ROCK MUSIC group The Beatles

gave the 1960s its characteristic musical flavor and had a

profound influence on the course of popular music, equaled

by few performers. The guitarists John Winston Lennon, b.

Oct. 9, 1940; James Paul McCartney, b. June 18, 1942;

and George Harrison, b. Feb. 25, 1943; and the drummer

Ringo Starr, b. Richard Starkey, July 7, 1940, were all born

and raised in Liverpool. Lennon and McCartney had played

together in a group called The Quarrymen. With Harrison,

they formed their own group, The Silver Beatles, in 1959,

and Starr joined them in 1962. As The Beatles, they

developed a local following in Liverpool clubs, and their first

recordings, "Love Me Do" (1962) and "Please Please Me"

(1963), quickly made them Britain's top rock group. Their

early music was influenced by the American rock singers

Chuck BERRY and Elvis PRESLEY, but they infused a

hackneyed musical form with freshness, vitality, and wit. The

release of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in 1964 marked the

beginning of the phenomenon known as "Beatlemania" in the

United States. The Beatles' first U.S. tour aroused a

universal mob adulation. Their concerts were scenes of mass

worship, and their records sold in the millions. Their first film,

the innovative A Hard Day's Night (1964), was received

enthusiastically by a wide audience that included many who

had never before listened to rock music. Composing their

own material (Lennon and McCartney were the major

creative forces), The Beatles established the precedent for

other rock groups to play their own music. Experimenting

with new musical forms, they produced an extraordinary

variety of songs: the childishly simple "Yellow Submarine";

the bitter social commentary of "Eleanor Rigby"; parodies of

earlier pop styles; new electronic sounds; and compositions

that were scored for cellos, violins, trumpets, and sitars, as

well as for conventional guitars and drums. Some enthusiasts

cite the albums Rubber Soul (1965) and Revolver (1966) as

the apex of Beatle art, although Sergeant Pepper's Lonely

Hearts Club Band (1967), perhaps the first rock album

designed thematically as a single musical entity, is more

generally considered their triumph. The group disbanded in

1970, after the release of their final album, Let It Be, and

during the 1970s pursued individual careers. On Dec. 8,

1980, John Lennon was fatally shot outside his Manhattan

apartment by Mark Chapman, a 25-year-old former mental

patient who, earlier that same day, had asked Lennon for his

autograph. Lennon's murder was universally mourned with

an intensity of feeling usually inspired only by political and

spiritual leaders. Bibliography: The Beatles Complete, 2

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