They were called The Quarrymen, then Johnny and the Moondogs, then The Silver Beetles before settling on The Beatles.
The group name was a play on "The Crickets," who were Buddy Holly's backup band. John Lennon liked how both names had double meanings: they were both names of insects, while cricket is a popular international sport and "beat" is a musical term. When The Beatles finally met members of The Crickets, they were surprised to learn that they never thought of their band name as having anything to do with the sport - they don't play cricket in America.
Their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964 drew what was at the time the largest audience in the history of American television. Crime in America dropped noticeably that night, especially juvenile offenses.
They are the only band with six diamond albums, meaning sales of 10 million each: Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road, The Beatles 1962-1966, The Beatles 1967-1970, The White Album, The Beatles 1. Led Zeppelin has 5 diamond albums.
The Beatles made five movies: A Hard Day's Night, Help, Yellow Submarine, Magical Mystery Tour, and Let It Be.
When they hit it big, The Beatles were subject to massive taxes in England, which they sheltered by forming a public company to control their publishing rights. This company was bought out in 1969, and put up for sale in 1984, which is when Michael Jackson famously outbid Paul McCartney for the publishing rights to most of The Beatles songs. Jackson paid $47.5 million for the catalogue of over 200 songs, which in 1995, when Jackson needed cash, he merged with Sony for $95 million.
They toured the United States three times: in the summers of 1964, 1965 and 1966.
All four Beatles have appeared on the TV show The Simpsons: Ringo in 1991 when Homer finds paintings of him in the attic and Marge explains how she sent one to him in the '60s (he finally gets the painting and writes her back), George in 1993 when Homer recalls being in a barbershop quartet and at a party George introduces himself and Homer only wants to know where he got his brownie (in the same episode Homer's band does a reunion on the rooftop and George's limo pulls up and he says its been done), and Paul in 1995 when Lisa is introduced to him and Linda by Apu when she needs advice on vegetarianism.
John Lennon appeared on the 2008 episode "Tree house of Terror XIX." He rides out of heaven on a yellow submarine and says, "All we are saying is, 'Let's eat some brains!" (thanks, Michael - Murrieta, CA)
The most #1 albums in the US chart by a group is 19, by The Beatles, thanks to various Anthology and compilation albums. Their chart-topping tally is more than double the number of those held by Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones, with 9. Their latest chart-topping album was aptly entitled 1 and was released in 2001 which sold 13.5 million copies around the world in its first month, making it the fastest-selling album.
A Beatles cartoon ran on Saturday mornings on ABC from 1965 to 1969, making John, Paul, George and Ringo the first real people animated in a weekly series. The Beatles didn't voice their characters - John and George were voice by one actor and Paul and Ringo by another. Initially the open credits theme was a guitar riff from "A Hard Day's Night" segueing into "Can't Buy Me Love," which was over a cartoon sequence of the lads running down a fire escape, just like a scene in A Hard Day's Night. The second season's opening theme was "Help!", while the third season's theme was "And Your Bird Can Sing," over a different cartoon sequence that showed each Beatles' face being morphed into a cartoon.
In 2001, Cartoon Network released an episode of their then-popular cartoon The Powerpuff Girls titled "Meet The Beat-Alls." The plot of the cartoon was that four of the villains that the Powerpuff Girls always battled and defeated joined forces and became one powerful group. The villains were Mojo Jojo, Him, Princess Morbucks, and Fuzzy Lumpkins. Their group formation and success mirrored that of the Beatles, and the cartoon featured hundreds of references to Beatles songs, album covers, etc. The Beatles themselves even made a cameo near the end. Near the end, Mojo meets a female monkey named "Moko Jono", a play on Yoko Ono. Like Yoko was blamed for doing, Moko pretty much helped to break the villain group up. (thanks, Tom - Marble Falls, AR and Patrick - Bremen, GA)
McCartney's first wife, Linda, and Lennon's second, Yoko, both went to Sarah Lawrence College.
Lennon wanted Jesus, Gandhi, and Hitler on the cover of Sgt. Pepper. He had recently taken a lot of heat for saying The Beatles were "Bigger than Jesus," so they decided not to.
The Beatles are the best-selling group of all time, estimated to have sold over one billion records worldwide. They have had more #1 singles and albums than any other musical group, and had the fastest selling single and of all time with "I Want To Hold Your Hand
" and 1
respectively. They also spent the highest number of weeks at #1 in the album charts - 174 weeks in the UK and 132 weeks in the US. (thanks, Taike - Lungtan, Taiwan)
Abbey Road is the name of the recording studio they used. They used it for the name of the last album they recorded, and shot the famous cover in the crosswalk outside. At one point, they planned to call the album "Everest" and shoot the cover with the band at the base of Mount Everest, but they went the simple route instead. The photo shoot took 30 minutes.
In 1969, the Detroit disc jockey Russ Gibb played a portion of "Revolution 9
" backwards, and some listeners heard the phrase "Turn me on, dead man." This flamed rumors that Paul McCartney was dead and replaced by a surgically-enhanced lookalike. Evidence included the Abbey Road
cover, which supposedly portrayed John as the priest, Ringo the undertaker, Paul dead (his shoes are off), and George as the gravedigger. Note that Paul, who is left-handed, is holding a cigarette in his right hand on the cover.
Their songs hardly ever appear on compilation albums with other artists, as Apple Records has rarely allowed it.
They had a hard time getting a record deal in the US. They were turned down by five different record companies before finally being signed to Capitol.
None of The Beatles could read music, but they could apparently write it - all of them learned to play by ear. They honed their skills with constant early performances: early club gigs lasted hours, but after they hit it big, their concerts ran about 30 minutes.
When Lennon shared an apartment with Sutcliffe, he would sometimes sleep in a silk-lined coffin that he had stolen from a garbage dump.
Each member of The Beatles has an asteroid named after him. An Arizona Research Lab named them in the mid-1980s.
They were the first pop group to be made into wax sculptures at Madame Tussaud's wax museum in London.
In the US, they had 20 #1 hits, 43 Top-20 and 53 Top-40 hits. Their first was in 1964 and the last was in 1996.
Apple Records was around before Apple Computer. The computer company had to agree not to enter the music business when they took their name. This became an issue after computers could play back songs. At the time computers just went "beep," Apple Records was happy, but as soon as you could record and play back a song - that was an infringement. The legal issues were finally resolved in 2007, with Apple Computer owning the Apple name but licensing it back to Apple Records. This paved the way for The Beatles music appearing on iTunes and other digital services. In a statement, Apple Computer boss Steve Jobs said, "We love The Beatles, and it has been painful being at odds with them over these trademarks... we wish Apple Inc. every success and look forward to many years of peaceful cooperation with them." (thanks, Quentin - Perth, Australia)
Their American and UK releases were often very different. For instance, three songs on the Revolver album were left off the American version but included on another album: Yesterday and Today. When they released Sgt. Pepper, the group put a stop to this practice, insisting that it and all future albums be consistent across countries.
Their first four releases have either "You" or "Me" in the title: "Love Me Do," "Please Please Me," "She Loves You," "From Me To You." This was done intentionally to create a relationship between them and their fans. (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, WA. U.S.A)
On Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of all time, The Beatles hold the #1 spot with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, as well as the #3 and #5 spots with Revolver and Rubber Soul.The White Album was listed as #10 and Abbey Road was 14. That's 3 albums in the top 5, 4 albums in the top 10 and 5 albums in the top 15. (thanks, Giancarlo - Strawberry Fields, MI)
By the end of 1970 the Beatles had sold more than 500 million records. Guinness reported sales of 545 million Beatles records from 1963-74. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
In 2006, George Martin and his son Giles, produced the music for the Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas production Love, which is based on The Beatles music. Martin went back to the master tapes and used pieces of about 130 songs to create 26 tracks for the soundtrack. The project was approved by McCartney and Starr, as well as the estates of Harrison and Lennon. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
In 1976 Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels offered $3000 during one of the show's episodes for the Beatles to reunite. John Lennon and Paul McCartney, both of whom happened to be watching the show together at Lennon's home, considered walking over to the studio which was just one and a half miles away, but decided not to because they were tired.