The Beatles
The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show.

The Beatles

The ultimate pop phenomenon, they appear everywhere in the '60s: on TV, movie screens, magazine covers, lunch boxes, dolls, dishes and more. Beatlemania influences hairstyles and clothing, but most of all, the Beatles revolutionize music. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame puts it this way: "They literally stood the world of pop culture on its head, setting the musical agenda for the remainder of the decade."

Beatlemania hits the U.S. on February 9, 1964, when the Beatles appear on the Ed Sullivan Show Forty percent of the country watches and soon after divides into camps of worshipful fans, and critics upset by the boys' long hairstyles and beatnik attitudes. The fans win: on April 4, 1964, the Beatles hold the five top positions on the Billboard pop chart, a feat never achieved before—or since.

In '65, Rubber Soul signals the band's first movement beyond the musical mainstream. On August 29, 1966, they give their last concert in San Francisco. Pressures on the group (and within it) are starting to show. John Lennon takes a few months off to appear in the film How I Won the War, and on the first cover of Rolling Stone.

Experiments (1967-1969)

Released in June '67, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the world's first critically acclaimed "concept album." The group's musical credibility makes a giant leap, and other critical successes follow. As the Beatles experiment with musical styles and instruments, they are also experimenting with drugs, Eastern religions, and life as adults. Tensions rise over musical differences, personality conflicts (often due to Lennon's ties with Yoko Ono), and political disagreements.

Inducted into Rock & Roll
Hall of Fame
The Beatles 1988
John Lennon 1994
Paul McCartney 1999
George Harrison 2004
Ringo Starr

Endings (1969 to now)

The Beatles give their last group performance on Jan. 30, 1969, just two days before the decade ends, in a rooftop session during filming for Let It Be. In April, McCartney announces he's leaving the band. The legal dissolution occurs January 2, 1975.

Some 20 years later (and 15 years after Lennon is murdered) a new Beatles single is released in November '95. Free as a Bird is built around a demo recorded by Lennon in '77, and finished by the three surviving Beatles in '95. A few months later, another split-decade recording, Real Love, is released. The singles climb the Billboard chart to reach #6 and #11 respectively.

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