The Beatles were the leading British pop music group of the 1960s, consisting of four young men, all from Liverpool: Paul McCartney (b. 1942), John Lennon (b. 1940), George Harrison (b. 1943) and Ringo Starr (b. 1940), who joined the group in 1962. The original group began playing in Liverpool in 1959 and made three visits to Hamburg before achieving fame in 1963 with their new sound, dubbed 'Merseybeat'.
They became the main influence on pop music for the next decade, and for the first time since the early 1900s British popular music broke away from American domination. Although always recognizable, their music became increasingly sophisticated, accompanied by the lyrics of McCartney and Lennon, and they continually experimented using Indian music among other sources and in turn influencing various kinds of music and the 'pop culture' generally. The furthering of their individual interests was partly the reason for the group's disbandment in 1971.
Their best-known recordings include 'I want to hold your hand', 'Can't buy me love', 'Yesterday', 'Yellow Submarine' and 'Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band', and many records were produced under their own label 'Apple'. They were each awarded the MBE in 1965, amid much controversy, for their contribution to the entertainment industry. They also made the well-received films A Hard Day's Night and Help!, as well as the cartoon feature, Yellow Submarine. The world was shocked by the assassination of John Lennon in New York city in December, 1980.