British pop group, formed in Liverpool, north-west England, UK in 1960, consisting at that time of John Lennon (1940-80, rhythm guitar, keyboards, vocals), Paul McCartney (1942- , bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (1943- , lead guitar, sitar, vocals), and Pete Best (1941- , drums).
In 1962 Best was replaced by Ringo Starr (1940- , real name Richard Starkey), and the band signed a record contract. 'Love Me Do' became a hit in the UK, and their appearances at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and elsewhere in the UK overflowed with idolizing fans. 'Beatlemania' spread around the world in 1964, buoyed by international hits such as 'She Loves You' and 'I Want to Hold Your Hand', and by the overwhelming success of a concert tour in American stadiums.
At press conferences and interviews, the Beatles projected a fey, carefree, somewhat cynical image that influenced the attitudes of their teenage admirers just as their long hair and 'granny' glasses influenced their looks. The image was sustained in their films A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965). The string of early hits, all written by Lennon and McCartney, also included 'Please Please Me', 'Can't Buy Me Love', 'And I Love Her', and 'Yesterday'.
In 1966 the Beatles stopped performing in public. They then produced Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), a loose programme of songs on the theme of alienation: at its best (as in 'Mr Kite', 'She's Leaving Home', 'A Day in the Life') it uses the devices of pop music to express a poetic vision. The group dissolved acrimoniously in 1970.