The Beatles. Its's been over 45 years now since they broke up. Many thought, they would not be revered or remembered in 2019. But, as they say, like fine wine, or the great composer's of iconic classical sonata's and symphonies, centuries ago, the Beatles are in that class with regards to rock music. Disagree as you may, but it was them that changed cultures and took pop\rock music to art-like places that rock bands still emulate in some way.
Who was the mastermind?
When John Lennon first met Paul McCartney, Paul was auditioning to be in John's band in 1956-7. A friend of John's suggested Paul meet John and audition. After Paul played, later Lennon would say that he instantly knew Paul was the better guitar player and singer. John was very impressed and knew Paul would be a valuable asset to his band then. Paul would later say that Lennon was a more limited guitar player and knew only a handful of chords, but they sparked and that would begin the Lennon-McCartney songwriting team. They truly enjoyed the other's company. When Paul started to harmonize to John's voice, the magic formula began. They both knew it was special.
It would be fair to say, that as the Beatles formed with Harrison (Paul's friend) and finally Ringo ( a drummer John had always wanted in his band), John was the leader of the band. John was older than Paul and George (but not Ringo) and the hierarchy had been established. It was John who created the name Beatles, imitating Buddy Holly and the Crickets, but did not use an insect name. The Beatle haircut\style that changed men's styles forever across the globe was by accident. A gift from George, who failed to comb it one time before a performance giving that shaggy, uncut, frontal bangs, look The girls went crazy. The other's would adopt it, but John was the most reluctant.
1963 through 1965
This was when John was mastermind, for the most part. It was his time of creating many sensational pop\rock songs to which Paul made much better with his harmonizing. A lot of the Beatles' magic was coincidence and unintended because of Beatlemania that literally swept across the globe and infected anyone under 15 years old. Those older had a hard time understanding what and how this band was changing the world and culture, surely, the Beatles had not planned this at all. As Paul would say years later, it just led from one thing to another.
John had succeeded beyond his wildest dreams and his band was greater than their teenage idol, Elvis Presley. Even Elvis agreed and by 1967-8, would adopt a more like Beatle hairstyle. Although all compositions were Lennon-McCartney, a relic agreement they adhered to since 1957, they frequently wrote songs alone. The lead vocalist would indicate who actually wrote 75% of the song.
Beatlemania to them meant no personal freedom and one gig after another with maybe a few weeks off in a year. While 1963-64 were heady times, John was becoming discontented with his fame and being manipulated by record companies and others. In 1965, which would be their second year of Beatlemania, it was getting old. Yet, with so many demands for songs and performances, they all just carried on. By now, John was 25, and had been in bands for eight years. After their two films, A Hard Day's Night (a title Ringo thought of) and Help! (the title of John's iconic song about change), they somehow created another iconic LP, Rubber Soul.
Unlike previous records, this was mostly done with acoustic (John's idea), not electric, guitars. John's and Paul's songwriting truly is showcased in this record and still sounds fresh today. But as 1965 drew to an end, John's discontent with many things in his life grew larger and this would finally explode in 1966.
In 1966, the last year of Beatlemania, saw the band stop touring after August. John and George had enough to the point where they rebelled. No more bookings or performances. John would go off to film a movie called, How I Won the War, a WW2 satire, which flopped. The others all just went separate ways to spend time just living like normal people with loved ones. They were burned out.
It was in this void, when John more or less, relinquished the Beatles leadership to Paul. It wasn't a verbal thing or a decision, but as time went on with no John around to record material, Paul continued to write songs and go into the studio. John was sick of it all, so to speak, while Paul was just sick of touring.
The result of this became another Beatle masterwork LP, Revolver. The LP, except for a few Lennon and Harrison songs, is all Paul. From the art cover to the melodies and harmonies, there are so many memorable songs including those few from Lennon and Harrison's iconic, Taxman. Like all Beatle LP's, all the songs were either good or excellent, you always got your money's worth for $5.
McCartney really take the lead from this point on, as John was no longer that interested and like a reluctant party in a divorce, just did not have the nerve to bail out until after Paul did so in 1970. It was McCartney's concept for their Magical Mystery Tour film (fiasco) and LP in 1967, although, John continued to create some superior songs. It McCartney's idea and concept about their historic, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band LP. This LP elevate rock into an art form and some of John's iconic songs like, A Day In The Life, and others.
It was Paul's idea for the Beatles Get Back sessions and movie, to return back to their roots. This was another fiasco for a variety of reasons, but the underlying reason was except for Paul, none of the others were excited about it. The seeds of discord between were revealed with the release of the Let It Be film (the original title was Get Back). It documented their breakup in many ways.
Their White LP, with 30 songs, was also the concept of Paul, but to get them all there at the same time proved nearly too difficult. It was a period of time when the Beatles, except for Paul, no longer found the excitement of being a band, at times. They were interested in doing other things. Eventually, each of the Beatles did their songs with Ringo and George. But a riff have clearly developed between John and Paul and was worsening.
The Get Back LP was an effort to salvage something from those sessions. John hated the material produced, It was all lackluster. The LP was released under that name but then was later changed to Let It Be. Originally, it has a full color, glossy book of the sessions with verbatim dialogue in a box. The Let It Be release was just a fold out and of all the songs on the LP, it was Paul's , Let It Be, that was released and became another iconic song that John had nothing to do with.
Lastly, in 1969, it was at Paul's insistence that the band get together one last time. They did. That LP was Abbey Road. The LP remains one of their best because of John's songs and of Harrison's, which were fewer than McCartney's. For a bit, it seemed like the riffs were gone, but it was not without acrimony. John hated some of McCartney's material, and said so, so Paul simply did it without John.
After the LP was released, it was clear the breakup was coming. Yet, even so, John and Paul got together the very last time in 1970 and recorded their last #1 song, The Ballad of John and Yoko.