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Five not-so-famous things about The Beatles

Here are a few lesser-known facts about the legendary quartet from Liverpool

Published: Nov 3, 2023 05:15:05 PM IST
Updated: Nov 3, 2023 05:34:12 PM IST

Five not-so-famous things about The BeatlesBritish band The Beatles,  Image: Universal Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

One of the world's most famous music bands, The Beatles, are back 53 years after they broke up with a "new" record to be released Thursday.

Here are a few lesser-known facts about the legendary quartet from Liverpool:

Beetles with beat

Also known as the "Fab Four", The Beatles are always listed in the order they joined the band: John (Lennon), Paul (McCartney), George (Harrison) and Ringo (Starr).

But in their earliest days, before Ringo came on board, the quartet had included drummer Pete Best and bassist Stuart Sutcliffe.

Their name had been different too. In 1956 they briefly called themselves the "Black Jacks", and then the "Quarrymen".

They also appeared on stage as "Johnny and the Moondogs" and "The Silver Beetles" before settling on the name, a wordplay of "beetles" and "the beat".

The insect allusion was, apparently, a tribute to US rock and roll singer Buddy Holly, an idol of Lennon and McCartney, whose band was called "The Crickets".

Beach Boys rivals

Much has been made over the years of the rivalry between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

But it was California band The Beach Boys who were their real competitors.

When the Fab Four set out to conquer the United States, the country was in the midst of Beach Boys mania after the release of the album "Surfin' USA" (1963).

In 1964 The Beatles released "I Want to Hold Your Hand", and when Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson heard it he knew everything had changed.

Between the two groups, who admired each other, the battle raged in albums over several years.

The devil's horns

The Beatles were great innovators, with pioneering moves including being the first to put their song lyrics in a booklet inside each album.

They were also the ones to turn the horn sign into what is now the rock symbol par excellence.

The clenched fist with index and little fingers extended is no longer associated with the devil but a celebratory, happy gesture often made at rock concerts.

John Lennon is the first artist known to have done it, for the cover of the single "Yellow Submarine".

Also read: 'Last' Beatles song set for release next week

Beatles vs Jesus

"We're more popular than Jesus now," said John Lennon in a 1966 interview that nearly went unnoticed before sparking huge controversy.

To make matters worse the quote was sometimes distorted to the even more scandalous "bigger than Jesus".

In the United States the band's records were burned in public by former fans, while in Mexico and South Africa Beatles songs were banned for a time.

The group, even after Lennon apologised, received death threats.

For Lennon, the "Jesus affair" was a turning point.

"I didn't want to tour again, especially after having been accused of crucifying Jesus when all I'd made was a flippant remark," he said in "The Beatles Anthology".

Four decades later the Vatican finally absolved them, declaring in 2008 that Lennon's remarks were just "showing off, bragging by a young English working-class musician who had... enjoyed unexpected success".

Lucy's bones

The "oldest" woman in the world, the Australopithecus called Lucy aged around 3.2 million years, owes her name to nothing other than the Fab Four song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds".

Discovered by palaeontologists in 1974 in Ethiopia, the famous fossil revolutionised ideas about human origins.

The nickname was inspired by the excavations when the team listened to the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" on repeat, which includes the song.

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