The Beatles: brilliant

Ryan Heshmati

October 27, 2023

One cannot discuss the 1960s without discussing the Beatles. The band, which formed in 1960, producing music until 1970, sent shockwaves across the world. The group was principally composed of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Star. According to CNBC, the group has sold 600 million albums worldwide. Their impact is not in the past, yet, either. The title of a 2016 Forbes piece by Hugh McIntyre says a lot about their continuing legacy in the 21st century, “24 Million Hours Of Beatles Music Has Been Played In Their First 100 Days On Spotify.” The medium for listening may have transformed from record and cassette to cell phone app. The works of such an influential music group are worth exploration, especially as many of their songs have quite interesting backstories.

“Taxman” for instance, was written out of dismay for the band reaching England’s highest tax bracket: 95%. The song’s lyrics are not shy about the Beatles’ dissatisfaction with their tax situation, either. A portion reads, “Should five percent appear too small, be thankful I don't take it all, 'cause I'm the taxman.” The Beatles were willing to act boldly, even criticizing their own government.

Their boldness paid off, significantly. CBS News notes, “The number of Beatles singles to reach Number 1 on the "Billboard Hot 100" is 21, the most of any band.” CNBC’s Mark Koda looks at April 1964, when the Beatles took the top five ranks of the list, adding “ They made $25 million in earnings that year, which translates to almost $188 million today [2014 dollars].” 

Despite much success, the Beatles story is not all positive. On December 8th, 1980, Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon, formerly one of the primary members of the Beatles. Chapman is still incarcerated and Lennon’s wife before he died, Yoko Ono, has repeatedly fought against parole for the convicted murderer. Unfortunately, more premature death  hit the Beatles group with George Harrison. After surviving a 1999 home invasion which involved over 40 stab wounds, Harrison ended up dying in 2001 from cancer.

The Beatles have enjoyed great commercial success and have left a lasting legacy. Their willingness to be bold with their music built their brand into the behemoth it became. Despite their success, however, there is a sad element to their story, with the deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison. Nevertheless, their legacy remains and the Beatles still has over 29 million monthly listeners on Spotify alone.