Without The Beatles, the entire world would probably have been very different, for they not only took popular music to new and undreamed of places but spearheaded a social and cultural revolution.
Musically, they had everything. As songwriters, Lennon and McCartney combined craft and melodic invention. As singers, they were among the most expressive in rock. George Harrison also swiftly blossomed into an outstanding songwriter, while Ringo Starr provided the immaculate backbeat and, in George Martin, they had a producer who knew how to realise their vision without compromising their ideas.
Above all, they never stopped growing throughout their career. From their debut album, 1963’s Please Please Me, to Abbey Road six years later, every record represented a considerable artistic progression.
Their early releases were a brilliant synthesis of all their influences – American rock’n’roll, Brill Building songwriting, early Motown, Phil Spector, R&B, Everly Brothers harmonies and just about everything else they had heard growing up in Liverpool. But they put them together in a way that was bold, innovative and new. Their singles have simply never been bettered, brilliantly combining accessibility and tunefulness with an invention and imagination that was entirely new to pop. From 1965 on, their work grew ever more complex as they pioneered the use of feedback, tape loops, sitars and much else besides. Most things you hear in modern rock music were in some way done by The Beatles first.
When the end came in 1970, it was messy, sad – and inevitable.
Ultimately, one group could not contain such a wealth of extraordinarily talent. But although individual members went on to make such fine solo records as All Things Must Pass, Imagine and Band On The Run, there was a magic about their work together that has never been matched, let alone bettered.