The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960 and one of the most successful and loved bands in the history of popular music.
Since 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals).
Growing up with the 1950s rock and roll, the group later worked in many genres ranging from folk rock to psychedelic pop, often incorporating classical and other elements in innovative ways.
The group came to be perceived as the embodiment of progressive ideals, seeing their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.
With an early five-piece line-up of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe (bass) and Pete Best (drums), The Beatles built their reputation in Liverpool and Hamburg clubs over a three-year period until 1963.
Sutcliffe left the group in 1961, and Best was replaced by Starr the following year. Moulded into a professional outfit by music store owner Brian Epstein after he offered to act as the group's manager,
and with their musical potential enhanced by the hands-on creativity of producer George Martin, their first single, "Love Me Do", achieved UK mainstream succes in 1962.
Gaining international popularity over the course of the next year, they toured extensively until 1966, then retreated to the recording studio until their breakup in 1970.
Each then found success in an independent musical career. McCartney and Starr remain active; Lennon was shot and killed in 1980, and Harrison died of cancer in 2001.
During their studio years, The Beatles produced what critics consider some of their finest material, including the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), widely regarded as a masterpiece.
Four decades after their breakup, The Beatles' music continues to be popular.
According to RIAA certifications, they have sold more albums in the US than any other artist. In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of the all-time top-selling Hot 100 artists to celebrate
the US singles chart's fiftieth anniversary, with The Beatles at number one.