The catalogue of The Beatles is undoubtedly one of the most impressive in musical history and certainly one of the most commercial canons of pop music. While the debate rumbles on between their devoted fan base, what were John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr’s favourite record they ever made with The Beatles?
As a single unit under the moniker of The Beatles, the four individuals may have at many crucial times moved as one, at one time they’d even consider themselves family. But in truth, their individualism would often lead them down different paths. After all, the personalities of the individual Beatles are part of what endeared them to so many hearts across the world during their explosion in the swinging sixties and still some near-six decades later.
While some of the perceptions of the Fab Four were down to the marketing of the incredible manager Brian Epstein, it was certainly true that their different tastes and talents were an organic evolution of not only the band but the members as people in their own right. It was a happy accident that saw The Beatles excel across four different points.
This led to a beautiful tapestry of all four members’ songwriting expertise. Of course, John Lennon and Paul McCartney will always be remembered as the principal songwriters in the band but George Harrison and Ringo Starr’s contribution can not be underestimated, especially Harrison’s contribution as he continued to improve his songwriting.
It’s a fact which can be seen in the bandmates’ selections of their favourite Beatles albums. While you might expect four individuals to like different things, variety is the spice of life and all that jazz, but it’s the reasons for their choices that we found very insightful.
The Beatles’ favourite Beatles albums:
John Lennon’s favourite The Beatles album:
The tensions over songwriting would be a consistent feature in the latter years of The Beatles and eventually lead to their disbandment. Much of this stemmed from the blessed issue that all four members were handy with the pen but it also led to searing jealousy rearing its ugly head from time to time.
In a 1971 interview Lennon, never afraid to speak his mind, suggested that Paul never liked The White Album because the band members were all following their own talents and doing their own songs—not working as a group. “[Paul] wanted it to be more a group thing, which really means more Paul. So he never liked that album.”
In the same interview Lennon, perhaps having his own spurt of jealousy proclaimed The White Album to be his favourite. He said, “I always preferred it to all the other albums, including Pepper, because I thought the music was better. The Pepper myth is bigger, but the music on the White Album is far superior, I think.”
Paul McCartney’s favourite The Beatles album:
Paul remains to this day a very active advocate for the work he did with The Beatles and rightly, so, the singer has become synonymous with pop music through his craft and having written some of the world’s most beloved songs it’s a fair assessment that he always will be. Often cited as the musical director of the group, on one album he certainly showed his mettle.
In a revealing 1991 interview, Paul suggests that he had a love for all the albums they made together but his favourite was the iconic 1967 concept album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The singer revealed it was the concept that he feels was really engaging. He said: “I’d pick Sgt. Pepper’s, meself, because I had a lot to do with it.”
As the smirking Macca laughs off the idea of egotism, he says: “It wasn’t entirely my idea but to get us away from being ‘The Beatles’ I had this idea that we should pretend we’re this other group”. He reiterates that he’d prefer not to choose just one but “I’d choose that if I had to.”
George Harrison’s favourite The Beatles album:
The ‘Quiet Beatle’, as he was often known, maybe more accurately described as the too-often-overlooked Beatle. One of the finest songwriters of his generation with tracks like ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and ‘Here Comes The Sun’ cementing Harrison in the pop music pantheon, he was as overlooked by his bandmates as he is the public.
You may have thought Harrison would have picked The White Album, having four songs of his own on there, just like Lennon. However, like Lennon, Harrison was not a fan of Sgt. Pepper—we’re sensing a theme here. He felt the concept album had turned them into a puppet worker bee and with dreams of performing live once more, it was not a pleasant experience. “It became an assembly process—just little parts and then overdubbing,” he felt they had lost the edge that came with live performances.
So it feels right that Harrison’s favourite would reflect a time of creative unknowns and artistic challenges. “Rubber Soul was my favourite album,” he once revealed on reflection. “Even at that time, I think that it was the best one we made,” he said when looking back on the iconic record in the ’90s.
He wistfully recalled, “The most important thing about it was that we were suddenly hearing sounds we weren’t able to hear before. Also, we were being more influenced by other people’s music and everything was blossoming at that time—including us.” It’s hard to argue with an assessment so widely held and the proof, as they so often say, really is in the pudding.
Ringo Star’s favourite The Beatles album:
Ringo, possibly the most affably loveable of all The Beatles, seems to fit his persona with his pick—Abbey Road. The drummer and the often maligned yet incredibly gifted musician even had a particular soft spot for what many people consider the worst part of the band’s repertoire – the Abbey Road Medley. “The second side of Abbey Road is my favourite,” he said. “I love it.”
While some people (Lennon included) couldn’t stand the scraps of the LP Ringo felt they offered a sense of the band’s talent. “‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,’ and all those bits that weren’t songs … I mean, they were just all the bits that John and Paul had around that we roped together.”
It remains today as the favourite piece of music for Ringo and we’re personally very happy to see him not pick out the most illustrious, the most wildly creative, the whitest, instead he picked his favourite record.