How Well Do You Know the Beatles?


By: Deborah Beckwin

6 Min Quiz

Image: WikiCommons via Parlophone Music Sweden

About This Quiz

In the mid-1960s, a musical phenomenon happened in the United States, called the British Invasion. And you could say that the Beatles were in the lead ship of the armada. Other bands, such as the Rolling Stones and the Kinks, also became popular during that time. The interest in rock and roll was growing as young people were looking for new ways to express themselves. Brit bands found much of their inspiration from African American culture, specifically jazz and the blues.

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison made up the final version of the rock band, the Beatles. Before they made their way across the pond, they were making their way in the U.K. and also in Hamburg, Germany, where they got their mod look: the shaggy mop-top hair, the mod suits and the stylish black boots.

Beatlemania in the U.S. was a part of that British Invasion. News organizations were curious about these lads from Liverpool. Their breakthrough performance was their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," when almost half of the American population was watching. Little did anyone know how iconic and important that performance would be for popular culture, let alone for the band themselves.

The Beatles evolved their sound from head-bopping pop tunes and blues covers to more psychedelic music, influenced by their time in India. By the time they officially broke up in 1970, the Beatles had released 13 studio albums. Their music launched and influenced countless bands, even today.

So are you ready for a magical mystery tour of a quiz? We hope you have fun and get to "The End."

What famous singer sent a telegram before "The Ed Sullivan Show" performance, congratulating the Beatles?

Elvis Presley sent the telegram, congratulating the Beatles. The telegram was signed "Elvis & The Colonel," meaning Elvis' manager, Col. Tom Parker.


What is Ringo Starr's birth name?

Ringo Starr's professional name came about because he wore a lot of rings and "Starr" is a shortened form of his last name. He was knighted in March 2018.


In 1966, John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular than what popular religious figure?

In this famous interview, Lennon remarked that Christianity "will vanish and shrink" - he was not happy that the Beatles seemed to be more popular than Jesus. It didn't cause a stir in the U.K., but in America, there was an uproar which coincided with their summer tour. Due to declining American interest in the band, that tour would be their last tour.


Who did John write the song "Julia" about?

Julia Lennon's death had a profound effect on John. It was a bond he shared with Paul, who lost his mother in his teens as well.


Who was the youngest Beatle?

George Harrison was born on February 25, 1943. Paul McCartney was born a few months earlier, on June 18, 1942.


What did Paul McCartney use as a placeholder before he found the word "Yesterday"?

McCartney explained that he had the tune of "Yesterday," but he couldn't find the lyrics. He used "scrambled eggs" as a placeholder as he worked on the song.


Which song title was inspired by Paul's dog?

This song was rumored to be about McCartney's ex-girlfriend, Jane Asher. But the title itself was a tribute to his beloved sheepdog, Martha. She lived to the ripe old age of 15.


Producer George Martin was not impressed with Ringo Starr's drumming ability and made him only play the tambourine on which song?

Although the band didn't agree with Martin's assessment of Starr's musicianship, he brought in a studio musician to play drums for this song. The Beatles thought that Starr was the better drummer.


Who was never a part of the Beatles?

Ray Davies was part of another British invasion band, the Kinks. He formed the band with his brother, Dave, in 1964. And technically you could argue that Tommy Moore wasn't a Beatle, but he did perform with an early version of the band, the Silver Beetles.


Which Beatles song was the only song written by George Harrison to be released as a single?

George Harrison had written over 30 songs for the Beatles. But "Something" was the song that put him in the same class of songwriting as Lennon and McCartney.


How many Grammys have the Beatles won?

The Beatles did not get much Grammy love in the 1960s and 1970s, winning only three awards and one national trustee award. The Beatles won a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.


How many studio albums did the Beatles release?

During their 10 years together, the Beatles released 13 studio albums. It started with "Please Please Me" in 1963 and ended with "Let It Be" in 1970.


What was the working title for the movie "Help!"?

"Eight Arms to Hold You" was the working title for the Beatles movie "Help!" It has since been used as an album title by the rock band Veruca Salt and as a song title for other bands.


"Hey Jude" was written about whom?

The first lines of "Hey Jude" were written about Julian Lennon, who was a small boy at the time of his parents' divorce. McCartney has spoken about how many people thought Jude was a reference to Jewish people ("Juden" being the German word for "Jews"). He asserted that was never his intention.


How many Grammys have the Beatles been nominated for?

The Beatles have been nominated for their work even after breaking up in 1970. Their latest nomination came for the category Best Film Music for 2016's "The Beatles: Eight Days A Week The Touring Years." They also won that award.


In "All You Need Is Love," what song is NOT musically alluded to?

"All You Need Is Love" had many musical adlibs and references. However, "Band on the Run" is a song by Paul McCartney and Wings, which came after the Beatles broke up.


What is Paul McCartney's real first name?

Sir James Paul McCartney is his full name, since his knighthood. His father's name was also James McCartney, and he went by the name Jim.


Who is the oldest Beatle?

Ringo Starr was born on July 7, 1940. John Lennon was not too far behind - he was born on October 9, 1940.


What album was producer Phil Spector brought on to help remix?

Phil Spector came to help a beleaguered band and album. George Martin, the original producer, felt that Spector overproduced the album, and Paul expressed concerns as well. John thought he did a good job, considering the state of the album. Spector would get the production credit for the album.


What is John saying at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever"?

The production genius exhibited in this song unfortunately fueled the rumors that Paul was dead. And Paul was clearly not dead.


How much were the Beatles paid for their three performances on "The Ed Sullivan Show"?

The Beatles were able to cash in on the large exposure that "The Ed Sullivan Show" gave them. They performed 20 songs on his show.


Post-breakup (April 1970), who was the first to have a No. 1 hit single in the U.S.?

Let's assume an April 1970 breakup, when Paul made an announcement to the public. "My Sweet Lord" hit No. 1 at the end of 1970. Harrison lost a plagiarism lawsuit over this song for its similarities to the Chiffons' "He's So Fine," which was written by Ronnie Mack. This was an ongoing legal battle that ended in 1998 and set a precedent for future litigation over plagiarism.


Which Beatles album exclusively has Lennon-McCartney songs?

The earlier Beatles albums contain blues covers. George Harrison wrote or co-wrote over 30 songs for the Beatles. Ringo wrote nine songs.


Where was the last Beatles concert held?

Due to the controversial comments of Lennon saying that the band was more popular than Jesus, the Beatles' August 1966 tour in America was fraught with uproar, including protests and radio boycotts. By then audiences were screaming so loud that the music couldn't be heard, anyway.


What Beatles single was No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart a week before their fateful performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show"?

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" spent seven straight weeks at No. 1. It was taken over by "She Loves You," which was then taken over by "Can't Buy Me Love."


What was the last song that all four Beatles recorded together?

"The End" really was the end for the Beatles. The last recorded song was "I Me Mine," but it was recorded without Lennon.


What was the first song Paul McCartney ever wrote?

McCartney wrote this song when he was 14 years old, soon after his mother's passing. Interestingly, the first song John Lennon ever wrote was "Hello Little Girl," in 1957, and McCartney gets a songwriting credit.


Who was the first Beatle to leave the group?

During the "White Album" recording sessions, Ringo was fed up with the acrimony and he left. The rest of the Beatles stepped in to play the drums. When Ringo returned, the other Beatles had covered his drum kit with flowers.


The "Abbey Road" album cover is the apex of the "Paul is dead" conspiracy theory. So why was Paul barefoot?

Because of the heat, McCartney is in sandals in other photos. He told a reporter from "LIFE" magazine who trekked to his farm in Scotland this: “Can you spread it around that I am just an ordinary person and want to live in peace?”


On their first live performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," what was the first song that the Beatles performed?

This song was never released as a single in the U.K. or in the U.S. It was released as a single in Canada and, as an import, peaked at number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Which Beatle did not attend Eric Clapton's wedding in 1979?

This wedding was the closest thing to a Beatles reunion. McCartney, Starr and Harrison performed at the wedding reception. Interestingly, Clapton was marrying Harrison's ex.


In what city was the first Beatles concert in the U.S. held?

Two days after the Beatles appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show," they had their first American concert in Washington, D.C., at the Washington Coliseum. There were 8,000 fans in attendance.


What British band did John and Paul sing backing vocals for?

In 1967, John and Paul loaned their voices to the single "We Love You." Although publicly both bands would claim that their rivalry was a myth, the book "Beatles vs. Stones" revealed that frontman Mick Jagger did feel overshadowed by Beatlemania. But he also didn't envy the hysteria.


What is "Penny Lane" about?

Penny Lane was a bus terminus where McCartney and Lennon would have to change buses in order to visit each other's homes. The song was basically a slice of life.


Which song was NOT banned by the BBC because of drug references?

"I Am the Walrus" was banned by the BBC because of the mention of knickers. Lennon insisted that "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" was not about LSD but was based on a drawing his son, Julian, had made about a friend. "Fixing a Hole" and "A Day in the Life" were about marijuana.


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