The Beatles Inducted into the Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame
In their brief history together, no group single-handedly changed music -- and the culture around them -- as frequently or as much as the Beatles. To this day, they remain the most talked-about, written-about and influential rock band the world has ever seen.
The group's recorded output is incredible in terms of sheer numbers (more than 200 recorded songs in eight years, plus four films and hundreds of concerts), diversity (everything from ballads to avant-garde) and -- most importantly -- quality. Even most of their very few detractors will grudgingly rattle off a handful of their favorite Beatles songs.
The Beatles essentially began in July 1957 when John Lennon asked Paul McCartney to join his band, the Quarry Men, a few weeks after they met at a Woolton Church fete in their hometown of Liverpool, England. In early 1958, Paul brought in his friend George Harrison.
They officially became the Beatles in mid-1960, and then the pieces started to fall into place. The next two years would see them take on residencies in Hamburg, be introduced to future manager Brian Epstein, audition for producer George Martin and, lastly, hire Ringo Starr on the eve of their first recording session in September of 1962.
Had the Beatles stayed with their early sound -- a mixture of rock, soul and girl-group harmony, played with a cheery dose of raucous energy -- they would still be remembered for their cute haircuts, lovable personalities and a handful of hits, the prototype for every boy band that followed.
But they quickly grew as songwriters, incorporating pop, folk, Indian and classical musical ideas into their songs within a few years of their debut. Lyrically, they also began to explore more mature themes beyond the simplistic "moon/June" love songs that had dominated the previous five decades of popular song.
By mid-1966 the demands of Beatlemania had taken its toll on them, and they gave up touring. This decision freed them to take their time in the studio to explore every aspect of their creativity without limitations -- aided, in no small part, by their increasing drug use. Although they were no longer as prolific, the results opened up new, unheard-of paths in rock music, while never losing sight of pure song craft.
Unfortunately, this came at a price. As the Beatles grew up, so did they grow apart. Where they had once been able to compromise, now resentments lingered. By the end in 1970, the four-headed beast that was unleashed upon the world had become four individuals, each with their own world view and musical ideas. Their respective solo successes showed that they were capable of making remarkable music on their own, but would still always be measured - often unfavorably - against what they did together.
Congratulations to the Beatles on their induction into the Ultimate Classic Rock Hall of Fame!