The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960, and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. From 1962, the group consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, the group later worked in many genres ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways. The nature of their enormous popularity, which first emerged as "Beatlemania", transformed as their songwriting grew in sophistication. They came to be perceived as the embodiment of ideals of the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.
Initially a five-piece line-up of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe (bass) and Pete Best (drums), they built their reputation playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over a three-year period from 1960. Sutcliffe left the group in 1961, and Best was replaced by Starr the following year. Moulded into a professional outfit by their manager, Brian Epstein, their musical potential was enhanced by the creativity of producer George Martin. They achieved mainstream success in the United Kingdom in late 1962, with their first single, "Love Me Do". Gaining international popularity over the course of the next year, they toured extensively until 1966, then retreated to the recording studio until their break-up in 1970. Each then found success in independent musical careers. Lennon was murdered outside his home in New York City in 1980, and Harrison died of cancer in 2001. McCartney and Starr remain active.
During their studio years, they produced what critics consider some of their finest material including the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), widely regarded as a masterpiece. They are the best-selling band in the history of popular music, and four decades after their break-up, their recordings are still in demand. They have had more number one albums on the UK charts, and held down the top spot longer, than any other musical act.According to the RIAA, they have sold more albums in the United States than any other artist.The Beatles placed number one on Billboard magazine's fiftieth-anniversary list of all-time top Hot 100 artists in 2008. They have received 7 Grammy Awards from the American National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and 15 Ivor Novello Awards from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. They were collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of the 20th century's 100 most influential people.
1.1 Formation and early years (1957–1962)
1.2 Beatlemania and touring years (1963–1966)
1.2.1 UK popularity, Please Please Me and With The Beatles
1.2.2 "British Invasion"
1.2.3 A Hard Day's Night, Beatles for Sale, Help! and Rubber Soul
1.3 Controversy, studio years and break-up (1966–1970)
1.3.1 Events leading up to final tour
1.3.2 Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
1.3.3 Magical Mystery Tour, White Album and Yellow Submarine
1.3.4 Abbey Road, Let It Be and break-up
1.4 After the break-up (1970–present)
2 Musical style and evolution
2.3 Contribution of George Martin
2.4 In the studio
4 Awards and recognition
5.1 Original UK LPs
5.2 CD releases
5.3 Other digital formats
6 Song catalogue
9 Further reading
10 External links