As one of the single greatest influences on the world of pop culture, The Beatles themselves were inspired by several icons of art and music, including the Nigerian conga player Jimmy Scott and the classic novelist Lewis Carroll to name just two. Though, if The Beatles indeed believe that ‘All You Need Is Love’, then it should come as little surprise that they were also big fans of the animation studio Disney, with several of the iconic studio’s films inspiring their music throughout the band’s existence.
Each born in the early 1940s, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison each grew up in the golden age of Walt Disney Pictures, with the likes of Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi each being released throughout the same decade. Once they eventually formed together as The Beatles and reached international acclaim in 1964, Walt Disney Studios had become a major player in Hollywood and the two icons of pop culture continued to inspire each other.
Often naming their songs after specific, meaningful parts of their own lives, such as ‘Penny Lane’ being named after a bus terminal in Liverpool, whilst ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ was inspired by a drawing his son Julian did as a child, The Beatles also noted Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as the inspiration behind ‘Do You Want to Know a Secret?’. A smooth, subtle tune from Please Please Me, the song itself was influenced by the very first song of Walt Disney’s debut film, ‘I’m Wishing’.
Disney’s effect on The Beatles stretched further than mere song names, however, with Paul McCartney specifically citing Bambi as a major influence on his stance toward animal rights. According to BBC News, McCartney noted: “I think that made me grow up thinking hunting isn’t cool,” making reference to the notorious ending of the Disney classic that sees Bambi’s mother killed by an evil hunter. Continuing, McCartney explains, “You look through a lot of these great stories – Dumbo, his mum is quite badly treated. A lot of these classic stories, through their efforts, kids – as I once was – have grown up feeling it’s a bad idea to be cruel to animals”.
In fact, Disney influenced The Beatles to such an extent that the iconic band even considered starring in The Jungle Book in 1967. The original version of the classic Disney film, based on the 1894 novel by Rudyard Kipling features four vultures Buzzie, Flaps, Ziggy, and Dizzy, characters clearly inspired by the iconic band with floppy hair and British accents. Initially wanting John, Paul, George and Ringo to voice the four comedic birds, Lennon was unfortunately forced to turn the project down due to scheduling issues.
Despite ‘what could’ve been’, The Beatles’ stamp of influence on The Jungle Book is abundantly clear, yet so too is Disney’s magical effect on the extraordinary career of The Beatles. It’s just a shame the two titans of entertainment could never artistically collaborate.