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Beatles1964

The Beatles are commonly regarded as the foremost and most influential band in popular music history. They sparked the "Beatlemania" phenomenon in 1963, gained international superstardom in 1964, and remained active until their break-up in 1970. Over the latter half of the decade, they were often viewed as orchestrators of society's developments. Their recognition concerns their effect on the era's youth and counterculture, British identity, popular music's evolution into an art form, and their unprecedented following.

Many cultural movements of the 1960s were assisted or inspired by the Beatles. In Britain, their rise to national prominence signalled the youth-driven changes in postwar society, with respect to social mobility, teenagers' commercial influence, and informality. They spearheaded the shift from American artists' global dominance of rock and roll to British acts (known in the US as the British Invasion) and inspired many young people to pursue music careers. From 1964 to 1970, the group had the top-selling US single one out of every six weeks, and the top-selling US album one out of every three weeks. In 1965, they were awarded MBEs, the first time such an honour was bestowed on a British pop act. A year later, John Lennon controversially remarked that the band were "more popular than Jesus now".

The Beatles often incorporated classical elements, traditional pop forms and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, especially with the albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966) and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967). Many of their advances in production, writing, and artistic presentation were soon widespread. Other cultural changes initiated by the group include the elevation of the album to become the dominant form of record consumption over singles, a wider interest in psychedelic drugs and Eastern spirituality, and several fashion trends. The band also pioneered with their record sleeves and music videos, as well as informed music styles such as jangle, folk rock, power pop, psychedelia, art pop, progressive rock, heavy metal and electronic music. By the end of the decade, the group were seen as an embodiment of the era's sociocultural movements, exemplified by the sentiment of their 1967 song "All You Need Is Love".

Over the 1960s as a whole, the Beatles were the dominant youth-centred pop act on the sales charts. They broke numerous sales and attendance records, many of which they have or had maintained for decades, and continue to enjoy a canonised status unprecedented for popular musicians. Their songs are among the most recorded in history, with cover versions of "Yesterday" reaching 1,600 by 1986. They are the best-selling band in history, with estimated sales of over 600 million records worldwide.

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