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The Beatles

The Beatles are as popular with new generations of fans -- and as influential on new generations of musicians -- as they were in their brief, prolific career in the 1960s. Formed in the summer of 1962 when Liverpool drummer Ringo Starr (neé Richard Starkey) joined local pals John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison in their newly-signed band. The Beatles changed the face of pop music forever from slickly-packaged vacuity to bright, engaged irreverence. In the process, they became global superstars and a role model for artists that followed. They wrote their own songs; they took control of their own work; they evolved continuously, incorporating influences from blues and country to psychedelic and Eastern into their work. They had the temerity to quit touring at the height of their popularity (after the August 29, 1966 show at SF's Candlestick Park); the next few years saw the sporadic release of ambitious studio albums and a steady worsening of relations among the band members. In 1970, the band officially broke up as McCartney launched his solo career; the four embarked on numerous projects and frequently collaborated, but continued to quarrel amongst themselves. All hopes for a reunion were dashed when Lennon was murdered in 1980; since then, Harrison has also died. Early in the '90s, however, the surviving members and their heirs resolved their legal differences sufficiently to allow the re-release of the Beatles catalog -- with the result that the Fab Four have been charting high and going multi-platinum ever since. And, while each of the band members went on to successful solo careers, they never matched The Beatles' sheer chemistry. In 1995, the three surviving Beatles added tracks to some unfinished Lennon studio recordings; the resulting "new" Beatles songs helped propel the re-release of the catalog, starting with the Anthology collection, to perennial platinum status.

Written by: Mary Eisenhart

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