Singers: The Unbarbershopped Quartet

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No one seemed wholly exempt from the contagion. Those who were not enthusiastic were at least curious. On the strength of their appearance, Ed Sullivan doubled his ratings. Even the highest brows and the remotest recluse were undone by their young. Painter Andrew Wyeth, for instance, was badgered by his 17-year-old son into wangling a ticket, admits he would have gone along himself if he could have found a pair. Happy Rockefeller took young Jamie and Wendy Murphy to the Carnegie Hall concert—the first time she has been photographed with her children since her divorce and remarriage. In Washington, British Ambassador Sir David Ormsby Gore invited the non-U foursome to join a reception at the embassy and, with Lady Ormsby Gore, escorted them down the long staircase to meet the assembled guests. When the door prize turned out to be a Beatle album, Ringo presented it to the winner with a cheerfully irreverent aside: "We can get you a Frank Sinatra for the same price."

One Married. All from Liverpool, all in their early 20s, they come from similar working-class backgrounds. George Harrison's father is a bus driver. Paul McCartney's sells cotton. Ringo Starr, the somewhat corvine drummer, is the son of a house painter. He is called Ringo because he wears as many as six rings on his fingers. His real name is Richard Starkey.

John Lennon, organizer of the group, never knew his father, who left home when John was three. John went through grammar school and into art college, where he married a classmate. They have a baby son. With Paul McCartney, Lennon has written most of the songs the Beatles sing—and he coined the name Beatle to suggest the steady pounding beat of the rhythms of rock.

Ludwig von Keats. Singing groups are countless in Liverpool, and the Beatles did not just come in off a street corner to fame, as happens so frequently in the U.S. They developed their coordinated skill in a long line of one-night stands. They actually went off to the beer cellars of Hamburg to become fully professional. When they recorded Love Me Do in 1962, they began their giddy spiral to fame.

The present group has been together about two years. There were two earlier Beatles, one who died of a brain hemorrhage and another who was dropped by the Beatles' manager because he didn't have enough personality and/or hair. Ringo, the oldest (23), is the newest Beatle.

What recommends the Beatles more than anything else is their bright and highly irreverent attitude toward themselves and their international magnitude. Reporters toss ticking questions at them, but it is generally the replies that explode.

"Why do you wear so many rings, Ringo?" demanded one reporter.

"Because I can't fit them all through my nose."

"What do you think of Beethoven, Ringo?"

"I love his poems."

What did the Beatles think of the unfavorable reviews they got in the New York Times and the Herald Tribune?

"It's people like that who put us on the map."

How do they rate themselves musically?

"Average. We're kidding you, we're kidding ourselves, we're kidding everything. We don't take anything seriously, except the money."

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