21 Fab Facts About The Beatles

The Beatles performing on stage in 1963.
The Beatles performing on stage in 1963.
King Collection/Hulton Archives/Getty Images

The Beatles—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr—are best remembered for their essential role in launching a British music invasion in America and bringing the aesthetic of rock and roll to new frontiers with everything from electronic effects to sitars. Their songs are beloved by many, hated by some, and exhaustively analyzed by a new generation every few years. On the 60th anniversary of the band's founding, here are some things you might not have known about the Fab Four.

1. John Lennon grew up near a place called Strawberry Fields in Liverpool.

The Beatles standing outside Paul McCartney's Liverpool home circa 1960.
Keystone/Getty Images

From the time he was five years old and all but abandoned by his parents, John Lennon lived with his aunt and uncle, Mimi and George Smith, in Woolton, England. One of his favorite spots to explore with his childhood friends was the garden of the nearby Salvation Army orphanage, which was known as Strawberry Fields. In Barry Miles’ book Many Years From Now, McCartney remembered that it was "a secret garden. John's memory of it [was] … There was a wall you could bunk over and it was a rather wild garden, it wasn't manicured at all, so it was easy to hide in.” Lennon wrote the song in a reminiscent mood in 1966 while on set in Spain for the film How I Won the War. “Strawberry Fields Forever” is not the only Beatles song named for a real place—the Lennons's first family home in Liverpool stood near Penny Lane—but it might be the only one to have a place named after it: Strawberry Fields is now a memorial section of New York’s Central Park.

2. There is a heated international grammatical debate over whether the “the” should be capitalized.

Are they The Beatles or the Beatles? Lower-case faction members point to handwritten letters by Lennon, which feature a small t in the band’s title, while proponents of the capital T cite grammatical rules over trademarks and the logo atop the Beatles’s official website. Squabbling about this very topic started on Wikipedia in 2004, and resulted in several editors being banned from commenting a few years back. In the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the rumpus, lower-case advocate Gabriel Fadden complained of being “cyberstalked." 

3. The Beatles recorded most of their debut album in one day.

The Beatles performing their last live public concert on the rooftop of London's Apple building on January 30, 1969.Evening Standard, Hulton Archive/Getty Images

No four people on Earth were more productive on February 11, 1963, than The Beatles. On that momentous day, the lads from Liverpool recorded 10 songs that would appear on their debut album, Please Please Me. At the very end of the 12-hour session, they tackled “Twist and Shout,” a raucous number that required an already-hoarse John Lennon to completely shred what remained of his voice.

“The last song nearly killed me,” Lennon said of “Twist and Shout” in 1976. “My voice wasn’t the same for a long time after; every time I swallowed it was like sandpaper. I was always bitterly ashamed of it, because I could sing it better than that; but now it doesn’t bother me. You can hear that I’m just a frantic guy doing his best.”

4. “Michelle” was inspired by Paul McCartney’s favorite technique for picking up girls at parties.

McCartney once shared in an interview that he and Harrison, self-described “working-class boys,” often felt at odds at the boho-chic parties they went to as teens with Lennon (who was older and attending art college). To hold his own, McCartney developed a habit of dressing in black, sitting in a corner with his guitar, and singing in made-up French to see if he could draw over any of the Juliette Greco-type women. It never worked, but one day Lennon suggested that McCartney make “that French thing” into a song. 

5. Ringo Starr’s real name is Richard Starkey.

Richard Starkey, called “Ritchie” by his doting mother, was born in Liverpool in 1940. He began playing the drums in a hospital band at the age of 13 while recuperating from a bout of tuberculosis, and by 17 he had helped to found the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Band. He joined the Beatles in 1962, replacing their first drummer, Pete Best. Starr/Starkey was always known in the group’s public performances, films, and album covers as Ringo, but in recordings of studio takes Paul can be heard calling out “Ready, Richard?” before counting the band off. The drummer’s first nickname, Rings, reportedly came from his habit of wearing large amounts of jewelry, particularly on his fingers; later, while at a holiday camp, he changed it to "Ringo" to sound more cowboy-ish. In a scene from A Hard Day’s Night where the lads are playing cards in a train compartment surrounded by giggling girls, the other members laughingly accuse him of winning because of his lucky rings.

6. Decca Records blew it big time with The Beatles.

On New Year’s Day 1962, The Beatles drove from Liverpool to London and auditioned for Decca Records. They recorded 15 songs in just over an hour, three of them Lennon-McCartney originals. Even if the nervous lads weren’t 100 percent on their game, the recordings present a rock-solid band with hints of future fabulousness. But Decca opted to pass on The Beatles and instead sign local rockers Brian Poole and the Tremeloes. The label also famously told Beatles manager Brian Epstein that “guitar groups are on the way out.”

The Decca disappointment was a blessing in disguise. After the failed audition, The Beatles found producer George Martin, signed with EMI, and replaced original drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr. Everyone knows where the story goes from there. Things also turned out OK for Decca: They signed The Rolling Stones the following year.

7. The first lyrics to “Yesterday” were “scrambled eggs.”

Genius often comes out of nowhere, and the melody for the famous melancholy string setting that is Vladimir Putin’s favorite Beatles song apparently just popped into Paul McCartney’s head when he woke up one morning. Until he could find words for it, the McCartney walked around the house humming “scrambled eggs…baby, I love scrambled eggs” so that he wouldn’t forget the tune.

8. People are obsessed with the opening chord in “A Hard Day’s Night.”

In writing the title track for their 1964 cinematic debut, A Hard Day’s Night, The Beatles knew they needed to kick things off in grand fashion. They came up with a ringing intro chord that’s instantly recognizable yet surprisingly hard to identify, musicologically speaking. Beatles fanatics debated for years about the chord, but in a 2001 online chat, George Harrison seemed to clear things up. “It is F with a G on top,” Harrison said, referring to Fadd9, played on a 12-string electric guitar. “But you’ll have to ask Paul about the bass note to get the proper story.”

“Audio spectrum analysis” of the chord suggests McCartney is playing a D note on his bass, while John Lennon is doubling Harrison’s Fadd9 on his acoustic guitar. There’s also some audible piano played by producer George Martin.

9. The BBC banned The Beatles's "I Am the Walrus."

Mild string player Harrison was incensed when the BBC banned “I Am the Walrus” for its lyrics “pornographic priestesses” and “let your knickers down.” In an interview with official Beatles biographer Hunter Davies, he revealed a desire to take the Beatles’ edginess in a new direction altogether:

Why can't you have people f***ing as well? It's going on everywhere in the world, all the time. So why can't you mention it? It's just a word, made up by people... It doesn't mean a thing, so why can't we use it in a song? We will eventually. We haven't started yet.

10. There was a real Eleanor Rigby.

One of Paul McCartney’s most poignant and memorable songs is “Eleanor Rigby,” all about a lonely old woman who dies in a church with nobody to mourn her. McCartney has always claimed he got the titular name from actress Eleanor Bron, who appears in the 1965 Beatles film Help!, and a shop in Bristol, England, called Rigby & Evens Ltd, Wine & Spirit Shippers.

There’s every reason to believe he’s telling the truth. But the world later learned there’s a gravestone for a woman named Eleanor Rigby in Woolton Cemetery, located near St. Peter’s Church in Liverpool, where Paul first met John Lennon in 1957. John and Paul used to hang around in the cemetery before they were famous, so it’s possible the name entered Macca’s mind subconsciously. Or maybe it’s just an eerie coincidence.

11. Lovely Rita may have been a real Meter Maid named Meta.

“Traffic wardens,” as they were called in London of the 1960s, were less common and less reviled in Britain than across the pond, and it took an American friend of McCartney’s commenting on the “meter maids” to inspire the immortal rhyme of the Sgt. Pepper’s track. The woman herself, however, never got her fine. Parking attendant Meta Davis claims to have written a ticket for a car outside of the Abbey Road Studios in 1967 when Paul sauntered out and pulled it off the windshield. “He looked at it and read my signature … He said ‘Oh, is your name really Meta? ... That would be a good name for a song. Would you mind if I use it?’ And that was that. Off he went.” However, McCartney has stated that he wrote the lyrics while walking near his brother's house in Gayton, near Liverpool—some 200 miles north of London.

12. “Norwegian Wood” is not the name of the house.

For Lennon, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” was an allusion to an extramarital affair; for Harrison, it meant the breakout song for his defining instrumentals on sitar. But the ethereal head-scratcher of a song title actually refers to the cheap furniture of the average 1960s bachelorette apartment. Lennon and McCartney’s lyrics follow a man who goes to a girl’s apartment for the evening, only to be told to sleep in the bathtub and jilted the next morning; resentful of waking up alone, he sets fire to her apartment and its kitschy contents. McCartney remembers: “…a lot of people were decorating their places in wood. Norwegian wood. It was pine, really, cheap pine. But it's not as good a title, 'Cheap Pine,' baby. So it was a little parody really on those kind of girls who when you'd go to their flat there would be a lot of Norwegian wood.” Had the song been written today, it might have been called "Ikea Furniture."

13. It took four men and three pianos to play the final chord in “A Day In the Life.”

Few moments in the Beatles catalog are more iconic than the thundering piano chord that ends “A Day In the Life,” the closing track on 1967’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. To achieve that massive sound, the band needed a little help from roadie Mal Evans, who joined John, Paul, and Ringo in simultaneously playing an E major chord across three pianos. It took nine takes to get the timing right. The resulting chord rings out for 53 spine-tingling seconds.

14. Ringo Starr wrote “Octopus’s Garden” about a real undersea phenomenon.

Things got pretty combative during the sessions for 1968’s The Beatles, aka “The White Album.” At one point, a fed-up Ringo left the studio and then the country, taking his family on a boating vacation. While in Sardinia, he borrowed actor Peter Sellers’ yacht and spent a day yacking with the ship’s captain about octopuses.

“He told me that they hang out in their caves and they go around the seabed finding shiny stones and tin cans and bottles to put in front of their cave like a garden,” Ringo said. (The captain was right; octopuses really do this.) “I thought this was fabulous, because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea too,” Ringo added. “A couple of tokes later with the guitar—and we had ‘Octopus’s Garden!’”

15. Eric Clapton played the guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

Ringo Starr, Maureen Cox, George Harrison, Pattie Boyd and Eric Clapton arrive at Heathrow Airport in 1968.EVENING STANDARD/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

Ringo wasn’t the only one having a hard time during the recording of 1968’s The Beatles. George Harrison felt like his bandmates weren’t giving his song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” the attention it deserved. On the way to the studio one day, Harrison asked his pal Eric Clapton to come along and play on the track. Clapton hesitated, but Harrison convinced him, and the strategy worked perfectly. “I said, ‘Eric’s going to play on this one,’ and it was good because that then made everyone act better,” Harrison said. “Paul got on the piano and played a nice intro and they all took it more seriously.”

16. The famous Abbey Road picture has a prequel.

The final album cover photograph of four Beatles walking in time was chosen from a series of eight shots, taken on the crosswalk in front of Abbey Road Studios over the course of a single day in 1969. Freelance photographer Iain Macmillan took the official photos, but Paul’s wife, Linda McCartney, happened to be standing by with her camera to catch this small elderly lady talking to Ringo as Paul fixes his jacket collar. We can only hope they came off as nice young men.

17. Sean Connery royally dissed the Fab Four as James Bond, but liked them enough personally to record a cover.

In the 1964 Bond thriller Goldfinger, Connery purrs, of drinking Dom Perignon at the wrong temperature, “It’s simply not done…like listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.” Young fans reportedly booed the line in theatres, but the actor himself bears no real animosity toward the Beatles. Connery even collaborated with George Martin in 1988 for the Beatles producer’s In My Life album, a retrospective of Fab Four covers by celebrities from Robin Williams to Goldie Hawn. 007’s spoken-word version of the title track is radical, but pleasant, like reaching for the Dom Perignon and getting a surprise glass of well-aged scotch.

18. Only one musician ever received a featured credit on a Beatles song.

George Harrison and Billy Preston perform on stage at Maryland's Capitol Center in 1974.
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

The label on the 1969 single “Get Back” reads “The Beatles with Billy Preston, an unusual billing for the famously self-contained Fab Four. The Beatles met Preston, an African American keyboardist from Houston, when he was touring with Little Richard in the early ’60s. George Harrison reconnected with Preston in 1969, after he split from a contentious Beatles session and went to a Ray Charles concert featuring Billy on keyboards. Harrison asked Preston to join them on “Get Back,” and the presence of an outsider eased tensions considerably. Preston was so welcome in the studio that John Lennon proposed making him a full-time Beatle. McCartney apparently vetoed the idea, as the group was close to breaking up anyway.

19. There’s only one Beatles song featuring just John Lennon and Paul McCartney—and nobody else.

While honeymooning in Paris with Yoko Ono in 1969, John Lennon began writing a song about the controversy surrounding their recent nuptials. Upon returning to London, he swung by Paul’s house to finish the composition, titled “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” John and Paul promptly booked a session at Abbey Road and recorded the song themselves. Ringo was off filming The Magic Christian with Peter Sellers, so Paul handled drum duties. (He also added piano, bass, and maracas.) George was on vacation, so John played lead guitar.

“John was in an impatient mood so I was happy to help,” McCartney said. “It’s quite a good song; it has always surprised me how with just the two of us on it, it ended up sounding like The Beatles.” Indeed, the song reached #8 in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K. While “The Ballad of John and Yoko” is the only Beatles song featuring John and Paul and nobody else, it’s worth noting that “She’s Leaving Home,” off Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, is just John and Paul singing over orchestral accompaniment—no George or Ringo.

20. “The End” almost wasn’t the end for The Beatles.

The final proper song on the last album The Beatles recorded, Abbey Road, is “The End,” a perfect capper to a career that spanned—and in many ways defined—the ’60s. But the song wasn’t initially slated to end the album. Early track listings for the 1969 LP have what’s known as “The Long One,” the suite of interlocking songs that concludes with “The End,” sequenced on side one instead of side two. Had The Beatles stuck with this configuration, Abbey Road might’ve ended with “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” a far less poetic wave goodbye.

21. the Lucy in "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" was a classmate of Julian Lennon's.

The acronymic rendering of the title of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is LITSWD, but the only three letters that most theorists take any notice of are L,S, and D. The musicians and their fans alike have historically lamented the willingness of some of their critics to look for drug references in song lyrics, and “Lucy,” with its imagery of “marmalade skies” and “kaleidoscope eyes,” is a frequent victim. The inspiration for the strange and colorful song, however, came from a much more innocent place.

When 4-year-old Julian Lennon showed his father a drawing of a girl named Lucy who sat next to him in school, the songwriter was inspired by his childish scrawl of a girl who his son said was “in the sky with diamonds.” Lucy Vodden later moved to London, and remained there until she died from complications related to lupus in 2009 at the age of 46. Julian Lennon rekindled their friendship in the last years of Vodden’s life and frequently sent her flowers.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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11 Facts About Coyote Ugly On Its 20th Anniversary

Tyra Banks, Maria Bello, Bridget Moynahan, Izabella Miko, and Piper Perabo star in Coyote Ugly (2000).
Tyra Banks, Maria Bello, Bridget Moynahan, Izabella Miko, and Piper Perabo star in Coyote Ugly (2000).
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Coyote Ugly, the cult classic that launched the careers of Piper Perabo and Adam Garcia, is celebrating its 20th birthday. Though still shy of legal drinking age, the film belongs to a group of early 2000s chick flicks with varying degrees of girl power, including: Bring It On, Charlie’s Angels, Josie & The Pussycats, and Legally Blonde.

"There was a real kind of stiletto feminism that was happening in the women's movement in the late ’90s," Perabo has said of her star-making vehicle. It's that same feminism that informed the sexy, inebriated veneer of Coyote Ugly. In celebration of the movie's 20th anniversary, grab a drink (just not water) and read up on these behind-the-scenes facts about the 2000 guilty pleasure.

1. Coyote Ugly is named for a famous Manhattan dive bar.

Piper Perabo stars in Coyote Ugly (2000).Frank Masi/Touchstone Pictures & Jerry Bruckheimer, Inc./Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Coyote Ugly takes its name from the Coyote Ugly Saloon, the iconic New York City dive bar which, in turn, is inspired by the slang term for waking up after a one-night stand and realizing that, in the harsh light of day, that temporary paramour isn’t as attractive as they were the night before. Also, they’re sleeping on your arm—which you feel the overwhelming urge to gnaw off, like a coyote, in order to escape. Ouch!

2. Coyote Ugly was based on an article by the author of Eat, Pray, Love.

Coyote Ugly was based on a GQ article written by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, about her experience working as a bartender at the Coyote Ugly Saloon. “We were expected to be a little bit larger than life, or to pretend to be, or—at the very least—to want to be,” Gilbert wrote of the Coyote Ugly way. “We were the good-time girls. We were a cross between Old West dancehall hookers and gangsters' gun molls. Crack that gum, swing that ass, drink that shot, keep that change.”

3. Britney Spears and other major music stars of the time were approached about starring in Coyote Ugly.

Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, and Jewel were all approached about playing Coyote Ugly's Violet Sanford, the New Jersey singer-songwriter aptly nicknamed "New Jersey" during the character’s shifts at the raunchy bar.

4. LeAnn Rimes benefited from Coyote Ugly's growing cult status.

LeAnn Rimes sang "Can’t Fight the Moonlight," the blockbuster lead single from Coyote Ugly, which went four times platinum in 2008—eight years after the movie's original release, signifying the film's cult status.

5. Piper Perabo's singing voice in Coyote Ugly was dubbed, even though she can actually sing.

Though Piper Perabo, whos character Violet writes the song for LeAnn Rimes in the movie, could really sing and even learned guitar for the movie, Rimes’s voice was dubbed in during Perabo’s singing scenes. In 2015, Perabo—who originally sang and recorded all of the songs herself—told The Hollywood Reporter that she was disappointed when she learned her voice was going to be replaced. "[Director David McNally] said, 'We're going to dub the songs,' and I was like, 'Uh, OK,'" Perabo recalled. "What can I say? I'm like 21. What am I going to say, no?"

6. Kevin Smith did some work on the script.

Actor, writer, and filmmaker Kevin Smith, of Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Jay and Silent Bob fame, did some uncredited rewrites on the script. The credited screenwriter, Gina Wendkos, also wrote The Princess Diaries 1 and 2 and the mid-2000s Hilary Duff-starrer, The Perfect Man.

7. Coyote Ugly's leading man helped create the role of Fiyero in Broadway's Wicked around the same time the movie was released.

Adam Garcia attends the after-party for the musical Wicked celebrating 10 years in the West End on September 27, 2016 in London, England.David M. Benett/Dave Benett / Getty Images for Wicked UK

Adam Garcia, who played Violet’s love interest Kevin, helped originate the role of Fiyero in Wicked in Broadway workshops around the same time that Coyote Ugly came out. He also portrayed Fiyero in the West End production of the musical, alongside original star Idina Menzel.

8. Coyote Ugly's bar had to be redesigned to accommodate Bridget Moynahan.

Bartender Rachel, played by Bridget Moynahan—who worked as a model before transitioning to acting—was too tall to dance on the bar that had been created for Coyote Ugly, so the set had to be redesigned to accommodate her height. "[W]hen we had the first rehearsal they didn’t make the ceiling high enough for me and Tyra [Banks] to be able to stand on the bar," Moynahan told The Ringer. "We had to sit that one out."

9. One of Coyote Ugly's stars has a connection to Center Stage—another 2000 cult hit.

Izabella Miko, the Polish actress who plays Cammie, was formerly a ballet dancer at the National Ballet School in Warsaw and the American School of Ballet, which famously served as the inspiration for the American Ballet Academy in Center Stage.

10. Tyra Banks is desperate to see a Coyote Ugly sequel, starring some pretty major names.

Tyra Banks plays former bartender Zoe, who goes off to law school, enabling Violet to take her place. Banks has long been lobbying for a sequel to Coyote Ugly, and has some pretty big names in mind to star in it, including Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and … Meryl Streep? "But, like, [Streep] would be the bar," Banks clarified. "She should be the bar! Method actor."

11. Piper Perabo is curious to see how different Coyote Ugly might look in 2020.

Perabo, too, has said she would entertain the idea of a sequel, but “it would need to be looked at in a different lens.” Perabo, who was arrested in 2018 for protesting the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, told News.com.au, “I would be excited to look at it again in 2020, because I think we’ve evolved and it would be cool to see what it would be like now."