The Beatles are, quite possibly, the all-time most famous and popular band in the world. Though the group's commercial recording career spanned a mere seven years, from 1963 to 1970, they remain the bestselling band of all time in history in the United States, and have sold more than a billion albums around the world.
The band's lineup consisted of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. An initial version of the band, including McCartney, Lennon, and Harrison, first started playing together in 1957 while the musicians were in high school, but the band's final lineup did not become complete until Starr joined the band in 1962.
Though the Beatles initially experienced success in England, they did not make it big in the United States until their 1964 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. After their appearance on the show, a phenomenon known as "Beatlemania" occurred — girls began to collect their albums and memorabilia with a vengeance, and many teenage boys imitated their distinctive pageboy haircuts.
The first few albums that band released were full of catchy pop tunes, but the musicians soon began to experiment with their sound. Their 1966 album, Revolver was an ambitious sonic experiment that incorporated blues and world music. The following album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band was even more innovative, and is frequently hailed as the best album of all time by critics around the world.
In 1969, the members of the Beatles decided to go their separate ways. They played a final concert in London on the rooftop of the Apple Records building, much of which was featured in their video documentary, Let it Be. Their last album, Abbey Road was released in 1969.
After the Beatles broke up, each of the band members followed separate creative paths. Paul McCartney formed a band called Wings with his wife, Linda; they recorded numerous hit songs, including "Live and Let Die," which was later covered by Guns 'n Roses. John Lennon achieved great success as a solo artist, with classic songs like "Imagine." Tragically, he was killed by an obsessive fan, Mark David Chapman, in 1980. George Harrison recorded many solo albums over the years, and died of cancer in 2001.