Beatles, the, English musical group that enjoyed worldwide popular adulation in the 1960s; the group ushered in the climactic phase of rock music (mid-1960s-70s). The four members of the group, all born in Liverpool, were (James) Paul McCartney (b. June 18, 1942), John (Winston) Lennon (b. Oct. 9, 1940—d. Dec. 8, 1980, New York City), George Harrison (b. Feb. 25, 1943), and Ringo Starr (original name Richard Starkey, b. July 7, 1940). Each came from a working-class background, and all had had experience in various other rock groups before they started performing together. The group began in the pairing of McCartney and Lennon in 1956, joined by Harrison in 1957; the three (along with one member who died in 1962 and another who was later replaced by Starr) adopted the name the Beatles in 1960, performing at clubs in Liverpool and in Hamburg, which served as a proving ground for popular musicians of the period. In 1962 the group, under the management of Brian Epstein, signed a recording contract and recruited Starr from another band. The subsequent commercial release (1962-63) of such songs as "Love Me Do," "Please Please Me," "She Loves You," and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" made them the most popular rock group in England, and early in 1964 what soon came to be called "Beatlemania" struck the United States with the release there of the two last-named records and their first U.S. television appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show." The Beatles' music, originally inspired by such U.S. performers as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Bill Haley, recaptured much of the freshness and excitement of the earliest days of rock and roll and, in combination with the simple but engaging lyrics of Lennon and McCartney, kept the group at the top of popularity charts for several years. They won recognition from the music industry in the form of awards for performances and songs and from Queen Elizabeth II, who named each of them to membership in the Order of the British Empire. Their long hair and tastes in dress proved influential throughout the world, as did their highly publicized experimentation with hallucinogenic drugs and Indian mysticism. With a solid financial basis—any single record or album of theirs was virtually guaranteed sales of more than a million—they felt free to experiment with new musical forms and arrangements. The result was a variety of songs ranging from ballads such as "Yesterday" to complex rhythm tunes like "Paperback Writer," from children's songs such as "Yellow Submarine" to songs of social comment, including "Eleanor Rigby." Their public performances ended in 1966. In 1967 they produced "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," an album conceived as a dramatic whole rather than as a collection of miscellaneous songs; it was novel, too, in its use of electronic music and in its being explicitly a studio work unreproducible on stage. Their prestige won attention to their experiments from their predominantly young audience, opening up new possibilities for musical expression that other performers were quick to follow, and it attracted other, more serious listeners as well. The Beatles engaged in other artistic pursuits, together in two critically well-received films, A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965), and separately. Finally, the pressures of their public lives, together with their growing outside interests, led to the group's dissolution in 1971, although rumours that they might reunite persisted. McCartney produced solo albums and in 1971 formed his own band, Wings. Harrison worked alone and with Lennon and Starr in the 1970s. Starr appeared in films and showed some attraction to country music. Lennon continued as a musician with his wife, Yoko Ono, and as a political activist. He was wantonly assassinated in 1980.