How great the Beatles were as songwriters

The story of the Beatles

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The Beatles were undoubtedly the most influential band of the 20th century. In just eight years they have not only changed rock 'n' roll, but also all of the music that follows.
The Beatles would probably never have existed without Liverpool, the city where John, Paul, George and Ringo grew up with the rock 'n' roll records of the 50s that brought sailors from America to the city. And maybe they wouldn't have been so successful if record store owner Brian Epstein hadn't seen them play at Liverpool's Cavern Club in 1961, and knew from the first moment that they would be far more important than Elvis.

  • John Lennon (John Winston Lennon)
    - born on October 9, 1940, Liverpool, England
    - died on December 8, 1980, New York City, New York, USA
  • Paul McCartney (James Paul McCartney)
    - born on June 18, 1942, Liverpool, England
  • George Harrison
    - born on February 25, 1943, Liverpool, England
    - died on November 29, 2001, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey)
    - born on July 7, 1940, Dingle, Liverpool, England


On July 6, 1957, John Lennon, the front man of a band called "Quarry Men" (= quarry workers), was introduced to Paul McCartney by mutual friend Ivan Vaughan. Both McCartney and Lennon each made an appearance at Woolton Parish Church. Impressed with McCartney's ability to play guitar and tune, Lennon soon asked him if he would like to join the Quarry Men. McCartney agreed, and shortly after joining the group, Paul McCartney front man Lennon recommended a school friend: George Harrison. But Lennon refused to listen to the boy because he was only 14 years old. Finally Lennon gave in and on February 6, 1958, 19 days before his 15th birthday, he had Harrison auditioned. After he Raunchy After auditioning, he became the newest member of the group.

The band had some names such as B. "Johnny and the Moondogs", "The Silver Beetles", "The Beatals", "The Silver Beatles" and finally "The Beatles". The band members have changed as much as the band names. The most important to mention here was the bassist and closest friend of John Lennon, Stuart ("Stu") Sutcliffe, born June 23, 1940 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He died on April 10, 1962 in Hamburg. Another important band member was the drummer Pete Best, born in Liverpool in 1941.


In 1960 the Beatles went to Germany to play in Hamburg. But instead of getting rich and famous, as they had hoped, they only found dirty clubs and easy girls. They played all night and slept behind the screen in a movie theater. During their stay in Germany they gained a lot of experience for performing, but that was the only one. They rarely saw the money they were promised. Her time in Germany ended abruptly when it emerged that George, then 17, was still a minor and was therefore expelled.


In late 1961, Brian Epstein, whose family owned the furniture and record store NEMS, began talking about the Beatles and their recording My Bonnie to listen. The Beatles recorded the record together with the English musician Tony Sheridan. Epstein listened to the record and ordered a few to sell in his store. To his surprise, the records were selling well.

Eventually he decided to check out the group for himself and when he went to a club known as The Cavern he was impressed by what he saw. Liverpool was full of guys like that at the time, but the Beatles had more - charisma.


Brian Epstein had been the Beatles' official manager since January 1962, and he persuaded them to behave more neatly and wear suits. Epstein gave the Beatles an outfit that stood out from that of all other groups in the area.

On April 10, 1962, the Beatles heard sad news that Stuart Sutcliffe died in Hamburg of a cerebral haemorrhage. The very next day they flew to Germany and played for seven days in the Hamburg Star Club. These appearances were already certain before Stu's death. The Beatles did not go to his funeral, but they condoled his German friend Astrid. All in all, Stuart Sutcliffe's early death came as quite a shock to the Beatles. Although he had left the group after their first stay in Hamburg to devote himself to painting and his girlfriend, he was a close friend of John who had gone to art school with him.

After a few unsuccessful attempts in various recording studios, the Beatles were given the opportunity to do a recording session at EMI's Parlophone label. There was only one problem: the group's drummer, Pete Best, had to leave, according to producer George Martin. Since the Beatles didn't want to fire their good friend themselves, Brian Epstein had to do it for them. Some called them cowards, others thought they were jealous of his good looks, but the real reason for the decision was that Pete just didn't have the talent, and maybe he was a bit sluggish.

So the Beatles asked Ringo Starr, drummer for the Liverpool group "Rory Storm And The Hurricanes", if he wanted to join the group. But her producer, George Martin, who didn't know Ringo yet, turned him down for the time being and hired session drummer Andy White. Andy's career with the Beatles was short-lived as the group decided to use Ringo Starr for all subsequent recordings and appearances. With Ringo at their side, the Beatles continued to conquer Great Britain. The enthusiasm they aroused was incomparable to anything that had been experienced in Britain until then.

In late 1962, the Beatles stormed the UK charts with their debut single Love me do and played for the last time in the Hamburg Star Club. Her debut was significant in that her music was far removed from the traditional "beat combo sound" and Lennon's Harmonica made the song stand out. At the time, Brian Epstein signed a contract with music editor Dick James; this treaty led to the creation of Northern songs.


On February 13, 1963, the Beatles appeared on the British television show Thank your lucky stars on to their new single Please Please Me to introduce. They had about six million viewers. It was a pivotal moment in her career at the beginning of a year when she would lead a musical and fashionable uprising of the working class. Please Please Me with its unique harmonies and infectious beat, the group soon topped the UK charts. From now on, the Beatles continued to develop artistically and commercially with each successive record. After this From me to you seven weeks at the top, they brought She loves you out a song with the catchphrase Yeah, yeah, yeahthat kept appearing in the headlines of newspapers. The number one hit She loves you fell in the UK charts and returned to number 1 seven weeks later when Beatlemania hit the nation. At that point, everyone was talking about the Beatles She loves you was replaced by the song I want to hold your hand, which sold over a million copies in the UK and debuted at number 1.

In November of 1963 it was I want to hold your hand a number one hit in the US. For the American youth, the long hair, the collarless suits and the typical shoes of the Beatles were irresistible. And the press liked her charm and her jokes, which were often quoted. All in all, the Beatles took America by storm.


The Beatles had their first appearance on US television on February 9, 1964 in the Ed Sullivan Show. At the time, it was the show with the highest ratings in television history. During the performance, not a single crime was reported to have been reported in the United States.

Until 1964, America was barren soil for emerging British pop bands. There were only occasional exceptions like the record Telstar the Tornadoes. But the Beatles changed this abruptly and decisively. Also with the help of her appearance in the Ed Sullivan Show exceeded sales of I want to hold your hand soon the one in her native Great Britain. The Beatles had achieved a popularity that even dwarfed their standing in the UK. In the Hot 100 The Beatles had the first five places in sales charts in April, and in Canada they even had nine records in the top 10! The chart statistics are not only fascinating, they also reflect the importance of the group. They made Liverpool the pop music capital of the world and the “Beat Boom” soon spread to all of North America. The Beatles, along with Bob Dylan, taught the world that pop music can be intelligent and should be taken seriously, despite the hordes of screaming youth.

Beatles stickers, dolls, chewing gum and even canisters with Beatles breath showed for the first time that a lot of money can be made with merchandising products. But perhaps most important to their economic success was their monopoly on the hit industry in London Tin Pan Alley broke up by writing their own songs. From the moment they met Mitch Murrays How Do You Do It? rejected and instead advocated their own Please Please Me decided, Lennon and McCartney started a revolution in the music industry. They even had so much of their own song material that they could offer it to musician friends such as Billy J. Kramer, Cilla Black, the Fourmost and Peter And Gordon. So also the Rolling Stones, to whom they wrote the song of their second single I want to be your man gifts. The Beatles then encouraged the Stones to write their own songs in order to earn royalties as composers themselves.


In 1965, Lennon and McCartney's compositional skills had matured to such an astonishing degree that they were hardly dependent on third-party material. Before that, they had recorded compositions by Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Bacharach And David, Leiber And Stoller, and Goffin And King. But with each new song, the group left their earlier influences more and more behind and embarked on unexplored pop territory. They carried away their audiences, and even when they played traditional pop pieces, they always brought in their own originality. Your first two films A hard day's night and Help! were not the usual commercially oriented pop celluloid strips, but rather funny and imaginative. They received critical acclaim and were box office hits at the same time. The national affection bestowed on mushroom heads was also evident in 1965 when the Beatles received the Members of the British Empire (MBE) award for their services to British industry. The year ended with the release of their first double-sided number one single We Can Work It Out / Day Tripper. The coupling shows how difficult it was to distinguish between the A and B sides.

At Christmas 1965 the Beatles released Rubber Soul, an album that was not just a collection of possible hits or popular cover versions like the previous albums, but a surprisingly eclectic record of satirical songs like Nowhere Man up to the thoughtful In My Life. In addition, this record already indicated the future musical development of the Beatles. For example, George Harrison used the sitar for the title Norwegian Woodalluding to Lennon's infidelity. In the same year the Byrds, Yardbirds and Rolling Stones incorporated Far Eastern sounds into their works and the music press hesitantly reported about the little pop music sounding Ravi Shankar. Significantly, Shankar's master student, George Harrison, was allowed to contribute two songs to Rubber Soul: Think for yourself and If I Needed Someone (also a hit for the Hollies).


Throughout 1966, the Beatles continued to complete their increasingly complex arrangements in front of screaming fans, but this new form of worship wore out frustratingly quickly.
In Tokyo, the group drew the anger of militant students because, with their five appearances in the Nippon Budokan Hall, they had desecrated the venue, which was actually only intended for traditional martial arts. Several death threats followed and the Beatles left Japan sadly, without realizing that worse was going to happen. A visit to Manila almost ended in a riot as the Beatles refused to come to an unannounced reception arranged by First Lady Imelda Marcos. Because of this, they were ambushed by angry patriots before leaving the country. A few weeks later Beatles records were burned in the southern redneck US states after Lennon let himself be carried away in an interview to the not serious and then out of context statement “We are more popular than Jesus now”. While his words went unnoticed in the UK, their reprint in an American magazine led to attempted assassinations of the Beatles and a campaign by Ku Klux Klan members to put down the "Beatles threat". In the summer of 1966, the group was exhausted and dejected and played their last official US concert on August 29 in Candlestick Park, San Francisco.

However, the controversies that accompanied their live performances did not negatively affect the quality of their recordings. Paperback Writer was another step forward, with its splendid harmonies and charmingly prosaic theme.

It was soon used by the double-sided chart-topper Yellow Submarine / Eleanor Rigby followed, with Yellow Submarine as a self-made nursery rhyme sung by Ringo Starr, completely realized with mechanical sounds and Eleanor Rigby as a brilliantly orchestrated depiction of loneliness, unspoiled by exaggerated sentimentality. The accompanying album Revolver was with Harrison's snappy Taxman, McCartney's elegiac For No One and Here, There and Everywhere as well as drug-influenced Lenonns I'm only sleeping, She said she said and the mantic Tomorrow Never Knows just as versatile. The latter song has also been called the most powerful evocation of an LSD experience ever recorded.


After 1966, the Beatles went back to the studio without the hassle of performing live. Their image as pin-up pop stars underwent a transformation, as they now appeared with beards on the new photos and Lennon proudly wore glasses, although he had previously hidden his nearsightedness with contact lenses. The first recording they released after over six months was Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields Foreverwhich, surprisingly, could not follow on from their long series of number 1 hits, as Engelbert Humperdinck's smacky one at the same time Release Me was released and found more buyers. Nonetheless, this single brilliantly reflected the talents of Lennon and McCartney and is often considered to be the best single couple ever.

During this time, however, the group members' lives began to develop in other directions. Lennon met the artist Yoko Ono, George sought musical enlightenment from Ravi Shankar and Paul fell in love with the photographer Linda Eastman. The style of the songs they wrote also became increasingly contradictory, even if there were significant similarities in the songs that dealt with the Liverpool of their childhood. Lennon's lyrics in Stawberry Fields Forever however, dramatizes a far more complex internal dialogue, which is characterized by simple limitations in the lyric (That is, I think, I disagree). Musically, the songs are equally interesting; Penny Lane, which implies a little trumpet and contains a shimmering rhythmic fade-out and Strawberry Fields Forever, which combines two different versions of the same song and contains a cellos played backwards to create a gruesome effect.

It was originally intended that Strawberry Fields Forever the jewel in the crown of their next album, but by the summer of 1967 the Beatles had enough material to make 13 new recordings for the album Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band to publish. Sgt. Pepper should not be released as a mere pop album, but as a cultural icon that encompassed the characteristic elements of youth culture of the 1960s: pop art, brightly colored clothing, drugs, immediate mysticism and liberation from parental tutelage.
Although the Beatles had previously worked for Beatles for Sale and revolver experimented with collages, they adopted the idea for the cover of Sgt. Pepper, which in a posed group photo with cardboard figures should contain all the people who had influenced the Beatles.It was also the first ever pop album in which the lyrics were printed. The music, too, was exceptional and refreshing; instead of the traditional pauses between pieces, some songs merged into one another through studio conversations, laughter, electronic noises and animal sounds.

Constantly chaotic noises were enlivened by the genius and ingenuity of the Beatles' idea implementer, George Martin. The songs were essays in terms of innovation and variety with the cartoon psychedelia of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, the music hall parody of When I'm 64, the circus atmosphere of Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite, the Far Eastern philosophical Within You, Without You and even with a modern moral story She's Leaving Home. With steam organs, orchestral accompaniment, sitars and even some foxhound howls and other animal noises at the end of Good morning, good morning the album offers numerous audio tricks and surprises. Sgt. Pepper concludes with the epic A day in the life, the Beatles' most ambitious work to this day, which, according to Lennon, will build like a sound building out of nothing until the end of the world.

As a final joke, the orchestra was recorded at a frequency above 20 kHz so that only dogs can hear it. Even the record player could not defend itself against the last gimmick of the record, since a record track was cut in such a way that parts of a tape recorded backwards were repeated again and again without end.
While Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band stormed the album charts, the Beatles were already playing a new song in a worldwide live TV broadcast that was to become their anthem of this decade: All you need is love. In the following week, the song entered the charts at number 1 in many countries around the world and was reminiscent of the old days of Beatlemania.

But this summer wasn't all cheerful, as Brian Epstein was found dead on August 27, 1967. The investigations revealed an overdose of the drug carbitrol and evidence of a homosexual background. Thanks to the spiritual help of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, with whom they were looking for enlightenment in Bangor, India, the Beatles were able to cope with the death and decided to do without a manager in the future.

The first fruit of their efforts after Epstein's death was the film Magical Mystery Tour. This was the first time on Boxing Day broadcast on national television in 1967. Although the phantasmagoric film received mixed reactions, no one could complain about the music, which was first released in the form of a double EP containing six powerful songs. The EP reached number two in the UK and made chart history in the following. Ironically, the place remained in the sun on the Beatles record's singles chart Hello goodbye reserved for their traditionally annual Christmas single.


In 1968 the Beatles were increasingly busy with the business of their company Apple. A badly run boutique on London's Baker Street came and went. Musically, however, they continued to be successful. In August 1968 the first Apple single was released, Hey jew. A warm-hearted ballad (by McCartney, of course), which in its seven minutes length increased into a lavish vocal finale.
Your next movie, Yellow Submarine, was a cartoon work whose animated landscape graphics were acclaimed by the critics. The accompanying soundtrack album was semi-instrumental. George Martin was responsible for some interesting orchestral recordings. The album only contained four real new Beatles songs, of which Lennon's snappy one Hey bulldog should be mentioned first. George Harrison's Twirling Only a Northern Song Contained some brilliant brass and trumpets. Although It's All Too Much was well received by the powerful animations in the film, this was not a particularly good song.

Due to their fruitful work, the Beatles were able to squeeze some of their most recent, as yet unreleased pieces (it was "all to much") onto the new album. A bare white double album with the simple title The Beatles, which today is mainly called The White Album is known. George Martin said many years later that it had made an excellent single album. It contained some brilliant musical moments that reflect the great momentum of the Beatles' talent: Back In The USSR, the loving tribute to Chuck Berry and the Beach Boys, Julia, Lennon's tribute to his late mother and McCartney's excellent Blackbird. George Harrison directed the great song While My Guitar Gently Weeps where Eric Clapton plays guitar. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da made it to number 1 on the UK singles chart during Paul McCartney's Wild Helter Skelter rather than a song misunderstood by Charles Manson found meaning. Manson mistakenly interpreted the song as the Beatles were the four horsemen of the apocalyptic and decided to become a mass murderer, which he unfortunately succeeded in doing. In addition, the album contained a number of rather average songs and some heavily drug-influenced works such as Revolution No. 9 and Goodnight.

With this album, the Beatles also showed that the four musicians were already working in isolated neutrality, even if this work is one of the favorites among music critics today. Meanwhile, the lack of business skills of the Beatles showed through the precarious state of Apple, which Allen Klein was trying to sort out.
The new realism that was now evident in their music was also represented by other contemporary artists such as Bob Dylan and the Byrds. They wanted to end the 60s with a return to less complex musical forms. This "back to basics" minimalism was particularly aptly brought about by the single Get back listed on the Billy Preston organ.
Cameras were also present at the Beatles' next recording session, at which they played dozens of their songs for the first time since Hamburg. When the session ended, the result was an endless number of tapes recorded that would go unnoticed until the next year. In the meantime, only a few unexpected eye and ear witnesses of the Beatles' last public appearance. They were playing on the roof of their Apple headquarters on London's Savile Row. In the midst of the chaos of 1969, the Beatles had their final UK number 1 hit with the single Ballad of John and Yoko, for which John Lennon and Paul McCartney played exclusively.


In a constant attempt to cover up the breaks that became increasingly visible in the personal and also musical relationships between the group, the Beatles came together again to perish Abbey Road to record. The album that had already started before Get back, later under let it be published, was put on hold for the time being due to the persistent differences. For Abbey Road the four wanted to pull themselves together again to produce a good album. Abbey Road is dominated by the second side of the record, which consists of a series of songs that merge into one another: fragmentary compositions, such as Mean Mr. Mustard, Polythene Pam, She came in Through the Bathroom Window and Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight, melt together into a convincing whole. The accompanying single featured Lennons Come together and Harrisons Something. The latter song gave George Harrison the honor it deserved, and it was not without good reason that it became the most frequently covered Beatles song after Yesterday. However, the single only reached number 4 in the UK charts, the worst chart position since 1962 Love me do.
Such setbacks to be bearable were insignificant in comparison to the fate that was shared with the other Beatles songs. The band watched helplessly as Dick James, who owned the rights to all Beatles songs and was Managing Director of Northern Songs, secretly sold Nothern songs - and thus all Beatles songs - to ATV in March 1969. The rights changed hands several times in the following years. Not even the concentrated and combined financial strength of Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono could manage to wrest the rights from the current owner, Michael Jackson.


The Beatles stumbled through 1970 with various planned solo projects. In the depressing film let it be the discord of the world in the group became evident. It became clear that Lennon and Harrison were extremely unhappy and upset with McCartney's stance on the group. The subsequent album of the same name, which was subsequently patched up by Phil Spector, was a controversial and pieced-together affair. Originally the album was published in a cardboard box with a generous supplement, which significantly increased the purchase price. Musically, the work showed the Beatles looking back into better times bygone. It contained the poor Two of Us and the primitive The One After 909, a song they played a lot in their time as Quarry Men, and which was generously orchestrated Long and Winding Road, which was the Beatles' last number 1 single in the United States, although songwriter McCartney preferred the un-orchestrated version for the film. In addition, the album contained the last official Beatles single, let it be, which entered the UK charts at number 2, only to drop to number 3 again next week. For many this album was the last low point, maybe not necessarily musically, but at least for the group as such. Another indication of the poor internal condition was that the cover for the first time did not show all Beatles in one photo, but only separately.

On April 10, 1970, Paul McCartney announced that he had left the group because of "personal, business, and musical differences." The separation, which was surprising for the public at the time, was probably inevitable. The following bitter dissolution of the Beatles symbolized, like no other group before or after, the end of an era which they themselves had dominated and helped to create. It is almost inconceivable that in the future any group will shape and influence a generation like these four. More than 30 years later, their songs have not lost any of their quality, lyrically or musically.

after the dissolution

On December 8, 1980, John Lennon was murdered by a mad fan in front of his New York apartment. The then 25-year-old murderer, Mark D. Chapman, ambushes Lennon in front of the Dakota Building, asks him for an autograph and then kills him in the street with five revolver shots.

After the official breakup of the group, there were still some important publications for Beatles fans. In March 1988 the two came Past Masters CDs containing the songs that had not previously appeared on the CD editions of their original albums. The first edition, which covers the period from 1962 to 1965, contains 18 pieces; the second 15 pieces of the following years. The 1994 double CD Live At The BBC consists of 56 songs that the Beatles played live at the beginning of their career as part of various shows in the "BBC Light" program. Most of these pieces are cover versions of typical 1950s R&B songs, including nine by Chuck Berry.

In November 1995 the first edition of the three-part was published just in time for the Christmas business Anthology-Series. Anthology 1 Contained 52 previously unpublished recordings and demo versions from the period from 1958 to 1964. In addition, the double CD contained eight excerpts from interviews with the Beatles and other important people around them. The Anthology series was also accompanied by an excellent six-part television series in which the full story of the group was told with the support of the three living Beatles. In addition, the appeared on Anthology 1 included song Free as a bird as a single. It was the first song the Beatles recorded after they broke up. John Lennon made the model for this by recording the song unfinished with the cassette recorder in 1977. In 1995 the song was reworked vocally and instrumentally by the three surviving Beatles and produced by Jeff Lynne. It just missed number 1 in the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, as did the rather weak one Real love of Anthology 2 in March 1996.
The reactions to Anthology 2 were ecstatic. While it was expected that older journalists in particular would write about the music of their generation, it was encouraging to see that younger journalists were also taken with the album. David Quantick of the New Musical Express wrote one of the best comments: “The Beatles only made music - they could only make music - that points to the future. And that's the difference between them and all other pop groups or singers since ”.
Anthology 3 Couldn't surpass its predecessor, but it did contain a number of gems. The acoustic While My Guitar Gently Weeps by George Harrison is impressive. Because, an unjustly neglected piece Abbey Road, was published in an a cappella version. The McCartney demo of Come and Get It for Badfinger raises the question of why the Beatles didn't release this classic pop song themselves.

On November 29, 2001, George Harrison died of prolonged cancer in Los Angeles. His last years were associated with a few blows of fate. In December 1999, he was seriously injured with a knife by a burglar in his London home. Harrison was already seriously ill at the time and had already had several cancer operations on the larynx and lungs. In the spring of 2001 he had to be treated for a brain tumor in a special clinic in Switzerland. In November he underwent radiation therapy in a New York cancer clinic. The death of the "silent" Beatle caused great concern around the world.

Throughout history, the Rolling Stones and countless other groups have been loved, but the Beatles have been and are universally and unreservedly adored. After releasing album after album and film, they were indeed "on top of the world". But in August 1969 Lennon announced that he wanted to leave the group. The group was finished. However, he wanted to let the separation take place in silence, so that it did not come to the public until April 10, 1970, when McCartney decided to formally dissolve the group. Many blamed Linda McCartney and especially Yoko Ono for the break in the group. Others felt the Beatles had done their job and that it was time. Whatever the main reason for their breakup, they ended an era and left an inheritance that will never be forgotten.

[From "The Beatles Music", translated from English and partially amended]

created: 04/10/2000 - last change: 03/04/2004

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