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The Beatles was undoubtedly one of the most talented, most popular, most innovative and most influential rock and roll bands and songwriting group in the history of modern music. The group began, as many bands do, as a virtual garage band of a handful of teenage Liverpudlians and schoolmates that evolved into an international phenomenon. In 1957, teenage guitarist John Lennon (16), bass guitarist Paul McCartney (15) and lead guitarist George Harrison (14) formed the core of The Beatles with the help of Pete Best on drums. The band began playing in and around Liverpool, London and Hamburg, Germany for the next couple of years. With the help of Brian Epstein and George Martin, in 1962, The Beatles signed with EMI and began recording at the Abbey Road Studios, but urged the band to replace Pete Best with session drummer Ringo Starr. The Beatles produced their first single “Love Me Do” by September 1962 and in the spring of 1963, the band’s “Please, Please Me” had risen to #2 on the UK charts. Albums Please, Please Me and With The Beatles became their first two Number One LPs in Great Britain in 1963. The year 1963 saw the advent of Beatlemania as tens of thousands of adoring fans flocked to shows throughout Europe and the band began to get major airplay in the United States. In February 1964, The Beatles landed at John F. Kennedy Airport to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show and others as thousands of U.S. fans awaited their arrival. It was a scene like no other that marked the start of “The British Invasion.” John, Paul, George and Ringo were now an international phenomenon.
Some of the most enduring singles came from the Fab Four, as they were dubbed, during this era and are among some of the greatest songs ever written. The week of April 4, 1964, The Beatles held twelve spots on the Billboard Hot 100 with singles such as Can’t Buy Me Love, Twist and Shout, She Loves You, I want to Hold Your Hand, Please, Please Me, You Can’t Do That, All My Loving and Do You Want to Know a Secret. No band ever accomplished that prior to 1964 nor has any since. The band appeared in the “mock-documentary” A Hard Day’s Night marking their first film role. They toured the United States, Great Britain and the rest of the world for years, appearing and performing for millions of fans everywhere. At the same time from 1964 to 1970, The Beatles produced ten critically acclaimed albums including Revolver in 1966, widely considered the greatest album of all time, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (also in 1966), one of the most innovative, complex and original collaborations in the history of rock and roll and modern music in general. It was the late 1960s and the obvious influence on drugs and controlled substances was apparent on Sgt. Pepper and continued with the Magical Mystery Tour, the White Album and Yellow Submarine. Though the Lennon and McCartney songwriting duo was unmatched by any other in the industry, riffs and faults became apparent in the group and they began to turn their interests elsewhere as individuals.
The Beatles completed albums Abbey Road and Let It Be in 1969 and 1970, respectively before the band split up in December of 1970. Each member continued to pursue music either as individual artists or in collaborations with other artists and performers. John Lennon released seven solo records from 1970 to 1980. The whole world mourned on December 8, 1980 when Mark David Chapman gunned down Lennon in Central Park outside The Dakota in New York City. John’s second wife, Yoko Ono, would later release an eighth album featuring the couple called Milk and Honey. George Harrison played guitar as a solo artist, as a guest performer and as a member of the Traveling Wilburys – a semi-supergroup consisting of Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynn and Roy Orbison. His 1971 charity Concert for Bangladesh and subsequent recordings of the show is widely considered one of the greatest live performances on vinyl. Paul McCartney, with wife Linda, formed the highly successful band Wings that produced seven studio albums from 1971 to 1981 including the 1973 blockbuster Band on the Run. McCartney has continued to endure well into the 2000s as he has performed for presidents, appeared at the 2012 London Olympics and performed for Queen Elizabeth II for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and he continues to tour. Ringo Starr had appeared in various movies and has continued to tour as well with Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band that has featured such legendary artists as Todd Rundgren, the Eagles’ Joe Walsh, E-Street Band mates Nils Lofrgen and Clarence Clemons, The Band’s Levon Helms, The Who’s John Entwistle, Cream’s Jack Bruce, Supertramp’s Rodger Hodgson, Rick Derringer and scores of others. Through all of the changes that the music industry has gone through in the 50 years since the mop-top quartet burst onto the scene, The Beatles have remained a constant. No band’s influence has been more far reaching than The Beatles from generation to generation.
Beatles memorabilia and autographs have always been highly sought after and have become scarcer over the last few years with the death of Harrison in 2001. For collectors, owning a piece of The Beatles is owning a piece of history. From autographs to wardrobe pieces to photographs to concert posters to gold records to trading cards, The Beatles historical impact on the collecting world is far reaching and each artifact from the Fab Four’s meteoric rise to fame is a treasured piece of history and will be for years to come.