The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With a line-up comprising John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they are regarded as the most influential band of all time.
The group were integral to the development of 1960s counterculture and popular music's recognition as an art form. Rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, their sound incorporated elements of classical music and traditional pop in innovative ways; the band later explored music styles ranging from ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock.
As pioneers in recording, songwriting and artistic presentation, the group revolutionised many aspects of the music industry and were often publicised as leaders of the era's youth and sociocultural movements.
Led by the band's primary songwriters, Lennon and McCartney, the Beatles built their reputation playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over a three-year period from 1960, initially with Stuart Sutcliffe playing bass.
The core trio of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, together since 1958, went through a succession of drummers, including Pete Best , before asking Ringo Starr to join them in 1962.
Manager Brian Epstein moulded them into a professional act, and producer George Martin guided and developed their recordings, greatly expanding their domestic success after their first hit, "Love Me Do", in late 1962.
By early 1964, the Beatles were international stars, leading the "British Invasion" of the United States pop market and breaking numerous sales records.
From 1965 onwards, they produced increasingly innovative recordings. In 1968, they founded Apple Corps, a multi-armed multimedia corporation that continues to oversee projects related to the band's legacy.
After the group's break-up in 1970, all four members enjoyed success as solo artists. Lennon was shot and killed in December 1980, and Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001. McCartney and Starr remain musically active.
Beatlemania was the intense fan frenzy surrounding the English band in the 1960s. The group's popularity grew in the United Kingdom throughout 1963, propelled by the singles "Please Please Me", "From Me to You" and "She Loves You".
By October, the press adopted the term "Beatlemania" to describe the scenes of adulation that attended the band's concert performances.
From the start of 1964, their worldwide tours were characterised by intense levels of hysteria and high-pitched screaming by female fans, both at concerts and during the group's travels.
"The first album was recorded in one long twelve hour session, which the last song to be done was a song called Twist and Shout, which nearly killed me." John
"I wrote my first song on this album." George
"We often could rely on Ringo for titles cos Ringo had this happy knack of getting things wrong - little malapropisms - and it was always better than the real one. Someone said to him, you know, you look a bit tired today. He said, 'Yeah, I've had a hard day's night, you know'. He meant it, and we all went, 'Hard Day's Night, that's great!" Paul
"Musically we were learning a lot. You know, this is where we learned a lot of the music putting together - some of the arrangements and things, you know. We were quite quick in the studio when you think about it - two songs in three hours." Paul
The Beatles are the best-selling music act of all time, with certified sales of over 183 million units in the US and estimated sales of 600 million units worldwide.
They hold the record for most number-one albums on the UK Albums Chart, most number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and most singles sold in the UK.
Time named them among the 20th century's 100 most important people.