John Lennon formed his first band, The Quarry Men, in 1957. The band specialized in folk, jazz, and blues music. A 15 year old left-handed guitar player named Paul McCartney auditioned for the band and was immediately accepted in. As the band began to move into a more rock and roll direction, McCartney introduced George Harrison into the band. When the band broke up in 1959 over personality conflicts and not achieving the fame that they had hoped for, George, Paul, and John performed gigs as Johnny and the Moondogs, a bluesy, rock and roll mix band.
By 1960, the three played with drummer Pete Best and friend of Lennon bass player Stu Sutcliffe. They tried out several names including Long John and the Beatles, the Silver Beetles, the Beat Brothers, and finally The Beatles. The group toured Scotland and Hamburg, Germany and grew in popularity on the club circuit. Suitcliffe eventually left to follow other interests and Best was asked to leave after not getting along with other members. In his place came Ringo Starr, suggested by the bands manager, George Martin in 1962.
The band released their first single "Love Me Do" in 1962. Two years later, the song would be released and become a number one hit in the United States. The next song "She Loves You" was ridiculed on American Bandstand as viewers mocked the act's "mop top haircuts". The British release of the second album, With The Beatles sold a million copies in the UK and inspired Vee Jay Records to buy rights to Please Please Me, the band's first album, and rereleased it with the new title Introducing... The Beatles. Beatle Mania was just around the corner.
In February of 1964, the Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show and were watched by approximately 73 million people. Several months later, Capitol Records signed The Beatles to a US deal. By April, The Beatles filled the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100. In August 1965, they performed in New York's Shea Stadium to fifty-five thousand fans. That same year, the movie Help! was released and the soundtrack was one of four albums that the Beatles released and went to number one that year.
Legend has it that in August of 1964, the Beatles smoked marijuana for the first time with Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan supposedly mistook their lyrics of "I get by" for "I get high" and assumed that The Beatles had smoked all along. Shortly after that, they were introduced to psychedelics. Revolver and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club, their next two albums show the influence of drugs.
In the summer of 1966, Beatles backlash began. John Lennon mentioned in an interview that "Christianity was dying" and that "The Beatles are more popular than Jesus now." Former fans began immediately burning records and holding protests. That August, the band made their last public performance in San Francisco. They decided to focus their time on meditating, writing, and recording. They created their own record company, Apple Records, and released The White Album in November 1968.
The band began disagreeing on the direction in which to take the music while recording the white Album. In September of 1969, Lennon quit the band. He was urged not to go public until the band's final album Let it Be was released. The band officially announced their split in April 1970 and legal documents filed December 31 of that year officially ended the Beatles.