First formed in 1959, the Beatles were composed of guitarist John Lennon, guitarist George Harrison, bassist Paul McCartney, and drummer Peter Best. Lennon and McCartney had played together in a group called The Quarrymen. With Harrison, they formed their own group the Silver Beatles. It was then changed to just The Beatles. In 1962, the Beatles met up with Ringo Starr (Richard Starkley), who was a drummer in a different band. Soon after, Ringo replaced the Best as the new drummer.
The Beatles developed a local following in Liverpool clubs, and their first recordings "Love Me Do" (1962) and "Please Please Me" (1962), quickly made them Britain's top rock group. Influenced by American rock-and-roll artists of the late 1950's, like Chuck Berry, Elvis, and Buddy Holly, the Beatles styled their songs in the sophisticated manner of Tin Pan Alley, an American tradition of popular-music song writing that peaked in the 1920's and 1930's.
The release of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" in late 1963 marked the beginning of the phenomenon known as "Beatlemania" in the United States. The Beatles' first U.S. tour aroused a universal mob. Their concerts were like scenes of massive worship and their records sold in the millions. Their first film, 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 experimented with many different unused instruments and musical forms, creating songs like "Yellow Submarine" (1966), and "Eleanor Rigby" (1966). Their music included new electronic sounds and compositions that used cellos, violins, trumpets, sitars as well as the conventional guitars and drums. Some people say that Rubber Soul (1965) and Revolver (1966) were the best Beatles' albums but nothing could compare to Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).
The Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP did not only have a brilliantly designed cover, but it was considered the first concept album (songs that were unified by using a common theme). Sgt. Peppers LHCB was also admired for its haunting harmony and lyrics, unconventional musical phrases (like "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite") and rhythms, and the integrated use of electronic music and the Indian sitar.
In later years, the Beatles produced the albums Magical Mystery Tour (1967), The White Album (1968), Abbey Road (1969), and Let It Be (1970). Abbey Road may have been released in 1969, but it was actually made after Let It Be.
In 1970 the Beatles split up and each member pursued another musical career, either as a solo artist or as a bandleader. The only Beatles who did occasionally meet were mostly Lennon and Starr, who played the drums on some of Lennon's earlier songs. Despite individual successes, members were often approached with requests to reunite. This was soon ended when on Dec. 8th, 1980, John Lennon was fatally shot 5 times in New York City. The Beatles had won the Grammy Trustees Award in 1972 and the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. In 1995 the first volume of a three-album retrospective of The Beatles, Anthology 1, was released, accompanied by a television miniseries of the same name. The Anthology 1 album, which includes the previously unrecorded song "Free as a Bird" (written by Lennon and recorded by the surviving band members during 1994 and 1995), became one of the fastest-selling albums in the history of popular music. The second and third albums of the series, Anthology 2 & 3, were released in 1996/97.