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‘They stamp about and shake’: The Beatles, John, George, Paul, Ringo
They wear sheep-dog bangs, collarless jackets, and drainpipe trousers. One plays left-handed guitar, two have falsetto voices, one wishes he were a businessman, and all four sing ... and sing ... and sing.
They are the Beatles, and the sound of their music is one of the most persistent noises heard over England since the air-raid sirens were dismantled. This year they have sold 2.5 million recordings of their own compositions, songs like “She Loves You," “Love Me Do,” and “Please, Please Me." Their theater appearances drew 5,000 screaming fans and a police riot squad in Manchester; 4,000 began queueing up at 3 a.m. in Newcastle-upon-Tyne; and 2,000 teenage girls squealed their hearts out as they besieged bobbies outside the sold-out London Palladium. "This is Beatlemania," said the Daily Mail, and added plaintively: "Where will it all lead?”
Liverpudlians: The Beatles are four young men (aged 21-23) who bellow a sort of rock-’n'-roll music, play guitars, beat drums, and figure to earn $250,000 this year. Their leader is John Lennon, a Liverpudlian like the others, and the only one of the group who is married. He writes most of their songs in collaboration with Paul McCartney, once an English Lit major. The guitarist is George Harrison who claims to be a Segovia fan, and the drummer is Ringo Starr, nicknamed for the four rings he wears.
Little more than a year ago, the Beatles were doing well to split $60 a week in a succession of sleazy dubs on the Liverpool waterfront. Then came an engagement in a Hamburg. Germany, strip joint, where their ability to play loud enough to be heard over their enthusiastic audiences and their effective presentation of the "Liverpool Sound," also known as the “Mersey Sound" (named after the oily river that flows through Liverpool), brought them to the attention of British billing agents. Somehow— and no one can explain exactly how—the Beatles, rather than 200 similar groups, clicked. "Everybody's trying to figure what suddenly makes a group go," says drummer Starr. "Sometimes I try to figure it out; too."
“Oh Dearie Me”: Beatle music is high-pitched, loud beyond reason, and stupefyingly repetitive. Like rock V roll, to which it is closely allied, it is even more effective to watch than to hear. They prance, skip, and turn in circles; Beatles have even been known to kiss their guitars. The style, certainly, is their own. "They don’t gyrate around like Elvis," says one young girl. “They stamp about and shake and, oh dearie me, they just send the joy out to you."
Offstage, the Beatles are rather quieter, but not much different from their performing selves. Their suits tend toward leather and suede, their, conversation is mostly shop, and they enjoy discussing Beatles, Ltd., the corporation they hope will keep them in whatever "beatles” eat in their old age. Last week the boys reached the pinnacle—a command performance before royalty at London's Prince of Wales Theater. Sharing the bill with Marlene Dietrich, Flanders & Swann, and other top acts, the Beatles were at their noisy best. Queen Mother Elizabeth found them lovable—"so young, fresh, and vital," and Lord Snowden offered to photograph them. But the boys were unawed. "People in the cheaper scats, please clap," Lennon told the audience. “The rest of you just rattle your jewelry."
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