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– The Beatles –
Learn English – Lesson 89 – The Beatles
The city of Liverpool in Merseyside, UK has produced many famous musical artists such as, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Coral, Big in Japan, but none as big as The Beatles. Formed in 1960, the original line-up was John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe. The band’s name had gone through many changes, from The Quarrymen to Johnny and the Moondogs to The Beatals, a name suggested by Sutcliffe as a tribute to Buddy Holly. This name was extended to The Silver Beetles before being shortened to simply The Beatles.
At this time all of the members played guitar and were in desperate need of a drummer. They were able to find temporary drummers in order to perform gigs but no one stable. Their manager at the time, Allan Williams had arranged a residency for them in Hamburg and so they hired Pete Best as their full-time drummer. Now a five piece, the band started a 3 and a half month residency at the Indra Club in Hamburg. However, their residency was thwart with problems and eventual demise. Their slot at the Indra was cut short due to noise complaints and the band was moved to The Kaiserkeller. The club owner, Bruno Koschmider, upon learning that the band were performing at a rival club, in breach of their contract, gave them one month’s termination notice and reported George Harrison to the authorities after he had lied to them about his age. Harrison was subsequently deported, along with Lennon and McCartney who had been arrested for arson. Stuart Sutcliffe remained in Hamburg with his German fiancée Astrid Kirchherr.
The band acquired new residency in Hamburg over the next two years. During this time Stuart Sutcliffe decided to leave the band and continue with his art studies in Germany. The, now, four piece band, continued with their residency and gigging in their home city. Their music grew in popularity with the Mersey Beat movement, a sound that was a fusion of rock and roll, doo-wop, skiffle and R&B. In November 1961, during a performance at The Cavern Club, they met Brian Epstein, a local record-store owner and music columnist, who immediately took a keen interest in the band.
Epstein became the manager of the band in January 1962 and began negotiations with record labels for a recording contract. Eventually, it was producer George Martin who signed them up to Beatles to EMI’s Parlophone label. And so, on 6th June 1962, The Beatles began recording their first session at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios. However, Martin was not happy about Pete Best’s drumming performance and he was soon replaced with Ringo Starr.
October of that year saw the release of the band’s first single “Love Me Do” which peaked at number seventeen on the Record Retailer chart and November yielded “Please Please Me” which became their first Number one hit. By 1963, Lennon and McCartney had established a strong songwriting partnership and Epstein was working to increase the Beatles’ commercial potential. He sought to create a cleaner image by suggesting the fab four stop eating on stage, swearing and smoking.
The next couple of singles “From Me to You” and “She Loves You” received acclaim and record sales, with the latter being their first single to sell a million copies. Eventually, their success crossed the Atlantic, their growing popularity and demand seeing them departing the UK for New York on 7th February 1964. There, they gave their first live US television performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. After several gigs and another Sullivan performance, Beatlemania took root with the American audience. Soon after, the band was offered a three-motion-picture deal starting with “A Hard Day’s Night” directed by Richard Lester. The film premiered in London and New York in July and August, respectively, and was an international success.
The band’s extensive touring brought them international fame and paved the way for other British artists whose sound had otherwise been confided to the UK. This explosion of acts became known as the British Invasion, with bands like The Dave Clark Five, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and The Who, breaking onto the U.S. scene with “counterculture” rock and pop music acts. Whether you love them or hate them, The Beatles’ influence on the 60s music scene is undeniable and their songs and achievements are etched into the history books.
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