Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Posted by Nelio Guerson, Artist from Brazil
Cyrus at the premiere for Hannah Montana: The Movie
on April 2, 2009
Birth name Destiny Hope Cyrus
Also known as Destiny Cyrus
Born November 23, 1992 (1992-11-23) (age 17)
Occupations Singer, actress, author, songwriter, musician
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active 2003–present
Labels Hollywood Records
Fascination Records (UK)
Associated acts Billy Ray Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Timbaland
Miley Ray Cyrus (born Destiny Hope Cyrus on November 23, 1992) is an American singer, songwriter, and actress. Cyrus rose to fame starring as the title character in the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana. Following the success of Hannah Montana, in October 2006, a soundtrack CD was released on which she sang eight songs from the show. Cyrus's solo music career began with the release of her debut album, Meet Miley Cyrus on June 23, 2007, which included her first top ten single "See You Again". Her second album, Breakout, was released on July 22, 2008. Breakout is Cyrus's first album that does not involve the Hannah Montana franchise. Both albums debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200. Cyrus's first extended play, The Time Of Our Lives, was released on August 28, 2009. The lead single from the album, "Party in the U.S.A.", became Cyrus's highest charting and Hollywood Records' fastest selling single; it reached number two in the Billboard Hot 100 and the top ten in various nations. In 2008, she appeared in the Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert film.
Cyrus also starred in Bolt in 2008, and recorded "I Thought I Lost You" for the soundtrack for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination. She starred in the film spin-off of Hannah Montana, titled Hannah Montana: The Movie which was released on April 10, 2009. In 2008, Cyrus was listed in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World. Forbes magazine ranked her #35 on the "Celebrity 100" list for earning $25 million in 2008. Her rank improved to #29 in 2009.
Cyrus was born in Nashville, Tennessee on November 23, 1992 to Leticia "Tish" (née Finley) and country singer Billy Ray Cyrus. Cyrus has five siblings. Her elder siblings Trace and Brandi Cyrus are Tish's children from a previous relationship, whom Billy Ray adopted when they were very young. Trace is a vocalist and guitarist for the electronic pop band Metro Station, while Brandi has played guitar for Cyrus's concerts and formed a band with The Secret Life of the American Teenager star Megan Park. Cyrus also has an older half-brother, Christopher Cody, from her father's previous relationship, as well as a younger brother, Braison, and a younger sister, Noah, who is also an actress. She is the granddaughter of Democratic politician Ron Cyrus. Cyrus chose the name "Ronnie" for her character in the 2010 film The Last Song in honor of her grandfather.
Cyrus's parents named her Destiny Hope because they believed that she would accomplish great things. She was nicknamed "Smiley", later shortened to "Miley", because she kept smiling as a baby. She is of part Cherokee descent. Cyrus attended Heritage Middle School, where she was a cheerleader. She currently attends school at Options For Youth Charter Schools and studies with a private tutor on the set of her TV show. Cyrus grew up on her parents' farm outside of Nashville where she regularly attended The People's Church.
2001–2005: Early work
Cyrus became interested in acting when she was nine, and took classes at the Armstrong Acting Studio while her family lived in Toronto, Canada. Her early career was marked by minor roles, the first of which was playing a girl named Kylie on her father's television series Doc. In 2003, Cyrus was credited under her birth name for her role as "Young Ruthie" in Tim Burton's Big Fish. Parton advised Cyrus's mother to sign Cyrus with Morey Management Group, which The Hollywood Reporter said "was the best advice she could on who should rep her daughter". The group's leader, Jim Morey, and his son, Jason, began co-managing Cyrus's career alongside Tish Cyrus.
When Cyrus was twelve, she auditioned for the role of "best friend" in a Disney Channel television show about a "secret pop star". Disney Channel executives at first judged her to be too young, but Cyrus's persistence resulted in her being called back for further auditions. She eventually auditioned for the lead role, Zoe Stewart. When she won the role, the character's name was changed to Miley Stewart. According to Disney Channel president Gary Marsh, Cyrus was chosen because of her energetic and lively performance and was seen as a person who "loves every minute of life," with the "everyday relatability of Hilary Duff and the stage presence of Shania Twain." Cyrus had tried for several years to lose her Southern accent, but Disney decided to include it in the storyline. Later, Cyrus had to audition her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, for the role of the main character's father. The show focuses on adolescence while incorporating a "secret identity" aspect to the storylines.
2006 – June 2008: Hannah Montana
Cyrus performing as Hannah Montana during the Best of Both Worlds Tour.
Hannah Montana first aired on March 24, 2006 in the United States and averaged more than 4 million viewers per episode. As of 2009, the series is in its third season on Disney Channel with plans for a fourth and final season in 2010.
As the star of Hannah Montana, Cyrus became popular with children and teenagers, leading to a successful career in music. Her recording debut was on April 4, 2006, when the fourth edition of DisneyMania was released. Cyrus sang a cover of James Baskett's "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," originally from the 1946 animated film Song of the South. On October 24 the same year, Walt Disney Records released the first Hannah Montana soundtrack. Of the nine tracks on the album performed by Cyrus, eight were credited to Hannah Montana and one, a duet with Billy Ray Cyrus titled "I Learned from You", was credited to Cyrus as herself. The album debuted at #1 on the US Billboard 200 and sold 281,000 copies in its first week, beating such artists as John Legend and rock band My Chemical Romance. Cyrus, as Hannah Montana, opened for The Cheetah Girls on their The Party's Just Begun Tour. She performed at 20 dates of their 39-city tour, beginning on September 15, 2006. On June 26, 2007, Cyrus released a double album, Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus. The first disc was a second Hannah Montana soundtrack, while the second disc was Cyrus's first solo album credited to herself. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and sold 326,000 copies, selling faster in its first week than the previous Hannah Montana soundtrack. It was certified Platinum three times by the RIAA after selling more than 3 million copies in the US. Cyrus voiced the recurring character Yatta on the Disney Channel animated series The Emperor's New School. She had a cameo appearance in High School Musical 2 which premiered August 17, 2007; She danced beside a pool in the movie's closing number and was credited as "girl at pool".
Cyrus performing during the Best of Both Worlds Tour.
Cyrus's first headlining tour, the Best of Both Worlds Tour, lasted from October 18, 2007 to January 31, 2008 with 69 concerts across the United States. She performed both as herself and as Hannah Montana. The Jonas Brothers were the opening act for most of the tour. Tour tickets for each date sold out in record time. The tour was recorded and released to theaters as a concert film in Disney Digital 3-D. Walt Disney Records/Hollywood Records released the film's soundtrack on March 11, 2008. It peaked at number three on the Billboard 200.
July 2008–present: Breakout, The Time of Our Lives EP and film career
Cyrus performed her Golden Globe nominated song, "I Thought I Lost You", during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
On July 2008, Cyrus released her second studio album under her own name, entitled Breakout. Cyrus said Breakout was inspired by "what's been going on in my life in the past year." Cyrus co-wrote all but two songs on the album. "Songwriting is what I really want to do with my life forever, I just hope this record showcases that, more than anything, I'm a writer." The album debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart with a first week sales of about 371,000 copies. As of July 31, 2008, this was the second-biggest sales week of the year for a female artist; Mariah Carey's E=MC² previously sold 463,000 copies in its first week. "7 Things" was the first single to be released from Breakout and peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. She hosted the 2008 CMT Music Awards with her father in April. In 2008, Cyrus hosted the Teen Choice Awards.
Cyrus provided the voice of Penny in the 2008 computer-animated feature film, Bolt, about a television star dog on his quest to find his owner. Cyrus co-wrote and recorded one of the two original songs on the soundtrack of Bolt, which features her Bolt co-star John Travolta. Titled "I Thought I Lost You", it was later nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. Cyrus again played the title role in the Hannah Montana film spin-off, Hannah Montana: The Movie which was released on April 10, 2009. The film is about Stewart returning to her country roots and deciding which life to choose, her own normal life or as pop star Hannah Montana. Her single, "The Climb" from the movie's soundtrack peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, thus becoming her highest charting single since "See You Again" and "7 Things" which charted at #10 and #9 respectively; later "Party in the U.S.A." charted at # 2. The movie's soundtrack became the third album under the franchise to take the lead of the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the RIAA.
Cyrus sits in make-up on the set of The Last Song. Cyrus's role was imagined as a way to introduce her to older audiences.
In June 2009, Cyrus changed her TV and movie career representation from United Talent Agency to Creative Artists Agency, which had already represented her for music. Also in June, Cyrus began filming her upcoming movie The Last Song, based on a novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, in which she plays a rebellious teenage girl who spends a summer with her estranged father at his home in a quiet beach town. The film was conceived as a "star vehicle" with the intention of introducing Cyrus to older audiences. Cyrus recorded a song with the Jonas Brothers titled "Before the Storm" for their fourth studio album Lines, Vines and Trying Times. She also launched another Hannah Montana soundtrack (for the third season), titled Hannah Montana 3 on July 7, 2009.
"Party in the U.S.A." was officially released to radio on July 29, 2009. The song is from a Wal-Mart exclusive EP entitled The Time of Our Lives which released on August 31, 2009. It was released as promotion for Cyrus's clothing line. The song made it to number one on Hot Digital Songs with 226,000 paid downloads, making her the youngest artist to top the chart, which led its big debut on the Billboard Hot 100, where it was placed at number two, topping "The Climb" (that peaked at number four). The song thereby became the "fastest breaking single in Hollywood Records' history."
Cyrus announced her 2009 North American Tour. The tour began on September 14, 2009 in Portland, Oregon and span 45 dates across North America. Eventually, additional dates were announced for the United Kingdom making the tour change names to the Wonder World Tour. The tour will feature the band Metro Station as a special guest. Tickets went on sale to the general public on June 13, 2009 and for the UK dates on June 12, 2009. In July 2009, Disney acquired the film rights to Aprilynne Pike's novel Wings, in which Cyrus is expected to star. In early December 2009, Cyrus performed her hits "See You Again", "The Climb" and "Party in the U.S.A." at the 95.8 Capital FM Jingle Bell Ball at London's The O2 arena. On December 7, 2009, Cyrus performed for Queen Elizabeth II and numerous other members of the British Royal Family at the Royal Variety Performance in Blackpool, North West England, along with fellow American pop singer Lady GaGa. In December, Timbaland will release his album, Shock Value II, which features a track with Cyrus called "We Belong to the Music". The songwriters of Cyrus's song The Climb, Jessi Alexander and Jon Mabe, were nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media songwriting for the 52nd Grammy Awards. However, the song was voluntarily withdrawn by Walt Disney Records. Cyrus was ranked number four on Billboard's list of the Top Female Artists of 2009, above artists such as Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson.
Cyrus became a spokesperson for Daisy Rock Guitars in 2004, when she was presented with her first Daisy Rock guitar — the Stardust Series Acoustic Electric Pink Sparkle. Disney released a Hannah Montana clothing collection in late summer 2007. Cyrus helped to design some of the pieces from the collection. In December 2007, she was ranked #17 in the list of Forbes Top Twenty Superstar Earners under 25 with an annual earning of US$3.5 million. A wax figure of Cyrus was unveiled at Madame Tussauds in New York City. In April 2008, Cyrus signed a contract to pen an autobiography reflecting on her life up to the age of 16. The memoir, called Miles To Go (ISBN 978-1-42-311992-0) was written with Hilary Liftin and was published by Disney-Hyperion Books in March 2009. The memoir discusses Cyrus's relationship with her father, her thoughts on the media, her love life, her future ambitions and milestones she still has to reach in her life. Miles to Go reached #1 on the New York Times children’s best seller list. An initial printing run of one million copies of Miles to Go is planned.
In August 2009, Cyrus teamed with Max Azria to create a line of junior and girls' separates available only at Walmart. Cyrus's released her EP The Time of Our Lives in conjunction with the line and Walmart dedicated a page to the designers. The line consists of vests, tie-dye tank tops, dresses, and plaids. Critics claimed the clothes were "completely inoffensive but totally snoozeworthy" and "benign", but admitted that "it's the generic that sells, regardless of whether it has Hannah Montana's name on it" and predicted they would be high sellers.
Cyrus celebrated her 16th birthday with a charity fundraiser at Disneyland, which was closed early for the event attended by 5,000 fans at $250 per ticket. The proceeds went to the charity Youth Service America, a youth volunteering organization. Ten outstanding youth volunteers from Youth Service America were invited to attend, and later in the evening, Cyrus presented a $1 million check to the organization. In 2007, Cyrus made a large contribution to the City of Hope, giving $1 for every "Hannah Montana" concert ticket sold. She said that "the cool thing about being a part of City of Hope is that they are a cancer research center. They're not only helping kids that are there, but also finding out how they can heal them by figuring out what exactly is going on, which is amazing."
Cyrus has lent her musical talents to several charity benefits. Cyrus collaborated with fourteen other female singers to record a charity single titled "Just Stand Up!", which the singers performed live during a one-hour primetime event for the anti-cancer campaign Stand Up to Cancer on September 5, 2008. On September 14, 2008, Cyrus, along with other performers, performed at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California for the City of Hope Benefit Concert to help raise money for cancer research and training programs.
Cyrus is involved in Disney's Friends for Change, an organization which promotes environmentally friendly behavior, and appears in the service's public service announcements to raise awareness for the cause on the Disney Channel. In addition, she joined fellow Disney stars Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, and the Jonas Brothers, to record "Send It On", a charity single which serves as the theme song for Disney's Friends for Change. "Send it On" debuted on the Hot 100 at number twenty. Disney will direct 100% of the proceeds from "Send it On" to environmental charities through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF).
Cyrus with dancers Ashlee Nino and best friend, Mandy Jiroux.
Cyrus suffers from a mild form of a heart condition called tachycardia. In her autobiography, Miles to Go, Cyrus writes, "There is never a time onstage when I'm not thinking about my heart". In January 2008, Cyrus announced her intent to officially change her name to "Miley Ray Cyrus," her middle name reflecting that of her father. The name change became official on May 1, 2008. In an interview with USA Today, Cyrus was quoted as saying her faith is "the main thing" and is the reason why she works in Hollywood. When interviewed by Parade, she added that she attends church regularly with her family. In an interview with Christianity Today, Billy Ray Cyrus said, "Being Christian, we believe in heaven," and "We also had a great church, and when you give up your church, your pastor, and the community you are involved in, you're making a big sacrifice. Let's face it, Hollywood is a completely different environment than Franklin, Tennessee."
In February 2008, Cyrus and her friend Mandy Jiroux (who is also a backup dancer for Cyrus) began creating videos on YouTube called The Miley and Mandy Show. The show, described as a "YouTube hit," is said to be filmed for fun by Cyrus and Jiroux and to be entirely their work, with Cyrus and Jiroux editing the footage together. It is filmed mainly in Cyrus's bedroom. Cyrus was also popular on the social networking site Twitter; her site was watched by approximately 2 million Twitter users in addition to the general public when she deleted it on October 8, 2009. In the September 2008 issue of Seventeen, Cyrus stated she had been in a relationship with Nick Jonas for two years, and that they "were in love". They broke up at the end of 2007. In June 2009, Cyrus ended a nine month long relationship with Nashville Star contestant and model Justin Gaston.
Vanity Fair photos
On April 25, 2008, the televised entertainment program Entertainment Tonight reported that Cyrus had posed topless for a photoshoot with Vanity Fair. The photo, and subsequently released behind-the-scenes photos, show Cyrus with her bare back exposed but her front covered with a bedsheet. The photoshoot was taken by photographer Annie Leibovitz. The full photograph was published with an accompanying story on The New York Times' website on April 27, 2008. On April 29, 2008, The New York Times clarified that though the pictures left an impression that she was bare-breasted, Cyrus was wrapped in a bedsheet and was actually not topless. Some parents expressed outrage at the nature of the photograph, which a Disney spokesperson described as "a situation that was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines." Gary Marsh, president of entertainment for Disney Channel Worldwide, was quoted by Portfolio magazine to have said, “For Miley Cyrus to be a ‘good girl’ is now a business decision for her. Parents have invested in her a godliness. If she violates that trust, she won’t get it back.” Branding consultants John Tantillo and Michael Stone appeared on Fox Business News to discuss possible repercussions for Cyrus's brand and her best marketing strategy going forward.
In response to the Internet circulation of the photo and ensuing media attention, Cyrus released a statement of apology on April 27, 2008: "I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about." Leibovitz also released a statement: "I'm sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted. The photograph is a simple, classic portrait, shot with very little makeup, and I think it is very beautiful." On April 28, 2008, Vanity Fair published their full interview and photo shoot with Cyrus and her father Billy Ray Cyrus, as well as the behind-the-scenes photographs, on their website. According to the interview, Cyrus's parents or minders were present during the entire duration of the photo shoot. The idea to pose with the sheets on was suggested by Leibovitz. When asked if she was "anxious" about the pose, Cyrus stated to interviewer Bruce Handy: "No, I mean I had a big blanket on. And I thought, this looks pretty, and really natural. I think it's really artsy. It wasn't in a skanky way.... And you can't say no to Annie. She's so cute. She gets this puppy-dog look and you're like, okay." On December 2, 2008, TV Guide reported that Cyrus is interested in working with Leibovitz again in the future and is even considering a career in photography for herself, "That's what I want to do with my life. I would love to be a photographer... I want to come to London to study. I hear there are some great art schools here so I would love to do that."
2009 Teen Choice Awards performance
Main article: Party in the U.S.A.#Live performances
A female teen wearing a torn shirt, shorts, boots and a jean jacket, rides on a luggage cart. Beside her, four back-up dancers bend to the side while dancing
During her Wonder World Tour, Cyrus replaced the ice-cream push-cart she used in her 2009 Teen Choice Awards performance with a luggage cart due to claims the push-cart had a dance pole attached.
Cyrus's performance of "Party in the U.S.A." at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards on August 10 incited controversy. Critics of the performance complained that she danced provocatively alongside a dance pole that was on top of an ice-cream pushcart, and that another part of the performance seemed to poke fun at American culture. Some drew negative comparisons to Britney Spears, though Cyrus herself welcomed comparisons to the former teen pop star. Others defended Cyrus, arguing that still images of the performance made it seem more lewd than it actually was, and opining that the ensuing controversy took the focus away from the six awards she won that night. Others observed that Cyrus already had a risque image, and sought to broaden her appeal to audiences, with the performance a part of her transition into an entertainer for older audiences, much as had been observed years earlier with Britney Spears. Cyrus's label, Hollywood Records, and The Walt Disney Company, which produces Hannah Montana, offered no comment on the performance, though Disney asserted that all performances on the Disney Channel are appropriate for children age 6 – 14. The Fox Network, which broadcast the awards, also offered no comment, other than to confirm that the performance would be included in its broadcast of the ceremony.
Year Film Role Notes
2003 Big Fish Ruthie Billed as "Destiny Cyrus"
2007 High School Musical 2 Girl at Pool Cameo
2008 Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Herself Concert film
Bolt Penny Voice Role
2009 Hannah Montana: The Movie Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana Main Role
2010 The Last Song Veronica "Ronnie" Miller Main Role
Sex and the City 2 Herself Cameo
2011 Wings Laurel Main Role. Confirmed on July 14, 2009
Year Title Role Notes
2003 Doc Kylie Guest appearance
2006–2010 Hannah Montana Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana Lead Role
2007 The Emperor's New School Yata Voice Role
2007–2008 The Replacements Celebrity Star Voice Role
Main article: Miley Cyrus discography
* Meet Miley Cyrus (2007)
* Breakout (2008)
* The Time of Our Lives (2009) – EP
As Hannah Montana
Main article: Hannah Montana discography
* Hannah Montana (2006)
* Hannah Montana 2 (2007)
* Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)
* Hannah Montana 3 (2009)
* Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert (2008) – CD + DVD
* iTunes Live from London (2009)
* "Best of Both Worlds Tour" (2007–2008)
* "Wonder World Tour" (2009)
==Awards and nominations==
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Miley Cyrus
Behind the Scenes of Miley Cyrus' YouTube Hit". People.com. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20183035,00.html. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
Download Music Legally
Saturday, December 26, 2009
ALL ABOUT MP3
MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 Filename extension .mp3
Internet media type audio/mpeg, audio/MPA, audio/mpa-robust
Type of format Audio
Standard(s) ISO/IEC 11172-3, ISO/IEC 13818-3
MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, more commonly referred to as MP3, is a patented digital audio encoding format using a form of lossy data compression. It is a common audio format for consumer audio storage, as well as a de facto standard of digital audio compression for the transfer and playback of music on digital audio players.
MP3 is an audio-specific format that was designed by the Moving Picture Experts Group as part of its MPEG-1 standard. The group was formed by several teams of engineers at Fraunhofer IIS in Erlangen, Germany, AT&T-Bell Labs (now a division of Alcatel-Lucent) in Murray Hill, NJ, USA, Thomson-Brandt, and CCETT as well as others. It was approved as an ISO/IEC standard in 1991.
The use in MP3 of a lossy compression algorithm is designed to greatly reduce the amount of data required to represent the audio recording and still sound like a faithful reproduction of the original uncompressed audio for most listeners. An MP3 file that is created using the setting of 128 kbit/s will result in a file that is about 1/11th the size of the CD file created from the original audio source. An MP3 file can also be constructed at higher or lower bit rates, with higher or lower resulting quality.
The compression works by reducing accuracy of certain parts of sound that are deemed beyond the auditory resolution ability of most people. This method is commonly referred to as perceptual coding. It internally provides a representation of sound within a short-term time/frequency analysis window, by using psychoacoustic models to discard or reduce precision of components less audible to human hearing, and recording the remaining information in an efficient manner.
This technique is often presented as relatively conceptually similar to the principles used by JPEG, an image compression format. The specific algorithms, however, are rather different: JPEG uses a built-in vision model that is very widely tuned (as is necessary for images), while MP3 uses a complex, precise masking model that is much more signal dependent.
The MP3 lossy audio data compression algorithm takes advantage of a perceptual limitation of human hearing called auditory masking. In 1894, Alfred Marshall Mayer reported that a tone could be rendered inaudible by another tone of lower frequency. In 1959, Richard Ehmer described a complete set of auditory curves regarding this phenomenon. Ernst Terhardt et al. created an algorithm describing auditory masking with high accuracy. This work added on a variety of reports from authors dating back to Fletcher, and to the work that initially determined critical ratios and critical bandwidths.
The psychoacoustic masking codec was first proposed in 1979, apparently independently, by Manfred R. Schroeder, et al. from AT&T-Bell Labs in Murray Hill, NJ, and M. A. Krasner both in the United States. Krasner was the first to publish and to produce hardware for speech, not usable as music bit compression, but the publication of his results as a relatively obscure Lincoln Laboratory Technical Report did not immediately influence the mainstream of psychoacoustic codec development. Manfred Schroeder was already a well-known and revered figure in the worldwide community of acoustical and electrical engineers, and his paper had influence in acoustic and source-coding (audio data compression) research. Both Krasner and Schroeder built upon the work performed by Eberhard F. Zwicker in the areas of tuning and masking of critical bands, that in turn built on the fundamental research in the area from Bell Labs of Harvey Fletcher and his collaborators. A wide variety of (mostly perceptual) audio compression algorithms were reported in IEEE's refereed Journal on Selected Areas in Communications. That journal reported in February 1988 on a wide range of established, working audio bit compression technologies, some of them using auditory masking as part of their fundamental design, and several showing real-time hardware implementations.
The immediate predecessors of MP3 were "Optimum Coding in the Frequency Domain" (OCF), and Perceptual Transform Coding (PXFM). These two codecs, along with block-switching contributions from Thomson-Brandt, were merged into a codec called ASPEC, which was submitted to MPEG, and which won the quality competition, but that was mistakenly rejected as too complex to implement. The first practical implementation of an audio perceptual coder (OCF) in hardware (Krasner's hardware was too cumbersome and slow for practical use), was an implementation of a psychoacoustic transform coder based on Motorola 56000 DSP chips.
MP3 is directly descended from OCF and PXFM. MP3 represents the outcome of the collaboration of Dr. Karlheinz Brandenburg, working as a postdoc at AT&T-Bell Labs with Mr. James D. Johnston of AT&T-Bell Labs, collaborating with the Fraunhofer Society for Integrated Circuits, Erlangen, with relatively minor contributions from the MP2 branch of psychoacoustic sub-band coders.
MPEG-1 Audio Layer 2 encoding began as the Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) project managed by Egon Meier-Engelen of the Deutsche Forschungs- und Versuchsanstalt für Luft- und Raumfahrt (later on called Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, German Aerospace Center) in Germany. The European Community financed this project, commonly known as EU-147, from 1987 to 1994 as a part of the EUREKA research program.
As a doctoral student at Germany's University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Karlheinz Brandenburg began working on digital music compression in the early 1980s, focusing on how people perceive music. He completed his doctoral work in 1989 and became an assistant professor at Erlangen-Nuremberg. While there, he continued to work on music compression with scientists at the Fraunhofer Society (in 1993 he joined the staff of the Fraunhofer Institute).
In 1991 there were two proposals available: Musicam and ASPEC (Adaptive Spectral Perceptual Entropy Coding). The Musicam technique, as proposed by Philips (The Netherlands), CCETT (France) and Institut für Rundfunktechnik (Germany) was chosen due to its simplicity and error robustness, as well as its low computational power associated with the encoding of high quality compressed audio. The Musicam format, based on sub-band coding, was the basis of the MPEG Audio compression format (sampling rates, structure of frames, headers, number of samples per frame).
Much of its technology and ideas were incorporated into the definition of ISO MPEG Audio Layer I and Layer II and the filter bank alone into Layer III (MP3) format as part of the computationally inefficient hybrid filter bank. Under the chairmanship of Professor Musmann (University of Hannover) the editing of the standard was made under the responsibilities of Leon van de Kerkhof (Layer I) and Gerhard Stoll (Layer II).
A working group consisting of Leon van de Kerkhof (The Netherlands), Gerhard Stoll (Germany), Leonardo Chiariglione (Italy), Yves-François Dehery (France), Karlheinz Brandenburg (Germany) and James D. Johnston (USA) took ideas from ASPEC, integrated the filter bank from Layer 2, added some of their own ideas and created MP3, which was designed to achieve the same quality at 128 kbit/s as MP2 at 192 kbit/s.
All algorithms were approved in 1991 and finalized in 1992 as part of MPEG-1, the first standard suite by MPEG, which resulted in the international standard ISO/IEC 11172-3, published in 1993. Further work on MPEG audio was finalized in 1994 as part of the second suite of MPEG standards, MPEG-2, more formally known as international standard ISO/IEC 13818-3, originally published in 1995. There is also MPEG-2.5 audio, a proprietary unofficial extension developed by Fraunhofer IIS. It enables MP3 to work satisfactorily at very low bitrates and added lower sampling frequencies.
Compression efficiency of encoders is typically defined by the bit rate, because compression ratio depends on the bit depth and sampling rate of the input signal. Nevertheless, compression ratios are often published. They may use the Compact Disc (CD) parameters as references (44.1 kHz, 2 channels at 16 bits per channel or 2×16 bit), or sometimes the Digital Audio Tape (DAT) SP parameters (48 kHz, 2×16 bit). Compression ratios with this latter reference are higher, which demonstrates the problem with use of the term compression ratio for lossy encoders.
Karlheinz Brandenburg used a CD recording of Suzanne Vega's song "Tom's Diner" to assess and refine the MP3 compression algorithm. This song was chosen because of its nearly monophonic nature and wide spectral content, making it easier to hear imperfections in the compression format during playbacks. Some jokingly refer to Suzanne Vega as "The mother of MP3". Some more critical audio excerpts (glockenspiel, triangle, accordion, etc.) were taken from the EBU V3/SQAM reference compact disc and have been used by professional sound engineers to assess the subjective quality of the MPEG Audio formats. This particular track has an interesting property in that the two channels are almost, but not completely, the same, leading to a case where Binaural Masking Level Depression causes spatial unmasking of noise artifacts unless the encoder properly recognizes the situation and applies corrections similar to those detailed in the MPEG-2 AAC psychoacoustic model.
A reference simulation software implementation, written in the C language and known as ISO 11172-5, was developed by the members of the ISO MPEG Audio committee in order to produce bit compliant MPEG Audio files (Layer 1, Layer 2, Layer 3). Working in non-real time on a number of operating systems, it was able to demonstrate the first real time hardware decoding (DSP based) of compressed audio. Some other real time implementation of MPEG Audio encoders were available for the purpose of digital broadcasting (radio DAB, television DVB) towards consumer receivers and set top boxes.
Later, on July 7, 1994, the Fraunhofer Society released the first software MP3 encoder called l3enc. The filename extension .mp3 was chosen by the Fraunhofer team on July 14, 1995 (previously, the files had been named .bit). With the first real-time software MP3 player Winplay3 (released September 9, 1995) many people were able to encode and play back MP3 files on their PCs. Because of the relatively small hard drives back in that time (~ 500 MB) lossy compression was essential to store non-instrument based (see tracker and MIDI) music for playback on computer.
From the first half of 1994 through the late 1990s, MP3 files began to spread on the Internet. The popularity of MP3s began to rise rapidly with the advent of Nullsoft's audio player Winamp (released in 1997), and the Unix audio player mpg123. In 1998, the Rio PMP300, one of the first portable MP3 players was released, despite legal suppression efforts by the RIAA.
In November 1997, the website mp3.com was offering thousands of MP3s created by independent artists for free. The small size of MP3 files enabled widespread peer-to-peer file sharing of music ripped from CDs, which would have previously been nearly impossible. The first large peer-to-peer filesharing network, Napster, was launched in 1999.
The ease of creating and sharing MP3s resulted in widespread copyright infringement. Major record companies argue that this free sharing of music reduces sales, and call it "music piracy". They reacted by pursuing lawsuits against Napster (which was eventually shut down and later sold) and against individual users who engaged in file sharing.
Despite the popularity of the MP3 format, online music retailers often use other proprietary formats that are encrypted or obfuscated in order to make it difficult to use purchased music files in ways not specifically authorized by the record companies. Attempting to control the use of files in this way is known as Digital Rights Management. Record companies argue that this is necessary to prevent the files from being made available on peer-to-peer file sharing networks. This has other side effects, though, such as preventing users from playing back their purchased music on different types of devices. However, the audio content of these files can usually be converted into an unencrypted format. For instance, users are often allowed to burn files to audio CD, which requires conversion to an unencrypted audio format.
Unauthorized MP3 file sharing continues on next-generation peer-to-peer networks. Some authorized services, such as Beatport, Bleep, Juno Records, eMusic, Zune Marketplace, Walmart.com, and Amazon.com sell unrestricted music in the MP3 format.
The MPEG-1 standard does not include a precise specification for an MP3 encoder, but does provide example psychoacoustic models, rate loop, and the like in the non-normative part of the original standard. At the present, these suggested implementations are quite dated. Implementers of the standard were supposed to devise their own algorithms suitable for removing parts of the information from the audio input. As a result, there are many different MP3 encoders available, each producing files of differing quality. Comparisons are widely available, so it is easy for a prospective user of an encoder to research the best choice. It must be kept in mind that an encoder that is proficient at encoding at higher bit rates (such as LAME) is not necessarily as good at lower bit rates.
During encoding, 576 time-domain samples are taken and are transformed to 576 frequency-domain samples. If there is a transient, 192 samples are taken instead of 576. This is done to limit the temporal spread of quantization noise accompanying the transient. (See psychoacoustics.)
Decoding, on the other hand, is carefully defined in the standard. Most decoders are "bitstream compliant", which means that the decompressed output - that they produce from a given MP3 file - will be the same, within a specified degree of rounding tolerance, as the output specified mathematically in the ISO/IEC standard document (ISO/IEC 11172-3). Therefore, comparison of decoders is usually based on how computationally efficient they are (i.e., how much memory or CPU time they use in the decoding process).
When performing lossy audio encoding, such as creating an MP3 file, there is a trade-off between the amount of space used and the sound quality of the result. Typically, the creator is allowed to set a bit rate, which specifies how many kilobits the file may use per second of audio. Using a lower bit rate provides a relatively lower audio quality and produces a smaller file size. Likewise, using a higher bit rate outputs a higher quality audio, but also results in a larger file.
Files encoded with a lower bit rate will generally play back at a lower quality. With too low a bit rate, compression artifacts (i.e. sounds that were not present in the original recording) may be audible in the reproduction. Some audio is hard to compress because of its randomness and sharp attacks. When this type of audio is compressed, artifacts such as ringing or pre-echo are usually heard. A sample of applause compressed with a relatively low bit rate provides a good example of compression artifacts.
Besides the bit rate of an encoded piece of audio, the quality of MP3 files also depends on the quality of the encoder itself, and the difficulty of the signal being encoded. As the MP3 standard allows quite a bit of freedom with encoding algorithms, different encoders may feature quite different quality, even with identical bit rates. As an example, in a public listening test featuring two different MP3 encoders at about 128 kbit/s, one scored 3.66 on a 1–5 scale, while the other scored only 2.22.
Quality is dependent on the choice of encoder and encoding parameters. However, in 1998, MP3 at 128 kbit/s was providing quality only equivalent to AAC at 64 kbit/s and MP2 at 192 kbit/s.
The simplest type of MP3 file uses one bit rate for the entire file — this is known as Constant Bit Rate (CBR) encoding. Using a constant bit rate makes encoding simpler and faster. However, it is also possible to create files where the bit rate changes throughout the file. These are known as Variable Bit Rate (VBR) files. The idea behind this is that, in any piece of audio, some parts will be much easier to compress, such as silence or music containing only a few instruments, while others will be more difficult to compress. So, the overall quality of the file may be increased by using a lower bit rate for the less complex passages and a higher one for the more complex parts. With some encoders, it is possible to specify a given quality, and the encoder will vary the bit rate accordingly. Users who know a particular "quality setting" that is transparent to their ears can use this value when encoding all of their music, and not need to worry about performing personal listening tests on each piece of music to determine the correct bit rate.
Perceived quality can be influenced by listening environment (ambient noise), listener attention, and listener training and in most cases by listener audio equipment (such as sound cards, speakers and headphones).
A test given to new students by Stanford University Music Professor Jonathan Berger showed that student preference for MP3 quality music has risen each year. Berger said the students seem to prefer the 'sizzle' sounds that MP3s bring to music. Others have reached the same conclusion, and some record producers have begun to mix music specifically to be heard on iPods and mobile phones.
Several bit rates are specified in the MPEG-1 Audio Layer III standard: 32, 40, 48, 56, 64, 80, 96, 112, 128, 160, 192, 224, 256 and 320 kbit/s, and the available sampling frequencies are 32, 44.1 and 48 kHz. Additional extensions were defined in MPEG-2 Audio Layer III: bit rates 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, 64, 80, 96, 112, 128, 144, 160 kbit/s and sampling frequencies 16, 22.05 and 24 kHz.
A sample rate of 44.1 kHz is almost always used, because this is also used for CD audio, the main source used for creating MP3 files. A greater variety of bit rates are used on the Internet. 128 kbit/s is the most common, offering adequate audio quality in a relatively small space. As Internet bandwidth availability and hard drive sizes have increased, higher bit rates like 160 and 192 kbit/s have increased in popularity.
Uncompressed audio as stored on an audio-CD has a bit rate of 1,411.2 kbit/s, so the bitrates 128, 160 and 192 kbit/s represent compression ratios of approximately 11:1, 9:1 and 7:1 respectively.
Non-standard bit rates up to 640 kbit/s can be achieved with the LAME encoder and the freeformat option, although few MP3 players can play those files. According to the ISO standard, decoders are only required to be able to decode streams up to 320 kbit/s.
MPEG audio may use variable bitrate (VBR). Layer III can use bitrate switching and bit reservoir. Variable bitrate is used when the goal is to achieve a fixed level of quality. The final file size of a VBR encoding is less predictable than with constant bitrate. Average bitrate is a compromise between the two - the bitrate is allowed to vary for more consistent quality, but is controlled to remain near an average value chosen by the user, for predictable file sizes. Although technically an MP3 decoder must support VBR to be standards compliant, historically some decoders have bugs with VBR decoding, particularly before VBR encoders became widespread.
An MP3 file is made up of multiple MP3 frames, which consist of a header and a data block. This sequence of frames is called an elementary stream. Frames are not independent items ("byte reservoir") and therefore cannot be extracted on arbitrary frame boundaries. The MP3 Data blocks contain the (compressed) audio information in terms of frequencies and amplitudes. The diagram shows that the MP3 Header consists of a sync word, which is used to identify the beginning of a valid frame. This is followed by a bit indicating that this is the MPEG standard and two bits that indicate that layer 3 is used; hence MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 or MP3. After this, the values will differ, depending on the MP3 file. ISO/IEC 11172-3 defines the range of values for each section of the header along with the specification of the header. Most MP3 files today contain ID3 metadata, which precedes or follows the MP3 frames; as noted in the diagram.
This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (July 2008)
There are several limitations inherent to the MP3 format that cannot be overcome by any MP3 encoder. Newer audio compression formats such as Vorbis, WMA Pro and AAC no longer have these limitations. In technical terms, MP3 is limited in the following ways:
Time resolution can be too low for highly transient signals and may cause smearing of percussive sounds.
Due to the tree structure of the filter bank, pre-echo problems are made worse, as the combined impulse response of the two filter banks does not, and cannot, provide an optimum solution in time/frequency resolution.
The combining of the two filter banks' outputs creates aliasing problems that must be handled partially by the "aliasing compensation" stage; however, that creates excess energy to be coded in the frequency domain, thereby decreasing coding efficiency.
Frequency resolution is limited by the small long block window size, which decreases coding efficiency.
There is no scale factor band for frequencies above 15.5/15.8 kHz.
Joint stereo is done only on a frame-to-frame basis.
Internal handling of the bit reservoir increases encoding delay.
Encoder/decoder overall delay is not defined, which means there is no official provision for gapless playback. However, some encoders such as LAME can attach additional metadata that will allow players that can handle it to deliver seamless playback.
The data stream can contain an optional checksum, but the checksum only protects the header data, not the audio data.
==ID3 and other tags==
Main articles: ID3 and APEv2 tag
A "tag" in an audio file is a section of the file that contains metadata such as the title, artist, album, track number or other information about the file's contents.
As of 2006, the most widespread standard tag formats are ID3v1 and ID3v2, and the more recently introduced APEv2.
APEv2 was originally developed for the MPC file format. APEv2 can coexist with ID3 tags in the same file or it can be used by itself.
Tag editing functionality is often built into MP3 players and editors, but there also exist tag editors dedicated to the purpose.
Since volume levels of different audio sources can vary greatly, it is sometimes desirable to adjust the playback volume of audio files such that a consistent average volume is perceived. The idea is to control the average volume across multiple files, not the volume peaks in a single file. This gain normalization, while similar in purpose, is distinct from dynamic range compression (DRC), which is a form of normalization used in audio mastering. Gain normalization may defeat the intent of recording artists and audio engineers who deliberately set the volume levels of the audio they recorded.
A few standards for storing the average volume of an MP3 file in its metadata tags, enabling a specially designed player to automatically adjust the overall playback volume for each file, have been proposed. A popular and widely implemented such proposal is "Replay Gain", which is not MP3-specific. When used in MP3s, it is stored differently by different encoders, and as of 2008, Replay Gain-aware players don't yet support all formats.
==Licensing and patent issues==
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Many organizations have claimed ownership of patents related to MP3 decoding or encoding. These claims have led to a number of legal threats and actions from a variety of sources, resulting in uncertainty about which patents must be licensed in order to create MP3 products without committing patent infringement in countries that allow software patents.
The various MP3-related patents expire on dates ranging from 2007 to 2017 in the U.S. The initial near-complete MPEG-1 standard (parts 1, 2 and 3) was publicly available in December 6, 1991 as ISO CD 11172. In the United States, patents cannot claim inventions that were already publicly disclosed by the inventor more than a year prior to the filing date, but for patents filed prior to June 8, 1995, submarine patents made it possible to extend the effective lifetime of a patent through application extensions. Patents filed for anything disclosed in ISO CD 11172 a year or more after its publication are questionable; if only the known MP3 patents filed by December 1992 are considered MP3 decoding, then MP3 may be patent free in the US by December of 2012.
Thomson Consumer Electronics claims to control MP3 licensing of the Layer 3 patents in many countries, including the United States, Japan, Canada and EU countries. Thomson has been actively enforcing these patents.
MP3 license revenues generated about €100 million for the Fraunhofer Society in 2005.
In September 1998, the Fraunhofer Institute sent a letter to several developers of MP3 software stating that a license was required to "distribute and/or sell decoders and/or encoders". The letter claimed that unlicensed products "infringe the patent rights of Fraunhofer and Thomson. To make, sell and/or distribute products using the [MPEG Layer-3] standard and thus our patents, you need to obtain a license under these patents from us."
However, there exist both free and/or proprietary alternatives, with free formats such as Vorbis, AAC, and others. Microsoft's usage of its own proprietary Windows Media format allows it to avoid licensing issues associated with these patents by avoiding usage of the MP3 format entirely. Until the key patents expire, unlicensed encoders and players could be infringing in countries where the patents are valid.
In spite of the patent restrictions, the perpetuation of the MP3 format continues. The reasons for this appear to be the network effects caused by:
familiarity with the format,
the large quantity of music now available in the MP3 format,
the wide variety of existing software and hardware that takes advantage of the file format,
the lack of DRM restrictions, which makes MP3 files easy to edit, copy and play in different portable digital players (Samsung, Apple, Creative, etc.),
the majority of home users not knowing or not caring about the patents' controversy and often not considering such legal issues when choosing their music format for personal use.
Additionally, patent holders declined to enforce license fees on free and open source decoders, which allows many free MP3 decoders to develop. Thus, while patent fees have been an issue for companies that attempt to use MP3, they have not meaningfully impacted users, which allows the format to grow in popularity.
Sisvel S.p.A. and its U.S. subsidiary Audio MPEG, Inc. previously sued Thomson for patent infringement on MP3 technology, but those disputes were resolved in November 2005 with Sisvel granting Thomson a license to their patents. Motorola also recently signed with Audio MPEG to license MP3-related patents.
In September 2006, German officials seized MP3 players from SanDisk's booth at the IFA show in Berlin after an Italian patents firm won an injunction on behalf of Sisvel against SanDisk in a dispute over licensing rights. The injunction was later reversed by a Berlin judge, but that reversal was in turn blocked the same day by another judge from the same court, "bringing the Patent Wild West to Germany" in the words of one commentator.
On February 16, 2007, Texas MP3 Technologies sued Apple, Samsung Electronics and Sandisk with a patent-infringement lawsuit regarding portable MP3 players. The suit was filed in Marshall, Texas; this is a common location for patent infringement suits due to the speed at which trials are conducted there.
Texas MP3 Technologies claimed infringement with U.S. patent 7,065,417, awarded in June 2006 to multimedia chip-maker SigmaTel, covering "an MPEG portable sound reproducing system and a method for reproducing sound data compressed using the MPEG method."
Alcatel-Lucent also claims ownership of several patents relating to MP3 encoding and compression, inherited from AT&T-Bell Labs. In November 2006 (prior to the companies' merger), Alcatel filed a lawsuit against Microsoft (see Alcatel-Lucent v. Microsoft), alleging infringement of seven of its patents. On February 23, 2007, a San Diego jury awarded Alcatel-Lucent a record-breaking US$1.52 billion in damages. The judge, however, reversed the jury verdict and ruled for Microsoft, and this ruling was upheld by the court of appeals. The appeals court actually ruled that Fraunhofer was a co-owner of one patent claimed to be owned by Alcatel-Lucent, due to work by James D. Johnston while Dr. Brandenburg worked at AT&T.
In short, with Thomson, Fraunhofer IIS, Sisvel (and its U.S. subsidiary Audio MPEG), Texas MP3 Technologies, and Alcatel-Lucent all claiming legal control of relevant MP3 patents related to decoders, the legal status of MP3 remains unclear in countries where those patents are valid.
Microsoft Windows Media Format Runtime in Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows Server contained a coding error that permitted "remote code execution if a user opened a specially crafted media file". Such a file would allow the attacker to "then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights", if the account on which the file was played had administrator privileges. The problem was addressed in a critical update issued on September 8, 2009 (KB968816).
Main article: List of codecs
Many other lossy and lossless audio codecs exist. Among these, mp3PRO, AAC, and MP2 are all members of the same technological family as MP3 and depend on roughly similar psychoacoustic models. The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft owns many of the basic patents underlying these codecs as well, with others held by Dolby Labs, Sony, Thomson Consumer Electronics, and AT&T. In addition, there is also the open source file format Ogg Vorbis that has been available free of charge and without patent restrictions.
Audio compression (data)
Comparison of audio codecs
Digital audio player
LRC (file format)
DJ digital controller
The Beatles in 1964
Clockwise (from top left): John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr,
Years active1960 - 1970
Labels EMI, Parlophone, Capitol, Odeon, Apple, Vee-Jay, Polydor, Swan,
Associated actsThe Quarrymen, Plastic Ono Band
History of The Beatles
The Beatles in Hamburg
The Beatles at The Cavern Club
Beatlemania in the United Kingdom
The Beatles in the United States
The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960, who became
one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the
history of popular music. In their heyday, 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 folk
rock to psychedelic pop, often incorporating classical and other elements in
innovative ways. The nature of their enormous popularity, which first emerged as
the "Beatlemania" fad, transformed as their songwriting grew in sophistication.
The group came to be perceived as the embodiment of progressive ideals, seeing
their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.
With an early five-piece line-up of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Stuart
Sutcliffe (bass) and Pete Best (drums), The Beatles built their reputation in
Liverpool and Hamburg clubs 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 music store owner Brian Epstein after he offered
to act as the group's manager, and with their musical potential enhanced by the
hands-on creativity of producer George Martin, The Beatles achieved UK
mainstream success 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
breakup in 1970. Each then found success in an independent musical career.
McCartney and Starr remain active; Lennon was shot and killed in 1980, and
Harrison died of cancer in 2001.
During their studio years, The Beatles 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. Nearly four decades after their
breakup, The Beatles' music continues to be popular. The Beatles have had more
number one albums on the UK charts, and held down the top spot longer, than any
other musical act. According to RIAA certifications, they have sold more
albums in the US than any other artist. In 2008, Billboard magazine released
a list of the all-time top-selling Hot 100 artists to celebrate the US singles
chart's fiftieth anniversary, with The Beatles at number one. They have been
honoured with 7 Grammy Awards, and they have received 15 Ivor Novello Awards
from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. The Beatles
were collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of the 20th century's
100 most important and influential people.
Formation and early years (1957 - 1962)
Aged sixteen, singer and guitarist John Lennon formed the skiffle group The
Quarrymen with some Liverpool schoolfriends in March 1957. Fifteen-year-old
Paul McCartney joined as a guitarist after he and Lennon met that July. When
McCartney in turn invited George Harrison to watch the group the following
February, the fourteen-year-old joined as lead guitarist. By 1960,
Lennon's schoolfriends had left the group, he had begun studies at the Liverpool
College of Art and the three guitarists were playing rock and roll whenever they
could get a drummer. Joining on bass in January, Lennon's fellow student
Stuart Sutcliffe suggested changing the band name to "The Beetles" as a tribute
to Buddy Holly and The Crickets, and they became "The Beatals" for the first few
months of the year. After trying other names including "Johnny and the
Moondogs", "Long John and The Beetles" and "The Silver Beatles", the band
finally became "The Beatles" in August. The lack of a permanent drummer
posed a problem when the group's unofficial manager, Allan Williams, arranged a
resident band booking for them in Hamburg, Germany. Before the end of August
they auditioned and hired drummer Pete Best, and the five-piece band left
for Hamburg four days later, contracted to fairground showman Bruno Koschmider
for a 48-night residency. "Hamburg in those days did not have rock'n'roll music
clubs. It had strip clubs", says biographer Philip Norman.
Bruno had the idea of bringing in rock groups to play in various clubs. They
had this formula. It was a huge nonstop show, hour after hour, with a lot of
people lurching in and the other lot lurching out. And the bands would play
all the time to catch the passing traffic. In an American red-light district,
they would call it nonstop striptease.
Many of the bands that played in Hamburg were from Liverpool...It was an
accident. Bruno went to London to look for bands. But he happened to meet a
Liverpool entrepreneur in Soho, who was down in London by pure chance. And he
arranged to send some bands over.
Harrison, only seventeen in August 1960, obtained permission to stay in Hamburg
by lying to the German authorities about his age. Initially placing The
Beatles at the Indra Club, Koschmider moved them to the Kaiserkeller in October
after the Indra was closed down due to noise complaints. When they violated
their contract by performing at the rival Top Ten Club, Koschmider reported the
underage Harrison to the authorities, leading to his deportation in
November. McCartney and Best were arrested for arson a week later when
they set fire to a condom hung on a nail in their room; they too were
deported. Lennon returned to Liverpool in mid-December, while Sutcliffe
remained in Hamburg with his new German fiancee, Astrid Kirchherr, for another
month. Kirchherr took the first professional photos of the group and cut
Sutcliffe's hair in the German "exi" (existentialist) style of the time, a look
later adopted by the other Beatles.
During the next two years, the group were resident for further periods in
Hamburg. They used Preludin both recreationally and to maintain their energy
through all-night performances. Sutcliffe decided to leave the band in early
1961 and resume his art studies in Germany, so McCartney took up
bass. German producer Bert Kaempfert contracted what was now a
four-piece to act as Tony Sheridan's backing band on a series of recordings.
Credited to "Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers", the single "My Bonnie",
recorded in June and released four months later, reached number 32 in the
Musikmarkt chart. The Beatles were also becoming more popular back home
in Liverpool. During one of the band's frequent appearances there at The Cavern
Club, they encountered Brian Epstein, a local record store owner and music
columnist. When the band appointed Epstein manager in January 1962,
Kaempfert agreed to release them from the German record contract. After Decca
Records rejected the band with the comment "Guitar groups are on the way out,
Mr. Epstein", producer George Martin signed the group to EMI's Parlophone
label. News of a tragedy greeted them on their return to Hamburg in
April. Meeting them at the airport, a stricken Kirchherr told them of
Sutcliffe's death from a brain haemorrhage.
Abbey Road Studios main entranceThe band had its first recording session under
Martin's direction at Abbey Road Studios in London in June 1962. Martin
complained to Epstein about Best's drumming and suggested the band use a session
drummer in the studio. Instead, Best was replaced by Ringo Starr. Starr, who
left Rory Storm and the Hurricanes to join The Beatles, had already performed
with them occasionally when Best was ill. Martin still hired session drummer
Andy White for one session, and White played on "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I
Love You". Released in October, "Love Me Do" was a top twenty UK hit, peaking at
number seventeen on the chart. After a November studio session that yielded
what would be their second single, "Please Please Me", they made their TV debut
with a live performance on the regional news programme People and Places.
The band concluded their last Hamburg stint in December 1962. By now it had
become the pattern that all four members contributed vocals, although Starr's
restricted range meant he sang lead only rarely. Lennon and McCartney had
established a songwriting partnership; as the band's success grew, their
celebrated collaboration limited Harrison's opportunities as lead vocalist.
Epstein, sensing The Beatles' commercial potential, encouraged the group to
adopt a professional attitude to performing. Lennon recalled the manager saying,
"Look, if you really want to get in these bigger places, you're going to have to
changeâ€”stop eating on stage, stop swearing, stop smoking." Lennon said, "We
used to dress how we liked, on and off stage. He'd tell us that jeans were not
particularly smart and could we possibly manage to wear proper trousers, but he
didn't want us suddenly looking square. He'd let us have our own sense of
individuality ... it was a choice of making it or still eating chicken on
Beatlemania and touring years (1963 - 1966)
UK popularity, Please Please Me and With The Beatles
McCartney, Harrison, Swedish pop singer Lill-Babs and Lennon on the set of the
Swedish television show Drop-In, 30 October 1963In the wake of the moderate
success of "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me" met with a more emphatic reception,
reaching number two in the UK singles chart after its January 1963 release.
Martin originally intended to record the band's debut LP live at The Cavern
Club. Finding it had "the acoustic ambience of an oil tank", he elected to
create a "live" album in one session at Abbey Road Studios. Ten songs were
recorded for Please Please Me, accompanied on the album by the four tracks
already released on the two singles. Recalling how the band "rushed to
deliver a debut album, bashing out Please Please Me in a day", an Allmusic
reviewer comments, "Decades after its release, the album still sounds fresh,
precisely because of its intense origins." Lennon said little thought went
into composition at the time; he and McCartney were "just writing songs Ã la
Everly Brothers, Ã la Buddy Holly, pop songs with no more thought of them than
thatâ€”to create a sound. And the words were almost irrelevant."
Released in March 1963, the album reached number one on the British chart. This
began a run during which eleven of The Beatles' twelve studio albums released in
the United Kingdom through 1970 hit number one. The band's third single, "From
Me to You", came out in April and was also a chart-topping hit. It began an
almost unbroken run of seventeen British number one singles for the band,
including all but one of those released over the next six years. On its release
in August, the band's fourth single, "She Loves You", achieved the fastest sales
of any record in the UK up to that time, selling three-quarters of a million
copies in under four weeks. It became their first single to sell a million
copies, and remained the biggest-selling record in the UK until 1978 when it was
topped by "Mull of Kintyre", performed by McCartney and his post-Beatles band
Wings. The popularity of the Beatles' music brought with it increasing press
attention. They responded with a cheeky, irreverent attitude that defied what
was expected of pop musicians and inspired even more interest.
The Beatles' drop-T logo The Beatles' iconic "drop-T" logo, based on an impromptu
sketch by instrument retailer and designer Ivor Arbiter, also made its debut in
1963. The logo was first used on the front of Starr's bass drum, which Epstein
and Starr purchased from Arbiter's London shop. The band toured the UK
three times in the first half of the year: a four-week tour that began in
February preceded three-week tours in March and Mayâ€“June. As their popularity
spread, a frenzied adulation of the group took hold, dubbed "Beatlemania".
Although not billed as tour leaders, they overshadowed other acts including
Tommy Roe, Chris Montez and Roy Orbison, US artists who had established great
popularity in the UK. Performances everywhere, both on tour and at many
one-off shows across the UK, were greeted with riotous enthusiasm by screaming
fans. Police found it necessary to use high-pressure water hoses to control
the crowds, and there were debates in Parliament concerning the thousands of
police officers putting themselves at risk to protect the group. In late
October, a five-day tour of Sweden saw the band venture abroad for the first
time since the Hamburg chapter. Returning to the UK, they were greeted at
Heathrow Airport in heavy rain by thousands of fans in "a scene similar to a
shark-feeding frenzy", attended by fifty journalists and photographers and a BBC
Television camera crew. The next day, The Beatles began yet another UK tour,
scheduled for six weeks. By now, they were indisputably the headliners.
Please Please Me was still topping the album chart. It maintained the position
for thirty weeks, only to be displaced by With The Beatles which itself held the
top spot for twenty-one weeks. Making much greater use of studio production
techniques than its "live" predecessor, the album was recorded between July and
October. With The Beatles is described by Allmusic as "a sequel of the highest
orderâ€”one that betters the original by developing its own tone and adding
depth." In a reversal of what had until then been standard practice, the
album was released in late November ahead of the impending single "I Want to
Hold Your Hand", with the song excluded in order to maximize the single's
sales. With The Beatles caught the attention of Times music critic William
Mann, who went as far as to suggest that Lennon and McCartney were "the
outstanding English composers of 1963". The newspaper published a series of
articles in which Mann offered detailed analyses of The Beatles' music, lending
it respectability. With The Beatles became the second album in UK chart
history to sell a million copies, a figure previously reached only by the 1958
South Pacific soundtrack.
The British Invasion
Beatles releases in the United States were initially delayed for nearly a year
when Capitol Records, EMI's American subsidiary, declined to issue either
"Please Please Me" or "From Me to You". Negotiations with independent US
labels led to the release of some singles, but issues with royalties and
derision of The Beatles' "moptop" hairstyle posed further obstacles.
Once Capitol did start to issue the material, rather than releasing the LPs in
their original configuration, they compiled distinct US albums from an
assortment of the band's recordings, and issued songs of their own choice as
singles. American chart success came suddenly after a news broadcast about
British Beatlemania triggered great demand, leading Capitol to rush-release "I
Want to Hold Your Hand" in December 1963. The band's US debut was already
scheduled to take place a few weeks later.
The Beatles arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport, 7 February 1964When
The Beatles left the United Kingdom on 7 February 1964, an estimated four
thousand fans gathered at Heathrow, waving and screaming as the aircraft took
off. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" had sold 2.6 million copies in the US over
the previous two weeks, but the group were still nervous about how they would be
received. At New York's John F. Kennedy Airport they were greeted by another
vociferous crowd, estimated at about three thousand people. They gave their
first live US television performance two days later on The Ed Sullivan Show,
watched by approximately 74 million viewersâ€”over 40 percent of the American
population. The next morning one newspaper wrote that The Beatles "could
not carry a tune across the Atlantic", but a day later their first US
concert saw Beatlemania erupt at Washington Coliseum. Back in New York the
following day, they met with another strong reception at Carnegie Hall. The band
appeared on the weekly Ed Sullivan Show a second time, before returning to the
UK on 22 February. During the week of 4 April, The Beatles held twelve
positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, including the top five.
That same week, a third American LP joined the two already in circulation; all
three reached the first or second spot on the US album chart. The band's
popularity generated unprecedented interest in British music, and a number of
other UK acts subsequently made their own American debuts, successfully touring
over the next three years in what was termed the British Invasion. The
Beatles' hairstyle, unusually long for the era and still mocked by many adults,
was widely adopted and became an emblem of the burgeoning youth culture.
The Beatles toured internationally in June. Staging thirty-two concerts over
nineteen days in Denmark, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, they were
ardently received at every venue. Starr was ill for the first half of
the tour, and Jimmy Nicol sat in on drums. In August they returned to the US,
with a thirty-concert tour of twenty-three cities. Generating intense
interest once again, the month-long tour attracted between ten and twenty
thousand fans to each thirty-minute performance in cities from San Francisco to
New York. However, their music could hardly be heard. On-stage amplification
at the time was modest compared to modern-day equipment, and the band's small
Vox amplifiers struggled to compete with the volume of sound generated by
screaming fans. Forced to accept that neither they nor their audiences could
hear the details of their performance, the band grew increasingly bored with the
routine of concert touring.
At the end of the August tour they were introduced to Bob Dylan in New York at
the instigation of journalist Al Aronowitz. Visiting the band in their hotel
suite, Dylan introduced them to cannabis. Music historian Jonathan Gould
points out the musical and cultural significance of this meeting, before which
the musicians' respective fanbases were "perceived as inhabiting two separate
subcultural worlds": Dylan's core audience of "college kids with artistic or
intellectual leanings, a dawning political and social idealism, and a mildly
bohemian style" contrasted with The Beatles' core audience of "veritable
'teenyboppers'kids in high school or grade school whose lives were totally
wrapped up in the commercialized popular culture of television, radio, pop
records, fan magazines, and teen fashion. They were seen as idolaters, not
idealists." Within six months of the meeting, "Lennon would be making records on
which he openly imitated Dylan's nasal drone, brittle strum, and introspective
vocal persona." Within a year, Dylan would "proceed, with the help of a
five-piece group and a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, to shake the monkey
of folk authenticity permanently off his back"; "the distinction between the
folk and rock audiences would have nearly evaporated"; and The Beatles' audience
would be "showing signs of growing up".
A Hard Day's Night, Beatles for Sale, Help! and Rubber Soul
Capitol Records' lack of interest throughout 1963 had not gone unnoticed, and a
competitor, United Artists Records, encouraged United Artists' film division to
offer The Beatles a motion picture contract in the hope that it would lead to a
record deal. Directed by Richard Lester, A Hard Day's Night had the group's
involvement for six weeks in Marchâ€“April 1964 as they played themselves in a
boisterous mock-documentary of the Beatles phenomenon. The film premiered in
London and New York in July and August, respectively, and was an international
success. The Observer's reviewer, Penelope Gilliatt, noted that "the way the
Beatles go on is just there, and that's it. In an age that is clogged with
self-explanation this makes them very welcome. It also makes them naturally
comic." According to Allmusic, the accompanying soundtrack album, A Hard
Day's Night, saw The Beatles "truly coming into their own as a band. All of the
disparate influences on their first two albums had coalesced into a bright,
joyous, original sound, filled with ringing guitars." That "ringing guitar"
sound was primarily the product of Harrison's 12-string electric Rickenbacker, a
prototype given him by the manufacturer, which made its debut on the record.
Harrison's ringing 12-string inspired Roger McGuinn, who obtained his own
Rickenbacker and used it to craft the trademark sound of The Byrds.
Beatles for Sale, the band's fourth studio album, saw the emergence of a serious
conflict between commercialism and creativity. Recorded between August and
October 1964, the album had been intended to continue the format established by
A Hard Day's Night which, unlike the band's first two LPs, had contained no
cover versions. Acknowledging the challenge posed by constant international
touring to the band's songwriting efforts, Lennon admitted, "Material's becoming
a hell of a problem". Six covers were eventually included on the album.
Released in early December, its eight self-penned numbers nevertheless stood
out, demonstrating the growing maturity of the material produced by the
In April 1965, Lennon and Harrison's dentist spiked their coffee with LSD while
they were his guests for dinner. The two later deliberately experimented
with the drug, joined by Starr on one occasion. McCartney was reluctant to
try it, but eventually did so in 1966, and later became the first Beatle to
discuss it publicly. Controversy erupted in June 1965 when Queen Elizabeth
II appointed the four Beatles Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
after Prime Minister Harold Wilson nominated them for the award. In
protest”the honour was at that time primarily bestowed upon military veterans
and civic leaders”some conservative MBE recipients returned their own
The US trailer for Help! with (from the rear) Harrison, McCartney, Lennon and
(largely obscured) Starr The Beatles' second film, Help!, again directed by
Lester, was released in July. Described as "mainly a relentless spoof of
Bond", it inspired a mixed response among both reviewers and the band.
McCartney said, "Help! was great but it wasn't our film ”we were sort of guest
stars. It was fun, but basically, as an idea for a film, it was a bit
wrong." The soundtrack was dominated by Lennon, who was lead singer and
songwriter on the majority of songs, including the two singles performed on it:
"Help!" and "Ticket to Ride". The accompanying album, the group's fifth
studio LP, again contained a mix of original material and covers. Help! saw the
band making increased use of vocal overdubs and incorporating classical
instruments into their arrangements, notably the string quartet on the pop
ballad "Yesterday". Composed by McCartney, "Yesterday" would inspire the
most recorded cover versions of any song ever written. The LP's closing
track, "Dizzy Miss Lizzy", became the last cover the band would include on an
album. With the exception of Let It Be's brief rendition of the traditional
Liverpool folk song "Maggie Mae", all of their subsequent albums would contain
only self-penned material.
On 15 August, The Beatles' third US visit opened with the first major stadium
concert in history when they performed before a crowd of 55,600 at Shea Stadium,
New York. A further nine successful concerts followed in other US cities.
Towards the end of the tour the group were introduced to Elvis Presley, a
foundational musical influence on the band, who invited them to his home.
Presley and the band set up guitars in his living room, jammed together,
discussed the music business and exchanged anecdotes. September saw the
launch of an American Saturday morning cartoon series featuring the Beatles and
echoing A Hard Day's Night's slapstick antics. Original episodes appeared for
the next two years, and reruns aired through 1969.
Rubber Soul, released in early December, was hailed by critics as another major
step forward in the maturity and complexity of the band's music. Biographer
and music critic Ian MacDonald observes that with Rubber Soul, The Beatles
"recovered the sense of direction that had begun to elude them during the later
stages of work on Beatles for Sale". After Help!'s foray into the world of
classical music with flutes and strings, Rubber Soul's introduction of a sitar
on "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" marked a further progression outside
the traditional boundaries of rock music. The album also saw Lennon and
McCartney's collaborative songwriting increasingly supplemented by distinct
compositions from each (though they continued to share official credit). Their
thematic reach was expanding as well, embracing more complex aspects of romance
and other concerns. As their lyrics grew more artful, fans began to study
them for deeper meaning. There was speculation that "Norwegian Wood" might refer
to cannabis. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine's "The 500 Greatest Albums of
All Time" ranked Rubber Soul at number five, and the album is today
described by Allmusic as "one of the classic folk rock records". According to
both Lennon and McCartney, however, it was "just another album". Recording
engineer Norman Smith saw clear signs of growing conflict within the group
during the Rubber Soul sessions; Smith later said that "the clash between John
and Paul was becoming obvious" and "as far as Paul was concerned, George could
do no right."
Controversy, studio years and breakup (1966-1970)
Events leading up to final tour
In June 1966, Yesterday and Today ”one of the compilation albums created by
Capitol Records for the US market” caused an uproar with its cover, which
portrayed the smiling Beatles dressed in butcher's overalls, accompanied by raw
meat and mutilated plastic dolls. A popular, though apocryphal, story was that
this was meant as a response to the way Capitol had "butchered" their
albums. Thousands of copies of the album had a new cover pasted over the
original; an uncensored copy fetched $10,500 at a December 2005 auction.
During a tour of the Philippines the month after the Yesterday and Today furore,
The Beatles unintentionally snubbed the nation's first lady, Imelda Marcos, who
had expected the group to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential
Palace. When presented with the invitation, Epstein politely declined on
behalf of the group, as it had never been his policy to accept such official
invitations. The group soon found that the Marcos regime was unaccustomed
to taking "no" for an answer. The resulting riots endangered the group and they
escaped the country with difficulty.
Almost as soon as they returned home, they faced a fierce backlash from US
religious and social conservatives (as well as the Ku Klux Klan) over a comment
Lennon had made in a March interview with British reporter Maureen Cleave.
Lennon had offered his opinion that Christianity was dying and that The Beatles
were "more popular than Jesus now". The comment went virtually
unnoticed in England, but when US teenage fan magazine Datebook printed it five
months later” on the eve of the group's final US tour ”it created a controversy in
the American South's "Bible belt". South Africa also banned airplay of
Beatles records, a prohibition that would last until 1971. Epstein publicly
criticised Datebook, saying they had taken Lennon's words out of context,
and at a press conference Lennon pointed out, "If I'd said television was more
popular than Jesus, I might have got away with it." Lennon said he had only been
referring to how other people saw The Beatles, but "if you want me to apologise,
if that will make you happy, then okay, I'm sorry."
Revolver and Sgt. Pepper
Rubber Soul had marked a major step forward; Revolver, released in August 1966 a
week before the band's final tour, marked another. Pitchfork identifies it
as "the sound of a band growing into supreme confidence" and "redefining what
was expected from popular music." Described by Gould as "woven with motifs
of circularity, reversal, and inversion", Revolver featured sophisticated
songwriting and a greatly expanded repertoire of musical styles ranging from
innovative classical string arrangements to psychedelic rock. Abandoning
the group photograph that had become the norm, its cover”designed by Klaus
Voorman, a friend of the band since their Hamburg days”was a "stark, arty,
black-and-white collage that caricatured the Beatles in a pen-and-ink style
beholden to Aubrey Beardsley." The album was preceded by the single
"Paperback Writer", backed by "Rain". The Beatles shot short promo films for
both songs, described as "among the first true music videos", which aired
on Top of the Pops and The Ed Sullivan Show.
Among Revolver's most experimental tracks was "Tomorrow Never Knows", for whose
lyrics Lennon drew from Timothy Leary's The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual
Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The song's creation involved eight tape
decks distributed about the recording studio building, each manned by an
engineer or band member, who randomly varied the movement of a tape loop while
Martin created a composite recording by sampling the incoming data.
McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" made prominent use of a string octet; it has been
described as "a true hybrid, conforming to no recognizable style or genre of
song." Harrison was developing as a songwriter, and three of his
compositions earned a place on the record. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked
Revolver as the third greatest album of all time. On the US tour that
followed, The Beatles played none of its songs. The final show, at
Candlestick Park, San Francisco, on 29 August, was their last commercial
concert. It marked the end of a four-year period dominated by touring that
included nearly 60 US concert appearances and over 1400 internationally.
Freed from the burden of touring, the band's creativity and desire to experiment
grew as they recorded Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, beginning in
December 1966. Emerick recalled, "The Beatles insisted that everything on Sgt.
Pepper had to be different. We had microphones right down in the bells of brass
instruments and headphones turned into microphones attached to violins. We used
giant primitive oscillators to vary the speed of instruments and vocals and we
had tapes chopped to pieces and stuck together upside down and the wrong way
round." Parts of "A Day in the Life" required a forty-piece orchestra.
Nearly seven hundred hours of studio time were devoted to the sessions. They
first yielded the non-album double A-side single "Strawberry Fields
Forever"/"Penny Lane" in February 1967; Sgt. Pepper followed in June. The
musical complexity of the records, created using only four-track recording
technology, astounded contemporary artists seeking to outdo The Beatles.
For Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson, in the midst of a personal crisis and
struggling to complete the ambitious Smile, hearing "Strawberry Fields" was a
crushing blow and he soon abandoned all attempts to compete. Sgt.
Pepper met with great critical acclaim. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it number
one among its "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" and it is widely regarded
as a masterpiece. Jonathan Gould describes it as
a rich, sustained, and overflowing work of collaborative genius whose bold
ambition and startling originality dramatically enlarged the possibilities and
raised the expectations of what the experience of listening to popular music
on record could be. On the basis of this perception, Sgt. Pepper became the
catalyst for an explosion of mass enthusiasm for album-formatted rock that
would revolutionize both the aesthetics and the economics of the record
business in ways that far outstripped the earlier pop explosions triggered by
the Elvis phenomenon of 1956 and the Beatlemania phenomenon of 1963.
Front cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, "probably the most famous
album cover in popular musical history" Sgt. Pepper was the first major pop
album to include its complete lyrics, which were printed on the back cover.
Those lyrics were the subject of intense analysis; fans speculated, for
instance, that the "celebrated Mr K." in "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"
might in fact be the surrealist fiction writer Franz Kafka. The American
literary critic and professor of English Richard Poirier wrote an essay,
"Learning from the Beatles", in which he observed that his students were
"listening to the group's music with a degree of engagement that he, as a
teacher of literature, could only envy." Poirier identified what he termed
the "mixed allusiveness" of the material: "It's unwise ever to assume that
they're doing only one thing or expressing themselves in only one style ... one
kind of feeling about a subject isn't enough ... any single induced feeling must
often exist within the context of seemingly contradictory alternatives."
McCartney said at the time, "We write songs. We know what we mean by them. But
in a week someone else says something about it, and you can't deny it ... You
put your own meaning at your own level to our songs". Sgt. Pepper's
remarkably elaborate album cover also occasioned great interest and deep
study. The heavy moustaches worn by the band swiftly became a hallmark of
hippie style. Cultural historian Jonathan Harris describes their "brightly
coloured parodies of military uniforms" as a knowingly "anti-authoritarian and
On 25 June, the band performed their newest single, "All You Need Is Love", to
TV viewers worldwide on Our World, the first live global television link.
Appearing amid the Summer of Love, the song was adopted as a flower power
anthem. Two months later the group suffered a loss that threw their
career into turmoil. After being introduced to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, they
travelled to Bangor for his Transcendental Meditation retreat. During the
retreat, Epstein's assistant Peter Brown called to tell them Epstein had
died. The coroner ruled Epstein's death an accidental overdose, but it was
widely rumoured that a suicide note had been discovered among his
possessions. Epstein had been in a fragile emotional state, stressed by
both personal issues and the state of his working relationship with The
Beatles. He worried that the band might not renew his management contract,
due to expire in October, based on discontent with his supervision of business
matters. There were particular concerns over Seltaeb, the company that handled
Beatles merchandising rights in the United States. Epstein's death left the
group disoriented and fearful about the future. Lennon said later, "I didn't
have any misconceptions about our ability to do anything other than play music
and I was scared." He also looked back on Epstein's death as marking the
beginning of the end for the group: "I knew that we were in trouble then ... I
thought, We've fuckin' had it now."
Magical Mystery Tour, White Album and Yellow Submarine
Magical Mystery Tour, the soundtrack to a forthcoming Beatles television film,
appeared as a six-track double extended play disc (EP) in early December
1967. In the United States, the six songs were issued on an identically
titled LP that also included tracks from the band's recent singles. Allmusic
says of the US Magical Mystery Tour, "The psychedelic sound is very much in the
vein of Sgt. Pepper, and even spacier in parts (especially the sound collages of
'I Am the Walrus')", and calls its five songs culled from the band's 1967
singles "huge, glorious, and innovative". It set a new US record in its
first three weeks for highest initial sales of any Capitol LP, and it is the one
Capitol compilation later to be adopted in the band's official canon of studio
albums. Aired on Boxing Day, the Magical Mystery Tour film, largely
directed by McCartney, brought The Beatles their first major negative UK press.
It was dismissed as "blatant rubbish" by the Daily Express, which described it
as "a great deal of raw footage showing a group of people getting on, getting
off, and riding on a bus". The Daily Mail called it "a colossal conceit",
while the Guardian labelled it "a kind of fantasy morality play about the
grossness and warmth and stupidity of the audience". It fared so dismally
that it was withheld from the US at the time. In January, the group filmed
a cameo for the animated movie Yellow Submarine, a fantasia featuring a cartoon
version of The Beatles. The group's only other involvement with the film was the
contribution of several unreleased studio recordings. Released in June 1968, it
was well received for its innovative visual style and humour in addition to its
music. It would be seven months, however, before the film's soundtrack album
McCartney, Starr, Harrison and Lennon in the trailer for Yellow Submarine. Their
cameo was filmed 25 January 1968, three weeks before they left for India.In
the interim came The Beatles, a double LP popularly known as the White Album for
its virtually featureless cover. Creative inspiration for the album came from an
unexpected quarter when, with Epstein's guiding presence gone, the group turned
to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as their guru. At his ashram in Rishikesh, India,
a three-month "Guide Course" became one of their most creative periods, yielding
a large number of songs including most of the thirty recorded for the
album. Starr left after ten days, likening it to Butlins, and McCartney
eventually grew bored with the procedure and departed a month later. For
Lennon and Harrison, creativity turned to questioning when Yanni Alexis Mardas,
the electronics technician dubbed Magic Alex, suggested that the Maharishi was
attempting to manipulate the group. After Mardas alleged that the Maharishi
had made sexual advances to women attendees, Lennon was persuaded and left
abruptly, taking the unconvinced Harrison and the remainder of the group's
entourage with him. In his anger Lennon wrote a pointed song called
"Maharishi", but later modified it to avoid a legal suit, resulting in "Sexy
Sadie". McCartney said, "We made a mistake. We thought there was more to
him than there was."
During recording sessions for the album, which stretched from late May to
mid-October 1968, relations among the band's members grew openly divisive. Starr
quit for a period, leaving McCartney to perform drums on several tracks.
Lennon's romantic preoccupation with avant-garde artist Yoko Ono contributed to
tension within the band and he lost interest in co-writing with McCartney.
Flouting the group's well-established understanding that they would not take
partners into the studio, Lennon insisted on bringing Ono, anyway disliked by
Harrison, to all of the sessions. Increasingly contemptuous of McCartney's
creative input, he began to identify the latter's compositions as "granny
music", dismissing "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" as "granny shit". Recalling the
White Album sessions, Lennon gave a curiously foreshortened summing-up of the
band's history from that point on, saying, "It's like if you took each track off
it and made it all mine and all Paul's... just me and a backing group, Paul and
a backing group, and I enjoyed it. We broke up then." McCartney also
recalled that the sessions marked the start of the breakup, saying, "Up to that
point, the world was a problem, but we weren't" which had always been "the best
thing about The Beatles". Issued in November, the White Album was the
band's first Apple Records album release. The new label was a subsidiary of
Apple Corps, formed by the group on their return from India, fulfilling a plan
of Epstein's to create a tax-effective business structure. The record
attracted more than two million advance orders, selling nearly four million
copies in the US in little over a month, and its tracks dominated the playlists
of US radio stations. Despite its popularity, it did not receive flattering
reviews at the time. According to Jonathan Gould,
The critical response... ranged from mixed to flat. In marked contrast to Sgt.
Pepper, which had helped to establish an entire genre of literate rock
criticism, the White Album inspired no critical writing of any note. Even the
most sympathetic reviewers... clearly didn't know what to make of this
shapeless outpouring of songs. Newsweek's Hubert Saal, citing the high
proportion of parodies, accused the group of getting their tongues caught in
General critical opinion eventually turned in favor of the White Album, and in
2003 Rolling Stone ranked it as the tenth greatest album of all time.
Pitchfork describes the album as "large and sprawling, overflowing with ideas
but also with indulgences, and filled with a hugely variable array of material
... its failings are as essential to its character as its triumphs."
Allmusic observes, "Clearly, the Beatles' two main songwriting forces were no
longer on the same page, but neither were George and Ringo"; yet "Lennon turns
in two of his best ballads", McCartney's songs are "stunning", Harrison is seen
to have become "a songwriter who deserved wider exposure" and Starr's
composition is "a delight".
By now the interest in Beatles lyrics was taking a serious turn. When Lennon's
song "Revolution" had been released as a single in August ahead of the White
Album, its messages seemed clear: "free your mind", and "count me out" of any
talk about destruction as a means to an end. In a year characterized by
student protests that stretched from Warsaw to Paris to Chicago, the response
from the radical left was scathing. However, the White Album version of the
song, "Revolution 1", added an extra word, "count me out ... in", implying a
change of heart since the single's release. The chronology was in fact
reversedâ€”the ambivalent album version was recorded firstâ€”but some felt that The
Beatles were now saying that political violence might indeed be
The Yellow Submarine LP finally appeared in January 1969. It contained only four
previously unreleased songs, along with the title track (already issued on
Revolver), "All You Need Is Love" (already issued as a single and on the US
Magical Mystery Tour LP) and seven instrumental pieces composed by Martin.
Because of the paucity of new Beatles music, Allmusic suggests the album might
be "inessential" but for Harrison's "It's All Too Much", "the jewel of the new
songs... resplendent in swirling Mellotron, larger-than-life percussion, and
tidal waves of feedback guitar... a virtuoso excursion into otherwise hazy
Abbey Road, Let It Be and breakup
Apple Corps building at 3 Savile Row, site of the Let It Be rooftop
concertAlthough Let It Be was the band's final album release, most of it was
recorded before Abbey Road. Initially titled Get Back, Let It Be originated from
an idea Martin attributes to McCartney: to prepare new material and "perform it
before a live audience for the very first time on record and on film. In other
words make a live album of new material, which no one had ever done
before." In the event, much of the album's content came from studio work,
many hours of which were captured on film by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg.
Martin said that rehearsals and recording for the project, which occupied much
of January 1969, were "not at all a happy ... experience. It was a time when
relations between the Beatles were at their lowest ebb." Aggravated by both
McCartney and Lennon, Harrison walked out for a week. He returned with
keyboardist Billy Preston, who participated in the last ten days of sessions and
was credited on the "Get Back" single”the only other musician to receive such
acknowledgment on an official Beatles recording. The band members had reached an
impasse on a concert location, rejecting among several concepts a boat at sea,
the Tunisian desert and the Colosseum. Ultimately, the final live performance by
The Beatles, accompanied by Preston, was filmed on the rooftop of the Apple
Corps building at 3 Savile Row, London, on 30 January 1969.
Engineer Glyn Johns worked for months assembling various iterations of a Get
Back album, while the band turned to other concerns. Conflict arose regarding
the appointment of a financial adviser, the need for which had become evident
without Epstein to manage business affairs. Lennon favoured Allen Klein, who had
negotiated contracts for The Rolling Stones and other UK bands during the
British Invasion. McCartney's choice was John Eastman, brother of Linda Eastman,
whom McCartney married on 12 March (eight days before Lennon and Ono wed).
Agreement could not be reached, so both were appointed, but further conflict
ensued and financial opportunities were lost.
Martin was surprised when McCartney contacted him and asked him to produce
another album, as the Get Back sessions had been "a miserable experience" and he
had "thought it was the end of the road for all of us... they were becoming
unpleasant peopleâ€”to themselves as well as to other people." Recording
sessions for Abbey Road began in late February. Lennon rejected Martin's
proposed format of "a continuously moving piece of music", and wanted his own
and McCartney's songs to occupy separate sides of the album. The eventual
format, with individually composed songs on the first side and the second
largely comprising a medley, was McCartney's suggested compromise. On 4
July, while work on the album was in progress, the first solo single by a member
of The Beatles appeared: Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance", credited to the Plastic
Ono Band. The completion of the Abbey Road track "I Want You (She's So Heavy)"
on 20 August was the last time all four Beatles were together in the same
studio. Lennon announced his departure to the rest of the group on 20 September,
but agreed that no public announcement would be made until a number of legal
matters were resolved.
Released six days after Lennon's declaration, Abbey Road sold four million
copies within two months and topped the UK chart for eleven weeks. Its
second track, the ballad "Something", was also issued as a singleâ€”the first and
only song by Harrison to appear as a Beatles A side. Abbey Road received
mixed reviews, although the medley met with general acclaim. Allmusic
considers it "a fitting swan song for the group" containing "some of the
greatest harmonies to be heard on any rock record". MacDonald calls it
"erratic and often hollow": "Had it not been for McCartney's input as designer
of the Long Medley... Abbey Road would lack the semblance of unity and coherence
that makes it appear better than it is." Martin singled it out as his
personal favourite of all the band's albums; Lennon said it was "competent" but
had "no life in it", calling "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" "more of Paul's granny
music". Recording engineer Geoff Emerick noted that the replacement of
the studio's valve mixing console with a transistorised one produced a less
punchy sound, leaving the group frustrated at the thinner tone and lack of
For the still uncompleted Get Back album, the final new Beatles song, Harrison's
"I Me Mine", was recorded on 3 January 1970. Lennon, in Denmark at the time, did
not participate. To complete the album, now retitled Let It Be, in March
Klein gave the Get Back session tapes to American producer Phil Spector. Known
for his Wall of Sound approach, Spector had recently produced Lennon's solo
single "Instant Karma!" In addition to remixing the Get Back material, Spector
edited, spliced and overdubbed several of the recordings that had been intended
as "live". McCartney was unhappy with Spector's treatment of the material and
particularly dissatisfied with the producer's orchestration of "The Long and
Winding Road", which involved a choir and thirty-four-piece instrumental
ensemble. He unsuccessfully attempted to halt the release of Spector's
version. McCartney publicly announced his departure from the band on 10
April, a week before the release of his first, self-titled solo album.
Pre-release copies of McCartney's record included a press statement with a
self-written interview, explaining the end of his involvement with The Beatles
and his hopes for the future.
On 8 May, the Spector-produced Let It Be was released. The accompanying single,
"The Long and Winding Road", was the band's last; it was released in the United
States, but not Britain. The Let It Be documentary film followed later in the
month; at the Academy Award ceremony the next year, it would win the Oscar for
Best Original Song Score. The Sunday Telegraph called it "a very bad film
and a touching one ... about the breaking apart of this reassuring,
geometrically perfect, once apparently ageless family of siblings." More
than one reviewer commented that some of the Let It Be tracks sounded better in
the film than on the album. Observing that Let It Be is the "only Beatles
album to occasion negative, even hostile reviews", Allmusic describes it as "on
the whole underrated... McCartney in particular offers several gems: the
gospel-ish 'Let It Be', which has some of his best lyrics; 'Get Back', one of
his hardest rockers; and the melodic 'The Long and Winding Road', ruined by
Spector's heavy-handed overdubs." McCartney filed a suit for the
dissolution of The Beatles on 31 December 1970. Legal disputes continued
long after the band's breakup, and the dissolution of the partnership did not
take effect until 1975.
Post-breakup (since 1970)
See also: Collaborations between ex-Beatles
Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr all released solo albums in 1970. Further
albums followed from each, sometimes with the involvement of one or more of the
others. Starr's Ringo (1973) was the only album to include compositions and
performances by all four, albeit on separate songs. With Starr's collaboration,
Harrison staged The Concert for Bangladesh in New York City in August 1971 with
sitar maestro Ravi Shankar. Other than an unreleased jam session in 1974 (later
bootlegged as A Toot and a Snore in '74), Lennon and McCartney never recorded
Two double-LP sets of The Beatles' greatest hits compiled by Allen Klein,
1962â€“1966 and 1967 - 1970, were released in 1973, at first under the Apple Records
imprint. Commonly known as the Blue Album and Red Album respectively, each
earned a Multi-Platinum certification in the United States and a Platinum
certification in the United Kingdom. Between 1976 and 1982,
EMI/Capitol released a wave of Beatles compilation albums without input from the
band members. The only one to feature previously unreleased material was The
Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (1977). The first officially issued concert
recordings by the group, it contained selections from two shows The Beatles
played during their 1964 and 1965 US tours. After the international release of
the original British albums on CD in 1987, EMI deleted this latter group of
compilationsâ€”including the Hollywood Bowl recordâ€”from its catalogue.
The Beatles' music and enduring fame were commercially exploited in various
other ways, outside the band members' creative control. The Broadway musical
Beatlemania, a nostalgia revue featuring four musicians performing as The
Beatles, opened in early 1977 and proved popular, spinning off five separate
touring productions. The Beatles tried and failed to block the 1977
release of Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962. The independently
issued album compiled recordings made during the group's Hamburg residency,
taped on a basic recording machine with one microphone. Sgt. Pepper's
Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978), a musical film starring the Bee Gees and Peter
Frampton, was a commercial failure and "artistic fiasco". In 1979, the band
sued the producers of Beatlemania, settling for several million dollars in
damages. "People were just thinking The Beatles were like public domain", said
Harrison. "You can't just go around pilfering The Beatles' material."
Lennon was shot and killed on 8 December 1980, in New York City. In a personal
tribute Harrison wrote new lyrics for "All Those Years Ago", a song about his
time with The Beatles recorded the month before Lennon's death. With McCartney
and his wife, Linda, contributing backing vocals, and Starr on drums, the song
was overdubbed with the new lyrics and released as a single in May 1981.
McCartney's own tribute, "Here Today", appeared on his Tug of War album in April
The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, their
first year of eligibility. Harrison and Starr attended the ceremony along
with Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, and his two sons, Julian and Sean. McCartney
declined to attend, issuing a press release saying, "After 20 years, the Beatles
still have some business differences which I had hoped would have been settled
by now. Unfortunately, they haven't been, so I would feel like a complete
hypocrite waving and smiling with them at a fake reunion." The
following year, EMI/Capitol settled a decade-long lawsuit by The Beatles
concerning royalties, clearing the way to commercially package previously
Live at the BBC, the first official release of previously unissued Beatles
performances in 17 years, appeared in 1994. That same year McCartney, Harrison
and Starr reunited for the Anthology project, the culmination of work begun in
the late 1960s by Neil Aspinall. Initially The Beatles' road manager, and
then their personal assistant, Aspinall began to gather material for a
documentary after he became director of Apple Corps in 1968. The Long and
Winding Road, as Aspinall provisionally titled his Beatles history, was shelved,
but as executive producer for the Anthology project Aspinall was able to
complete his work. Documenting the history of The Beatles in the band's own
words, the project saw the release of many previously unissued Beatles
recordings; McCartney, Harrison and Starr also added new instrumental and vocal
parts to two demo songs recorded by Lennon in the late 1970s. During 1995
and 1996 the project yielded a five-part television series, an eight-volume
video set and three two-CD box sets. The two songs based on Lennon demos, "Free
as a Bird" and "Real Love", were each released as singles. The CD box sets
featured artwork by Klaus Voorman, creator of the Revolver album cover in 1966.
The releases were commercially successful and the television series was viewed
by an estimated 400 million people worldwide.
1, a compilation album of every Beatles number one British and American hit, was
released on 13 November 2000. It became the fastest-selling album of all time,
with 3.6 million sold in its first week and over 12 million in three weeks
worldwide. It was a number one chart hit in at least 28 countries, including the
UK and the US. As of April 2009, it had sold 31 million copies globally,
and is the highest selling album of the decade in the United States.
Harrison died from lung cancer on 29 November 2001. McCartney and
Starr were among the musicians who performed at the Concert for George,
organized by Eric Clapton and Harrison's widow, Olivia. The tribute event took
place at the Royal Albert Hall on the first anniversary of Harrison's death. As
well as songs he composed for The Beatles and his own solo career, the concert
included a celebration of Indian classical music, Harrison's interest in which
had influenced the band. In 2003, Let It Be, a reconceived version
of the album with McCartney supervising production, was released to mixed
reviews. It was a top ten hit in both the UK and the US.
As a soundtrack for Cirque du Soleil's Las Vegas Beatles stage revue Love,
George Martin and his son Giles remixed and blended 130 of the band's recordings
to create "a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very
condensed period". The show premiered in June 2006, and the Love album was
released that November. Attending the show's first anniversary, McCartney and
Starr were interviewed on Larry King Live along with Ono and Olivia
Harrison. Also in 2007, reports circulated that McCartney was hoping to
complete "Now and Then", a third Lennon demo worked on during the Anthology
sessions. It would be credited as a "Lennon/McCartney composition" with the
addition of new verses, and feature a new drum track by Starr and archival
recordings of Harrison playing guitar.
Lawyers for The Beatles sued in March 2008 to prevent the distribution of
unreleased recordings purportedly made during Starr's first performance with the
group at Hamburg's Star-Club in 1962. In November, McCartney discussed his
hope that "Carnival of Light", a 14-minute experimental recording The Beatles
made at Abbey Road Studios in 1967, would receive an official release.
McCartney headlined a charity concert on 4 April 2009 at Radio City Music Hall
for the David Lynch Foundation with guest performers including Starr. The
Beatles: Rock Band, a music video game in the style of the Rock Band series, was
released on 9 September 2009. On the same day, remastered versions of the
band's twelve original studio albums plus Magical Mystery Tour and the
compilation Past Masters were issued.
Musical style and evolution
See also: Lennon/McCartney
In Icons of Rock: An Encyclopedia of the Legends Who Changed Music Forever,
Scott Schinder and Andy Schwartz sum up The Beatles' musical evolution:
In their initial incarnation as cheerful, wisecracking moptops, the Fab Four
revolutionized the sound, style, and attitude of popular music and opened rock
and roll's doors to a tidal wave of British rock acts. Their initial impact
would have been enough to establish the Beatles as one of their era's most
influential cultural forces, but they didn't stop there. Although their
initial style was a highly original, irresistibly catchy synthesis of early
American rock and roll and R&B, the Beatles spent the rest of the 1960s
expanding rock's stylistic frontiers, consistently staking out new musical
territory on each release. The band's increasingly sophisticated
experimentation encompassed a variety of genres, including folk-rock, country,
psychedelia, and baroque pop, without sacrificing the effortless mass appeal
of their early work.
In The Beatles as Musicians, Walter Everett points out Lennon and McCartney's
contrasting motivations and approaches to composition: "McCartney may be said to
have constantly developedâ€”as a means to entertain ”a focused musical talent with
an ear for counterpoint and other aspects of craft in the demonstration of a
universally agreed-upon common language that he did much to enrich. Conversely,
Lennon's mature music is best appreciated as the daring product of a largely
unconscious, searching but undisciplined artistic sensibility."
Ian MacDonald, comparing the two composers in Revolution in the Head, describes
McCartney as "a natural melodist ”a creator of tunes capable of existing apart
from their harmony". His melody lines are characterised as primarily "vertical",
employing wide, consonant intervals which express his "extrovert energy and
optimism". Conversely, Lennon's "sedentary, ironic personality" is reflected in
a "horizontal" approach featuring minimal, dissonant intervals and repetitive
melodies which rely on their harmonic accompaniment for interest: "Basically a
realist, he instinctively kept his melodies close to the rhythms and cadences of
speech, colouring his lyrics with bluesy tone and harmony rather than creating
tunes that made striking shapes of their own." MacDonald praises Harrison's
lead guitar work for the role his "characterful lines and textural colourings"
play in supporting Lennon and McCartney's parts, and describes Starr as "the
father of modern pop/rock drumming... His faintly behind-the-beat style subtly
propelled The Beatles, his tunings brought the bottom end into recorded drum
sound, and his distinctly eccentric fills remain among the most memorable in pop
The band's earliest influences include Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck
Berry, whose songs they covered more often than any other artist's in
performances throughout their career. During their co-residency with Little
Richard at the Star Club in Hamburg from April to May 1962, he advised them on
the proper technique for performing his songs. Of Presley, Lennon said,
"Nothing really affected me until I heard Elvis. If there hadn't been Elvis,
there would not have been The Beatles". Other early influences include
Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison. The Beatles
continued to absorb influences long after their initial success, often finding
new musical and lyrical avenues by listening to their contemporaries, including
Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, The Byrds and The Beach Boys, whose 1966 album Pet
Sounds amazed and inspired McCartney. Martin stated, "Without Pet
Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn't have happened... Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet
A Hoffner "violin" bass guitar and Gretsch Country Gentleman guitar, models
played by McCartney and Harrison, respectively. The small Vox amplifier behind
them is the kind The Beatles used in concert.Originating as a skiffle
group, The Beatles soon embraced 1950s rock and roll. The band's
repertoire ultimately expanded to include a broad variety of pop music.
Reflecting the range of styles they explored, Lennon said of Beatles for Sale,
"You could call our new one a Beatles country-and-western LP", while
Allmusic credits the band, and Rubber Soul in particular, as a major influence
on the folk rock movement. Beginning with the use of a string quartet on
Help!'s "Yesterday", they also incorporated classical music elements. As
Jonathan Gould points out however, it was not "even remotely the first pop
record to make prominent use of stringsâ€”although it was the first Beatles
recording to do so ... it was rather that the more traditional sound of strings
allowed for a fresh appreciation of their talent as composers by listeners who
were otherwise allergic to the din of drums and electric guitars." The
group applied strings to various effect. Of "She's Leaving Home", for instance,
recorded for Sgt. Pepper, Gould writes that it "is cast in the mold of a
sentimental Victorian ballad, its words and music filled with the clichÃ©s of
The band's stylistic range expanded in another direction in 1966 with the B-side
to the "Paperback Writer" single: "Rain", described by Martin Strong in The
Great Rock Discography as "the first overtly psychedelic Beatles record".
Other psychedelic numbers followed, such as "Tomorrow Never Knows" (actually
recorded before "Rain"), "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Lucy in the Sky with
Diamonds", and "I Am the Walrus". The influence of Indian classical music was
evident in songs such as Harrison's "Love You To" and "Within You Without You",
whose intent, writes Gould, was "to replicate the raga form in miniature".
Summing up the band's musical evolution, music historian and pianist Michael
Campbell identifies innovation as its most striking feature. He writes, "'A Day
in the Life' encapsulates the art and achievement of the Beatles as well as any
single track can. It highlights key features of their music: the sound
imagination, the persistence of tuneful melody, and the close coordination
between words and music. It represents a new category of songâ€”more sophisticated
than pop, more accessible and down to earth than pop, and uniquely innovative.
There literally had never before been a song ”classical or vernacularâ€”that had
blended so many disparate elements so imaginatively." Music theorist Bruce
Ellis Benson agrees: "Composers may be able to conceive new rhythms and chord
progressions, but these are usually improvisations upon current rhythms and
chord progressions. The Beatles ... give us a wonderful example of how such
far-ranging influences as Celtic music, rhythm and blues, and country and
western could be put together in a new way."
In The Songwriting Secrets of The Beatles, Dominic Pedler also emphasizes the
importance of the way they combined genres: "One of the greatest of The Beatles'
achievements was the songwriting juggling act they managed for most of their
career. Far from moving sequentially from one genre to another (as is sometimes
conveniently suggested) the group maintained in parallel their mastery of the
traditional, catchy chart hit while simultaneously forging rock and dabbling
with a wide range of peripheral influences from Country to vaudeville. One of
these threads was their take on folk music, which would form such essential
groundwork for their later collisions with Indian music and philosophy." As
the personal relationships between the band members grew increasingly strained,
their individual influences became more apparent. The minimalistic cover artwork
for the White Album contrasted with the complexity and diversity of its music,
which encompassed Lennon's "Revolution 9", whose musique concrate approach was
influenced by Yoko Ono; Starr's country song "Don't Pass Me By"; Harrison's rock
ballad "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"; and the "proto-metal roar" of McCartney's
Contribution of George Martin
George Martin's close involvement with The Beatles in his role as producer made
him one of the leading candidates for the informal title of "fifth Beatle".
He brought his classical musical training to bear in various ways. The
string quartet accompaniment to "Yesterday" was his idea ”the band members were
initially unenthusiastic about the concept, but the result was a revelation to
them. Gould also describes how, "as Lennon and McCartney became
progressively more ambitious in their songwriting, Martin began to function as
an informal music teacher to them". This, coupled with his willingness to
experiment in response to their suggestionsâ€”such as adding "something baroque"
to a particular recording ”facilitated their creative development. As well
as scoring orchestral arrangements for Beatles recordings, Martin often
performed, playing instruments including piano, organ and brass.
Looking back on the making of Sgt. Pepper, Martin said, "'Sergeant Pepper'
itself didn't appear until halfway through making the album. It was Paul's song,
just an ordinary rock number and not particularly brilliant as songs go ... Paul
said, 'Why don't we make the album as though the Pepper band really existed, as
though Sergeant Pepper was making the record? We'll dub in effects and things.'
I loved the idea, and from that moment on it was as though Pepper had a life of
its own." Recalling how strongly the song contrasted with Lennon's compositions,
Martin spoke too of his own stabilising influence:
Compared with Paul's songs, all of which seemed to keep in some sort of touch
with reality, John's had a psychedelic, almost mystical quality ... John's
imagery is one of the best things about his workâ€”"tangerine trees", "marmalade
skies", "cellophane flowers" ... I always saw him as an aural Salvador DalÃ,
rather than some drug-ridden record artist. On the other hand, I would be
stupid to pretend that drugs didn't figure quite heavily in The Beatles' lives
at that time. At the same time they knew that I, in my schoolmasterly role,
didn't approve ... Not only was I not into it myself, I couldn't see the need
for it; and there's no doubt that, if I too had been on dope, Pepper would
never have been the album it was.
Harrison echoed Martin's description of his stabilising role: "I think we just
grew through those years together, him as the straight man and us as the
loonies; but he was always there for us to interpret our madnessâ€”we used to be
slightly avant-garde on certain days of the week, and he would be there as the
anchor person, to communicate that through the engineers and on to the
In the studio
See also: The Beatles' recording technology
The Beatles made innovative use of technology, treating the studio as an
instrument in itself. They urged experimentation by Martin and their recording
engineers, regularly demanding that something new be tried because "it might
just sound good". At the same time they constantly sought ways to put
chance occurrences to creative use. Accidental guitar feedback, a resonating
glass bottle, a tape loaded the wrong way round so that it played backwardsâ€”any
of these might be incorporated into their music. The Beatles' desire to
create new sounds on every new recording, combined with Martin's arranging
abilities and the studio expertise of EMI staff engineers such as Norman Smith,
Ken Townsend and Geoff Emerick, all contributed significantly to their records
from Rubber Soul and, especially, Revolver forward. Along with studio
tricks such as sound effects, unconventional microphone placements, tape loops,
double tracking and vari-speed recording, The Beatles augmented their songs with
instruments that were unconventional for rock music at the time. These included
string and brass ensembles as well as Indian instruments such as the sitar in
"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" and the swarmandel in "Strawberry Fields
Forever". They also used early electronic instruments such as the
Mellotron, with which McCartney supplied the flute voices on the "Strawberry
Fields" intro, and the clavioline, an electronic keyboard that created the
unusual oboe-like sound on "Baby, You're a Rich Man".
See also: The Beatles' influence on popular culture
The Beatles' influence on popular culture was ”and remains ”immense. Former
Rolling Stone associate editor Robert Greenfield said, "People are still looking
at Picasso ... at artists who broke through the constraints of their time period
to come up with something that was unique and original. In the form that they
worked in, in the form of popular music, no one will ever be more revolutionary,
more creative and more distinctive than The Beatles were." From the 1920s,
the United States had dominated popular entertainment culture throughout much of
the world, via Hollywood movies, jazz, the music of Broadway and Tin Pan Alley
and, later, the rock and roll that first emerged in Memphis, Tennessee.
Drawing on their rock and roll roots, The Beatles not only triggered the British
Invasion of the US, but themselves became a globally influential
The Beatles' musical innovations, as well as their commercial success, inspired
musicians worldwide. A large number of artists have acknowledged The
Beatles as an influence or have had chart successes with covers of Beatles
songs. On radio, the arrival of The Beatles marked the beginning of a new
era; program directors like Rick Sklar of New York's WABC went as far as
forbidding DJs from playing any "pre-Beatles" music. The Beatles redefined
the album as something more than just a few hits padded out with "filler".
They were primary innovators of the music video. The Shea Stadium date with
which they opened their 1965 North American tour attracted what was then the
largest audience in concert history and is seen as a "landmark event in the
growth of the rock crowd." Emulation of their clothing and especially their
hairstyles, which became a mark of rebellion, had a global impact on
More broadly, The Beatles changed the way people listened to popular music and
experienced its role in their lives. From what began as the Beatlemania
fad, the group grew to be perceived by their young fans across the
industrialized world as the representatives, even the embodiment, of ideals
associated with cultural transformation. As icons of the 1960s
counterculture, they became a catalyst for bohemianism and activism in various
social and political arenas, fueling such movements as women's liberation, gay
liberation and environmentalism.
Awards and recognition
See also: List of awards and nominations received by The Beatles
In 1965, Queen Elizabeth II appointed the four Beatles Members of the Order of
the British Empire (MBE). The Beatles film Let It Be (1970) won the 1971
Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. The Beatles have received 7
Grammy Awards and 15 Ivor Novello Awards. They have been awarded 6 Diamond
albums, as well as 24 Multi-Platinum albums, 39 Platinum albums and 45 Gold
albums in the United States, while in the UK they have 4
Multi-Platinum albums, 4 Platinum albums, 8 Gold albums and 1 Silver album.
The group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. In 2008,
Billboard magazine released a list of the all-time top-selling Hot 100 artists
to celebrate the US singles chart's fiftieth anniversaryâ€”The Beatles ranked
number one. In 2009, the Recording Industry Association of America certified
that The Beatles have sold more albums in the US than any other artist. The
Beatles have had more number one albums, 15, on the UK charts and held down the
top spot longer, 174 weeks, than any other musical act. The Beatles were
collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of the 20th century's 100
most influential people.
Main article: The Beatles discography
Further information: List of The Beatles songs, List of The Beatles' record
sales, and The Beatles bootlegs
Original UK LPs
Please Please Me (1963)
With The Beatles (1963)
A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Beatles for Sale (1964)
Rubber Soul (1965)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
The Beatles (aka White Album) (1968)
Yellow Submarine (1969)
Abbey Road (1969)
Let It Be (1970)
(For Magical Mystery Tour, see CD releases below.)
In 1987, EMI and Apple Corps released all of The Beatles' studio albums on CD.
With this release, the band's catalogue was standardized throughout the world,
establishing a canon composed of the twelve original studio albums as issued in
the United Kingdom (listed above), as well as the US album version of Magical
Mystery Tour (1967), which had been released as a shorter double EP in the
UK. All the remaining Beatles material from the singles and EPs which had
not been issued on the original studio albums was gathered on the two-volume
compilation Past Masters (1988).
The US album configurations from 1964 - 1965 were released as box sets in 2004 and
2006 (The Capitol Albums Volume 1 and Volume 2 respectively); these included
both stereo and mono versions based on the mixes that were prepared for vinyl at
the time of the music's original American release.
On 9 September 2009, The Beatles' entire back catalogue was reissued following
an extensive digital remastering process that lasted four years. Stereo
editions of all twelve original UK studio albums, along with Magical Mystery
Tour and Past Masters, were released on compact disc both individually and as a
box set. A second collection included all mono titles along with the original
stereo mixes of Help! and Rubber Soul. For a limited time, a brief video
documentary about the remastering was included on each CD. In Mojo, Danny
Eccleston wrote, "Ever since The Beatles first emerged on CD in 1987, there have
been complaints about the sound". In support of the opinion that the original
vinyl had significant advantages over the early CDs in clarity and dynamism, he
suggested, "Compare 'Paperback Writer'/'Rain' on crackly 45, with its weedy Past
Masters CD version, and the case is closed." Prior to the release of the 2009
remasters, Abbey Road Studios invited Mojo reviewers to hear a sample of the
work, advising, "You're in for a shock." In his release-day review of the full
product, Eccleston reported that "brilliantly, that's still how it feels a month
The Beatles are among the few major artists whose recorded catalogue is not
available through online music services such as iTunes and Napster. Apple
Corps' dispute with Apple, Inc. (owners of iTunes) over the use of the name
"Apple" is partly responsible, although in November 2008 McCartney said the main
obstacle was that EMI "want something we're not prepared to give them." In
March 2009, The Guardian reported that "the prospect of an independent,
Beatles-specific digital music store" has been raised by Harrison's son, Dhani,
who said, "We're losing money every day... So what do you do? You have to have
your own delivery system, or you have to do a good deal with [Apple, Inc. CEO]
Steve Jobs... [He] says that a download is worth 99 cents, and we
disagree." On 30 October, Wired.com reported that an online service,
BlueBeat, was making available the entire Beatles catalogue, via both
purchasable downloads and free streaming. Neither EMI nor Apple Corps had
authorized the distribution, and within a week BlueBeat was legally barred
from handling the band's music. In December 2009, The Beatles' catalogue
was officially released in FLAC and MP3 format in a limited edition of 30,000
USB flash drives.
In 1963 Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr agreed to assign their song
publishing rights to Northern Songs, a company created by music publisher Dick
James. Administered by his company Dick James Music, Northern Songs went
public in 1965 with Lennon and McCartney each holding 15% of the company's
shares and James and the company's chairman, Charles Silver, holding a
controlling 37.5%. After a failed attempt by Lennon and McCartney to buy the
company, James and Silver sold Northern Songs in 1969 to British TV company
Associated TeleVision (ATV), in which Lennon and McCartney received stock.
Briefly owned by Australian business magnate Robert Holmes Ã Court, ATV Music
was sold in 1985 to Michael Jackson for a reported $47 million (trumping a joint
bid by McCartney and Yoko Ono), giving him control over the publishing rights to
more than 200 songs composed by Lennon and McCartney.
Jackson and Sony merged their music publishing businesses in 1995, becoming
joint owners of most of the Lennon-McCartney songs recorded by The Beatles,
although Lennon's estate and McCartney still receive their respective shares of
the royalties. Although the Jackson-Sony catalogue includes most of The Beatles'
greatest hits, some of their earliest songs were published by an EMI subsidiary,
Ardmore & Beechwood, before Lennon and McCartney signed with James. McCartney
acquired the publishing rights to "Love Me Do" and "P.S. I Love You" from
Ardmore in the 1980s. Harrison and Starr allowed their songwriting
contracts with Northern Songs to lapse in 1968, signing with Apple Publishing
instead. Harrison created Harrisongs, which still owns the rights to his
post-1967 songs such as "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Something", while
Starr's Startling Music holds the rights to his own post-1967 songs recorded by
The Beatles, "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden".