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The Beatles

Although iconic Liverpudlian band The Beatles were only active from 1963 until their breakup in 1970, their influence and fame persists decades later. John Lennon founded the band, then called The Quarrymen, during high school and, in 1957, friend and guitarist Paul McCartney joined. The much younger guitarist George Harrison, who had been hanging around and playing with the band, finally earned his way in a bit later.

In 1960, The Quarrymen became The Beatles and added drummer Pete Best and bassist Stuart Sutcliffe before heading to Hamburg for several months of demanding gigs. Upon their return, the bandmembers — save for Sutcliffe, who had left the band for art school — gigged around Merseyside and caught the attention of local record store manager Brian Epstein, who offered to become the band’s manager. Epstein got the band signed with Parlophone and coaxed them out of their leather jackets and into their signature tailored suits, ties, and mop-tops. At this time, Pete Best was ousted from the group and replaced by Ringo Starr.

The single “Please Please Me” established the group in the UK and they crossed the pond with “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” What followed in the years after was Beatlemania in its purest form: No. 1 single after No. 1 single and screaming fans that drowned out the band’s playing at live shows. The Beatles cemented their image with the cheeky musical comedy “A Hard Day’s Night” and continued to release albums and singles that were both innovative and popular. With “Revolver,” the band added string quartets, Eastern-influenced sounds, and more complex lyrics and arrangements; “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” pushed into psychedelia; “The White Album,” mostly written while the band was taking a course in transcendental meditation in India, took their songwriting to new heights.

The Beatles recorded subsequent albums amid growing tension and disagreement over how to run the band. The final album to be recorded, “Abbey Road,” appeared in 1969 and “Let It Be,” which was recorded prior to “Abbey Road,” came out in 1970, just two weeks after Paul McCartney released a solo album and announced that he was leaving the band.

As for "The Beatles" animated series, which has remained a favorite of fans of all ages, it also has the distinction of being the first weekly television show to feature animated versions of real, living people.