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Beatles Basics

This research guide serves as a companion to the ID 232 course, The Beatles: Voice of a Generation.

Purpose of This Guide

The purpose of this guide is to provide some basic background information on the Beatles.  Here you'll find 

  • Brief biographical information on each member of the Beatles.
  • Some useful web sites to help understand the band and its impact.
  • Some useful books and articles that discuss the group.  
  • ​Some of the best videos about the band that are available on the open web.  

Brief biographical information on the members of the Beatles

The Beatles were a musical group who performed and recorded together from 1962-1970.  

The band was founded by John Lennon (1940-1980) and also included members Paul McCartney (born 1942), George Harrison (1943-2001), and Ringo Starr (born Richard Starkey in 1940).  

Lennon (pictured below circa 1964-1965) played rhythm and lead guitar, as well as harmonica and keyboards.

McCartney (pictured below circa 1965) performed on bass, lead guitar, and keyboards.

Harrison (pictured below circa 1964-1965) was generally the band's lead guitarist, though Lennon and McCartney occasionally played that role.

Starr (pictured below circa 1964) was the group's drummer on all but a very few of their tracks.  

Together the band released thirteen albums, and twenty singles.   

Lennon and McCartney wrote most of the group's canonical songs, either as a team, or as individuals; George Harrison contributed twenty-one original compositions to the band's recorded oeuvre.  

Useful Beatles Web Sites

Here are some particularly useful web sites about the Beatles and their music.  Official web site for the band. Songs, history, discographies, etc.  Discussion board for Beatles fans. 8 Things the Beatles Pioneered

Useful Books and Articles About the Beatles

Thousands of books and articles have been written about the Beatles.  Listed below are some of the most useful.  For a comprehensive look at the best books about the Beatles, see Jenkins's essay "The Beatles: Will You  Read My Book?" published in Teaching the Beatles (Routledge, 2018).  



Schenk, Joshua Wolf.  "The Power of Two."  The Atlantic, July-August, 2014.  Good article about how Lennon and McCartney collaborated to write timeless music.  


Useful Videos About the Beatles on the Open Web

The following videos about the Beatles are available on YouTube and other open web sources.  Note that videos sometimes disappear unexpectedly from the web.

Videos About the Band

 Seven minute history of the Beatles

The Long and Winding Road: The Life and Times of the Beatles  (flawed by its inclusion of performances by other bands, but has some good footage nonetheless)

Eight Things the Beatles Pioneered Very good short (sixteen-minute) video that discusses how the Beatles pioneered changes in the music industry.

Performances of Some Famous Beatles Songs




"I Feel Fine" 

"Penny Lane" 

"Hello Goodbye" 

"Don't Let Me Down"

"Come Together"

"Paperback Writer"

"Here Comes the Sun"

The Beatles as Musicians

What Makes Ringo a Great Drummer 

The Genius of George Harrison Guitar
The Genius of John Lennon Guitar

Paul McCartney's Bass Guitar Techniques

The Beatles: A Musical Appreciation