After forming in Liverpool in 1960, little did Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr know that they would become one of the most influential bands in history. While The Beatles began their legacy playing the popular music of the time, the band's style evolved with the times and their life experiences. They pushed the boundaries of music beyond what most people thought was possible and established themselves as one of the greatest bands of all time. Think you're a Beatles fan? These lesser-known facts and stories about the band's history will give you a whole new appreciation for their music.
"Michelle" Was Inspired By Paul's Favorite Way To Pick Up Girls
In an interview, Paul McCartney revealed that the Beatles song "Michelle" was inspired by one of his favorite strategies to pick up girls. Before they became incredibly famous, the band would frequent parties with John Lennon, who was older and in art school at the time.
To increase his chances with the ladies, McCartney would dress in all black and sit in the corner with his guitar singing songs in made-up French. While it was an effective method, Lennon encouraged McCartney to make an actual song out of it and "Michelle" was the result.
The First Lyrics To "Yesterday" Were "Scrambled Eggs"
When Paul McCartney woke up with the idea for the song we now know as "Yesterday," it wasn't nearly as fleshed out as it ended up being.
McCartney had an idea for the instrumentals and a few lyrics, so he walked around his house singing "scrambled eggs…baby, I love scrambled eggs" so he didn't forget the tune. In the end, scrambled eggs helped make the song "Yesterday" into the hit Beatle's song that it is today, and we're thankful for it.
They Planned On Starting A Utopian Community
In 1967, the Beatles came extremely close to buying an island off of the coast of Athens, Greece. It was there, they discussed the idea of starting a utopian community with their families and friends. John Lennon appeared to be the most involved with the idea claiming that "They've tried everything else. Wars, nationalism, fascism, communism, capitalism, nastiness, religion – none of it works. So why not this?"
Paul McCartney later commented, "It's a good job we didn't do it because anyone who tried those ideas realized eventually there would always be arguments, there would always be who has to do the washing-up and whose turn it is to clean out the latrines."
Not Everyone Was Happy About Ringo Joining The Band
After signing their first record deal, the band's producer, George Martin, suggested that the Beatles get a new drummer because Pete Best's skills weren't cutting it. So, they had their manager fire Best and in turn, hire Ringo Starr.
While Ringo would go on to become one of the most famous drummers in the world, he wasn't always so loved. When he showed up for his first show with the band at the Cavern Club in 1962, the crowd wasn't very pleased to learn that Best had been replaced. Yet, over time, he earned his place in the fan's hearts.
They Recorded Their First Album In A Day
After the success of their single "Please, Please, Me," the record company was trying to release a full album as soon as possible. Their producer, Geroge Martin, decided to harness the skills that the band learned from their nights in Hamburg and recorded the entire album Please, Please, Me in just 13 hours.
They even strategically saved "Twist and Shout" for the end so that John Lennon wouldn't lose his voice early on in the recording session. This is largely contrasted to their later music which took much more time to record than just 13 hours.
Paul McCartney Was Robbed By A Fan
At one point, Paul McCartney's home was broken into by a crazed fan. Once inside, she decided to take a few items of clothing and other precious items of McCartney's for some personalized mementos.
The break-in inspired the Abbey Road song "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window," as that's exactly how the intruder got into his house. She used a ladder to hoist herself through the bathroom window. All in all, McCartney wasn't that broken up about the robbery although he was a little more cautious than before.
Ringo Starr Wanted To Be A Hairdresser
After the band first started experiencing the sweet taste of success, during an interview, they were each asked what they would do if they weren't in the band. This was also still a very relevant question, as their fame could still disappear just as fast as it had arrived.
Drummer Ringo Starr responded saying that he had "always fancied having a ladies hairdressing salon." While he never did open up his salon, he did end up marrying a hairdresser named Maureen.
Soviet Russians Had To Get Creative In Order To Listen To The Beatles
During the time of Beatlemania, the Beatles, along with several other Western bands were banned in the Soviet Union. So, this meant that getting your hands on a Beatles vinyl was incredibly difficult, expensive, and at times even dangerous.
However, a loophole was discovered where the music could be imprinted onto used X-Ray scans which could be found in hospital dumpsters or bought from a medical store. This form of music was called "music on the bones" and started in the 1950s, but became incredibly popular during the Beatlemania craze in the early 1960s.
"Norwegian Wood" Was Widely Misinterpreted
For John Lennon, the song "Norwegian Wood" was about an extramarital affair, and for George Harrison, it was his debut on the sitar. The song followed a man who slept at a girl's apartment, was forced to sleep in the bathtub and lit her apartment on fire the next morning. Yet, many people were still wondering about the song's title.
On the song, Paul McCartney stated, "A lot of people were decorating their places in wood. Norwegian wood. It was pine, really, cheap pine. But it's not as good a title, 'Cheap Pine,' baby. So it was a little parody really on those kinds of girls who when you'd go to their flat there would be a lot of Norwegian wood."
Ringo's Real Name Is Richard Starkey
No, Ringo Starr as we know him was not born with that name. In fact, his real name is actually Richard Starkey. He began playing the drums in a hospital band when he was 13 and sick with tuberculosis, becoming the drummer for the Beatles in 1962.
His nickname "Ringo" actually started off as "Rings" for his habit of wearing numerous rings at the same time. He later changed it to Ringo because he wanted it to sound more like a cowboy. If you listen closely during recordings, you can hear the band members calling him Richard and not Ringo.
John Lennon Grew Up By A Place Called Strawberry Fields In Liverpool
At the age of five, John Lennon moved in with his aunt and uncle, Mimi and George Smith. During that time, one of his favorite places to go and explore was a nearby garden by the Salvation Army orphanage called Strawberry Fields.
Paul McCartney commented that "John's memory of it [was]…There was a wall you could bunk over and it was a rather wild garden, it wasn't manicured at all, so it was easy to hide in." This wasn't the only Beatles song written about a location, as Lennon's first childhood house was located near a Penny Lane.
They Ran Into Some Trouble After Their US Tour
After their tour in the United States, the band experienced some major backlash from various religious and social conservatives, even the Ku Klux Klan.
In an interview, John Lennon reportedly states, "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first, rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was alright but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me." Many people took offense to this statement - it even got them in trouble with the Pope for a period of time.
Pete Best Released A Misleading Album
After being replaced by Ringo Starr as the drummer in 1962, three years later Pete Best went on to release an album titled Best of the Beatles. However, the album had absolutely no music by the Beatles and he managed to fool so many people into buying it that he was investigated for consumer fraud.
Luckily for Best, the charges were eventually dropped as no fraud had been committed. He simply had named the album Best of the Beatles because he considered himself to be the best of the Beatles in real life.
Ringo Starr's Life Was Threatened
When the Beatles were touring in Canada, Ringo Starr was forced to bring around a bodyguard and police sharpshooters that accompanied him when he was on stage. He had previously received death threats from a group of anti-Semites about having him play in Canada.
Starr responded to the threats by saying, "Some people decided to make an example of me, as an English Jew. The one major fault is I'm not Jewish." Luckily, there was never an attempt made on his life while touring in Canada.
Ringo's Fear Of Flying Tomatoes
When the Beatles were originally writing their hit song "With a Little Help from My Friends," the original lyrics were, 'What would you think if I sang out of tune? Would you throw ripe tomatoes at me?'
Ringo Starr felt that might encourage their fans to actually bring tomatoes to their show and actually throw tomatoes after them, so he changed the tomato line to 'Would you stand up and walk out on me?' Luckily, nobody threw tomatoes at the band when they played the song.
They Were The First To Have "Devil Horns" On An Album
The Beatles have had lots of monumental firsts when it comes to the music industry. Whether it was writing their lyrics on the back of their records or creating music videos, these are a few of the things that made them so influential.
However, they are also the first to display the rock and roll "devil horns" on their Yellow Submarine album. This is believed to be one of the earliest instances this was shown in relation to rock and roll.
A Teenager May Have Started Beatlemania In The United States
Legend has it that Beatlemania sweeping through the United States can be attributed to a 15-year-old named Marsha Albert from Maryland. Supposedly, after hearing a Beatles song, she wrote a letter to a local radio station in Washington D.C. and asked if they could play something similar.
The DJ managed to get their hands on a copy of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and the public went wild, increasing the demand for the Beatles all over the United States. DJ Dick Boone also claims to have tried to popularize them by playing them on stations in LA and Chicago although they didn't catch on.
The Fifth Beatle
Since the Beatles first formed, there has been a debate over whether there was a fifth Beatle or not. Many people believe that the original drummer for the band, Pete Best, should be considered the fifth Beatle because he was in the band before he was fired.
However, Paul McCartney claims that their long-time producer, George Martin, is the most deserving of the title as he played the keyboard on almost every one of their albums.
The Meaning Behind "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"
The song "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" is believed by many to be a reference to the psychedelic drug LSD. With the lyrics "marmalade skies," "kaleidoscope eyes," and the acronymic rendering of the title being "LSD," it doesn't seem unlikely.
However, that's not what the song is really about. In reality, the the song was inspired by John Lennon's son who showed his father a picture he drew of a girl he sat next to in class claiming that she was "in the sky with diamonds."
"I Am The Walrus" Was Banned By BBC
After BBC banned "I Am the Walrus" for its lyrics "pornographic priestess" and "let your knickers down," George Harrison spoke out. Annoyed at the songs banning for seemingly harmless lyrics, he made it clear that they weren't going to be dissuaded from being edgy.
In an interview, he stated, "Why can't you have people [expletive] as well? It's going on everywhere in the world, all the time. So why can't you mention it? It's just a word, made up by people... It doesn't mean a thing, so why can't we use it in a song? We will eventually. We haven't started yet."