A Letter From The Publisher, Dec. 22, 1980

One night in November 1963, four mop-topped lads from Liverpool strode triumphantly onto the stage of London's Prince of Wales Theater before an audience of upper-crust fans that included the Queen Mother herself. As TIME quoted the group's lanky, irreverent leader: "Those of you in the cheaper seats, clap. The rest of you, rattle your jewelry." With that remark, John Lennon made his first appearance in the pages of TIME. As the years went by, Lennon and his fellow Beatles have turned up countless times in the magazine—and in the lives of a fortunate handful of its writers and correspondents.

When the...

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