A 'where have you been for the past 40 years?' guide to who's who in the fab four...
The man who formed the most succesful band of all time, and one of the icons of the rock 'n' roll era. John spent the final years of his life devoting his time to raising son Sean, but was roused to make music again after hearing the B-52's immortal kitsch classic 'Rock Lobster'. The '52's wailing vocals reminded him so much of banshee-throated wife Yoko, he felt the pop world was finally ready for them to make their comeback album. Well, he was half right...
Post Beatles peak: The everyman anthem for peace that is 'Imagine'.
The other half of the most succesful songwriting partnership of the 20th Century. Frustratingly, Paul's talents lie in writing and recording both fabulous life-affirming music AND irritating cheesy old nonsense. The best example of this duality in action must be Paul's soundtrack song for the James Bond film 'Live & Let Die'. Most of the song is glorious, but Paul can't resist a clever-clever reggae section, which all but pulls the wheels off this rock juggernaut. And the less said about that 'Freedom' song, the better...
Post Beatles peak: The bagpipe-drenched ode to Scotland 'Mull of Kintyre'..
George was the first to tire of being a Beatle, found his contributions to Beatles songs overlooked in favour of John & Paul's and even left the band a couple of times before they finally split. Ironically, two of George's most famous Beatle songs don't even feature him on lead guitar. 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' gets its corrosive guitar magic from Eric Clapton, and the reverse fret-magic on 'Taxman' comes courtesy of Paul! No wonder they called George the quiet one...
Post Beatles peak: The triple album splurge of held-back Beatles-era songs 'All Things Must Pass'.
To some, the finest exponent of minimalist pop drumming, to others a very, very lucky man with a big nose. Ringo's appeal at the height of Beatlemania was so great that at one point he was receiving four bags of fan mail to every one bag sent to the other three. Ringo claimed that he made sure he was the most popular by raising his drum kit up so he was on eye-level with Paul, John and George, and moving his cymbals so everyone could see him better. That this approach worked speaks volumes about the standards of attractiveness among beat group members at that time.
Post Beatles peak: His run of early '70s top ten singles, and the original - never bettered - voice-overs on Thomas the Tank Engine.
THE FIFTH BEATLE
Many people have laid claim to this title over the years. The first fifth Beatle was definitely Stuart Sutcliffe, seeing as there were five in the band at the time. Since then, shedloads of people have applied for this mythical job including Pete Best, Brian Epstein, George Martin, Murray the K, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Derek Taylor, Neil Aspinall, Magic Alex, Billy Preston and even Ernie Wise. Noel Gallagher? Your name's not down, you're not coming in...