Explore the Beatles Story, from the birth of the Beatles to their solo careers with this easy-to-use interactive timeline.
BIRTH OF THE BEATLES
All four Beatles were born in Liverpool, a city that had been badly bombed during World War Two. Yet, out of a city that was being badly bombed came a new generation, filled with optimism. The Beatles were part of this generation - and the world had never seen anything like them before.
SKIFFLE TO ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
The Skiffle craze hits Britain. Skiffle was a primitive mixture of blues, country and rock n’ roll, played on cheap, often homemade, instruments. However, both George Harrison and John Lennon credit skiffle with sparking their interest in music.
THE DAY IT ALL BEGAN…
A beautiful, sunny day on July 6th saw St. Peter’s Church in Woolton holding its annual village fete. Two young teenage boys meet for the first time. Little do they know that one day they will change the face of popular music…
ROCK THE CASBAH!
In the leafy suburb of West Derby, in the basement of a beautiful Victorian house at 8 Hayman’s Green, Mona Best - mother of early Beatles drummer Pete Best - opens a coffee-dance club - the Casbah.
MACH SCHAU! THE BEATLES IN HAMBURG…
Hamburg was a tough, lively seaport in the 1950’s, filled with merchant seamen and teenagers, eager to hear raucous rock n’ roll. The Beatles are recruited to play in the seedy clubs of the city. Paul McCartney will later call Hamburg, “800 hours of practice.”
THE BEAT GOES ON… MERSEYBEAT
In the late 1950’s, a craze for ‘beat’ music begins to sweep across the dancehalls and ballrooms of Liverpool. The city spawns its own unique style of ‘beat’ music - Merseybeat. Overnight, the Merseybeat scene becomes the coolest one in the country.
MATHEW STREET - FEEL THE BEAT OF THE CITY
The Merseybeat scene finds its epicenter in Mathew Street, with Hessy’s famous music store just around the corner. The young Beatles buy their first instruments from Hessy’s. In 1957, John Lennon purchases his first guitar from Hessy’s for just £17.
THE CAVERN - THE MOST FAMOUS CLUB IN THE WORLD
The Cavern was little more than a warehouse cellar that had once doubled as an air raid shelter. However, in 1957, a young jazz fan named Alan Sytner, inspired by the jazz clubs of Paris, opened the Cavern after buying the empty rooms for just £400.
ENTER MR EPSTEIN
Born in 1934 to a prosperous Liverpool family, Brian Epstein was the man who would launch and manage The Beatles’ career. One day a customer walked into the record store he managed and asked for a single called ‘My Bonnie’, The Beatles were the backing group on the single. Intrigued, Brian decided to check out these Beatles himself…
The Beatles entered Abbey Road studios for the first time 6th June 1962 to audition for producer George Martin, a man who would prove instrumental in developing the Beatles’ sound. Impressed by their wit, Martin signs The Beatles to Parlophone Records.
Following the release of Love Me Do in October 1962, interest in The Beatles starts to grow. Following their #1 hits Please Please Me and From Me to You, The Beatles begin to attract an increasing, screaming legion of female fans. Beatlemania is born…
In February 1964, The Beatles travel to America, where Beatlemania had been gaining momentum. Americans had been depressed by the recent assassination of John F. Kennedy in November, 1963, but arrival of The Beatles brought them some much-needed cheer.
1965 AN AMAZING YEAR: WHEN THE BEATLES MET ELVIS
Following the hysteria of Beatlemania, The Beatles begin to grow and develop. The critics hail a new maturity in their music, with songs like ‘In My Life,’ ‘Taxman,’ and ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.’
THE SUMMER OF LOVE
The Beatles had stopped touring and were spending more and more time in the studio. They were also exploring the rich arts and culture scene around London. The Swinging Sixties were about to reach their peak with 1967’s psychedelic Summer of Love…
APPLE AND THE WHITE ALBUM
Brian Epstein’s death had left The Beatles’ company, Apple, in financial disarray. Coupled with increasing tensions within the band, this spelt the beginning of the end of The Beatles.
By 1969, The Beatles were sadly drifting apart. They had all married and were pursuing solo careers and other interests outside the band. However, by releasing the albums Abbey Road and Let it Be, The Beatles bowed out gracefully, ensuring that their music would last forever.
Between 1970 and 1980, the four Beatles would all release a variety of solo albums, often collaborating with one another. Although a Beatles reunion was often discussed, it never happened - and all hope of a reunion died after John Lennon’s tragic assassination in 1980.
THE WHITE ROOM
John Lennon will be remembered not only for his outstanding contributions to music, but also for his work as a peace campaigner. It is ironic that John met such a violent end, considering that his own message was so simple - love and peace.
BEATLES LOVE CONTINUES…
With the release of the Beatles Anthology and the single Free as a Bird in 1995, The Beatles managed a reunion of sorts. Despite the fact The Beatles broke up decades ago, their popularity is greater than ever. Their music will live on.
Explore the Beatles Story, from the birth of the Beatles to their solo careers with this easy-to-use interactive timeline. Browse key events and discover the Beatles Story.
Brian Epstein born.
Ringo Starr born Richard Starkey in Liverpool.
John Winston Lennon born in Liverpool.
James Paul McCartney born in Liverpool.
George Harrison born in Liverpool.
Lonnie Donegan hits the UK charts with his debut single Rock Island Line, marking the arrival of skiffle.
Skiffle spawned some 5,000 groups in England, 700 in Liverpool alone.
A young jazz fan called Alan Sytner opens the Cavern Club after buying the empty rooms for £400, inspired by the jazz clubs he’d visited in Paris.
16-year old Paul McCartney meets John Lennon for the first time when John performs on a makeshift stage with the Quarrymen at St Peter’s Church village fete in Woolton.
George Harrison is recruited to the band after Paul urges him to play the song “Raunchy” to John Lennon on the top deck of a bus in Woolton, Liverpool.
The Casbah coffee dance club opens for business. The Beatles have their first bookings there - and also help paint and decorate the club.
Julia Baird (John Lennon’s sister)
“It was here that the Beatles first began to develop. The Casbah saw them change their name from the Quarrymen to the Beatles and it was the place where the Beatles started to gain a reputation in Liverpool.”
The Beatles play their first gig at The Indra in Hamburg - the first of a 48 night stint.
Gerry Marsden (Gerry and the Pacemakers):
“Hamburg made them sound better; it made them different. Before that, I didn’t notice anything directly different between the Beatles and all the other bands in Liverpool, but after their first Hamburg trip they were tremendous.”
Bill Harry starts the Mersey Beat magazine recording the vibrant, local music scene. The first issue debuts on 6th July 1961
Harry says he based the name on “a policeman’s beat, not the beat of the music.”
Future Beatles manager Brian Epstein writes a column in Merseybeat, detailing new records available in his NEMS record store.
The Merseybeat scene explodes in and around the clubs of Mathew Street, including The Cavern. At the height of the craze, there are over 350 Merseybeat bands playing in Liverpool.
The Beatles quickly establish themselves as the most exciting group in Liverpool, playing over thirty gigs a month and garnering a loyal following of local fans.
The Beatles make their first appearance at the Cavern, playing one of the popular lunchtime sessions.
Gerry Marsden - Gerry and the Pacemakers:
“The Cavern was dark, smelly, sweaty, but had the greatest atmosphere for music in Liverpool - every night was party night at the Cavern. Great fun and all the bands loved it.”
John and Paul had played the Cavern before, on January 24th 1958, as The Quarrymen. This was Paul’s first appearance with The Quarrymen.
The Beatles would go on to play at the Cavern an incredible 292 times.
At a lunchtime show, Brian Epstein watches the Beatles perform for the first time and is immediately impressed.
The Beatles feature on the front page of Mersey Beat.
The Beatles sign a five-year contract with Brian Epstein.
The Beatles enter EMI Studios for the first time and record their first single, “Love Me Do” in Studio 3.
The Beatles record Please, Please Me, which producer George Martin rightly predicts will be a #1 hit.
The Beatles release their first single, Love Me Do. It only reaches #17 in the charts but introduces The Beatles to a national audience.
The Beatles release From Me To You, another #1 hit. Everywhere they go, the Beatles are chased by screaming fans.
The Beatles play at The Royal Variety Performance, closing the show with a stunning, historic rendition of Twist and Shout.
The Beatles release their first film and accompanying soundtrack, A Hard Day’s Night.
I Want To Hold Your Hand reaches #1 in the USA. By April 1964, The Beatles have an amazing 14 songs in the American Hot 100.
The Beatles fly into New York City’s Kennedy Airport for their first US tour - 5,000 screaming fans greet them.
The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show, 73 million Americans tune in to watch - a record at the time.
The Beatles are awarded MBEs by the Queen.
The Beatles meet Elvis Presley at his home in Bel Air, LA.
The Beatles release their sixth album and most innovative album yet, Rubber Soul. A sitar is used on the song Norwegian Wood, reflecting George Harrison’s growing interest in Indian music.
Revolver is released. The critics hail the album as another astonishing leap forward and praise the innovative recording techniques in particular.
The band start work on a new album to be called Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…
Sgt. Pepper is released at the height of psychedelia and the Summer of Love. Its cover is designed by celebrated British artist Sir Peter Blake, and is arguably the most famous in pop.
“a decisive moment in the history of Western civilization”
writer and critic Kenneth Tynan, writing about Sgt. Pepper in The Times, 1967
Brian Epstein (the Beatle-Making Prince of Pop) dies following a tragic overdose. He was 32. John Lennon says, “Brian was a beautiful guy.”
The Beatles receive their first negative reviews when their surreal film Magical Mystery Tour is shown by the BBC on Boxing Day. However, Magical Mystery Tour soon gains a cult following and its fans include a young filmmaker, Steven Spielberg.
The Beatles spend the early part of the year in Rishikesh, India, meditating with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and writing dozens of songs.
The Beatles return to the UK to record ‘The Beatles’ double album now referred to as the White Album because of its plain white cover. The cover was designed by artist Richard Hamilton.
The Beatles perform together for the last time on the rooftop of Apple Corp's headquarters in London. The performance is cut short by the police following complaints about the noise.
Abbey Road is released. Despite the tensions within the band, Abbey Road contains some of The Beatles’ most beautiful songs and the album receives universal acclaim.
The official date of the breakup of the Beatles. Paul McCartney issues a statement to the press announcing that he is leaving The Beatles. The greatest band in the history of music is no more.
Despite being recorded before Abbey Road, Let It Be is the last Beatles album to be released.
“A great little rock and roll band.”
Sir Paul McCartney
John becomes increasingly politically active, a father to Sean Lennon, his son with Yoko Ono, as well as writing masterpieces like Imagine, Working Class Hero and Jealous Guy.
1970 - 1988
George releases solo albums (including the classic All Things Must Pass), organises the Concert for Bangladesh, produces films (including Monty Python’s Life of Brian and Withnail and I) and creates the Traveling Wilburys supergroup with Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.
1984 - 1986
Ringo enjoys a varied acting career and becomes famous to a whole new generation of fans, narrating the Thomas the Tank Engine TV series. He also marries former Bond girl, Barbara Bach.
Paul McCartney, enjoys huge success with Wings and as a solo artist. He also turns his old school, the Liverpool Institute, into a top performing arts school. He is knighted by the Queen in March 1997.
Imagine album is released in the UK.
Imagine single is released in the UK.
John Lennon is shot outside his apartment building in New York by Mark David Chapman. He later dies in hospital. His death provokes emotional outpourings of grief across the world.
The John Lennon Peace Monument is unveiled by Cynthia and Julian Lennon in Chavasse Park Liverpool, to mark what would have been John Lennon’s 70th Birthday.