After John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison met each other in the late 1950s, coming together for the latter’s skiffle band The Quarrymen, the world would never be the same. The band faced two notable lineup changes: first, with former bassist Stuart Sutcliffe departing for art school, and then with manager Brian Epstein booting drummer Pete Best in favor of Ringo Starr — and The Beatles as the world knows them were born.
After two years of diligently working and releasing singles, The Beatles made their debut in America, appearing on the The Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964, to an estimated audience of 73 million, and performed five songs — “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand”; the performance would change the trajectory of their career. Just two months after The Beatles’ appearance on the show, the group dominated the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first act ever to occupy the top five spots on the chart, and giving birth to Beatlemania in the process.
The remainder of the ’60s would continue to be successful for the band, as it released three movies, sent 13 albums to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and played one of the first stadium concerts in the United States. Of course, The Beatles’ history isn’t without bumps in the road — see their retirement from touring, bubbling tensions toward final album Let It Be or Lennon’s persecution by the FBI — but the soaring highs firmly cemented the group in rock n’ roll history.
From the Beatlemania of the 1960s and the band’s long streak of No. 1s, to the post breakup years and the release of the group’s final single, “Now and Then,” Billboard takes a look back at The Beatles’ most memorable moments below.
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