It is well known that The Beatles were one of the greatest recording acts in the history of music. They created groundbreaking albums that changed the entire musical landscape and society at large. The chemistry that each member shared and the music that came from it revolutionised the world and the way musicians and audiences alike think about music.
The Beatles came from humble beginnings and made their start by emulating some of their favourite skiffle music and later, rock ‘n’ roll music when it replaced skiffle as the dominant form of popular music. Throughout the different formations and line-ups of the group, they journeyed across Europe hoping to find some semblance of success. Their travels took them to Hamburg where they cut their teeth playing up to 12 hours at a time. Of course, they had a little chemical assistance, but that’s another story.
By the mid-1960s, The Beatles had the option to stop touring and in ways, it was the only way for them to move forward. They had played every stage and revolutionised the need for arenas to open their doors to bands. The Beatles were the first to do so when they played at Shea Stadium. The live stage was becoming increasingly nefarious as Beatlemania was all-encompassing, and with the good came the bad. So after their last performance at Candlestick Park in San Fransisco, the Liverpool lads decided to pack it in and tackle a new frontier: the recording studio.
Leading up to this, the Fab Four created fine records with classics such as A Hard Days Night and Help!, but nothing could have prepared the world for what was yet to come.
Starting with Rubber Soul, the band began to listen to the burgeoning zeitgeist of the hippie counterculture movement and, following Revolver, came the epochal Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band record, fervently cementing the Liverpool beat band smack dead in the middle of the aforementioned zeitgeist.
However great their White Album is, it presented the band as a fractured entity no longer operating as a cohesive group. One of the more telling aspects of the record was that Harrison, the ‘Quiet Beatle’, was growing into his own and began writing some of the Fab Four’s best material. Although, it is well-documented that Harrison was thrown aside and overshadowed by Lennon’s erratic behaviour and McCartney’s controlling nature.
However, in a poetic twist of justice, Harrison’s All Things Must pass would prove to be the best-selling record for a Beatle gone solo – it sold more than Lennon’s Imagine and McCartney and Wings’ Band on the Run combined.
Which Beatle had the most successful solo career?
Despite Harrison’s accolade, Paul McCartney achieved the greatest chart success through the sheer quantity of music he has released. Macca was the most prolific Beatle whose solo career outlasted the other Beatles, especially both John Lennon and George Harrison, whose lives were taken from them far too early. Although, when Macca’s first solo record came out, it was criticised as being vacuous. In other words, where Macca may lack in quality at times, he makes up for it in quantity.
Conversely, many consider Lennon’s solo career as the most successful not because of sales, but because of his legacy. From 1969 onwards, Lennon became a political and social activist and became somewhat of a spokesperson for the hippie countercultural movement as a relevant voice against the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam war. With Yoko Ono, the two performed stunts such as their ‘Bed-in For Peace‘, where they used their highly-publicised marriage and honeymoon as a vehicle to get their voices heard in the press.
After Lennon was brutally murdered outside his Dakota apartment building, he has become somewhat of a martyr. In this respect, where Lennon lacked quantity and consistency, he made up for it with integrity.
Which Beatle had the first number-one single?
George Harrison was the first Beatle as a solo artist to have a number one with ‘My Sweet Lord’ in 1971. Harrison was then followed by Paul McCartney with the razor-sharp ‘Another Day’ – Macca’s indictment on John Lennon – which was released in the same year of 1971. The triple album that ‘My Sweet Lord’ appeared on, All Things Must Pass’, was the best-selling record from a solo Beatle, although Harrison had the least amount of singles of any of the Fab Four in the top ten Billboard charts.
Following these two releases came Lennon’s anthemic ‘Power To The People’ and then Starr’s ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ produced and co-written by George Harrison.
Which Beatle has the most singles to chart in the Billboard’s Hot 100?
Below is a breakdown of the most successful singles by each member of The Beatles, with Paul McCartney leading the way by some margin:
- Paul McCartney – 42 singles
- John Lennon – 17 singles
- George Harrison – 16 singles
- Ringo Starr – 14 singles
Which Beatle had the most top 10 singles?
Below is a breakdown of the most successful top ten singles by each member of The Beatles:
- Paul McCartney – 22 singles
- Ringo Starr – 8 singles
- John Lennon – 8 singles
- George Harrison – 6 singles
Which Beatle had the most number-one singles in the Billboard Hot-100?
Once again, McCartney leads the group with nine number-one charting singles.
- ‘Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey’ – Ram (1971)
- ‘My Love’ – Red Rose Speedway (1973)
- ‘Band on the Run’ – Band on the Run (1974)
- ‘Listen to What the Man Said’ – Venus and Mars (1975)
- ‘Silly Love Songs’ – Wings at the Speed of Sound (1976)
- ‘With a Little Luck’ – London Town (1978)
- ‘Coming Up’ – Live at Glasgow (1980)
- ‘Ebony and Ivory’ (w/ Stevie Wonder) – Tug of War (1982)
- ‘Say Say Say’ (w/ Michael Jackson) – Pipes of Peace (1983)
Perhaps surprising to some is that George Harrison ranks second in the most amount of number-one singles as a solo Beatle.
As previously mentioned, Harrison was also the first Beatle to achieve a number-one single as a solo artist with the double-sided ‘My Sweet Lord/Isn’t it a Pity’.
- ‘My Sweet Lord’ – All Things Must Pass (1970-1971)
- ‘Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) – Living in the Material World (1973)
- ‘Got My Mind Set On You’ – Cloud Nine (1988) – Originally written by Rudy Clark
Ringo Starr had two number-one singles in the States.
- ‘Photograph’ – Ringo (1973)
- ‘You’re Sixteen’ – Ringo (1973)
John Lennon had two number-one singles in the States as well.
- ‘Whatever Gets You Thru the Night’ – Walls and Bridges (1974)
- ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’ – Double Fantasy (1980)
Want to know why and how the Beatles broke up in the first place? You can read that story here.