The Beatles

The origin of the phenomenon that became the Beatles can be traced to 1957 when Paul McCartney (b. 18 June 1942, Liverpool, England) successfully auditioned at a church f?te in Woolton, Liverpool, for the guitarist's position in the Quarrymen, a skiffle group led by John Lennon (b. 9 October 1940, Liverpool, England, d. 8 December 1980, New York, USA). Within a year, two more musicians had been brought in, the 15-year-old guitarist George Harrison (b. 25 February 1943, Liverpool, England) and an art school friend of Lennon's, Stuart Sutcliffe (b. 23 June 1940, Edinburgh, Scotland, d. 10 April 1962, Hamburg, Germany). After a brief spell as Johnny And The Moondogs, the band rechristened themselves the Silver Beetles, and, in April 1960, played before impresario Larry Parnes, winning the dubious distinction of a support slot on an arduous tour of Scotland with autumnal idol Johnny Gentle. By the summer of 1960 the group had a new name, the Beatles, dreamed up by Lennon who said 'a man in a flaming pie appeared and said you shall be Beetles with an a'. A full-time drummer, Pete Best (b. 1941, Liverpool, England), was recruited and they secured a residency at Bruno Koschminder's Indra Club in Hamburg. It was during this period that they honed their repertoire of R&B and rock 'n' roll favourites, and during exhausting six-hour sets performed virtually every song they could remember. Already, the musical/lyrical partnership of Lennon/McCartney was bearing fruit, anticipating a body of work unparalleled in modern popular music. The image of the group was changing, most noticeably with their fringed haircuts or, as they were later known, the 'mop-tops', the creation of Sutcliffe's German fianc?e Astrid Kirchherr. The first German trip ended when the under-age Harrison was deported in December 1960 and the others lost their work permits. During this turbulent period, they also parted company with manager Allan Williams, who had arranged many of their early gigs. Following a couple of months' recuperation, the group reassembled for regular performances at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and briefly returned to Germany where they performed at the Top Ten club and backed Tony Sheridan on the single 'My Bonnie'. Meanwhile, Sutcliffe decided to leave the group and stay in Germany as a painter. The more accomplished McCartney then took up the bass guitar. This part of their career is well documented in the 1994 feature film Backbeat.
In November 1961, Brian Epstein, the manager of North End Music Store, a record shop in Liverpool, became interested in the group after he received dozens of requests from customers for the Tony Sheridan record, 'My Bonnie'. He went to see the Beatles play at the Cavern and soon afterwards became their manager. Despite Epstein's enthusiasm, several major record companies passed on the Beatles, although the group were granted an audition with Decca on New Year's Day 1962. After some prevarication, the A&R department, headed by Dick Rowe, rejected the group in favour of Brian Poole And The Tremeloes. Other companies were even less enthusiastic than Decca, which had at least taken the group seriously enough to finance a recording session. On 10 April, further bad news was forthcoming when the group heard that Stuart Sutcliffe had died in Hamburg of a brain haemorrhage. The following day, the Beatles flew to Germany and opened a seven-week engagement at Hamburg's Star Club. By May, Epstein had at last found a Beatles convert in EMI producer George Martin, who signed the group to the Parlophone label. Three months later, drummer Pete Best was sacked; although he had looked the part, his drumming was poor. An initial protest was made by his considerable army of fans back in Liverpool. His replacement was Ringo Starr (b. Richard Starkey, 7 July 1940, Dingle, Liverpool, England), the extrovert and locally popular drummer from Rory Storm And The Hurricanes. Towards the end of 1962, the Beatles broke through to the UK charts with their debut single, 'Love Me Do', and played the Star Club for the final time. The debut was important, as it was far removed from the traditional 'beat combo' sound, and Lennon's use of a harmonica made the song stand out. At this time, Epstein signed a contract with the music publisher Dick James, which led to the