NME.COM

100 Fab Beatles Facts

In honour of John, Paul, George and Ringo, here's 100 little-known facts and bits of trivia about the '60s icons, from the Pope's reaction to their "bigger than Jesus" boast to raucous tales of condoms lit on fire. Ready? Here we go...

  • The iconic drop-T Beatles logo was sketched by a music shop owner, Ivor Arbiter, when Ringo bought a new drumkit from his London shop in 1963.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • The band bought Greek island Leslo, surrounded by four smaller islands (one for each Beatle), for £95,000 in summer 1967. They sold it a few months later, bored with the idea.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • The semaphore message on the cover of 'Help!' actually spells NUJV, not FUCK or indeed SHIT as apocryphal tales would have it.

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • Lennon and McCartney wrote The Rolling Stones' first hit, 'I Wanna Be Your Man', after the Stones whined they needed a hit single. Lennon said afterwards: "We weren't going to give them anything great, right?"

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • Worried that no-one would understand their Liverpudlian accents in 1964 film 'A Hard Day's Night', US music execs considered dubbing them over with American actors. McCartney harrumphed: "We can understand a fucking cowboy talking Texan!"

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • Lennon and McCartney once started work on a play called 'Pilchard', about a bloke who thought he was God, but never finished it.

    Photo: ©Apple Corps Ltd

    Added: 03 Sep 2009

  • When Bob Dylan first heard 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', he decided The Beatles must be groovy drug-inspired folk and mistook the line 'I can't hide' for 'I get high'.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • John Lennon didn't like his own voice and wanted to sound like Elvis. He begged producer George Martin: "Do something with my voice! You know, put something on it. Smother it with tomato ketchup or something. Make it different!".

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • Paul McCartney, drummer Pete Best and George Harrison were all deported from Germany during their first Hamburg club residency in late 1960: a 17-year-old Harrison for being underage; McCartney and Best for setting a condom on fire in their room.

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • Lennon once wrote a Dylan parody called 'Stuck Inside Of Lexicon With The Roget's Thesaurus Blues'.

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    Added: 03 Sep 2009

  • In an early interview George Harrison let slip that he liked jelly babies. Consequently, he was pelted with them at gigs for years afterwards. This could be painful, especially in America, where jelly babies weren't available - so fans threw harder jelly beans instead.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • According to gossiping tabloids, Brian Wilson was so knocked out when McCartney played him 'A Day In The Life', the Beach Boy decided to "retire and live in a sauna bath".

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • Last year The Pope forgave Lennon for his infamous 1966 statement "we're bigger than Jesus". The Vatican decided it was merely a "boast by a young working-class Englishman faced with unexpected success".

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • For a while 'Abbey Road''s working title was 'Everest' (after engineer Geoff Emerick's fave brand of fags), but when it was suggested the disgruntled band go to the Himalayas to shoot the cover they decided they couldn't be arsed and named it after the street the studio was on.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • The term 'Beatlemania' was invented by Canadian hack Sandy Gardiner, first appearing in the Ottawa Journal, November 1963, to describe "a new disease" sweeping the globe.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • John claimed he had named the band after a vision in a dream, saying a man appeared "on a flaming pie," saying, "You will be Beatles with an 'a'."

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • Paul, a Catholic, was inspired to write 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' by the Vatican ritual where a cardinal bangs the late pope on the forehead five times with a silver hammer to make sure that he is dead.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • One of the worst Yoko-related arguments ensued after Ono stole Harrison's chocolate digestive while the band were recording in the Abbey Road studios. George yelled that she was a "bitch".

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • The line "I am the eggman" was allegedly inspired by The Animals' Eric Burdon's predilection for cracking eggs on his lovers' naked bods.

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    Added: 03 Sep 2009

  • Ringo Starr orginally wanted to be a hairdresser.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • 'Paperback' has become Cockney rhyming slang for ‘raita’ (rhymes with 'writer'), the cooling savoury yoghurt often served in Indian restaurants.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • Pre-pop stardom Paul had a go at being an electrician: "I was hopeless. They gave me a job winding coils and called me Mantovani because of my long hair."

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band appear in the stripper sequence in Magical Mystery Tour and play a song entitled 'Death Cab For Cutie'. Guess who nicked it for a band name?

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • The song 'Sexy Sadie' was originally entitled 'Maharishi' - ­ it was written by Lennon while staying at the guru's Indian ashram, and is about their growing disillusionment with him.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • Strawberry Fields was a real place - it was ­ a children's home run by the Salvation Army in Liverpool. It's since been demolished.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • After decades of maintaining that 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' was not inspired by LSD, a few years ago Paul did 'fess up about the song's druggy origins, saying it's "pretty obvious" the song is about an acid trip.

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • In early 1963 the band claimed to have already written over 100 songs. Paul said: "We have such a fairly easy job thinking up tunes these days. If we think up a tune very quickly we know we've got a hit."

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • The Beatles share the record for the most consecutive Christmas Number Ones with the Spice Girls: three.

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • John, Paul and George were all, spookily enough, 5ft 11in tall; Ringo was the shortarse of the group, at 5ft 8in.

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • Little Richard became a big fan when he heard The Beatles in early 1963, but was amazed to find out they were white boys. He said: "Honestly, if I hadn¹t seen them with my own eyes I'd have thought they were a coloured group from back home."

    Photo: ©Apple Corps Ltd

    Added: 03 Sep 2009

  • The Beatles auditioned for Decca in January 1962, but A&R executive Dick Rowe declined to sign them, declaring, "Guitar groups are on the way out". D'oh!

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • The Beatles briefly considered calling themselves Johnny And The Moondogs, Long John And The Beetles and The Silver Beatles.

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • The Beatles first entered the NME Charts (as they were then known) on October 26, 1962 with 'Love Me Do'. It entered at Number 27, wedged between Billy Fury at 26 and Buddy Holly at 28.

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • The street signs for the actual Penny Lane in Liverpool disappeared with such regularity (as they did on the real Abbey Road), that the town reverted to simply painting 'Penny Lane' on the buildings rather than have street signs.

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • The so-called "magic circle" were the only folk allowed in the recording studio: the Fab Four, George Martin and road managers Neill Aspinall and Mal Evans. Then John met Yoko Ono and dragged a bed in.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • The statue of Eleanor Rigby sitting on a bench in Liverpool's Stanley Street was made by '60s singer Tommy Steele.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • John wrote 'Strawberry Fields Forever' while on the set of 'How I Won The War', in which he had a cameo role.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • A 16-year-old Harrison failed to convince his family to emigrate to Canada, Australia or Malta.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • Early on, John and Paul agreed to a joint Lennon/McCartney credit on all Beatles compositions written by either of them or together. Yoko got the hump after the band split when Paul attempted to change the order to McCartney/Lennon on songs he'd written.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • John Lennon returned his 1965 MBE to the Queen in 1969 "as a protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against 'Cold Turkey' slipping down the charts". He signed it "love, John".

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • John's song 'Julia', dedicated to his late mother, Julia, and wife Yoko, was the only Beatles song he recorded without the others' help.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • After George got drunk and threw up on the floor in Hamburg, no one would clean it up. As it grew more crusty and disgusting it became known as a "fiendish thingy". Thus George's famous 'fiendish thingy' saying.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • Conspiracy theorists cited the 'Abbey Road' cover as proof that McCartney died and replaced by a lookalike. It apparently shows a preacher (Lennon), undertaker (Starr), corpse (bare-footed Paul), gravedigger (Harrison); and the car reg indicates the age Paul would have been if alive (28IF).

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • Lennon and McCartney met on 6 July, 1957 at a Saturday evening fete in St Peter's Church, Woolton, Liverpool, where 16-year-old Lennon¹s group, The Quarrymen, were playing.

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • Legend has it that the Beatles' ill-advised, abortive album sleeve for 'Yesterday And Today'­ - which depicted the band in butcher's overalls, holding raw meat and slain dolls - was a dig at Capitol's 'butchering' of their records.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • The Beatles started taking drugs in their Hamburg days ­ - back then their drug of choice was speed pills, which they took to give them energy to play several shows a day.

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    Added: 16 Nov 2010

  • The last time all four Beatles recorded together in the same studio was for 'I Want You (She's So Heavy)' for the 'Abbey Road' album on 20 August, 1969.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • Paul's first acid trip was on the evening of 21 March, 1967. He apparently did it to keep John company, after Lennon had 'accidentally' ingested a tab of acid.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • After his first acid trip, John raved: "It was truly a religious experience. I had never realised what people were talking about when they said God is within you."

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009

  • The most played track at The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper' press launch was Procul Harum's 'A Whiter Shade of Pale'. Lennon was obsessed by it, and played the song non-stop on his white Rolls Royce's record player all the way to the party.

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    Added: 08 Sep 2009