The Beatles

The impact of the Beatles has often been noted but cannot be overstated. The “Fab Four” from Liverpool, England, startled the ears and energized the lives of virtually all who heard them. Their arrival triggered the musical revolution of the Sixties, introducing a modern sound and viewpoint that parted ways with the world of the previous decade. In a career that lasted less than a decade, the Beatles changed the course of rock and roll and popular music. After launching the British Invasion of the United Stated and scoring 20 Number One hits, the Beatles went on to indulge their creative energies in the studio, layering sounds and crafting songs in a way that was experimental yet still accessible. This retreat from the ceaseless mayhem of pop celebrity yielded such musically expansive and lyrically sophisticated albums as Rubber Soul (1965) and Revolver (1966). The group retired from touring in August 1966, and 10 months later, they released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, an album that has almost universally been cited as the creative apotheosis of rock and roll, a watershed event in which rock became “serious art” without losing its sense of humor. The group continued to break new ground with the White Album and Abbey Road before calling it quits in 1970. All of the band members went on to successful solo careers.

The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.’ The Beatles exhibit includes John Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper uniform, as well as the black leather jacket he wore during the group’s early days in Hamburg and his wire-rimmed glasses. Paul McCartney’s famous collarless jacket is in the exhibit, as is John Lennon’s. Paper documents include various handwritten lyric manuscripts, report cards from Lennon’s school days and early performance contracts (including one dating back to when the group was known as the Silver Beetles).

> Related blog post: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opens one of the world's most comprehensive Beatles exhibits (6/8/11)


John Lennon's 1979 Yamaha Upright Piano

John Lennon's 1979 Yamaha Upright Piano

In 1979, John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent part of the summer at their friend Sam Green’s house on Fire Island, New York. Yoko thought the creative atmosphere at Green’s house would help inspire Lennon to write songs for their new album, so she had this piano shipped to the beach house. Lennon played this piano often and wrote several of the songs from Double Fantasy on this piano. The candle wax melted on the piano while he was playing. John and Yoko gave the piano to Sam Green in 1979.

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John Lennon's 1979 Yamaha Upright Piano

John Lennon's 1979 Yamaha Upright Piano

In 1979, John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent part of the summer at their friend Sam Green’s house on Fire Island, New York. Yoko thought the creative atmosphere at Green’s house would help inspire Lennon to write songs for their new album, so she had this piano shipped to the beach house. Lennon played this piano often and wrote several of the songs from Double Fantasy on this piano. The candle wax melted on the piano while he was playing. John and Yoko gave the piano to Sam Green in 1979.

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George Harrison Electric Guitar

George Harrison Electric Guitar

George Harrison bought this guitar at Red Fenton’s Music Store in Mount Vernon, Illinois, in 1963, while visiting his sister Louise, who had moved to the United States. He wanted one to match John Lennon’s Rickenbacker 325, but this was the only Rickenbacker the store had in stock. It originally had a red sunburst finish, but the store owner agreed to refinish it black. Harrison came back from his trip and told his band, “America has everything, why should they want us?”

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Ringo Starr Bass Drum Head, 1964

Ringo Starr Bass Drum Head, 1964

This drum head was painted by Eddie Stokes, a sign painter who made custom drum heads for Drum City, the London percussion shop where Ringo Starr purchased his gear. It was on the front of Starr’s kit when the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964.

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Meet the Beatles Booklet, 1963

Meet the Beatles Booklet, 1963

This promotional brochure was written by Tony Barrow, the Beatles’ first PR manager.

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Valentine’s Night Rock Ball Poster, 1961

Valentine’s Night Rock Ball Poster, 1961

This is the first poster advertising a show by the Beatles.

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