Special Report

50 Fascinating Facts About the Beatles

Eric Koch / Wikimedia Commons

It was 48 years ago in April that Paul McCartney announced the breakup of the Beatles, and even though nearly half a century has passed since then, interest in the greatest band of all time remains high.

The 2000 “1” album, a compilation of all of the Beatles number one singles, itself went to No. 1 — 30 years after the band broke up. Millions of fans, and not just baby boomers, listen to Beatles songs on the online streaming service Spotify every month.

There are dozens of books written about the legendary rock band, examining their rise, their influence on the zeitgeist of the ’60s, and why they have retained their appeal all these years later. No music act has been the subject of more television documentaries than the Beatles.

Given the vast collection of written, filmed, and spoken material, you might think there is nothing left to know about the four working-class lads from Liverpool who became the most famous people in the world. Yet even the most hard-core Beatles fans are still amazed at what they don’t know.

To celebrate World Beatles Day — yes, there is such a thing — on June 25, 24/7 Wall St. has compiled 50 fascinating facts about the Beatles, culled from various online sources such as music industry sites, media outlets, and reviews about Beatles books.

Click here to see the 50 fascinating facts about the Beatles.

There is not enough space here to detail why we are still fascinated by the Beatles. But we do know their success was a providential combination of talent, marketing, and timing.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and later on George Harrison, crafted some of the greatest songs of their generation. Lennon-McCartney’s “Yesterday” might be the most covered song of all time. Frank Sinatra once called Harrison’s composition “Something” “the greatest love song of the past 50 years.” Ringo Starr’s quirky demeanor further endeared fans to the group, and the talents of the other Beatles overshadowed his considerable skills as a drummer.

Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager, knew marketing mattered. He convinced the band to ditch the leather-jacketed “greaser” look — a nod to the band’s idol Elvis Presley — for the more clean-cut, collarless jacket image that would be more acceptable to mainstream audiences.

As for timing, the Beatles came to America just when the nation needed a lift following the traumatic assassination of President John F. Kennedy just months earlier.

Once the Fab Four crossed the Atlantic and introduced Beatlemania into our lexicon, the band was adept at advancing the pop music form, creating the soundtrack for the 1960s, and challenging social, political, and fashion conventions at every turn.

Among the facts we found fascinating were that John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote a ballet; that McCartney once tried his hand at being an electrician; and that Lennon was legally blind.

There are many more fascinating facts to be found, and as long as there is interest in the Beatles, their biographers will unearth new details about the most influential band ever.

Source: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

1. Ringo acting naturally

Vandals cut Ringo Starr’s head off a topiary sculpture of the group in Liverpool, most likely because of the drummer’s statements that he missed nothing about his hometown.

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Source: Jim Gray / Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

2. George’s contribution to final tour

“If I Needed Someone” is the only George Harrison-penned song to be played live by the Beatles, appearing in the setlist of their 1966 tour.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

3. 2 nations separated by a common language

U.S. music executives considered dubbing over the Fab Four in 1964’s “A Hard Day’s Night” with American actors. They were concerned audiences would be unable to understand their Liverpudlian accents.

Source: Courtesy of Capitol Records

4. Hearing is believing

Shirley Temple was the only celebrity to insist on hearing “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” before giving the band permission to use her likeness on their album art.

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Source: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

5. Beneath the blue suburban skies

Fans were so relentless in stealing the Penny Lane street signs in Liverpool that the city switched to painting the street name directly on buildings rather than continue replacing the signs.

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

6. Helping anyone in need

The song “Doctor Robert” from the album “Revolver” was about celebrity Dr. Robert Freymann, who gave his patients B12 shots laced with amphetamines. John Lennon once claimed the song was about him, however.

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Source: Kirkikis / iStock

7. Strawberry Fields forever

Yoko Ono had John Lennon’s body cremated and ashes scattered in Central Park by their New York City apartment. The Strawberry Fields Memorial was erected in the approximate spot five years later.

Source: Central Press / Getty Images

8. Homage to Little Richard

The final song performed at the band’s final concert on Aug. 29, 1966 was “Long Tall Sally,” which was originally performed by Little Richard. The song had been a staple of their live repertoire since their days as the Quarrymen.

Source: Fox Photos / Getty Images

9. A “disease” on both sides of the pond

Music reporter Sandy Gardiner coined the term “Beatlemania” in The Ottawa Journal in November 1963, referring to the fanfare as “a new disease … [that] doctors are powerless to stop.”

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Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

10. Meet the Beatles

The band had its first British performance under the name the “Beatles” on Dec. 17, 1960, at Liverpool’s Casbah Coffee Club.

Source: Evening Standard / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

11. Epstein’s death led to breakup

John Lennon viewed the death of Beatles’ longtime manager Brian Epstein as the beginning of the breakup of the band.

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Source: John Pratt / Keystone / Getty Images

12. Come together at Clapton’s wedding

The Beatles nearly reunited once following their 1970 dissolution, when Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr played “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” at Eric Clapton’s wedding in 1979. John Lennon, however, was absent from the event.

Source: Keystone Features / Getty Images

13. They’re Beatles, not vultures

The filmmakers behind Disney’s 1967 “The Jungle Book” approached the Beatles about voicing a quartet of vultures in the animated film. The collaboration never came to fruition, with John Lennon supposedly telling their manager that Disney would be better off hiring Elvis Presley.

Source: Kaye / Express / Getty Images

14. Not hobbit-forming

Following the releases of the Beatles movies “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” they conceived of a new film project to star in – a psychedelic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, to be directed by Stanley Kubrick. The project never came to pass.

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Source: William Lovelace / Express / Getty Images

15. Greek getaway

At one point, the band considered purchasing a group of private Greek islands on which they hoped to live. They went so far as spending a few weeks on the islands and applying for permission from the Greek government for the purchase.

Source: Getty Images

16. Alone in the penthouse

The Beatles have spent 132 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart – by far the most of any artist. Garth Brooks occupied the top spot for 52 weeks, the second most.

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Source: Chris Ware / Keystone / Getty Images

17. A singular band

The band had 21 number one hits on the Billboard 100 in the United States – the most of any artist. They had 17 number ones in the United Kingdom.

Source: Fox Photos / Getty Images

18. A historic rejection

The Beatles were turned down by Decca Records following an audition on Jan. 1, 1962. According to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, a Decca executive said that “guitar groups are on their way out.”

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

19. A pleasing position

The group’s debut album – “Please Please Me” – spent 30 weeks in the No. 1 position on the U.K. album charts in 1963 before being replaced by their second release, “With the Beatles.”

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Source: Parlophone Records / Wikimedia Commons

20. Give that man a Grammy

Klaus Voormann, a friend of the Beatles, did the artwork for “Revolver,” including a drawing of the band that he did from memory. The cover went on to win the award for “Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts” at the Grammy Awards in 1967.

Source: Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

21. Let me take you down

Strawberry Field was a Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool that has since been razed.

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Source: John Pratt / Keystone / Getty Images

22. Album champions

The band had 19 chart-topping albums with all but three spending multiple weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” spent the most time at No. 1 – 15 weeks.

Source: Courtesy of Capitol Records

23. Come up and see me

Mae West’s image appears on the iconic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover. She didn’t immediately allow the Beatles to use her image but changed her mind after they each sent her a personal letter.

Source: George Stroud / Express / Getty Images

24. The play was not the thing

John Lennon and Paul McCartney began writing a play about a Liverpudlian man who thought he was God titled “Pilchard,” but they abandoned the project.

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Source: Dennis Oulds / Central Press / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

25. Lennon was legally blind

John Lennon’s eyesight deteriorated so badly that he was legally blind as he got older.

Source: Express / Getty Images

26. Beatles shaken, not stirred

In the 1964 James Bond thriller “Goldfinger,” Sean Connery disses the Beatles. On drinking Dom Perignon at the wrong temperature, the secret agent states, “It’s simply not done … like listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”

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Source: Harry Benson / Express / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

27. Sitting on a corn flake

A Corn Flakes breakfast cereal commercial he saw on television inspired John Lennon to write “Good Morning Good Morning.”

Source: Daniel Rosenblum / Keystone / Getty Images

28. Endorsed by Ol’ Blue Eyes

Legendary crooner Frank Sinatra once described the Beatles song “Something” as “the greatest love song of the past 50 years.” He went on to record his own versions of the track in both 1970 and 1980.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

29. Lennon disliked his voice

John Lennon was insecure regarding the sound of his own voice and frequently asked producer George Martin to disguise it on Beatles records.

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Source: Keystone Features / Getty Images

30. This coffee has an acid taste

John Lennon and George Harrison’s first experience with LSD was in April 1965, when Harrison’s dentist slipped it into their after-dinner-coffee, unbeknownst to them. The band severed all contact with the dentist following the incident.

Source: Harry Benson / Express / Getty Images

31. Absolution for Lennon

In 2008, the Catholic Church forgave John Lennon for his provocative statement in 1966 that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.” The official Vatican newspaper stated that “after so many years it sounds merely like the boasting of an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success.”

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Source: ehabaref / iStock

32. My friends have lost their way

The song “Blue Jay Way” – penned by George Harrison at a house on Blue Jay Way in the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles – has led to repeated thefts of the actual street’s street sign.

Source: Keystone Features / Getty Images

33. Combustible Beatles

While moving out of the dark Bambi-Filmkunsttheater cinema in Hamburg, West Germany, where they had been living, Paul McCartney and former Beatles drummer Pete Best reportedly lit an unused condom on fire in order to see. Thought the damage was minimal, the two were arrested, spent the night in jail, and were deported the next day.

Source: Harry Benson / Express / Getty Images

34. Taking a stand

In 1964, John Lennon insisted that African-American fans be allowed to sit anywhere they pleased at Beatles concerts while the band was on tour in the South. The concert promoters quickly agreed.

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Source: Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

35. Record-setting records

The Beatles dominated the Billboard Hot 100 the week of April 4, 1964, holding 12 positions on the singles chart, including the entire top 5 with: “Please Please Me,” “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “Twist and Shout,” and “Can’t Buy Me Love.” This record has yet to be broken.

Source: NASA / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

36. Across the universe

In the 1970s, astronomer Carl Sagan wanted to include the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” on the Voyager’s Golden Record, which was launched into space as a message for potential extraterrestrial life. While the former band members were unanimously in favor of the move, they didn’t hold the song’s copyrights and the decision was nixed by recording company EMI.

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Source: Keystone / Getty Images

37. Awash in merchandise

After Beatlemania hit the U.S. in 1964, the market became flooded with Beatles-themed merchandise. This included shirts, wigs, hats, instruments, board games, ice cream bars, wallpaper, bed sheets, and pillowcases.

Source: Evening Standard / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

38. The Clapton connection

Eric Clapton is one of only a few musicians to appear on solo releases by all former band members following the dissolution of the Beatles.

Source: Leonard Burt / Central Press / Getty Images

39. Pretty little policemen in a row

The “Semolina Pilchard” mentioned in “I Am the Walrus” is a reference to Scotland Yard drug squad detective Norman “Nobby” Pilcher who led a midnight raid on John Lennon’s London flat in October 1968. He’d targeted musicians Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Eric Clapton and Donovan prior to that.

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Source: Keystone / Getty Images

40. Words that go together well

Beatles ballad “Michelle” – some of which is sung in French – was inspired by a Paul McCartney tactic of dressing in black and singing in made-up French at parties to pick up girls. John Lennon later told him that he “should do something with that.”

Source: Ron Case / Keystone / Getty Images

41. Making me feel like I’ve never been born

The last song on side one of “Revolver” – “She Said She Said” – was inspired by an LSD trip that John Lennon took with Byrds members David Crosby and Roger McGuinn, and actor Peter Fonda in August 1965. At one point Fonda said, “I know what it’s like to be dead,” referencing a near-death experience he had as a child. Lennon was shocked by the morbid comment and eventually used it as a basis for the song.

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Source: Fox Photos / Getty Images

42. Keeping Lennon and McCartney on their toes

John Lennon and Paul McCartney composed the score for a ballet titled “Mods and Rockers” in 1963 – one year before the band’s now-legendary performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Source: Michael Webb / Getty Images

43. An affront to British sensibilities

The BBC banned several Beatles songs from the airwaves, including “A Day in the Life,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “Fixing a Hole” for supposed references to drugs, and “I Am the Walrus,” for using the word “knickers.”

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

44. McCartney lacked good connections

Prior to reaching superstardom, Paul McCartney worked as an electrician, a field in which he later admitted to being “hopeless” at.

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Source: Les Lee / Daily Express / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

45. ‘Lovely Rita’ ‘maid’ in the USA

Paul McCartney based his song “Lovely Rita” on a fantasy he had about an attractive American meter maid. The British referred to the job as “traffic warden,” and McCartney reportedly found the American use of “maid” to be quite humorous.

Source: Getty Images

46. A spoof of Dylan

John Lennon authored multiple Bob Dylan parodies, including one rambling song that included the line, “stuck inside of a lexicon with a Roget’s Thesaurus blues again.”

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Source: Larry Ellis / Express / Getty Images

47. Climbing up the Eiffel Tower

John Lennon is widely thought to have been inspired by the Lewis Carroll poem “The Walrus And The Carpenter” in his writing the surreal lyrics for “I Am the Walrus.” He also revealed that at least the first two lines were written while under the influence of LSD.

Source: Keystone Features / Getty Images

48. Longing for ‘Yesterday’

The Beatles’ “Yesterday,” written by Paul McCartney, and is the most covered song of all time. Performers include Elvis, Boyz II Men, Frank Sinatra, Gladys Knight, and James Brown. According to McCartney, the song came to him in a dream.

Source: Keystone / Getty Images

49. Exclusive club

The Beatles are one of only two musical acts – the other being Eminem – to have eight consecutive albums on the Billboard 200 all hit No. 1.

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Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

50. Eerie coincidence

Paul McCartney was inspired to write “She’s Leaving Home” after reading a newspaper article about teenager Melanie Coe who ran away from home at 17. Oddly enough, McCartney had actually met Coe three years prior when he was a judge on the television show “Ready, Steady, Go!” where she won a mime contest.

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