The Beatles: we answer the most-Googled questions about the Fab Four

Ever needed to know if The Beatles are still alive or if they did drugs? Here's our helpful answers to the most-Googled Beatles questions on the net.

As you’ll know if you’ve ever found the question ‘what is an EU, please?’ in your granny’s search history, people ask Google some pretty odd things. Here, for example, are the most-Googled questions about The Beatles, for which we’ve helpfully provided answers…

Are the Beatles still alive?

Yes and no. The band itself suffered death by solo project in 1970, but half of the band’s members, Paul and Ringo, survive today. John Lennon was shot dead by fanatic Mark Chapman outside his home in the Dakota Building, New York, in December 1980 – terrifyingly, Chapman had a front row ticket to watch David Bowie in The Elephant Man on Broadway for the night after the Lennon murder; Bowie was second on his hit list. George Harrison died from cancer in 2001, his ashes are scattered in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India.




Who owns the Beatles catalogue?

Currently Sony/ATV Music Publishing owns the Beatles’ publishing, although Paul McCartney has begun the process of claiming his share of Lennon/McCartney songs back, since ownership starts to revert to him in 2018. It’s been a bone of contention for Macca ever since he turned Michael Jackson on to the value of owning the publishing in songs, only for Jacko to buy a hefty chunk of Paul’s own catalogue by acquiring ATV.



Who inspired the Beatles?


A glance at the numerous songs that The Beatles covered gives a good idea of their influences, largely songs that the band played during their formative years and Hamburg stints. These include songs by Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Elvis, Little Richard, The Shirelles, Larry Williams and The Marvelettes, among others. As their career developed they were constantly taking influence from the records they admired too – Dylan was a big influence on their folkier period between ‘Help!’ and ‘Rubber Soul’, while the inventive period between ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’ was spurred on by a kind of back-and-forth friendly rivalry with The Beach Boys, whose 1966 ‘Pet Sounds’ album was seen by The Beatles as a challenge to rise to. Ravi Shankar was also a huge influence on George Harrison’s work, as he took on sitar and eastern influences from ‘Rubber Soul’ onwards, and their later albums took influence from virtually every traditional style from music hall to C&W, blues, the Charleston, classical harpsichord music and reggae.



Did the Beatles do drugs?

Did the semolina pilchard goo-goo-ga-joob? The Beatles were buggers for the drugs, snaffling everything from Benzedrine in their earliest days to heroin in the group’s latter years. A German slimming pill called Preludin kept them rocking through endless all-night shows in Hamburg, and before long they were doing shows on amphetamine and winding down with sleeping pills. Bob Dylan legendarily turned them on to cannabis in 1964, hence their mellower work around ‘Help!’. “We were smoking marijuana for breakfast,” Lennon said of filming the movie. “We were well into marijuana and nobody could communicate with us, because we were just glazed eyes, giggling all the time.” Both John and George were arrested for cannabis possession during the ’60s and McCartney’s ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ was “an ode to pot”.

In 1965 a dentist slipped LSD sugar cubes into George and John’s coffees at a house party and so began a new phase of the band’s career. John soon began taking LSD daily and many mid-period Beatles songs were influenced by the drug – ‘She Said She Said’ came from a mid-trip conversation with actor Peter Fonda, ‘Day Tripper’ was a tribute to acid and no-one really believes the old ‘Julian brought a painting home from school’ story around ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’.

Paul admitted taking cocaine regularly around the time of the ‘Sgt. Pepper…’ album and dabbled briefly with heroin. It was John who became a heroin addict though, using the drug to shut out abuse over his relationship with Yoko Ono and causing him to withdraw from the band during the ‘Let It Be’ period. So yes, you could say The Beatles took drugs.



How did The Beatles change music?

Fundamentally. In an ideological sense, they were the first band to release a full album of self-penned songs (‘A Hard Day’s Night’), setting a new standard that future bands were expected to match, and their staggering stylistic development from Merseybeat pop to sprawling experimental free-for-alls inside nine years became a blueprint for rock’n’roll creativity that few have come close to repeating since. In terms of pop culture, they were central in popularising movements such as psychedelia, 60s folk and hard rock and many styles of modern music can be traced back to songs casually tossed onto their experimental later albums – ‘The White Album’’s ‘Helter Skelter’, for example, is considered amongst the first ever heavy metal songs, and tracks such as ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ and ‘Martha My Dear’ tapped into the music hall show tune tradition that inspired David Bowie. Their technical advances opened up huge vistas of musical possibility too, whether they were amongst the first to use new instruments like the Mellotron or pioneering the use of samples and tape loops on pop records, notable with ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, widely considered the origin of dance music.



Who was The Beatles’ manager?

Promoter and booking agent Allan Williams was the first manager of the band, discovering them when they were regular customers at his coffee shop in Slater Street, Liverpool. He prepared the band for their first Hamburg jaunts, but fell out with them over payments in 1961. In January 1962 Brian Epstein took over managing the band, which he did until his death by accidental overdose in 1967. Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein landed the band’s signatures in the aftermath of Epstein’s death, despite McCartney’s disapproval, and oversaw the band’s dissolution.



Are The Beatles on Spotify?

Yes, after holding out on streaming for many years, their full catalogue was streamed on the site for the first time in December 2015.



Are the Beatles overrated?