The Beatles: A brief history of the world’s biggest band’s early years

Some bands appear on the music scene out of nowhere then vanish without a trace just as quickly. The Beatles were not just some band, they are arguably the best and most influential rock band of all time. You have to go all the way back to March 1957 if you want to look at the start of The Beatles. The group was called the Blackjacks back then, a skiffle group formed by a then 16-year-old John Lennon. The group changed its name to the Quarrymen after Lennon discovered another local band using the previous name.

The Beatles
The Beatles

Paul McCartney joined the group as a rhythm guitarist in July and they were joined by George Harrison in March 1958. Stuart Sutcliffe, one of Lennon’s college friends, joined the band in January 1960 and suggested they changed their name to Beatals as a tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. They used this name for five months before becoming the Silver Beatles. By August 1960, the Silver Beatles became simply the Beatles.

Despite lacking a full-time drummer, the Beatles were given a three-and-a-half month residency in Hamburg. The Beatles hired Pete Best as a drummer in mid-August 1960 and the group began playing at the Indra Club and Kaiserkeller. After discovering the Beatles had been playing at the rival Top Ten Club, club owner Bruno Koschmider gave a one-month’s termination notice to the Beatles and had the group deported from Germany.

The Beatles returned to Hamburg over the next couple of year, but in April 1962, Sutcliffe died from a brain haemorrhage. Decca Records infamously rejected the Beatles after a New Year’s Day audition, citing that “guitar groups are on the way out,” yet three months later, George Martin signed the Beatles to EMI’s Parlophone label and the rest, as they say, is history. Abbey Road Studios was the venue for the Beatles’ first recording session and it was here that Best’s drumming came under scrutiny. Best was replaced by a session drummer who in turn was replaced by Ringo Starr in August 1962. This foursome would stay as the Beatles as long as the band were active.

Ten songs were recorded by the Beatles on February 11, 1963 and the debut LP, Please Please Me was ready to release to the world. The debut single “Love Me Do” was moderately successful, however, “Please Please Me” was swallowed up by British music lovers and it reached number one in all but one of London’s chart. Beatlemania was about to happen. In April 1963, “From Me to You” came in at number one in the charts and started an almost unbroken string of 17 British number one singles, which included all but one of the eighteen singles they released over the next six months.

“She Love You” was the fastest selling record in the UK at the time, selling 750,000 copies in less than four weeks. It later became the band’s first single to sell more than one million copies and it was the biggest-selling record in the UK until 1978.

The Beatles then embarked on tours around the world and were always met with hundreds of adoring fans at airports. Press and media in each country would flock to take photographs and try to obtain interviews with the “Fab Four” wherever they went. By the time April 4, 1964 came around, the Beatles held an impressive 12 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the USA, including the top five places. The popularity of the Beatles sparked an interest in British music and many more UK acts made their American debuts in the following months in what was called the British Invasion.

What happened to the Beatles next? Stay tuned as we bring you the next chapter in the legendary band’s history.