When it comes to Britain’s heritage, few bands have made quite the same impact as the Beatles. Encompassing the swinging sixties, John, Paul George and Ringo are an intrinsic part of Britain’s history and with the anniversary of John Lennon’s untimely death falling in December, we thought we’d see just how well you know the Fab Four.

As we said, the anniversary of John Lennon’s death falls in December, he was murdered by an obsessive fan in December 1980 outside the hotel he was living in with his wife Yoko Ono and son Sean. After committing the murder, the assailant, Mark David Chapman stayed at the scene calmly reading a copy of Catcher in the Rye which he claimed was his statement to the police. Did you know though that John wasn’t the only Beatle to come off badly in a meeting with a fan? George Harrison was once stabbed seven times by someone who broke into his home in 1999 and that’s not all…

The Quarry Men – Britain’s best loved band?

Back when they first started out, John Lennon named his band The Quarry Men. He asked Paul McCartney to join him and Paul brought along his friend George. Together with Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe they performed as the Quarry Men before becoming Johnny and the Moondogs, the Rainbows and the British Everly Brothers. As to where the name The Beatles came from, no one is really sure. One of their original names was the Silver Beetles but it is thought that the name they finally settled on was inspired by the Beat Generation of poets.

John, Paul, George, Pete and Stuart?

Yes, the Fab Four were originally a Fab Five. Stuart had to leave the band due to health issues and Pete was replaced because they felt that Ringo was a better fit. How different it all could have been! The first performance of the Beatles as we know them was on 17th December 1960 at the Casbah Coffee Club in Liverpool.

Decca Records – worst mistake in music

The Beatles originally auditioned for Decca Records but were turned down because “groups of guitars are on their way out.” Decca’s decision to pass on the Beatles is widely believed to be the biggest mistake in music history, especially when you consider that in 1964, the Beatles held 12 positions on the Billboard singles chart, including the Top 5, something that hasn’t been done since.

The Beatles did it first

Did you know that the Beatles were the first band to use guitar feedback on vinyl? Well now you do! They were also the first band to ever include the lyrics to every song on an album (the album was Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.) The band were also one of the first to thank for creating teenage fans, known as Beatlemania (which was first coined in an article in 1963 by the Daily Mirror). They are also to thank for the most covered song of all time – Yesterday. While on the subject of firsts, Hey Jude was the first single released on the Apple Label, it is also the Beatles’ longest song.

And speaking of Yesterday….

The most covered song in the world, a song that is loved by millions, well it was originally about scrambled eggs. The song came to Paul McCartney in a dream, but he didn’t have any lyrics so when he wrote the tune and the music, he just used the words Scrambled Eggs to come up with the melody.

While we might think the Beatles were quite wholesome, the BBC banned several of their songs from being played, including I am the Walrus, Fixing a Hold, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and a Day in the Life.

Frank Sinatra loved them

Old Blue Eyes repeatedly described the Beatles’ song Something as the greatest love song ever written, not bad for four lads who couldn’t read music. Not only could they not read music (though undeniably, they got on ok despite it) but John Lennon was legally blind and dyslexic.

Over the course of their career, the Beatles had seven consecutive number one albums, the first one to go straight to number one was Help! The last album the Beatles recorded was Abbey Road, however, it wasn’t the last one they released, Let it Be was released after.

We all know the story behind Hey Jude and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (or do we?) but did you know that Dear Prudence was written for Prudence Farrow, Mia Farrow’s sister? Another fun fact about a song you might not know – there were more than just the traditional instruments used in the making of Yellow Submarine. Among the props that created the background sounds were chains, whistles and a tin bath.

We mentioned the fans earlier – did you know that the Fab Four actually brought a private island together? They hoped that they could live there to escape their fans but never actually did. They sold it when they broke up.

Breaking up is never easy…

The contract that dissolved the Beatles was filed on 31st December 1970 but it didn’t actually go through until several years later. The final one to sign was John who did so from a holiday at Disney World.

John Lennon was believed to be a Communist spy…

Yep. The US Government under Richard Nixon was so convinced that Lennon was a communist sympathiser and was passing on information to the communists that he was being watched by the FBI for over a year. You might think this is a crazy conspiracy theory but the files they kept on Lennon were released in 2007.

An actual crazy conspiracy though is the theory that Paul McCartney actually died in the 1960s and was replaced by a lookalike.

The story claims that Paul McCartney died in a car accident in 1966 but to avoid having to disband, the Beatles’ management simply replaced him with a lookalike called Billy Shears. Those that believe the theory say that there are clues throughout the Beatles’ music that allude to this, including the phrase “I buried Paul” at the end of Strawberry Fields Forever (John Lennon later said he was actually saying Cranberry Sauce). Other clues including the cover of Abbey Road, which is said to resemble a funeral procession – John is in white, representing a heavenly figure, Ringo in black represents a mourner, George in denim represents a grave digger and Paul, barefoot is said to be a corpse. Fans also pointed out that Paul is holding a cigarette in his right hand when he is actually left handed and that playing certain songs backwards will reveal hidden messages proving the theory. Much of the theory comes from the Sgt Pepper’s album, which features the “one and only Billy Shears” and a line in the song A Day in the Life which reads “He blew his mind out in a car, He didn’t notice that the lights had changed, A crowd of people stood and stared, They’d seen his face before…” John later said that this was referencing the heir of the Guinness fortune who was a friend of the band’s and died in a car accident.

Where to soak up Beatlemania for yourself

Of course you have to spend time in Liverpool where you can visit Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields which both inspired songs as well as the Cavern Club which is known for playing host to several music legends.

The Beatles’ former homes are also run as tourist attractions and you can find blue plaques marking other places across the city that are associated with the Beatles. In London, you can find a Beatles Museum and a Beatles store as well as the sight of the Abbey Road album cover and Abbey Road studios themselves. Not far from the Beatles store, which is at 231 Baker Street is a blue plaque that marks where the Beatles’ own shop Apple Boutique used to be (it’s at number 94).

Click here to find more places to stay and visit in Liverpool.




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