The Beatles have sold more than a billion albums and been consistently hailed as the greatest band of time, inspiring stoners everywhere to create their own musical masterpieces. Thanks for that.
The Beatles began as a Liverpool skiffle band (skiffle being British slang for "suck") formed by John Lennon (and known as the Quarrymen). Eventually a young Paul McCartney, followed by an already world-weary George Harrison, joined the group, before heading to Germany to hone their skills at multiple clubs in the Reeperbahn, a Hamburg street notorious for drunken brawls and prostitution.
Skiffle was supplanted by that newfangled rock and roll, and the band was on their way. Pete Best was recruited as their drummer, only to gain fame as a punchline by being fired right before the band made it big. After Harrison was sent back to England for being underage, McCartney and Best were deported for nailing a condom to their door and setting it on fire, officially making for the best deportation story ever.
After returning to England, the Beatles teemed up with manager Brian Epstein, a man best described as "straight as a broken arrow." While Epstein was struck by the group's raw charisma - in his pants - they weren't an easy sell. When Epstein attempted to sign the band with Decca Records, the label dismissed him by declaring "guitar groups" to be on the way out. Decca later passed on Led Zeppelin, Starbucks, and the Internet.
"I'm sorry Mr.Gore, but the information super-highway is on its way out."
Thanks to their relentless drive, limitless talent, and being, as some critics have put it, "pretty easy on the eyes," the Beatles were on their way to the big leagues. Epstein's careful management played on the band's distinct personalities; John was the "smart" one Paul was the "cute" one, George was the "quiet" one, and Ringo was the hard-partying, fast-living, musical prodigy.
With their first album Please Please Me, the Beatles scored a number one and sparked the fad known as Beatlemania. Despite getting a lot of critique for their "long hair," the Beatles were one of the first "teen" crazes, and were beloved by young girls around the world; they were basically the 1964 equivalent of Zac Efron.
The similarites are uncanny.
By 1964, with the release of A Hard Day's Night, the Beatles had already conquered both the U.K. and the U.S. It was a record-breaking appearance on the Ed Sullivan show that sealed the deal, with almost half of America tuning in to watch, making it nearly as popular as the Jon and Kate divorce special.
While their original sound was a loose pastiche of American R&B, the Beatles were working towards a more unique mix of American and British influences. Albums like Rubber Soul and Revolver challenged the authorities at the time by singing about fast cars, girls with long brown hair, and stalking your girlfriend ("You Better Run"). Simpler times. But by 1966, the pressure of touring became too much, and the concert at Candlestick Park was the last time the Beatles would play a concert venue together.
By the mid 1960s, the Beatles had it all. Fame, fortune, critical acclaim, but there was one thing they were lacking - silly moustaches.
Everything is better with moustaches
And so, in 1967, under the influence of John Lennon's moustache hair, and copious hallucinogenics, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was born. Well, not born so much as "imagined" during an LSD trip and then somehow recorded. Depending on who you're talking to, Sgt. Pepper is the greatest album ever recorded or, if you're talking to a jaded hipster with a superiority complex, the moment pop music became "art," man.
Songs like "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" were anthems of the oncoming Psychedelic movement. Check out other famous works made by people hopped up on goofballs at The 5 Greatest Things Ever Accomplished While High.
These people made the greatest album of all time. While stoned out of their minds.
But the band was already starting to fray. By the release of Magical Mystery Tour, psychedelia was fading in popularity. Later efforts like The White Album and Abbey Road showed the group to be more of a loose collection of musicians than the tightly-knit band they once were. After the release of Let it Be in 1970, the Beatles were at an impasse.
By 1970, irreconcilable differences, and the lack of moustaches, had become too much for the band, and the Beatles split up. John Lennon had a successful solo career before being shot by a crazy person, Paul McCartney released several high-charting albums and formed Wings, before donating half of his money to a noble cause - divorce.
If those crazy kids can't make it work, who can?
George Harrison also had a successful career, while Ringo dabbled in acting. Although the Beatles broke up nearly four decades ago, Rolling Stone recently named Sgt. Pepper as the greatest album of all time, further proof that Rolling Stone wouldn't know current music if they were attacked with a copy of I Am…Sasha Fierce.
Whether or not the Beatles earned the title of "world's greatest band" is debatable. But, in less than a decade, they produced some of the greatest songs ever written. And, with over a billion albums sold…they still don't have the biggest selling album of all time. Fuck you, Glenn Frey.