Timeline: The Beatles
Here are some key moments in the history and evolution of The Beatles.
by Jennie Wood
- July 7
- Richard Starkey is born in Liverpool. He later changes his name to Ringo Starr.
- Oct. 9
- John Lennon is born in Liverpool.
- June 18
- Paul McCartney is born in Liverpool.
- Feb. 24
- George Harrison is born in Liverpool.
- At age 16, John Lennon gathers some Quarry Bank Grammar School pals and forms a band called the Quarrymen.
- July 6, 1957
- The Quarrymen perform at St. Peter's Woolton Parish Church. Afterwards, Lennon meets Paul McCartney. McCartney is 15 at the time. Soon after this first meeting, John asks Paul to join the Quarrymen.
- George Harrison joins the Quarrymen. He is 15 years old.
- Stuart Sutcliffe, Lennon's friend from the Liverpool College of Art, joins the Quarrymen. They change their name to the Silver Beetles and later to Silver Beatles.
- Pete Best joins the band as their drummer. The group has once again changed its name, this time to the Beatles. The group travels to Hamburg for the first of five trips there between Aug. 1960 and Dec. 1962. In Hamburg, they perform at clubs such as the Kiaserkeller and Indra. It is during these extended visits to Hamburg that the band finds its sound and identity.
- Dec. 27
- Returning to Liverpool from Hamburg, the Beatles play Litherland Town Hall. The performance creates buzz and frenzy.
- Stuart Sutcliffe quits the band.
- Brian Epstein meets the Beatles. He becomes their manager.
- Jan. 1
- The band has an unsuccessful audition for Decca Records in London.
- April 10
- Stuart Sutcliffe dies from a brain hemorrhage.
- May 9
- The band signs their first recording contract. They hire George Martin to be their producer. Martin remains the only producer the Beatles work with as a band.
- Aug. 16
- Pete Best leaves the band.
- Aug. 18
- Ringo Starr joins the Beatles.
- Sept. 11
- The Beatles record their first single, "Love Me Do."
- Oct. 5
- "Love Me Do", the band's first single, is released in the United Kingdom. It peaks at #17 on the British Chart.
- Jan. 11
- The band's second single, "Please Please Me," is released in the United Kingdom.
- Feb. 11
- The Beatles record their first album, also called Please Please Me, in one day. Ten songs are recorded to add to "Love Me Do," "Please Please Me," "P.S. I Love You," and "Ask Me Why," which were previously recorded.
- Feb. 22
- The song "Please Please Me" hits number one on the British singles chart and remains there for two weeks.
- Mar. 22
- The album Please Please Me comes out in the U.K. and is an instant hit there. The album is number one for 29 weeks.
- The album Please Please Me is released in the U.S., but is titled Introducing the Beatles. The release is a flop.
- The Beatles popularity spreads from the U.K. throughout Europe. This is considered the start of Beatlemania.
- Oct. 13
- 15 million people watch the Beatles perform on ITV's Sunday Night at the London Palladium. The show is the U.K. equivalent of The Ed Sullivan Show.
- Nov. 4
- The Beatles perform for Queen Elizabeth II, Lord Snowdon, and Princess Margaret at the Royal Command Performance. During the performance, Lennon shouts out, "Will the people in the cheaper seats clap their hands? And the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry."
- Nov. 22
- With the Beatles, the Beatles' second album comes out in the U.K. and holds the number one position on the British album chart for 21 weeks. In fact, it knocks their first album out of the number one spot. The two albums combine to dominate the top of the album charts for 51 straight weeks. The songs on With the Beatles include "All My Loving," "Please Mr. Postman," and others.
- Nov. 29
- The song "I Want To Hold Your Hand" has its U.K. release and goes right to the top spot on the charts.
- Dec. 26
- "I Want To Hold Your Hand" is released in the U.S. and goes to number one where it remains for seven weeks.
- Jan. 20
- Capitol Records releases Meet the Beatles! in the United States.
- Feb. 7
- The British Invasion begins when the Beatles land at JFK Airport in New York. Fans greet them there and later surround the Plaza Hotel where they are staying.
- Feb. 9
- A record 73 million people watch The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. On the show, the band performs "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "All My Loving," "Till There Was You," "She Loves You," and "I Saw Her Standing There."
- Feb. 11
- The Beatles perform live at the Washington Coliseum in Washington D.C., their first performance in the United States.
- Feb. 12
- The Beatles perform live in New York City for the first time. The concert is at Carnegie Hall.
- Feb. 15
- Meet the Beatles! reaches the number one spot on Billboard's album chart. It stays there for 11 weeks.
- Mar. 2
- The Beatles begin filming their first film, A Hard Day's Night. Filming is completed eight weeks later.
- Mar. 31
- The Beatles have songs in the top five positions of the Billboard's singles chart. This is a first for Billboard. The songs, in order of their charting position, are: Can't Buy Me Love, Twist and Shout, She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Please Please Me.
- April 4
- The Beatles have 14 songs in Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart.
- July 6
- A Hard Day's Night premieres in London and receives good reviews from both the public and critics.
- July 10
- A Hard Day's Night, the soundtrack, is released in the U.K. where it immediately hits number one on the British album chart.
- August 11
- A Hard Day's Night, the film, opens in the U.S. and becomes an instant hit.
- A Hard Day's Night, the soundtrack, is released in the U.S. and goes straight to number one.
- August 19
- The Beatles begin their tour of the U.S. and Canada in San Francisco at the Cow Palace. The tour lasts one month.
- Dec. 4
- Beatles For Sale, the album, comes out in the U.K. and instantly hits number one on the British albums chart.
- Feb. 23
- The Beatles start shooting their second movie, Help!. Filming takes place in the Bahamas. The film costs $1.5 million to produce.
- June 12
- The Queen of England names the Beatles Members of the British Empire.
- July 29
- Help! has its London premiere. The film is a hit.
- Aug. 6
- Help!, the album is released in the U.K. and becomes number one on the British album chart.
- Aug. 11
- Help!, the film, opens in the United States where it is also a hit.
- Aug. 15
- The Beatles perform at Shea Stadium in New York for 55,600 people, a record in attendance. The concert grossed $304,000.
- Dec. 3
- Rubber Soul is released in the U.K. and goes straight to number one on the British album chart. The album is released three days later in the U.S. and goes on to spend six weeks at the top of the Billboard album chart.
- Aug. 5
- Revolver is released in the U.K. and goes straight to number one on the British album chart.
- Aug. 29
- The Beatles perform their last live concert in San Francisco, Ca.
- June 1
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is released in the U.K. and goes straight to the number one spot on Britain's album chart where it remains for 27 weeks.
- June 25
- Our World, a two-hour television program airs in 24 countries via satellite. It is the first live television show to air worldwide.
- Aug. 27
- The Beatles are in Bangor, Wales visiting Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to learn about Transcendental Meditation when they learn that their manager, Brian Epstein has died.
- Nov. 27
- Magical Mystery Tour is released in the U.S. and goes to number one on Billboard's album chart.
- Dec. 26
- Magical Mystery Tour, the hour-long special featuring the Beatles airs in the U.K. and is panned by critics. An estimated 14 million people watch it.
- The Beatles spend several weeks in Rishikesh, India where they attend a seminar by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Transcendental Meditation.
- May 14
- Lennon and McCartney guest on The Tonight Show and announce their new company, Apple (Apple Corps Ltd.), which will help young artists.
- July 17
- The animated film, Yellow Submarine, premieres in London.
- Nov. 22
- The album, The Beatles, is released in Britain and the United States. It goes straight to number one in both countries. The album is also known as the White Album.
- Jan. 13
- Yellow Submarine, the soundtrack, is released in the U.S. and reaches the number two position on Billboard's album chart. The White Album is in the number one position.
- Jan. 30
- The Beatles perform together for the very last time on the rooftop of Apple Corps Ltd. in London.
- Although he doesn't announce it publicly due to contract negotiations with the label EMI, Lennon decides to leave the Beatles.
- Sept. 26
- Abbey Road is released in the U.K. where it soars to the top of the charts. It is the Beatles' last studio album.
- Nov. 25
- Lennon returns his Member of the British Empire medal as an anti-war protest.
- Jan. 11
- McCartney announces that he has left the Beatles.
- May 8
- Let It Be, which was recorded before Abbey Road, is released in the U.K. where it rockets to the number one position on the British album chart.
- May 20
- Let It Be, the documentary, premieres in London. None of the Beatles are in attendance.
- Dec. 8
- Outside his apartment building in New York City, Lennon is shot and killed by Mark David Chapman.
- Nov. 29
- George Harrison dies of cancer in Los Angeles.
- Nov. 16
- The entire music catalog of the Beatles is released on iTunes.