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Biggest Beatles Moments: 1963-1969
September 20, 1969
Losing Lennon: John Lennon Quietly Quits
Both Ringo Starr and George Harrison temporarily left the group and returned, Paul McCartney was the first to publically acknowledge The Beatles split in April of 1970, but the first Beatle to permanently quit was John Lennon. On September 20, 1969, Lennon quietly informed McCartney he was leaving, and when he failed to show up for a final recording session in January, it seemed the Beatles' reign had truly come to an end.
September 17, 1969
Beatles Conspiracy Theory: Paul is Dead
When a college editor in Iowa published the article, “Is Beatle Paul McCartney Dead?” in September of 1969, it sparked an international phenomenon and a hunt for clues pointing to McCartney’s secret demise. Some hidden clues fans claimed pointed to Paul’s death? Playing “Revolution 9” backward to hear “turn me on, dead man,” a funeral-procession interpretation of the cover of “Abbey Road,” and the misheard lyrics “I buried Paul” on the track "Strawberry Fields Forever.”
August 27, 1967
Farewell to the Fifth Beatle: Brian Epstein’s Passing
On August 27th, 1967, The Beatles fearless leader, manager Brian Epstein, died of an accidental sleeping pill overdose at his home in London. As Lennon later recalled, "The Beatles were finished when Eppy died. I knew, deep inside me, that that was it. Without him, we'd had it." Paul McCartney also noted, “If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian.” The death of their manager left a void in the group, and a replacement for his position was never chosen.
November 9, 1966
Love Hurts: Lennon Meets Yoko
When John Lennon met artist Yoko Ono the day before the opening of her one-woman show at the Indica Gallery in London, he knew she was the one. And, as some might argue, the one to ultimately cause the band's dissolution. Lennon later noted, “The old gang of mine was over the moment I met [Yoko]. I didn't consciously know it at the time, but that's what was going on. As soon as I met her, that was the end of the boys.” As the duo’s relationship intensified over the next few years, Yoko Ono was often cited as the cause of growing conflict between the bandmates.
July 29, 1966
The Beatles vs. Jesus Christ: Lennon’s Controversial Interview
The Beatles weren’t afraid to speak candidly. In the summer of ’66, American teenage mag, “Datebook” published some off-handed remarks from an interview with John Lennon, including his zinger about The Beatles being “more popular than Jesus.” Cue the backlash! The remark sparked an Anti-Beatles movement, and radio stations (particularly in the southern Bible belt) began banning Beatles hits from airplay.
August 15, 1965
Large and In Charge: The Beatles Take Shea Stadium
The Beatles' Shea Stadium show, staged in the summer of ’65 at the height of Beatlemania, was officially the largest rock concert attended to date, with 55,600 crying, screaming and fainting fans present. The first concert to be held in a major stadium, the Shea show kicked off an era of outdoor stadium concerts.
July 6, 1964
'A Hard Day's Night': The Beatles' Big Screen Debut
Declared by New York’s Village Voice as “‘Citizen Kane’ of jukebox musicals,” “A Hard Day’s Night” marked Beatles' first foray into cinema. The black-and-white, 85-minute long mockumentary was a smash success, earning 1.3 million in its opening week. The accompanying soundtrack was another notable Beatles first – “A Hard Day’s Night” was the first Beatles album comprised only of original compositions and penned entirely by Lennon and McCartney.
February 9, 1964
British Invasion: The Beatles Appear on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’
Over 73 million viewers tuned in to watch The Beatles' first live appearance on American television - a performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Nearly 50,000 fans applied for studio seats. Ringo Starr later recalled the Beatles' USA invasion: "Just coming to America was the mind-blower – no one can imagine these days what an incredibly feat it was to conquer America. No British act had done it before.”
November 4, 1963
Rattle Your Jewelry: The Beatles' Royal Variety Performance
The royals got their fair share of attention, but it was The Beatles who were treated like royalty at the Royal Variety Show in November of 1963. Held at the Prince of Wales Theater before the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, the Royal Variety Show’s major attraction was the boy band from London, who capped their appearance with a rousing rendition of “Twist and Shout.” It was here John Lennon uttered his infamous lines: "Those of you in the cheaper seats, clap your hands; and those of you in the more expensive seats, just rattle your jewelry."
March 22, 1963
Please Please...Like Us?: The Beatles Release Debut Album
Parlophone rush-released The Beatles’ debut album, “Please Please Me” on March 22, 1963, and The Beatles' marathon recording session paid off. The album secured the top spot on UK charts in May of that year, and the chart topper didn’t budge for an unprecedented thirty weeks. The album legitamized the writing genuis of McCartney and Lennon, who penned eight of the album’s 14 tracks.
February 11, 1963
Musical Marathon Men: ‘Please Please Me’ Recording Session
With the success of singles “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me,” Parlophone was anxious to release a Beatles album. The only problem? The Beatles needed to pull an additional ten tracks out of their trick hat to complete a full record. In a marathon recording session on February 11, 1963, at Abbey Road that lasted over nine hours, The Beatles managed to bang out their first full album, named after the title track, “Please Please Me.”
June 6, 1962
Deal Signed, Drummer Dropped: The Abbey Road Audition
After a string of rejections, The Beatles finally impressed the man who would but them on the map - George Martin, the head of EMI's Parlophone Records. Following the group's June 6th audition and recording session at Abbey Road Studios, Martin agreed to sign the “cheeky” boy band, but with a caveat. The group's drummer, Pete Best, would be replaced with Ringo Starr.