It is a bold statement to say any one band or musician is the greatest musical influence of all time, however in the case of the Beatles it may not be such an outlandish claim. Formed from rather humble beginnings in 1960 in Liverpool, The Beatles would go on to dominate the music scene for nearly 10 years, before formally splitting up on 31st December 1970.
The band members were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (although Stuart Sutcliffe & Pete Best did appear briefly), and although they began producing music rooted in Rock and Roll with elements of Skiffle, they soon expanded their repertoire, covering a wide range of genres from pop ballads to hard rock. As their career progressed their lyrics became more complex, often containing socio-cultural undertones and their musical style evolved in innovative ways including psychedelic elements and classical influences.
During their early career (1960-63) they gained fame and reputation while playing gigs in their home town (especially at the Caravan Club) and also in Hamburg. Their first big hit, “Love Me Do”, really shot them into the limelight and they soon earned the nickname “the Fab Four” and Beatlemania took off in Britain. By 1964 they had become international pop stars and they were the pioneers of the British move into the US music market. The Beatles produced what many consider their finest music after 1965, as their lyrics and musical innovation began to crescendo and they produced a string of influential songs & albums. They produced at least one notable work each year up to their break up and albums which anyone interested in the history of music should consider listening to include:
• Rubber Soul (1965);
• Revolver (1966);
• Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967);
• The Beatles (“White Album” 1968);
• Abbey Road (1969).
Further proof of their influence is rooted in the fact that even after their break-up in 1970, each went on to enjoy successful musical careers. Sadly John Lennon was shot and killed in December 1980, and George Harrison succumbed to lung cancer in 2001, however Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, continue to perform and produce music whose popularity spans the generations.
Further the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) notes that The Beatles have sold the most records ever in the United States (even outselling Elvis Presley whose career spanned many more years) they have had more No 1 albums and sold more singles in the UK than any other band.
Critical acclaim for the Beatles includes topping Billboard magazine’s list of the all-time most successful “Hot 100” artists (in 2008). Further as at the time of writing (2014), they hold the record by having 20 number-one hits on the Hot 100 chart. They also have ten Grammy Awards, fifteen Ivor Novello Awards and an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
The Core members have featured in Time magazine’s compilation of the 20th century’s 100 most influential people, and in 2004 Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the Beatles as the greatest artist of all time.
So although many will have their own view on who the most influential band is on them, overall The Beatles are certainly one of, if not the most influential bands ever and to this day their music is covered by other bands and loved and listened to by people of all ages.
If you have some time to spare you may like to watch the Classic Live Show below, or you can check out some of their songs here.