Most of us know who the Beatles are, and even if someone doesn’t, odds are good that they know one of their songs. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, the Fab Four from Liverpool became the most influential act of the rock era. From their backstage drama to their tragic deaths, read on for these iconic facts about the Beatles.
1. Everyone Has to Start Somewhere
Like so many legendary music groups, the Beatles changed band names quite a bit before hitting the big time. They originally toured under the name “The Quarrymen,” and then eventually changed to “The Silver Beetles.” Clearly onto something, they shortened the title to finally land on the name that would make history.
2. I’m Here Too
For some of you, this will probably be common knowledge, but it’s still worth pointing out. People called George Harrison “the Quiet Beatle,” and Paul McCartney and John Lennon often overshadowed him in the group. However, Harrison’s impact was impossible to doubt; nearly all the Beatles’ albums released after 1965 contained at least two tracks that he penned.
The most popular of Harrison’s songs include numbers like “Here Comes the Sun,” “Something,” and “Taxman.”
3. As I Was Saying…
It’s worth pointing out that despite his “Quiet Beatle” name, Harrison was a very talkative man, according to Tom Petty. To put it in Petty’s exact words, Harrison “never shut up.”
4. You’re out…Wait, You’re in
Believe it or not, if John Lennon had had his way, Harrison wouldn’t have been a member of the Beatles in the first place. Auditioning for the group in 1958, Lennon initially dismissed Harrison because he thought he was far too young—Harrison was 15 at the time. However, Paul McCartney insisted that Lennon give Harrison another chance. Harrison’s guitar skills were so good, Lennon changed his mind.
5. You’re Alright, Mate!
George Harrison first became acquainted with other members of the Beatles when he encountered Paul McCartney while both boys were on their way to school at the Liverpool Institute. The pair instantly hit it off over their love for music.
6. Game Recognize Game
Guitar legend Eric Clapton and George Harrison were best friends through most of their fame—except for a dramatic betrayal that we’ll definitely get to—and Harrison even asked his talented buddy to play lead guitar on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Except this is more of an easter egg: Clapton isn’t officially credited on the album.
7. While My Friend Gently Weeps
Harrison and guitar god Eric Clapton may have been best friends—but Clapton dealt him a cold-hearted betrayal. For years, Clapton was utterly and hopelessly infatuated with Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd. After months of trying to wait it out, he sent her a passionate love letter signed only “E.” When he revealed himself, Boyd turned him down to stay faithful to Harrison.
8. When George Met Bob
One musician who all of the Beatles greatly admired was American folk legend, Bob Dylan. However, after the group finally met Dylan in 1964, it was Harrison who formed the closest bond with him. The two of them later went on to become bandmates themselves, but that’s something that deserves its very own entry…
9. Punk Before Punk
In the early days of the Beatles’ career, Harrison accompanied the rest of the band to Hamburg, Germany. Despite the fact that Harrison was a minor at the time, they performed in sleazy bars as a house band. Future Beatles fans would never have been able to recognize these boys, however: They were clad in leather, smoked and swore onstage, and ate chicken while they performed.
10. Oh, the Drama
One aspect of the Beatles that few people like to talk about is the fact that most of them weren’t exactly kind to their spouses, and some were downright vile. Harrison himself was no exception. His first marriage to Pattie Boyd was rife with friction, due to the fact that they were childless and each suspected the other of being infertile.
11. No-Good Cheater
George Harrison was cheating on Boyd quite frequently by 1972, but then he took his infidelity to the next level. He started sleeping with his bandmate Ringo Starr’s wife Maureen Cox behind Starr’s back. Keep in mind, this was all happening while John was bringing Yoko Ono into the spotlight, which makes us feel sorry for Paul being stuck in the middle of all this.
12. Green Thumbs
One of Harrison’s lesser-known passions was gardening. His vast home at Friar Park also included a considerable ground of vegetation, which he hired ten workers to maintain. Harrison himself viewed gardening as an escape from the stress of life, and even dedicated his autobiography I, Me, Mine “to gardeners everywhere.”
13. Party Games
At one point in the 1970s, George Harrison was at a party when he was approached by none other than John Bonham, the drummer for Led Zeppelin. Bonham was an admirer of Harrison’s, and wanted to get his picture taken with him. Harrison agreed, but suspected that Bonham wanted to play a joke on him, so he came up with an ingenious plan.
Harrison struck first by smashing a piece of cake on Bonham’s head. To Bonham’s credit, he took it in stride, laughing it off…as he threw Harrison into the pool.
14. Oh, Bollocks…
During the height of Beatlemania, Harrison introduced a new slang word to the English language. In the 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night, Harrison says the word “grotty.” This slang is a shortened form of the word “grotesque.” Much to Harrison’s dismay—John Lennon claimed that Harrison cringed every time he had to say it—his slang word caught on.
15. Fame Is Fleeting
It might surprise you to think of it now, but Harrison had become world-famous at a very young age. In fact, when the Beatles broke up, he was only 27 years old. By that same age, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix were already dead!
16. Let’s Roleplay a Family Band
In the late 1980s, Harrison first began talking about making an album with his friends within the music industry. Ultimately, he brought together a band made up of himself, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty. This supergroup called themselves the Traveling Wilburys, and the bandmates all took on personas with “Wilbury” as their fake surname.
17. Something’s Missing…
Despite the incredible potential of Harrison’s supergroup, the Traveling Wilburys only released two albums. In a bit of cheek, the band titled the first album Volume 1 and the second one Volume 3. It’s worth pointing out that only one of them featured Roy Orbison, who passed on the same year that they released their first album.
On December 30, 1999, George Harrison was in his Friar Park home with his second wife, Olivia, when the couple were attacked by an intruder. Michael Abram was a 34-year old man who was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Once inside Harrison’s home, Abram proceeded to attack Harrison with a kitchen knife until Olivia incapacitated him by wielding a fireplace poker.
19. Close Call
Michael Abram’s attack left Harrison with 40 wounds, including one that pierced his lung. Doctors had to remove part of his lung as a result. Despite the seriousness of his injuries, Harrison was able to make a quip about the attack when he spoke publicly about it, stating the attacker “certainly wasn’t auditioning for the Traveling Wilburys.”
20. I Get by With a Little Help From My Friends
A lot of people tend to forget it, but the early Beatles hid a little-known secret. Their third album A Hard Day’s Night was actually the first album where the Beatles wrote every song; Lennon and McCartney wrote all 13 tracks. Before this, though, the band hired a series of obscure ghostwriters to pen some of their radio hits.
21. Flying Solo
John Lennon and Paul McCartney might be more famous (well, depending on who you ask!), but George Harrison has a one up on his other Beatles members. Believe it or not, Harrison was actually the first Beatle to have a #1 solo hit. His song “My Sweet Lord” topped the charts in December 1970, just before the other Beatles had a chance to dominate.
22. Back in the USSR
Everybody likes the Beatles, even Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader has stated that his favorite Beatles song is “Yesterday.”
23. The Lefty From Liverpool
As a young novice guitarist, the naturally left-handed Paul McCartney thought the only way to play to guitar was to use your right hand. After struggling to play, McCartney came across a poster of American musician Slim Whitman and noticed that he played guitar with his left hand. Inspired, McCartney restrung his guitar and was finally able to you know, actually play.
24. The Original Pick-up Artist
The song “Michelle” reveals a lot about Paul McCartney’s skeezy bedroom habits. It’s actually inspired by his method of picking up women. To get girls, McCartney would dress in all black and sit in the corner of parties playing made up songs in French. One day, Lennon suggested they turn it into a studio track, and it became a hit.
25. First Love
McCartney’s first serious girlfriend was a young woman from Liverpool named Dot Rhone, who he met when he was 17. They were serious and planned to get married, but their relationship had a disturbing dark side. He would pick out clothing for her, and he dictated how she should style her hair and makeup. He also discouraged her from seeing her friends.
Despite their problems, she was deeply committed to him—until tragedy struck. Rhone got pregnant with McCartney’s child, but suffered a miscarriage. A few weeks later, he broke up with her.
26. If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again
As the Beatles became more and more famous, McCartney got involved with model and actress Jane Asher. The two were inseparable and became engaged in December 1967—but McCartney was hiding a dark secret. The year before, he’d begun an affair with a woman who worked as a nanny for some of his friends. Oh, but that’s not all.
While that relationship was ongoing, Asher broke off the engagement to McCartney when she caught him in bed with yet another woman.
27. Meeting “The King”
During one of their US tours, the Fab Four paid a visit to “The King,” Elvis Presley. Their initial interactions were slightly awkward, but once they broke the ice they started an impromptu jam session. McCartney and Presley bonded over the fact that Presley was starting to learn the electric bass—McCartney’s main instrument for the Beatles.
28. Life With Linda
McCartney met his first wife Linda Eastman for the first time when she photographed the Beatles at one of their concerts. The two hit it off and were married in 1969, and they would both later be members of Paul’s post-Beatles project Wings. Yet their love was fated to an utterly crushing end. Linda passed awayfrom breast cancer in 1998 at the age of 56.
29. I’m a Real Girl
The eponymous meter maid (or, for North Americans, parking cop) in the Beatles’ song “Lovely Rita” is actually real person named Meta Davies. She inspired the song by giving Paul McCartney a parking ticket outside Abbey Road Studios. Imagine reaching lasting fame just by giving Paul McCartney a parking ticket!
30. Second Time, No Charm
After three years of dating, McCartney married his second wife, former model Heather Mills, in 2002, though many people thought it was too soon and he wasn’t over Linda. Sure enough, their marriage kicked off an utter nightmare. People accused Mills of being a cruel gold digger, and the pair divorced in 2008 after a long and bitter negotiation.
31. McCartney and His Brood
McCartney has five children. Upon his marriage to Linda, he adopted Heather, her daughter from a previous relationship. He and Linda also had three children together—Mary, Stella, and James. At age 61, McCartney became a father once again, when his second wife Heather Mills gave birth to their daughter Beatrice Milly.
32. Designer Daughter
McCartney’s daughter Stella is a very influential fashion designer. She lends her name to a fashion house label that has retail operations in trendy locales like West Hollywood, Mayfair in London, and New York’s Soho. Like her dad, Stella is also a vegetarian and animal rights activist and as a result, does not use fur or leather in any of her pieces.
33. On the Wings of Chance
In 1971, following the break-up of the Beatles, McCartney formed a new band called Wings. The band had many lineup changes during its decade-long run, with the only constants being McCartney, his wife Linda on keyboard, and former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine. The band was definitely not as influential as the Fab Four, but they did have a number one single called “Mull of Kintyre.”
34. It Pays to Be a Music Icon
Being one of the most popular musicians of all time means that you’ll have a pretty hefty bank account. People estimate that McCartney has a net worth of $1.2 billion, making him one of the richest musicians in the world.
35. Paul and Nancy
McCartney married his third and current wife Nancy Shevell in 2011 after dating for four years. Shevell is a former member of the board of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
36. Double up
McCartney is part of a select group of people who have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice—once for his work with the Beatles and then again for his solo work. But at his first induction, McCartney left fans heartbroken. He famously skipped the induction ceremony for the Beatles, denying fans a long-awaited Beatles reunion.
37. A Man of Many Talents
If you can believe it, McCartney is a largely self-taught musician. With the Beatles, he was mostly known for his vocals and playing the bass. However, he also played the acoustic and electric guitar, keyboard, and piano for the band, even going behind the drum kit when Ringo Starr temporarily left the group way back when.
38. Aye, Aye, McCartney!
After scheduling conflicts prevented Keith Richards from reprising his role as Captain Jack Sparrow’s father in Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack Sparrow himself, Johnny Depp, enlisted the services of another musical icon. The movie production recruited McCartney to play Jack Sparrow’s paternal uncle, also named Jack.
39. Third Time’s the Charm
It took McCartney three tries to successfully audition for his church’s choir. He totally messed up his first two auditions, though he claims that one of those times was a deliberate attempt at failing, as he simply didn’t want to be a choir boy at that point.
40. Playing With Fire
One day, the Beatles were playing an early concert in Hamburg, Germany when they got into deep trouble. The band were in the process of packing up their belongings when McCartney and then-drummer Pete Best lit a condom to help them see in their dark room. A small fire started, and authorities quickly apprehended McCartney and Best, sending them to the clinker—and then sending them back to England. Oooh, now that’s trouble.
41. Meat-Free McCartney
McCartney turned to vegetarianism in 1975, and since 2013, he has followed a vegan diet. He decided to ditch meat from his diet after observing a herd of sheep just as he and his then-wife Linda were dining on lamb. True to his beliefs, McCartney has been a vocal supporter of various animal rights causes throughout the years.
42. I Believe in Yesterday
Practically everyone loves the Beatles, but which song is the world’s favorite? If covers are anything to go by, the answer to that question is “Yesterday.” People have re-recorded the tune a whopping 2,200 times to date. This accomplishment landed the Beatles in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2009, with “Yesterday” as the most covered song ever.
43. By Any Other Name
Ringo Starr’s real name is Richard Starkey—I know, I know “Ringo Starr” sounds like such a boring real name, right? In fact, in some of the Beatles’ early recordings, you can hear John count in Ringo by saying “ready, Richard.” He changed his name to Ringo to sound more “cowboy-ish,” as well as an homage to all the rings he wore.
44. The Fab Five
There is an ongoing debate as to who is the “Fifth Beatle.” Many say it’s Pete Best, who was the original drummer before Ringo joined the band. But Paul McCartney has other ideas. He’s stated that long-time producer George Martin, who played keyboards on almost every Beatles album, is most deserving of the title. Hey, why not six Beatles?
45. Isn’t That a Paradox?
Depending on how you look at it, Ringo Starr was both the oldest and the youngest of the Beatles. He was the last one to join the group, as he was replacing their original drummer Pete Best. But, he was also born before John, Paul, and George.
46. Use What You’ve Got
Starr’s love for music emerged at the tender age of 13, while the sickly boy was staying in the hospital recovering from tuberculosis. During his extended stay, Starr joined fellow patients to form a hospital band. Starr’s first “drum” was a cotton bobbin that he used as a mallet to hit the cabinets in his hospital room.
47. Good Old Harry
One of the men who made the biggest difference in Starr’s life was his stepfather, Harry Graves. After marrying Starr’s mother in 1954, he served as a stable father figure in Starr’s life. Graves even bought Starr his first drum kit in 1957. Starr later claimed that he’d never had a single bad experience with Graves, saying that he “learned gentleness” from his “great” stepdad.
48. The Fact of the Matter
For all the jokes that people make about Starr’s lack of importance in the Beatles, he was actually far more successful than his future bandmates when he first met them! As a member of his early band the Hurricanes, Starr billed higher than the Beatles and was paid significantly more than John, Paul, and George when they were starting out.
49. I Ain’t No Square
Another record that Ringo Starr holds among his famous bandmates is that he was the first Beatle to try cannabis. In August 1964, as we mentioned, the Beatles met American folk star Bob Dylan. When Dylan offered joints for them to try, most of the band was too hesitant to take him up on the offer. Starr, however, agreed to light one up.
50. Trouble on the High Seas
One of Starr’s first jobs as a young man was serving drinks on a day boat. The boat made regular voyages from Liverpool to North Wales. However, this seafaring caused Starr to quit his waiter job soon after. At the time, the Royal Navy still conscripted men into the service, and Starr was worried that his experience on a boat would leave him vulnerable to conscription.
51. Mama’s Boy
Ringo Starr spent most of his young life being raised by his single mother, as his parents were divorced by the time that he was a toddler. It was not always a happy family. Starr’s mother was overprotective and completely devoted to her only child, even though she was forced to work several different jobs to make ends meet.
52. What a Deadbeat
By contrast, Starr’s relationship with his biological father was basically nonexistent. Even before his parents’ separation, Starr’s father preferred going out to the bar to spending time with his son or his wife. As a result, Starr later sadly reflected that he had almost no memories of his father. Not a heart-warming origin story, to say the least.
53. A Whole Different Kind of Mania
Although Pete Best has almost been forgotten since Ringo replaced him, early Beatles fans were actually outraged and indignant that Best left the group. Fans of Best even harassed the Beatles with chants that went “Pete forever! Ringo never!” Things even escalated to violence. George Harrison once received a black eye from an irate Best loyalist.
54. My Turn at the Mic
Aside from being the Beatles’ drummer, Ringo Starr also occasionally lent his vocals to their songs. The most famous example of this was the song “Yellow Submarine,” wherein Starr actually sang the lead vocals rather than Paul or John. It was also the only time a Starr-led song reached #1 at the British music charts.
55. You Can Take Ringo out of the Hood…
It took a long time for Ringo Starr to put his days of poverty behind him, and he was still struggling with that transition even at the height of his Beatles fame and fortune. Even when he was one of the biggest stars in the world—no pun intended—Starr insisted on getting paid in cash every week rather than receiving a check.
56. Right or Wrong?
Ringo Starr was born left-handed. However, he grew up in a time when left-handedness was discouraged and even suppressed. This happened to him “thanks” to the cruel efforts of his grandmother. As a result, he was pushed to learn how to write with his right hand. The lessons left a bizarre effect on him, however, as he allegedly plays left-handed on a right-handed drum kit!
57. First to Break Away
Believe it or not, it was Ringo Starr who was the first Beatle to sing on another artist’s show without the other Beatles in tow. In Starr’s case, he sang a duet with Cilla Black on her BBC program Cilla in 1968.
58. The Long Game
In 1965, the beautiful model Barbara Bach watched Ringo on stage during a Beatles concert. Bach went on to have an acting career that included playing a sultry Bond girl in The Spy Who Loved Me. Then, 16 years after that concert, Bach became Starr’s second wife. Since then, they have stayed together through thick and thin—more on that later.
59. Bunch of Wankers…
Following the breakup of the Beatles, Starr’s music career floundered. Unlike his former bandmates’ successful ventures into solo work, Starr became the first Beatle to be rejected by a record company. But that’s not even the worst part. To add insult to injury, the record company in question was EMI Records, the same one that produced the Beatles.
60. Narrowly Averted Crisis
Long before he joined the Beatles, Starr came very close to death. At the age of six, Starr fell into a coma due to the effects of peritonitis. He didn’t come out of the coma for days and didn’t fully recover from his illness for an entire year! It wasn’t the last time he dealt with a major illness, but it was definitely the most serious.
61. For the Kids
One of the most enduring aspects of Ringo Starr’s legacy was his involvement in the popular children’s franchise Thomas the Tank Engine. Starr narrated two seasons of the television series Thomas & Friends from 1984 until 1986 and then appeared onscreen as Mr. Conductor in the 1989 season of Shining Time Station.
62. Radio Rebel
Living such a turbulent lifestyle as he did during the 1970s and 1980s, Starr had several brushes with the law. During the late 1980s, the authorities fined Starr for possession. It gets even weirder. They also wrote him up for the theft of a car radio.
63. Unhappily Ever After
During the early 1960s, before the Beatles had reached the heights of superstardom, one of their biggest fans was a young hairstylist named Maureen Cox. Cox was sweet on Ringo Starr, and the two of them were married in 1965. However, Starr was ill-prepared for fame and wealth, and he quickly became addicted to substances.
Meanwhile, Cox wasn’t just harassed by lovesick Beatle fans, she was also subjected to domestic conflicts with Starr. Starr later ruefully admitted that he’d been very cruel to Cox, describing himself bluntly as “a drunk, a wife-beater, and an absent father.”
64. Who’s Cutting Onions in Here?
Even after all the horrible things that he put his wife Maureen through, Starr managed to make amends with her, but only long after their relationship ended. In the early 1990s, Maureen contracted leukemia, and the disease took her life in 1995. Reportedly, both her second husband and Starr were present at the end, holding her hands until her final moment of life.
65. Digging a Hole
During his creative slump in the 1980s, Starr lived a hard life of chemical dependence and luxurious spending. After his first marriage fell apart, Starr’s second wife Barbara accompanied him on all these indulgences. This shared lifestyle led to a downward spiral of blackouts and horrible, regretful fights for both of them.
66. Rock Bottom
Starr later recalled that he finally came to his senses after one of these blackouts: “I came to one Friday afternoon and was told by the staff that I had trashed the house so badly they thought there had been burglars, and I’d trashed Barbara so badly they thought she was dead.” Following that traumatic experience, Starr and Barbara finally sobered up during the late 1980s, and have been together ever since.
67. Painting a Picture
Though he became a famous pacifist, John Lennon was actually a bit of a troublemaker when he was young, and often pulled pranks. In his youth, he expressed a creative ability with drawings of grotesque figures that…well, creeped a lot of people out. He didn’t have great grades in school, but his teacher believed he could go on to college for art.
68. A Mother’s Touch
Lennon had a horrific childhood. His dad was an absentee father, and after his parents divorced, he went to live with his Aunt Mimi. Though his mother, Julia, remarried, she did visit Lennon and Mimi regularly. Julia would teach her son how to play the banjo and piano, and even bought him his first guitar. Sadly, Lennon’s mother was doomed to a heartbreaking end.
In 1958, off-duty officer hit Julia with a car and killed her, which absolutely devastated Lennon for years.
69. The Big American Break
In February 9, 1964, the Beatles made their now legendary appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, becoming the first British band of the era to really make it in the US. The performance is famous today in part because it would pave the way for other British bands like the Rolling Stones and The Kinks during what we now know as the British Invasion.
Early in 1965, Lennon, Harrison, and their wives were unknowingly given LSD at a party they were attending. Lennon took to the substance, enjoyed it immensely, and spent a lot of 1967 under its influence. The band’s eighth studio album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, also featured the song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Clever, guys, clever.
71. No Thanks!
The Queen announced in June 1965 that she was naming the Beatles Members of the Order of the British Empire. Though it was an incredible honor, Lennon later spat it back in the Queen’s face. In protest against the conflicts going on in the world, Lennon later gave the Order of the British Empire back to Her Majesty.
72. Keep It on the Downlow
Not many casual fans know that before Lennon married Yoko Ono, he was married to Cynthia Powell. They tied the knot in 1962 when Lennon was only 22 years old. Powell had to keep a low profile during the height of Beatlemania, and the couple would divorce in 1968. Together the two had a son, Julian, who they named after Lennon’s beloved, late mother.
73. Sweet, Sweet Fantasy
Lennon had an enormous infatuation with French actress Brigitte Bardot, and this showed up in some disturbing ways. For example, Lennon’s first wife Cynthia Powell purposefully changed her appearance to look like Bardot in order to keep Lennon’s attention, dyeing her hair blonde. As we’ll see, it didn’t quite work…
74. Anger Management
Lennon was often jealous and possessive, and lashed out with physical domination. It was only after he met Yoko Ono that he became ashamed of this behavior. As he once said, “I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically—any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace.”
75. Artistic Affairs
Lennon first met Ono in 1966 at the Indica Gallery in London. The two started talking frequently, and ended up sleeping together. But their young love had a cruel side. Lennon was still married to Powell, and fell into Ono’s arms while his wife was out of town. When Powell came home and found Ono wearing her bathrobe and drinking tea with her husband, Lennon apparently only said flippantly, “Oh, hi.”
76. Battle of the Bandmates
After the Beatles broke up, Lennon took some digs at Paul McCartney, especially in the lyrics to his song “How Do You Sleep?” They battled publicly for three years before they eventually made up. Just days before his death, Lennon said of his former band-mate, “Throughout my career, I’ve selected to work with…only two people: Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono…That ain’t bad picking.”
77. Let’s Get Political
In the fall of 1971, Lennon and Ono moved to the US, but Lennon constantly felt threatened with deportation from the Nixon administration. Although at the time the government claimed it was because of Lennon’s previous substance convictions, declassified government documents tell an entirely different story.
These files reveal that this persecution was actually because of his anti-Vietnam views. In 1976, two years after Nixon resigned, Lennon received permanent residency.
78. My Kind of Vacay
As a way to peacefully protest the conflict in Vietnam, John Lennon and Yoko Ono famously held two separate week-long “bed-ins” where they didn’t leave their bed for the entire week. They later made this into the documentary Bed Peace.
79. Don’t Mess With Jesus
Controversy followed the Beatles—but none was bigger than Lennon’s 1966 mistake. He said that the Beatles were “Bigger than Jesus.” The comment ignited widespread outrage; radio stations stopped playing their songs, and people even had record-burning parties for their Beatles albums. Many experts point to this fiasco as the beginning of the end of the band.
80. Only for You, Elton
The last song John Lennon ever played for a paying audience was “I Saw Her Standing There” on November 28, 1974. He took the stage at Elton John’s concert in Madison Square Garden in New York City. In case you’re wondering what exactly Lennon was doing there on stage, John and Elton were extremely close friends.
81. The End of an Era
Just weeks after his solo album Double Fantasy came out, Lennon met his gruesome fate. On December 8, 1980, he was gunned down just outside his apartment in New York. The scene was frantic and confused, but when aides rushed him to the hospital, the doctors proclaimed him dead on arrival. He was just 40 years old.
82. The Man Behind the Mask
The man who wasted John Lennon now lives in infamy: Mark David Chapman. Chapman, a deranged fan who lost all control, shot Lennon four times at close range from behind, with the likely fatal shot hitting Lennon’s aorta just above his heart. The authorities eventually charged and convicted Chapman. He remains incarcerated to this day.
83. Taking It to the Grave
Lennon was cremated just one day after his tragic end, but he took a secret with him. The location of his ashes, or what happened to them, is private, and Ono refuses to speak about it. Instead of a funeral, Ono requested 10 minutes of silence and prayer on the Sunday afterward. She also requested donations to charities in Lennon’s honor.
84. The Football Broadcast That Changed the World
It can be hard sometimes to remember just how big the Beatles were. When Lennon was killed, his end was such an enormous loss that it was announced during ABC’s Monday Night Football. ABC president Roone Arledge made the unorthodox decision because he felt that the quickest way to break the news to the world would be to announce it at the game.
85. Lennon and McCartney
When the Beatles broke up, the already-rocky relationship between McCartney and Lennon became even more fraught. Throughout the 70s, the pair rarely spoke, occasionally reuniting for brief periods. When Lennon passed on, reporters swarmed McCartney for a quote. Distraught, he was only able to say “It’s a drag.”
People criticized him for being flippant, but McCartney later revealed his true feelings about the loss, saying: “The last telephone conversation I had with him we were still the best of mates…Those are the moments I treasure.” McCartney even said on the night that Lennon met his end, he went home to his family and watched the news coverage, spending the whole night crying.
86. Family Man Until the End
John Lennon was just in the archway of his apartment when Mark David Chapman approached him and opened fire. His last words were utterly heartbreaking. Ono had asked him if they should go out for dinner, but Lennon was only thinking of his young son, Sean. He said, “No, let’s go home because I want to see Sean before he goes to sleep.”
87. Take a Break
There were cracks in the band long before they officially disbanded in 1970. Two years earlier, Ringo Starr even quit the band temporarily. He was unhappy with his playing and, even worse, felt like he was an outsider among the other members. He was only away for a few weeks, but during his hiatus he was able to write one of his biggest hits: “Octopus’ Garden.”
88. So Long, Abbey Road
The last song that all four Beatles made together was likely “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” recorded on August 20th, 1969.
89. The Last Hoorah
The Beatles’ performed their final concert on January 30, 1969, on the rooftop of their Apple Corps headquarters. They played for 42 minutes before the authorities asked them to turn down the volume. Before deciding to play their final show on a rooftop, they also considered performing in an ancient amphitheater, a desert, or a cruise ship.
90. Not Safe for BBC
They might be classic rock idols now, but the Beatles were once the bad boys of music, and they got themselves into a lot of trouble. In 1967, the BBC even banned their song “I Am the Walrus.” Why exactly? Those polite Brits didn’t like the “super” inappropriate lyrics “let your knickers down” because it implied getting it on.
91. Well, That Escalated Quickly….
Although it sounds like a pleasant tune, most people don’t realize that “Norwegian Wood” has a dark secret. If you listen carefully to the lyrics, it’s actually about a man who gets invited into a woman’s house. She won’t let him sleep in her bed, and instead forces him to lie in the bathtub. When she gets up for work in the morning, he burns her house down as revenge.
92. Turn Me on, Dead Man
The Beatles were infamous for implementing a technique called “back-masking,” where listeners can hear messages when they play a record backwards. The most famous example is on their track “Revolution 9.” Played backwards, you can make out the lyrics “turn me on, dead man.” This sparked a widespread conspiracy, but we’ll get to that in a moment…
93. Simply the Best
Obviously, the Beatles have a ton of awards. Perhaps the most prestigious was when Rolling Stone magazine placed Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as number 1 on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Take a minute to let that sink in: They topped all the other hundreds of great albums throughout history!
94. There’s Always Lip-Synching
The Beatles never played any of the songs on the album Revolver in concert. They were too hard to play live.
95. Not Very Prudent
Many of the Beatles’ songs are about their famous friends, but “Dear Prudence” has one of the saddest backstories when you really get into it. The band wrote it about Prudence Farrow, the sister of actress Mia Farrow. While in India together, Prudence Farrow got so obsessed with meditation that she became a recluse, and the song begs her to come outside and enjoy life.
96. Double Threats
Besides their many hit songs, the Beatles have also appeared in five movies: A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine and Let It Be. All these films were fairly well received—with one huge exception. Magical Mystery Tour was so horrible, the Beatles eventually publicly apologized for it.
97. Rumors of His Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Paul McCartney has been at the center of a bizarre conspiracy theory claiming that he actually passed on in 1966 and was replaced by a look-alike. This rumor continued to grow when college students started publishing articles about supposedly finding subtle hints to McCartney’s untimely death in the lyrics of Beatles songs. McCartney himself has made some amusing references to the “Paul is Dead” conspiracy theory, even titling a 1993 live album Paul Is Live.
98. Not a Good Start…
When he first joined the Beatles, Starr struggled to impress their producer, George Martin. During his first recording session, Starr was “trying to play the percussion and the drums at the same time.” When that didn’t succeed, Martin demoted him. During their second session, Martin even brought in another drummer, while poor Starr was stuck playing the tambourine! Then things got even worse…
99. Doctor, Doctor, Tell Me the News
Starr’s propensity for falling ill didn’t stop when he became an adult. In 1964, just before the Beatles were set to make a global music tour, Starr got sick and had to stay in the hospital. While he spent several days recuperating, he was temporarily replaced on the tour by drummer Jimmie Nicol. This had a devastating effect on Starr.
At the time, Starr later admitted, he was terrified that Nicol was going to replace him permanently. Luckily, Starr made a full recovery and rejoined his bandmates in Melbourne.
100. The End of a Beautiful Friendship
McCartney had a pretty rocky relationship with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. They initially seemed to be kindred spirits and collaborated on many tracks, most notably “The Girl is Mine.” However, things soured once Jackson acquired the publishing rights to the vast majority of the Beatles catalog, before selling a portion of it to Sony Music. McCartney was completely blindsided by the move and the two would never work together again.
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