The Beatles were one of the most influential music groups of the rock era, and many consider them the best musical group on Earth. Initially they affected the post-war baby boom generation of Britain and the U.S. during the 1960s, and later the rest of the world. Certainly they were the most successful group, with global sales exceeding 1.1 billion records.
While they were originally famous for light-weight pop music (and the extreme hysterical reaction they received from young women), their later works achieved a combination of popular and critical acclaim perhaps unequaled in the 20th century.
Eventually, they became more than recording artists, branching out into film and — particularly in the case of John Lennon — political activism. They achieved an iconic status beyond mere celebrity, with far reaching effects difficult to exaggerate.
The members of the group were John Lennon, (James) Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (Richard Starkey), all from Liverpool, Merseyside, England. Original drummer Pete Best was asked to leave the group just before it started recording. Stuart Sutcliffe was with them in Hamburg but also left.
Beatlemania began in the UK and exploded following the appearance of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in the United States, on February 9, 1964. The pop-music band became a worldwide phenomenon with worshipful fans, hysterical adulation, and denunciations by culture commentators and others such as Frank Sinatra.
Some of this was confusion over the sources of their music (a similar confusion was evinced in 1956 over Elvis Presley by commentators who were unaware of the tradition of blues, R&B and gospel out of which Presley emerged), and some of it was simply an incredulous reaction to the length of their hair. At any rate, it was regarded by the band members with both awe and resentment.
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