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Unless you’re a hardcore Beatlemaniac, the chances are that you’ve never even considered who the original members of The Beatles were.
When someone mentions The Beatles, our minds instantly go to the iconic Fab Four: John, Paul, George, and Ringo, right? They’re the faces on the posters, the voices on the tracks, the legends in rock history.
But what if I told you that this legendary lineup wasn’t how things started? Few people know the story behind the earliest members of the band, including two members who never quite made it to stardom.
Having been a Liverpool-based Beatlemaniac for most of my life, I’ve read countless books, listened to countless interviews, and been to all of the Beatles museums out there – so I have the answers for you!
Let’s delve in – here is what the Beatles original lineup looked like – and trust me, you’re in for some surprises!
Table of Contents
Who Was The Founding Member of the Beatles?
Ready for a fact that’ll come in handy at your next pub quiz night? John Lennon was the founding member of the Beatles.
Way before the world knew them as The Beatles, a teenage Lennon kickstarted a band named The Quarrymen way back in 1956. The Quarrymen was The Beatles’ original name!
This teen band, with its skiffle vibes and rock ‘n’ roll aspirations, eventually transformed into the global phenomenon known as The Beatles.
Who Were The Other Original Members of the Beatles?
Paul McCartney was the second longest-serving member of the Beatles, having joined the band back when it was still called the Quarrymen in 1957.
Paul first saw John playing with The Quarrymen at a village fair held at St Peter’s Church in Woolton. Nowadays, this church is one of the most important Beatles sites in Liverpool!
After two weeks spent getting to know each other, the decision was made – Paul could join the band.
Paul originally played guitar in the band and continued to do so through the Beatles’ early days in this original lineup.
Once Stuart Sutcliffe, the original Beatles bass player, left the band (we’ll get to him in a minute), Paul was told by John in no uncertain terms that he had to become the band’s new bass player – something Paul wasn’t exactly thrilled about!
George Harrison joined the band just after Paul, in 1958, and was the Beatles’ lead guitar player. He was introduced to John by Paul and played John Lennon a rendition of Duane Eddy’s “Raunchy” to show off his guitar skills.
The rest was history – George was in the band. John wasn’t thrilled that he had just let the 14 year old George Harrison into his band, but George’s talent was indisputable.
He was known as the “quiet Beatle”, who went on to influence The Beatles’ hippie transformation, play some of the coolest lead guitar in the world, and wow the public with his introspective lyrics.
Stuart Sutcliffe, a contender for the much-debated title of “fifth Beatle”, joined the band in 1959 on the bass guitar.
The thing is, though, he wasn’t much of a musician at all. Stuart had won an important art competition at art college (where he met John Lennon) and came into some prize money. Somehow, John convinced him to use the money to buy a bass guitar and join the band.
The story goes that Stuart couldn’t really play the bass guitar, but that was no problem – he looked cool, with his James Dean quiff and sunglasses, and he was John Lennon’s good friend, and that was enough to earn him a spot in the band.
In recent years, though, there’s been a lot of debate about whether or not Stuart was actually bad, with many people asserting that this rumour was made up by a certain Beatle who never took a liking to Stuart (clue…his name rhymes with “ball”)😆.
Here’s a fun fact: Stuart Sutcliffe was the first Beatle to get the iconic Beatle “mop top” hairstyle!
During The Beatles’ time performing residencies in Hamburg, Stuart fell in love with a local girl, Astrid Kirchherr, and quit the band in the summer of 1961 to stay in Hamburg with her.
The two got engaged and started planning a life together, when Stuart tragically died of a brain haemorrhage on 10 April 1962.
Before there was Ringo, there was Pete!
Pete Best was the Beatles’ original drummer, and he joined the band in 1960.
Pete’s mum, Mona Best, was the owner of the Casbah Coffee Club, one of the most historic places in Liverpool to this day.
This coffee club was where many local bands played in the late 50s and early 60s, and her son, Pete Best, used to play here with his band, The Blackjacks.
When that band split up in 1960, Paul McCartney invited Pete to play with the Beatles during their upcoming Hamburg residency – just one day before they were due to set off!
Pete never quite gelled with the band the way the other members did, and he was viewed as a bit of a “loner” by the others. He was a fine drummer by all accounts, but not world-class.
Because of these reasons, he was ousted from the band in 1962, later to be replaced by Ringo Starr.
When Did Ringo Starr Join The Beatles?
So, we’ve seen that the original drummer of the Beatles was actually Pete Best, not Ringo Starr.
So when did Ringo join the Beatles, and how did he join the band?
In 1962, The Beatles, under the keen-eyed guidance of their manager, Brian Epstein, secured an audition with the legendary George Martin at EMI Studios, Abbey Road. Martin wasn’t impressed with Pete’s drumming skills.
Fast forward to August 16, 1962, and Pete Best received the tough news from Epstein – he was no longer a part of The Beatles. Now, The Beatles needed a drummer.
The Beatles knew Ringo from Hamburg – he was the drummer for another Liverpool band, Rory Storm and The Hurricanes, but had filled in for Pete Best with The Beatles a few times.
It was clear to The Beatles that if there was someone who could play drums well enough for them, and could also hold a tune, it was Ringo.
But the transition wasn’t smooth sailing. Loyal Beatles fans at the Cavern Club were livid, chanting, “Pete forever! Ringo never!” The situation was tense, to say the least.
Interestingly, when it came time to record their debut single “Love Me Do”, it wasn’t Ringo’s drums setting the pace. George Martin, perhaps still sceptical, brought in session drummer Andy White.
Ringo, ever the sport, played the tambourine on “Love Me Do” and swayed the maracas on the B-side track, “PS I Love You”.
From that point on, though, the drums on The Beatles’ tracks had that distinctive Ringo Starr touch.
And just like that, The Beatles’ iconic final lineup was complete. The Fab Four was born.
FAQs About The Original Band Members of the Beatles
Who were the original 3 members of The Beatles?
The original three members of The Beatles were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison. Lennon first started a band called The Quarrymen, which McCartney and Harrison later joined, ultimately paving the way for the formation of The Beatles.
Who were the 5 original Beatles?
The five original members of The Beatles were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, and Pete Best. While Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison became the mainstays, Sutcliffe and Best were part of the band’s early lineup before Ringo Starr eventually joined, solidifying the iconic Fab Four.
Who was the 5th Beatle that died?
The “fifth Beatle” often referred to in this context is Stuart Sutcliffe. He died on April 10, 1962, in Hamburg, Germany, from a cerebral haemorrhage, which many believe was a result of a previous head injury. As The Beatles’ original bassist, his untimely death came before the band achieved worldwide fame.
Was Ringo the original drummer for the Beatles?
No, Ringo Starr was not the original drummer for The Beatles. Pete Best was the band’s initial drummer before being replaced by Ringo in 1962. While Ringo became the iconic drummer for the Fab Four as they rose to global stardom, it was Pete Best who played with the group during their early Liverpool and Hamburg days and some early recordings.
What were the names of the 4 members of the Beatles?
The names of the Beatles band members in the band’s final lineup were John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.
Final Thoughts: Original Beatles Members
Are you surprised to learn about the former Beatles members? I know I was – it’s hard to picture our Fab Four actually being the Fab Five. And, of course, The Beatles just wouldn’t be the same without our beloved Ringo!
The Beatlemania doesn’t have to stop here, though. Dive deeper into Beatles history by exploring some of my other intriguing posts.
Ever wondered why The Beatles sometimes had American accents?
Or, curious about how long, exactly, the band were together? My comprehensive guide will give you those answers.
See you next time!