Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Beatles, The #85 Artist of the Seventies*

We're up to the only artist in the countdown that was able to make it on the strength of four hit songs and one studio album.  But when you sell 11 million records in the decade and record two of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era* on that one album, that can pass a lot of artists.

All this group did in the 60's was explode onto the music scene in 1964 and become the only act in music history to own each of the Top 5 songs (in April of that year), then change Rock music in just about every facet over the next six years. 

Starting out as the best of pals and songwriting partners, bickering between Paul McCartney and John Lennon led to the breakup of the Beatles in 1970.  Although the group only released one studio album in 1970, the record company continued to release compilations and singles well into the decade.

Let It Be was the final album released, yet most of it was recorded prior to Abbey Road.  But that great album came out in the 60's and does not factor into these rankings.  While recording the album, tensions between McCartney and Lennon were at an all-time high, and the experience wasn't pleasant, from the group members all the way to the engineer, producer, and movie director Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who was filming the project.  George Harrison walked out for five days, fed up by the relationship that had developed between Lennon and McCartney.

Harrison returned, and brought with him keyboardist Billy Preston so as to ease the tension.  The group wanted to perform live for the movie, but could not agree on a location to film a concert.  Finally, they performed live for the final time on the rooftop of the Apple Corps building in London on January 30, 1969.

Five weeks later, engineer Glyn Johns began to put together the album.  Ordinarily the members of the Beatles would have been involved in the most intricate of details, but Johns essentially finished the Let It Be album on his own, as the Beatles had "washed their hands of the project", according to Mark Lewisohn in his 2010 book The Complete Beatles Chronicle:  The Definitive Day-By-Day Guide To the Beatles' Entire Career

When bassist McCartney, rhythm guitarist John Lennon, lead guitarist George Harrison and drummer Ringo Starr got together on August 20 for the mixing of "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" for Abbey Road, it was the final time all four Beatles were together in the same studio.  

Lennon announced to the rest of the Beatles that he was leaving the group on September 20, but agreed to hold off on announcing it publicly so as to not limit sales of the upcoming album.

Abbey Road sold four million copies within months of release.  The group still had to finish the Let It Be album (originally titled Get Back), so the Harrison song "I Me Mine" was recorded on January 3, 1970.  Lennon was not part of the song.

Allen Klein, hired to replace the late Brian Epstein as manager, wasn't happy with Johns's work, and gave tapes from the session to Phil Spector.  Spector not only remixed the material, but edited, spliced and overdubbed several of the songs that had been intended by the group to be "live".

McCartney was unhappy with Spector's product, especially on "The Long And Winding Road".  He demanded that Spector's changes be undone, but when he was ignored, held a press conference to announce his departure from the Beatles on April 10, 1970. 

The Let It Be album was released one month later.  The title song went to #1 everywhere in the world except the U.K. (#2), Germany (#2), and Belgium (#3).  "Let It Be" sold over two million copies.  It continues to rank among The Top 50 Songs of the Rock Era* 44 years later.

"The Long And Winding Road" reached #1 in the U.S. and Canada and sold over one million copies.  It has only gotten stronger since then, now ranking as one of The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era* as well.

Let It Be sold over four million copies.  The Harrison song "For You Blue", the flip of "The Long And Winding Road", received significant airplay as well.

McCartney filed suit for the dissolution of the Beatles' contractual partnership.  Legal disputes raged on for years, with the dissolution not permanent until late 1974.

The movie Let It Be was released in 1970, and the Beatles captured the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score.

The four members of the Beatles each released solo albums in 1970.  All four became successful solo performers, with McCartney being by far the most successful.  Some of them assisted on each others' albums, with the exception of Lennon and McCartney working together.  Despite passionate pleas from the media and their fans, the members were never able to put their differences aside to reunite, even for live performances.

Two double compilation albums were released in 1973, 1962-1966 and 1967-1970, and they were wildly successful.  As mentioned previously, Capitol Records continued to release compilation albums without any input from the Beatles, beginning with Rock 'n' Roll Music in 1976.

The single "Got To Get You Into My Life" was released to coincide with the release of Rock 'n' Roll Music and it hit #2 in Canada and #7 in the United States in 1976. 

The Beatles had five hits and sold 11 million albums in the 70's.  They were included in Time magazine's presentation of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century.  The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in its inaugural year, and in 2014, the group received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys. 

Join Inside The Rock Era for The #84 Artist*, which will be featured tomorrow right here! 

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