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The Beatles: Rock Legends

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Those of us in our forties today remember with fondness and excitement the atmosphere created by four young guys from Liverpool, England. As all of us remember where we were during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, we likewise remember being transfixed in front of our small black & white television sets on February 9, 1964, when the Beatles made their first American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.

In preparation for their appearance, the CBS Television office on West-Fifty-Third Street in New York was overwhelmed by more than 50,000 requests for tickets to a studio that held 700. During their appearance, the Beatles sang five songs in the following order: All My Loving, Till There Was You, She Loves You, I Saw Her Standing There, and I Want To Hold Your Hand. On this night, seventy-three million people watched the Beatles. Their appearance had such an impact that most normal activities in America came to a standstill watching their performance. Criminal activity in most of the major cities and towns in America was put on hold, and getting a taxi or bus in New York was almost impossible, until their performance was over. Mass hysteria resulted wherever the Beatles appeared, and Beatlemania was created.

Two days later, on February 11, 1964, the Beatles sang their first concert in the United States, at the Washington Coliseum. The Beatles only came to Maryland once, when on September 13, 1964, they performed two shows at the Baltimore Civic Center (now the Baltimore Arena).

The world's number one rock group consisted of John Winston (Ono) Lennon (born 10/09/40 - died 12/08/80), whose middle name came from his parent's admiration of Winston Churchill, and which John changed to Ono in later years; James Paul McCartney (born 06/18/42); George Harold Harrison (born 02/25/43 - died 11/29/01); and Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey 07/07/40).

During the Beatles recording career from 1962 to 1970, they would release twenty-two singles (45rpm) in the United Kingdom, and thirty-three in the United States. Their first UK single was Love Me Do/P.S. I Love You, released October 5, 1962, on EMI/Parlophone Records. The first USA single would be Please Please Me/Ask Me Why, which they released on February 25, 1963 on Vee Jay Records. Although the Beatles were big in United Kingdom, they had not yet caught on in the United States. Following their first USA single, came From Me To You/Thank You Girl, which was released May 27, 1963 on Vee Jay, followed by She Loves You/I'll Get You on Swan Records. Finally on December 26, 1963, Capitol Records decided to release I Want To Hold Your Hand/I Saw Her Standing There, which went to number 1 on the Billboard Charts on January 18, 1964, and stayed there for seven weeks. As luck would have it, the Beatles first US visit planned for February 1964 with their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show had been booked almost six months earlier. Only by accident did the Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand happen to be at #1 the same time as their first US visit. One could not have asked for better timing. On January 30, 1964, following the success of I Want To Hold Your Hand, Vee Jay Records re released Please Please Me, only this time with From Me To You as the B-Side.

Interestingly, many singles released in the UK had different B-Sides from those released in the USA. During this time in recording history, all recording artists used the A-Side as the hit, and the B-Side was just about any song used merely as a filler, except the Beatles. The Beatles were the first and only group in recording history to release a hit song on both sides of a single 45 rpm record. Also, the Beatles are the only group in recording history to have twenty songs reach number one.

In the United Kingdom, the Beatles released twelve albums (33 rpm/LP's), however released nineteen in the USA. There were several reasons for this. One is that UK albums had fourteen songs, whereby USA had only twelve. The second, and really the most important reason is that Capitol Records decided that they wanted to create their own albums, different from the UK, using titles taken from UK singles and EP (extended play) singles. Such US albums as Meet The Beatles, The Beatles Second Album, Something New, Beatles '65, The Early Beatles, Beatles VI, Help!, and Yesterday and Today, were never issued in the UK in this form. Even Help!, the Beatles' movie soundtrack was issued with different cuts than the UK version. It was not until the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band that they maintained the integrity of the albums universally.

The song writing duo of Lennon-McCartney is the most successful in the world. The only other song writing duo to come close to the success of Lennon-McCartney is Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Although they almost never wrote any of their songs together, John Lennon and Paul McCartney decided that all songs written by each of them would always be credited to both of them. Generally, what each would do is write a particular song, then present it to each other. In areas where each song needed a word, or some changes, they then would sit together a fine tune the song.

From 1962 to 1970, the Beatles recorded 214 songs. Throughout the years, there have always been speculation and rumors about what many Beatles songs mean. Often, the common belief, based mostly on rumor, is no where near the truth. Although reviewing each song and its meaning is not practical, I have chosen some more common and/or most interesting songs and outlined its real meaning

All the songs written and recorded by the Beatles for their first five albums, Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night, Beatles For Sale and Help! had the same theme, love. Each of these songs dealt with relationships, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, etc. John Lennon had married Cynthia Powell at Mount Pleasant Register Office in Liverpool on August 23, 1961, being the only Beatle to be married at this time, and Paul McCartney had dated a girl from Liverpool named Dorothy Rhone, followed by Jane Asher (Jane is the sister of Peter Asher, famous for the recording duo of Peter and Gordon). These relationships provided the inspiration for the songs on the first five albums. It was not until 1965 that John Lennon wrote Nowhere Man, a song that had the distinction of being the first song that was not about love.

In early 1961, Paul McCartney wrote P.S. I Love You, which was dedicated to Dorothy. During this time, Dorothy was sharing an apartment with Cynthia Powell. Although Dorothy was madly in love with McCartney, Paul was too young to settle down. Consequently, Paul broke off their relationship. Cynthia, seeing how devastated Dorothy was at the breakup, described this in a book

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