When The Beatles broke up 50 years ago, an era ended. In fact, just a decade had passed since John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and their pre-Ringo Starr bandmates, Stu Sutcliffe and Pete Best, performed as the Beatles for the first time at Hamburg’s Indra Club in the summer of 1960. But by 1970, they had changed music forever.
Far from being a mere nostalgia act, the Beatles remain popular today, less with screaming fans than with streaming fans: Within days of going on sale last year the 1969 album Abbey Road scored 1.7 billion Spotify streams, nearly half of them by people born after the band’s demise. The two surviving band members, McCartney, 78, and Starr, 80, remain close. This summer McCartney released a remastered version of “Beautiful Night,” a song he and Starr made in 1997. When the two hit the studio, said McCartney, “right away it was just like the old days.”