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50 Beatles facts

19 August 2019

With a little help from his friends, Beatles fan Henry Macrory has compiled 50 facts you probably don’t know about John, Paul, George and Ringo

An illustration of the hair and glasses of The Beatles

Win a DVD copy of Yesterday, along with the film's soundtrack on vinyl and a vinyl player

Bring family and friends together with The Beatles’ music inspired film Yesterday, releasing on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, DVD and On Demand November 4, 2019. To celebrate the release, we have a DVD copy of the film to giveaway, along with a vinyl player and the film’s soundtrack on vinyl for one lucky winner!

To be in with the chance of winning, simply answer the question below via our Facebook page, or email

What year did the director of Yesterday Danny Boyle win the Academy Award for Best Director for Slumdog Millionaire?  

A. 2005 
B. 2011
C. 2009  

Winners will be announced November 15. Giveaway Terms And Conditions

50 great Beatles facts

1. Abbey Road’s working title was Everest, because sound engineer Geoff Emerick smoked Everest cigarettes. The group planned to shoot the cover in the Himalayas but decided it would be less effort to pose on the crossing outside the studio.

2. During the making of Abbey Road, George was furious when Yoko Ono stole one of his chocolate digestive biscuits. ‘That bitch,’ he exploded.

3. In 1964, BBC newsreader Roy Williams misread ‘tonsils’ and reported that Ringo’s toenails had been removed. Anxious fans jammed the switchboard.

4. Paul’s midwife mother, Mary, delivered Stephen Mulligan, father of actress Carey Mulligan, at Walton Hospital, Liverpool in 1955.

5. While tidying Paul’s London home, his girlfriend Jane Asher accidentally threw out a notebook containing the handwritten lyrics to many early Lennon-McCartney songs. Today it would be worth millions.

6. The zebra crossing pictured on Abbey Road’s sleeve was awarded Grade II listed status in 2010 for its ‘cultural and historical importance’.

7. United Artists initially wanted the Fab Four’s voices dubbed with mid-Atlantic accents in their first movie, A Hard Day’s Night, because they feared Americans would not understand their Liverpudlian twang.

8. Ringo was so popular in America that more than 50 novelty records featuring his name were released in 1964, including Ringo Beat by Ella Fitzgerald, Cher’s Ringo, I Love You, and Ringo for President by the Young World Singers.

9. While living in Weybridge, Surrey, John owned ten cats, including one called Jesus, his sarcastic response to the 1966 ‘The Beatles are bigger than Jesus’ controversy. Paul owned a trio of kittens called Jesus, Joseph and Mary.

10. The working title of With a Little Help from My Friends was Bad Finger Boogie because John had injured his forefinger and used his middle finger to compose the piano part.

11. The ‘Semolina Pilchard’ in I Am the Walrus alluded to drug-squad detective Norman ‘Nobby’ Pilcher, who led a raid on John’s London flat in 1968.

12. The Beatles leave James Bond cold. In the 1964 movie Goldfinger, Sean Connery’s 007 notes that drinking Dom Perignon at the wrong temperature is ‘simply not done… like listening to The Beatles without earmuffs’.

13. In 2008, for the first time, NASA beamed a song – The Beatles’ Across the Universe – into deep space. Travelling at 186,000 miles a second, it will reach the North Star, Polaris, in 2439.

14. After an acid trip in 1968, John called an emergency meeting of The Beatles at their Apple HQ in London. ‘I am Jesus Christ,’ he announced. ‘I have come back. This is my thing.’

15. In 1964, John’s long-lost father, Alf, turned up unannounced at the London office of Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein. John’s first words to the man he had not seen for 17 years were: ‘What do you want?’

16. Rolling Stone magazine described Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as ‘the closest Western civilisation has come to unity since the Congress of Vienna in 1815.’

17. A pine tree planted in memory of George in 2004 in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, died from beetle infestation in 2014.

18. Paul wrote She’s Leaving Home after reading a newspaper article about teenage runaway Melanie Coe (above). Unknown to him, he had met her three years earlier when awarding her a prize on TV’s Ready, Steady, Go! 

19. Playwright Noël Coward (left) called The Beatles ‘bad-mannered little s***s’ after they refused to have a post-concert drink with him.

20. Ringo was bored stiff during the making of Sgt. Pepper. He recalled: ‘The biggest memory I have is that I learned to play chess.

Remembering the Beatles' last live concert

21. Paul wrote When I’m 64 when he was 16.

22. When recording With a Little Help from My Friends, Ringo refused to sing ‘What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and throw tomatoes at me?’ He feared fans would lob tomatoes if he played it live.

23. In 1964, the New Statesman’s Paul Johnson wrote that Beatles fans were ‘the least fortunate of their generation, the dull, the idle, the failures’. It became the most complained-about piece in the magazine’s history.

24. Two minutes 58 seconds into Hey Jude, Paul McCartney can be faintly heard saying ‘f***ing hell’ after he hit a wrong note on the piano.

25. Vladimir Putin said in 2007 that his favourite Beatles song is Yesterday.

26. Having immersed himself in the Chinese I-Ching, which attributes meaning to seemingly random events, George plucked two words arbitrarily from a book: ‘gently’ and ‘weeps’. While My Guitar Gently Weeps became one of the group’s greatest songs.

27. In 1967 the band acquired £90,000 in US dollars to buy a Greek island where they could all live. But, tiring of the idea, they cancelled the purchase. Their dollars went up in value, netting them an £11,400 profit.

28. The movie A Hard Day’s Night was released in France as Quatre Garçons Dans Le Vent (Four Boys in the Wind).

29. The Beatles had five ‘O’ levels and one ‘A’ level between them — all Paul’s.

30. At the end of Strawberry Fields Forever, John mumbled ‘Cranberry Sauce’. Fans misheard this for ‘I buried Paul’, sparking a widely held belief — still going strong today — that McCartney had been killed in a car crash and replaced by a lookalike.

31. Yoko Ono said John worried late into the night that there were more cover versions of Paul’s songs than his.

32. Paul saw the Twin Towers on fire while waiting to take off from JFK airport New York on 9/11.

33. The Beatles wanted Stanley Kubrick to direct them in a psychedelic adaptation of J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. But Tolkien disliked pop music and refused to sell them the rights.

34. The Beatles used the word ‘love’ 613 times in their songs.

35. The group’s first album Please Please Me, took 9 hours 45 minutes to record. Sgt. Pepper took 129 days.

37. In 2008 the Vatican forgave John for saying that The Beatles were ‘more popular than Jesus’. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, called it ‘a youthful joke’.

38. The Beatles unwittingly ate horse steak for Christmas dinner while in Hamburg in 1962.

39. Producer George Martin wanted The Beatles to pose outside London Zoo’s insect house for the cover of their first album, Please Please Me. The Zoological Society of London refused permission.

40. There are asteroids named after each Beatle: 4147 Lennon, 4148 McCartney, 4149 Harrison and 4150 Starr.

Were The Beatles underrated?

41. All You Need Is Love was the first Beatles song to be licensed for a TV ad. Procter & Gamble used it in 2008 to promote Luv’s nappies.

42. Disney wanted The Beatles to voice the vultures in the 1967 animated film, The Jungle Book. John responded: ‘There’s no way The Beatles are going to sing for Mickey Mouse!’

43. The working title of the Revolver album was Abracadabra. Ringo joked it should be After Geography to contrast with the Rolling Stones’ album, Aftermath.

44. McCartney wrote Here, There and Everywhere while sitting by John Lennon’s swimming pool waiting for him to wake up from a drug-induced sleep.

45. The semaphore letters The Beatles are spelling out with their arms on the album sleeve of Help! say N U J V.

46. In August 1963, just before The Beatles conquered America, George played on stage with a group called The Four Vests while he was visiting his sister in Illinois. A man in the audience told him: ‘You know, son, with the right break you could really go places.’

47. Penny Lane – immortalised in McCartney’s iconic song – was named after Liverpudlian James Penny, a notorious 18th-century slave trader.

48. Hollywood vamp Mae West initially refused to allow her image to appear on the Sgt. Pepper album cover. She relented after each Beatle wrote to her explaining they were fans.

49. Ringo thought Paul’s Maxwell’s Silver Hammer was the ‘worst track we ever had to record’.

50. The band’s first single, Love Me Do, was released on 5 October 1962 – the same day as the premiere in the UK of the first James Bond movie, Dr No.

This article appeared in the September 2019 issue of Saga Magazine.



The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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