The Fab Four, The Mop Tops, Not-The-Stones…whatever you want to call them,
the Beatles remain the most influential pop band of all time. In five short years, they went from fledgling beat rockers to cultural icons. With 20 number one hits in the U.S. alone, the Beatles had a higher hit rate than Mozart. September will mark 50 years since John Lennon quit the band, bringing an end to the greatest pop foursome in music history. And while we could never dream of trying to rank which Beatle is the best (Paul), we will irresponsibly rank some of their most memorable antics and achievements. However you slice it, the lads from Liverpool were loads of fun. So let’s take a walk down memory lane with John, Paul, George, and Ringo…and a thimbleful of the psychedelic drug of your choice.
Cover Photo: Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer (Getty Images)
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Beatles ranked moments
10. Paul meets John.
July 6, 1957, is a magical day in music history. Nobody at the time would have guessed that a kid named John and a kid named Paul would go on to become the greatest songwriting team in history. We all need to get out more.
August, 1960, the Beatles booked the seedy Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany. Months of nightlong, benzodiazepine-addled sets and a gaggle of hot German art school students, not only gave the Beatles their musical chops, but their memorable mop tops too. Thanks to a dispute with the Star-Club, and Paul McCartney trying to set the building on fire (allegedly), the boys were deported back to merry old England as the tightest rock group around.
8. Enter Ringo.
For as much flack as Ringo gets, he was the perfect drummer for the Fab Four. With an explosive backbeat, inventive playing style, a simple, yet musical approach, and a droopy-eyed ennui, Ringo rounded out the sound of the Beatles in a way no other drummer could. The band was now complete.
7. Ed Sullivan.
It was a cold day in February 1964 when Ed Sullivan unleashed a rather unknown English rock band on an unsuspecting American audience. This appearance would catapult the Beatles to the top of the pop charts and thaw the icy shell around America's post-JFK heart.
6. The Beatles meet Bob Dylan.
Rumor has it that the Beatles were introduced to Dylan in the back of a New York hotel room. Then Dylan introduced the Beatles to cannabis. Legend has it that Dylan turned to Lennon and said, "Have you ever wrote a Lennon/McCartney original...on weed?"
5. 'A Hard Day's Night.'
Believe it or not, the critics in 1964 predicted the Beatles were nothing more than a flash-in-the-pan pop group that would be gone by Christmas. In that spirit, "A Hard Day's Night" was conceived as a cash cow by the record label/movie studio to capitalize on the Beatles' 15 minutes of fame. The band and director Richard Lester had other plans, and instead delivered an instant classic filled with more hit songs than anyone had ever seen on one record.
4. More popular than Jesus.
John Lennon was an acerbic, honest, quick-witted chap who loved to talk shit. And his statement about the Beatles being more popular than Jesus was not only brilliantly blasphemous, it was also true. Unfortunately the Bible Belt did not appreciate the candor and turned Lennon's words into a fiery shit storm that would end the Beatles touring days. Still, it was worth it if only to see this KKK Jesus freak attempt to zing the Fab Four on national television wearing his Sunday best.
3. The Beatles Drop Acid.
After the Beatles took LSD, their music really got far out. "Within You, Without You" and "I Am The Walrus" were definitely written with a little help from their friends (aka mind-altering drugs). While it also led to disastrous films like
The Magical Mystery Tour, the incredible expansion of the Beatles' music more than made up for it.
2. 'Sgt. Pepper's' drops.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, released May 26, 1967, is considered the greatest rock and roll record of all time. After its release, dropping an album became a cultural event. Hell, even dropping the needle on an album became a cultural event. Sgt. Pepper's single-handedly kicked off the golden age of vinyl.
1. 'Abbey Road.'
The image of four lads crossing the road is permanently emblazoned on the memory banks of every music lover. Amazing how the simple act of walking can be raised to the heights of timeless iconography in the hands of the Beatles.
A week before the album came out, the Beatles had already split. But despite
Abbey being the end of the road, the Beatles, it seems, will continue on forever. And that's plenty fine with us.