1. John Lennon met Paul McCartney at a Liverpool church fair where Lennon’s band The Quarrymen were playing. Paul would join the group shortly thereafter.
2. Though not widely known, Stuart Sutcliffe was an original member of The Beatles, playing bass in the group’s early years. John Lennon and Stuart were art school friends and after he sold one of his paintings was encouraged to buy a musical instrument: either bass or drums as the band was in need of both.
3. John Lennon met his first wife, Cynthia, at art school in Liverpool. They married on August 23rd, 1962. John was 21 and Cynthia 22.
4. The band’s manager, Brian Epstein, insisted that Lennon’s marriage and subsequent child be kept secret so as not to dissuade the band’s growing legion of female fans.
5. The group’s first professional recordings were as the backing band for singer Tony Sheridan.
6. The version of “Love Me Do” heard on The Beatles first album, Please, Please Me, features session drummer Andy White, not Ringo Starr. George Martin wasn’t happy with original drummer Pete Best during the band’s first session and booked White as a back-up. The version featuring Starr was released as a single in the UK, however. A version featuring Pete Best from the band’s test session can be heard on the Anthology 1 compilation.
7. Producer George Martin insisted the group record and release the song “How Do You Do It” by Mitch Murray as their first single. While they did record the song, Martin eventually went with their original composition “Love Me Do,” a bold move in a time where most recording artists were expected to sing songs written by professional songwriters.
8. “How Do You Do It” was eventually recorded and released by another Liverpool band, Gerry & the Pacemakers. It reached #1 in the UK.
9. “I Wanna Be Your Man,” the second single for The Rolling Stones, was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and wound up being a hit for The Stones. The Beatles would release the song on their 1963 album With The Beatles.
10. Just a month prior to The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show the group sold 1 million copies of “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” their first US single.
11. On February 9, 1964, The Beatles played a set of 5 songs on The Ed Sullivan Show: “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
12. After their Ed Sullivan Show performance, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” would go on to sell another 2 million copies.
13. There were 0 reported crimes in New York City that night of February 9, 1964.
14. At the time, Ringo Starr was 23, as was the slightly younger John Lennon. Paul McCartney was 21, and George Harrison, the youngest, was a mere 20 years old.
15. That evening 73 million people watched The Beatles on Ed Sullivan which was over 23 million households. This was equal to the 45% of the US population. 60% of televisions were watching The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show that evening.
16. Over 50,000 requests for seats were submitted. The CBS Theater held 700 that night.
17. The title for “A Hard Day’s Night” came from an off-hand remark by Ringo Starr, who was known for his odd sayings, sometimes known as Ringoisms.
18. George Harrison met his future wife Patty on the set of “A Hard Day’s Night” where she was cast as an extra.
19. Some of the dialog in the film was taken from actual interviews The Beatles gave, especially the parade of questions the group receives from various partygoers in the film.
20. “Yesterday,” one of The Beatles most popular songs, originally had the working title “Scrambled Eggs.”
21. In the summer of 1964, a legendary get-together with Bob Dylan took place in New York City. Dylan offered The Beatles marijuana, turning them onto the drug for the first time.
22. The meeting between Dylan and The Beatles would have a profound impact on both artists. The Beatles album Rubber Soul featured many folk and acoustic arrangements while Dylan would ignite a firestorm of controversy by giving his first electric performance a few months later.
23. The blistering guitar solo featured on the George Harrison penned “Taxman,” which kicks off the album Revolver, was actually played by Paul McCartney.
24. One of the many recording innovations that were used on Revolver was the first notable use of a “backwards” guitar solo. This can be heard prominently on “I’m Only Sleeping.” The technique was discovered by accident when an engineer loaded a tape in backwards. George Harrison then carefully wrote out his guitar solo so that he would be able to record it playing it in reverse. The solo was then played-back backwards, giving it a strange, ethereal effect.
25. A real life Eleanor Rigby did live in Liverpool, however this was unknown to any of The Beatles. In an even more astounding coincidence, her gravestone lies in the cemetery next to the church where John and Paul first met.
26. John Lennon met his future second wife, Yoko Ono, at the Indica Gallery, London, during one of her exhibitions. Yoko Ono supposedly had never heard of The Beatles.
27. Though Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band is considered to be one of the first concept albums, a close observation reveals that the conceit of Sgt. Pepper mostly dissipates after “With a Little Help From My Friends.” John Lennon was reported in interviews saying that none of his contributions to the album were based around the Sgt. Pepper theme.
28. The song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” though widely thought to be a reference to the drug LSD, was said by John Lennon to be inspired by a drawing his son Julian brought home from school.
29. According to a recent interview with Julian Lennon, the “Lucy” drawing is currently owned by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmore.
30. Shortly after John and Cynthia Lennon divorced, Paul paid an unexpected visit to check in on Cynthia and young Julian. On the way home, Paul would come up with the idea for “Hey Jude.”
31. The prominent guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was played by George Harrison’s friend Eric Clapton. He was brought in during the difficult sessions for The White Album in the hopes that an outsider would force the band members to act more professional.
32. Harrison returned the favor by recording guitar for Clapton’s band Cream on the song “Badge” under the pseudonym L’Angelo Misterioso.
33. Harrison again employed this method when he brought in keyboardist Billy Preston during the “Get Back” sessions, which later morphed into the album Let It Be. Billy Preston was the only non-Beatle to receive a performance credit on a proper Beatles release.
34. The song “Dear Prudence” was written by John Lennon while on The Beatles meditation retreat in India. The Prudence mentioned in the song is the sister of actress Mia Farrow. While many of the guests at the retreat would socialize with each other, Prudence Farrow often spent intense hours meditating alone in her bungalow.
35. During the sessions for The White Album, Ringo Starr briefly quit the band. As a result, Paul McCartney can be heard playing drums on “Back in the USSR” and “Dear Prudence.”
36. John Lennon learned the finger-picking guitar style used on “Dear Prudence” from folk singer Donovan, who was also attending the retreat.
37. The song “Helter Skelter” was written in response to a statement made by The Who’s Pete Townshend commenting on how loud a recent recording of theirs was (believed to be the song “I Can See For Miles”). The Beatles recorded the track very intensely, which led to Ringo Starr’s infamous cry at the end of the recording: “I got blisters on me fingers!”
38. During what was known at the time as the Get Back sessions, George Harrison also quit the band briefly after becoming frustrated by the ceaseless tension amongst the group.
39. The Beatles infamous Apple Rooftop concert was the result of a compromise to get George to rejoin the band. The Get Back concept originally was to include a series of live performances shot for a television film. This was nixed due to Harrison’s objections and the decision was made to shoot a performance outside, on top of The Beatles corporate headquarters. This would be the band’s final concert.
40. The Beatles essentially washed their hands of the Get Back sessions and instead focused on recording Abbey Road. After The Beatles rejected two different mixes of an album, John Lennon handed the session tapes over to producer Phil Spector, who remixed it, adding orchestrations that were not there before. This resulted in the album Let It Be.
41. Not all of The Beatles agreed on the final product that was Let It Be. While John Lennon was pleased with the results, Paul McCartney in particular was not happy with the alterations. In 2003, a remix of the album, Let It Be…Naked was released, stripping away much of the Phil Spector post-production.
42. “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” The Beatles 1969 single, is an autobiographical account of John Lennon’s marriage to Yoko Ono and subsequent honeymoon. The lyrics reference their wedding in Gibraltar, Spain as well as their “Bed-In” protests against the Vietnam War. The song was hastily recorded with just Lennon and McCartney while the other members were unavailable.
43. Despite being the last album The Beatles released, Let It Be was actually recorded before Abbey Road. This would be the group’s final effort as a band.
44. The Beatles originally thought of shooting the cover for the album that became Abbey Road at Mount Everest. Instead they decided to shoot the iconic album cover right outside their studio.
45. Abbey Road concludes with a medley of songs that takes up the bulk of its second side: “You Never Give Me Your Money,” “Sun King,” “Mean Mr. Mustard,” “Polythene Pam,” “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,” “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” and “The End.” These were essentially scraps of songs that the band never got a chance to finish writing.
46. “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” was inspired by The Beatles enthusiasts who would hang around the band member’s homes and offices. Paul McCartney in particular was subject to various break-ins by fans searching for souvenirs.
47. The final track on Abbey Road, “Her Majesty,” was originally supposed to be slotted between “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam” on the album’s closing medley, but McCartney decided he didn’t like the song and ordered it cut. Under instructions not to throw away anything The Beatles recorded, the studio engineer spliced it on to the end of the reel after several seconds of blank tape. McCartney liked it much better that way and so it remained there for the commercial release.
48. The character of Pam in the song “Mean Mr. Mustard” (“His sister Pam works in the shop”) was originally called Shirley. John Lennon changed it so the song would fit better with the subsequent track, “Polythene Pam.”
49. “The End” features the only drum solo recorded by Ringo Starr as a member of The Beatles.
50. “The End” also features a climatic jam with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison all providing guitar solos.
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