When I was younger, so much younger than today, my musical exposure was limited to my parents’ record collection. Among the many LPs that were played on the now derelict Philips record player, one of my favourites was ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. I vividly recall sitting with the album cover in my hand, hour upon hour, reading the lyrics (it was the first Beatles album with the lyrics printed on the inner sleeve) and singing along with ‘When I’m Sixty-four’, years before my grandparents were that age. In years to come, a new stereo system arrived in the house, and ownership of the record player and was thrillingly shifted to me. I was thirteen, a year younger than Harrison when he joined Lennon and McCartney to become the third guitarist of The Quarrymen. When the electricity failed, I would spin the record with my hands; my ears straining as the needle scratched out the intro to ‘She’s Leaving Home’.
The times they were a changin’, and The Beatles albums were available in India on tape. One of my most memorable times listening to the Beatles is of my father driving me back from Rhythm House, listening to the ‘1967 – 1970’ double album we’d just bought, as he explained the lyrics of ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ and the LSD connection. As Ringo said, “it was always about the music.” When I reflect back to my friends in school, I realize that the closest were Beatles fans themselves and those who weren’t were soon converted. The Beatles were a platform from where we were catapulted into an entire genre and era of music, and inevitably with it, of thought. Were it not for that, I would not be the person I am today.
More than the words themselves, one tends to be inclined to associating
the music one has heard with the times when we heard it. Through my life,
many of my memories are entwined with these songs - dancing to the red
album (1962-1966) on the roof of my grandparent’s house in Calcutta or
humming ‘Norwegian Wood’ while trekking on the Annapurna Base Camp circuit
with a cheery Norwegian couple, or trying to recall the second paragraph
of ‘A Day In The Life’ with my parents, miles away from civilization on
another of our various treks which served as escapes from mundane urban
As the internet came in and I decided to add to the numerous websites on the world wide web, I could not think of better content than a Beatles page. Today, I thank them in my own little way with my website foolonahill.com. I thank them for sharing with me that ‘in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make’, and for letting me believe when no one else did - ‘all you need is love.’
“There is a place,
Where I can go,
When I feel low,
When I feel blue.
And it's my mind,
And there's no time when I'm alone.
In my mind there's no sorrow,
Don't you know that it's so?
There'll be no sad tomorrow,
Don't you know that it's so?”
Some people, they say, have exceptional memories. I, unfortunately, am not one of them. The last ten years of life have been like any others, but if attempted I cannot rattle off events that have changed (or have come close to changing) my entire philosophy towards the same. Not that I have a certain philosophy that seeks to do so or one that could bind these memories by a single string of thread.
The last ten years of my life have been a haze of one happy memory after another, not conjoined by the man-made parameter of dates or timelines. Chronologically, I am a disaster, and choose to remain that way. The one thing that does however separate this seemingly disjointed life, is my addiction, or rather affliction, with the Beatles.
I was twelve. Like the rest of my age group, I went to school and had an utterly mundane affair with textbooks that I just couldn’t ignore. Math classes, dreaded PE drills and distasteful canteen food made up the crux of most of my conversations. Home however, was a slightly different story. Having been brought up a liberal (with due apologies), my parents had never forced upon me any strict regime. I had a free hand on my actions as long as I didn’t discard academics in totality, though I still believe that this singularly was, is and will be the primary force behind me embracing the life of a dharma bum.
It was at this strictly critical juncture that I grew slowly to love
the Beatles. I had always been aware of their presence thanks to the enormous
EP collection I inherited from my mother. At this point of my life when
everything else was headed seemingly downhill, they acted as a catalyst
to my growing image of an “teenage asocial” which helped me, in turn to
offer myself a safe recluse where I could retire irrespective of whatever
“Someday when I'm lonely,
Wishing you weren't so far away…
Someday when we're dreaming,
Deep in love, not a lot to say.
Then we will tremember
The things we said today.”
“Is there no end to what these four men have given – and continue to give- to our lives, to our culture, to our society? Are we, as fans, completely aware of the significance of their contributions to our lives? The music, the fashion, the values — even delving into politics and spirituality. How can four men influence a generation-a society-to this extent”
“They made it all possible, made it all conceivable. I said,'That's what I want to do! …I tell you, if it wasn't for me seeing them (The Beatles) that night on 'The Ed Sullivan Show', I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing right now. I might not even be alive. I credit them with creating a lot of my life.”
“I think the Beatles had an influence on everybody coming up in the sixties. They changed everything; the way we dressed, the way we wore our hair, the way we thought, the way we approached music. …they really did take us on a ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, didn’t they? They really took us on a trip that can never happen again.”
“This record embodies all the qualities I love about the Beatles - their courage in challenging conventions, their topicality, their introduction of new musical textures such as their use of Indian instruments, and so on”
“If not for that album (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”), I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now, It just completely flipped me out. I found this interesting looking cover, put the album on, and fell madly in love…still today, that album is like the smell of play-doh to me, it’s so familiar. When I was little, there was some click, like from joy to some very serious passion, that happened to me listening to Sgt. Pepper.”
“The wild and windy night the rain washed away,
Has left a pool of tears crying for the day.
Why leave me standing here, let me know the way
Many times I've been alone and many times I've cried
Anyway you'll never know the many ways I've tried, but
Still they lead me back to the long and winding road
You left me standing here a long, long time ago
Don't leave me waiting here, lead me to you door”
The Beatles, an English based rock group, created a profound impact on popular music. This Liverpudlian group consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. As Dave Brubeck told Time Magazine, “the Beatles are responsible for making our world happen, they are more important than many presidents.” Not only did the Beatles influence popular music, they also had, and still have many fans. The Beatles mirrored much of 1960's culture. As moptops in the early 60's, their long hair posed as an act of rebellion for many parents. By late 1965, the Beatles began experimenting with drugs, like LSD and Marijuana. Soon many young people began experimenting with the drugs. Also, the Vietnam War was taking place. Loads of men were sent to fight in a war against communism in Vietnam. Because many people believed that the war only destroyed lives, a peace-oriented society grew up. Extreme peace people were the Hippies. Even though Ronald Reagan compared them to apes, there style was unique with love beads and hemp clothing. By the 1969, the Beatles practiced Transcendental Meditation and they experimented with Indian music too. By 1970, the Beatles broke up and released their last album ‘Let it Be’. Throughout their musical career, the Beatles released four movies, ‘A Hard Day's Night’, ‘HELP!’, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, and ‘Let it Be’.
On Feb. 9, 1964, the Beatles made their American television debut on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show.’ An estimated 73.7 million viewers tuned in -- the largest television audience to date -- and about 50,000 people applied for the 728 seats at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City.
The “Fab Four” sang “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You” and “She Loves You” -- and the nation was mesmerized.
“Artistically, the '60s begin when the Beatles are on ‘Ed Sullivan,’” said Charles Young, a rock journalist from Madison who has interviewed Lennon and McCartney.
The Beatles, who had arrived in America two days earlier, already had a No. 1 hit in the States: “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” They would go on to chart a total of 20, topping Elvis Presley's mark of 17. By the time the group dissolved in 1970, it had revolutionized the music industry.
Today, the Beatles are still a hot item in the music business, appealing
across the spectrum from baby boomers who grew up with them to teenagers
who have “discovered” them. As of Jan. 20, the group had sold 105.5 albums
in the U.S., a figure that exceeds Garth Brooks' sales by more than 16
million, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Only
Elvis has more gold, platinum and multi- platinum albums combined than
the Beatles, 104 to 91, the trade group notes.
“For such feats of sales and airplay alone, the Beatles can unassailably be regarded as the top group in rock 'n' roll history,” according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, which inducted the band in 1988. Lennon was also inducted as a solo performer in 1994, and McCartney on March 15.
As Paul said in an interview during the anthology-era, “the only group to outsell The Beatles was . . . The Beatles.”
“If there's a bigger entertainment story in the century, I don't know what it would be,” Young said. “You could easily make a case that they're the greatest songwriters of the century.”
The Beatles, the first legitimate rock band to come to America in the British Invasion, were followed in the States by other British musicians, notably the Rolling Stones, the Animals, the Dave Clark Five, Petula Clark, Gerry and the Pacemakers and Herman's Hermits. But no British groups ever attracted the massive, fanatic following commanded by the Beatles.
“The Beatles were the bulwark,” Young said. “They were the front of the ship's bow in the British Invasion. The Beatles were so good that their glow made (other British bands) look better.”
Their road to success began in Liverpool in 1958, when the group consisted of guitarists Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, bassist Stu Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best. They soon became a fixture in the rough-and-tumble bar scene in Hamburg, Germany, where their repertoire consisted of rock 'n' roll and R&B, running the gamut from Chuck Berry to Little Richard. Sutcliffe left the group in 1961, and Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey) replaced Best in 1962.
By then the Beatles had polished their image. Instead of sporting leather jackets, jeans and slicked-back hair, the foursome wore dapper collarless, gray suits that made them appear more friendly than menacing.
The Beatles' first single, “Love Me Do/P.S. I Love You,” barely dented the United Kingdom's top 20 in late 1962. But their next 45, “Please, Please Me,” formally ignited Beatlemania in Britain. Four straight No. 1 British singles ensued: “From Me to You,” “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Can't Buy Me Love.”
It was time to test the American market. On Feb. 7, 1964, the “lads from Liverpool” touched down at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, where they were greeted with an endless stream of adoration. Ten thousand fans, mostly teenage girls, filled the air with deafening screams. There were shrieks, sirens and panic. One sign read: “I Love You: Please Stay Here Forever.”
After holding a press conference at the airport - where Ringo said, “So this is America. They all seem to be out of their minds” - the Beatles sped off to New York's Plaza Hotel, only to be overwhelmed further. Teenagers were chanting, stomping their feet and waving a wild array of signs, some of which read, “Beatles 4- Ever,” “The USA Wants You To Stay,” and “Elvis Is Dead -- Long Live The Beatles!”
After appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the Beatles performed in New York's Carnegie Hall, Washington, D.C., and again on the “Sullivan Show” in Miami. Their buoyant melodies, playful personalities and mop-topped charisma boosted the spirits of a nation that was still reeling from the assassination of President Kennedy a little more than two months earlier.
“A major reason for the Beatles' immediate success in America was their accessibility to the media,” Benson said.
“In the next suite, no matter where we went, it would be crammed full of journalists, and everyone got to see the Beatles,” he said.
The Beatles' short first U.S. tour ended Feb. 21, and during the week of April 4, 1964, they set a record that is unlikely to ever be broken. The group claimed all five of the leading positions on Billboard magazine's Top 100 Singles chart, with “Can't Buy Me Love” at No. 1. Their popularity continued to soar with the release of a playfully anarchic documentary film, “A Hard Day's Night,” in August 1964.
Not everyone appreciated the musicians' long hair, loud clothes and falsetto singing. The Feb. 24, 1964, issue of Newsweek magazine called the Beatles a visual “nightmare,” with “tight, dandified Edwardian beatnik suits and great pudding-bowls of hair. Musically, they are a near disaster: guitars and drums slamming out a merciless beat that does away with secondary rhythms.”
Syndicated columnist William F. Buckley wrote on Sept. 8, 1964: “They are so unbelievably horrible, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art, that they qualify as the crowned heads of anti-music.”
Of course, the Beatles proved the critics wrong -- again and again. In fact, in their final years, they produced two of their greatest albums, “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be,” before leaving a legacy that is still impressive by today's standards.
As Beatlefest creator Lapides said, “When they came over from Britain, they grabbed us and never let go.”
1. An invasion to be remembered - Michael Richman (Special to the Journal
Sentinel); February 06, 1999
2. The Beatles' Influence in the 20th Century – Sooz; September 1999