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The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The line-up of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr led the band to be regarded as the foremost and most influential in history. With a sound rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form, and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated elements of classical music, older pop forms, and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and in later years experimented with a number of musical styles ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As they continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they came to be seen as embodying the era's sociocultural movements.
Led by primary songwriters Lennon and McCartney, the Beatles built their reputation playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over a three-year period from 1960, initially with Stuart Sutcliffe playing bass. The core trio of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, who had been together since 1958, went through a succession of drummers, including Pete Best, before asking Starr to join them in 1962. The group's manager, Brian Epstein, moulded them into a professional act, and producer George Martin guided and developed their recordings, greatly expanding their domestic success after their first hit, "Love Me Do", in late 1962. As their popularity grew into the intense fan frenzy dubbed "Beatlemania", the band acquired the nickname "the Fab Four", with Epstein, Martin and other members of the band's entourage sometimes given the informal title of "the fifth Beatle".
By early 1964, the Beatles were international stars, leading the "British Invasion" of the United States pop market, and breaking numerous sales records. They soon made their motion-picture debut with the mock-documentary A Hard Day's Night (1964). From 1965 onwards, they produced increasingly innovative recordings, including the albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), The Beatles (also known as the "White Album", 1968) and Abbey Road (1969). In 1968, they founded Apple Corps, a multi-armed multimedia corporation that is still active today. After the band's break-up, in 1970, all four of its members enjoyed success as solo artists. Lennon was shot and killed in December 1980, and Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001. McCartney and Starr are still producing music and performing.
The Beatles are the best-selling band in history, with estimated sales of over 800 million records worldwide. They are the best-selling music artists in the United States, with certified sales of over 178 million units, and have had more number-one albums on the British charts, and have sold more singles in the UK, than any other act. The group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and all four main members were inducted individually between 1994 and 2015. In 2008, the group topped Billboard magazine's list of the all-time most successful artists; as of 2017, the Beatles hold the record for most number-one hits on the Hot 100 chart with twenty. The band have received seven Grammy Awards, an Academy Award (for Best Original Song Score for the 1970 film Let It Be) and fifteen Ivor Novello Awards. They were also collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of the twentieth century's 100 most influential people.