Related pages: Recommended books about The Beatles • The Beatles music business background

The Beatles
timelines of their recordings and career

Beatles timelines

This is an outline of The Beatles’ writing and recording career, relating studio sessions, original UK releases and other events.

There are 2 main lists on this page:

  1. An overall chronology of major releases and events
  2. A complete sequential list of recording sessions and songs

This isn’t a complete discography or an exhaustive account of every repackaged and rereleased track. I don’t cover every out-take and post-Beatles recording on this page.

These Beatles records and films were produced in less than 8 years, alongside:

It’s an impressive legacy, and that’s only the highlights. Here are the main titles in the order they were originally recorded and released.

Recordings, releases and key events in order

Few Beatles singles were album tracks and you can’t easily tell if they were also on EPs or LPs. All the tracks are now available on various CDs, but not in the order they were originally made and issued. This table shows the albums and singles in chronological order, with recording and UK release dates (EPs that duplicated other releases are omitted). It also shows which singles were on albums and some key events for context. There are additional footnotes about certain tracks and events.

  Album Start End Release Single Start End Release
title date date date name date date date
1957 Paul met John and The Quarry Men 6 July (Woolton Parish Church Garden Fête) and joined that month
1958 George joined The Quarry Men in February or March
‘In Spite Of All The Danger’ recording John, Paul, George (Colin Hanton, drums and John Lowe, piano)
1959 Local gigs and talent shows as The Quarry Men and Johnny and the Moondogs
1960 May: Alan Williams (manager) arranged Scottish tour (Tommy Moore, drums) with Larry Parnes’ Johnny Gentle
Pete Best joined 12 August for Hamburg bookings and The Silver Beatles became The Beatles
Hamburg (1)—August to November (inc. first John, Paul, George and Ringo recordings, with Wally)
November: George, Paul and Pete Best deported from Germany (and Stu Sutcliffe quit)
1961 Hamburg (2)—April to June (inc. recording with Tony Sheridan)
Brian Epstein became manager 10 December
1962 Decca London recording audition 1 January (15 songs selected by Brian)
Hamburg (3)—April to May
EMI Abbey Road recording audition 6 June
  Love Me Do PPM
P.S. I Love You PPM
Pete Best sacked 16 August and replaced by Ringo (first gig 18 August)
Please Please Me
11.9.62   Please Please Me PPM
Ask Me Why PPM
Hamburg (4)—18 to 31 December (last dates at the Star Club)
1963   11.2.63 22.3.63   11.1.63
  From Me To You
Thank You Girl

  She Loves You
I’ll Get You
1.7.63   23.8.63
With The Beatles 18.7.63 23.10.63 22.11.63 I Want To Hold Your Hand
This Boy
17.10.63   29.11.63
1964 America (1)—7 to 21 February, Ed Sullivan Show, Washington Coliseum and Carnegie Hall
  Can’t Buy Me Love
You Can’t Do That AHDN
  I Call Your Name 1.3.64   19.6.64
A Hard Day’s Night film release 6 July
A Hard Day’s
Night AHDN
25.2.64 2.6.64 10.7.64 A Hard Day’s Night AHDN
Things We Said Today AHDN
America (2)—19 August to 20 September
Beatles For Sale 11.8.64 26.10.64 4.12.64 I Feel Fine
She’s A Woman
1965 Help! H! 15.2.65   Ticket To Ride H!
Yes It Is
  17.6.65   Help! H!
I’m Down
MBE awards announced 12 June
Help! film release 29 July
America (3)—13 to 31 August
George Martin left EMI to form AIR August
Rubber Soul 17.6.65 11.11.65 3.12.65 We Can Work It Out
Day Tripper
1966 Revolver R 6.4.66   Paperback Writer
  20.6.66 5.8.66 Yellow Submarine R / YS
Eleanor Rigby R *
Philipines 4/5 July, Imelda ‘snubbed’, Beatles robbed and deported
‘More popular than Christianity’ article appeared in Datebook 29 July sparking USA protests
America (4)—12 to 29 August
Candlestick Park, San Francisco last live concert 29 August
John: acted in How I Won The War, Paul: theme for The Family Way, George: sitar lessons Ravi Shankar (India)
John met Yoko at Indica Gallery
Sgt. Pepper’s
Lonely Hearts
Club Band
6.12.66   Penny Lane **
Strawberry Fields Forever **
1967       17.2.67
Yellow Submarine
13.2.67 3.4.67 1.6.67  
BBC One World satellite broadcast 25 June featuring ‘All You Need Is Love’
Magical Mystery
Tour MMT
25.4.67   All You Need Is Love YS **
Baby You’re A Rich Man * / **
Brian Epstein died 26/27 August
    7.11.67 8.12.67 Hello Goodbye **
I Am The Walrus MMT
Magical Mystery Tour film release (TV) 26 December
1968 India, the Maharishi February to April
    11.2.68   Lady Madonna
The Inner Light
The Beatles TB 30.5.68    
        Hey Jude
Revolution TB
Yellow Submarine film release 17 July
  14.10.68 22.11.68  
1969   17.1.69  
Let It Be LIB
Let It Be…Naked
22.1.69   Get Back LIB
Don’t Let Me Down
Apple rooftop gig last public performance 30 January
Abbey Road AR 22.2.69   11.4.69
      The Ballad Of John and Yoko
Old Brown Shoe

The last day all 4 Beatles were in the studio 20 August
      Something AR
Come Together AR
    25.8.69 26.9.69   31.10.69
      Let It Be LIB
You Know My Name
1970   4.1.70   6.3.70
Last Beatles recording session 3/4 January Paul, George and Ringo ‘Let It Be’ album tracks
Paul McCartney the first to publicly quit 10 April
Let It Be film release 20 May
1971 The Beatles partnership legally dissolved 26 April with final effect 1 October 1974
2003   17.11.2003  

Recording and chronology notes

The table layout

This is how the table is arranged.

The tracks and releases

Some additional notes about the releases and tracks:

  1. Love Me Do was recorded with three different drummers.
  2. I Call Your Name: there were 12 single-disc EPs (see below) but only the Long Tall Sally EP had a Beatles song not on other singles or albums.
  3. A compilation A Collection of Beatles Oldies was released 9.12.66 with only one new track (Bad Boy) not a Beatles composition.
  4. * these single tracks were added to the later Yellow Submarine Songtrack album (13.8.99).
  5. ** these single tracks were added to the later Magical Mystery Tour album (19.11.76).
  6. Magical Mystery Tour was originally a double EP rather than an album (also their last EP).
  7. Let It Be: Across The Universe was started on 4.2.68—22.1.69 is the first day of the main recording.
  8. Abbey Road: various tracks were rehearsed during the Let It Be sessions at Twickenham but all were re-recorded for the Abbey Road album.
  9. Let It Be was the only album released in two versions (Phil Spector in 1970 and Let It Be…Naked in 2003).
  10. The single versions of Revolution, Get Back and Let It Be are different to the album versions.

Pete Best

Datebook Beatles Bigger Than Jesus Various band members came and went before the final John, Paul, George and Ringo line-up. After Stu Sutcliffe, Pete Best is the most well-known. His two year stint began when they renamed themselves simply “The Beatles” and he was crucial for their live Hamburg and UK work. It is tragic that he was replaced on the eve of their breakthrough. There are conspiracy theories but it seems fairly straightforward, especially since the Pete Best version of Love Me Do was released on Anthology 1.

Brian Epstein and George Martin agree it was George Martin’s decision to replace Pete after the EMI recording test in June 1962. Pete’s rhythmic variations on Love Me Do are weaker than Ringo’s interpretation (copied by session drummer Andy White for the original release). George Martin wanted the debut single to be tight. A mono mix was made from one of Ringo’s 15 takes but a week later Andy White played on a further 18 takes before Martin was satisfied. It seems unlikely Pete could have drummed on the single George Martin wanted. He had to go.

In simple terms, the band previously rejected by EMI and Decca was also rejected by George Martin.

Bigger Than Jesus

The generally accepted version of the “Bigger Than Jesus” story is that Americans, particularly in the Deep South, were outraged by John’s supposedly blasphemous remark. The offending quote was first published in a Maureen Cleave series for the Evening Standard on 4 March 1966. Apparently it went unnoticed in the USA until it was picked up by Datebook (a teenage pop magazine) for their issue published on 29 July, presumably to cash in on The Beatles’ American tour in August. What interests me is that Paul’s quote, which appears before John’s on the cover, seems more inflammatory but it is hardly ever mentioned.

Of course, The Beatles knew black American musicians well and were inspired by their music, and they knew how they had been treated. Also, The Beatles insisted on playing to unsegregated audiences, so they were well aware of the situation in the South. It seems likely to me that it was Paul’s comment and The Beatles’ position on segregation that caused more anger in Alabama and Texas but John’s comment was more convenient as an excuse. A blatantly racist anti-Beatles campaign would not go down well in New York or California where contrived Christian indignation might. If so, it worked and The Beatles never played there again.

Songs in recording session order

Polydor Germany recordings

The Beatles’ first recording contract was backing Tony Sheridan as The Beat Brothers. Sheridan was signed separately to Bert Kaempfert’s production company in Germany. This was a one year deal for 4 tracks to be released on Polydor. Two of these tracks (Cry For A Shadow and Ain’t She Sweet) featured The Beatles. The My Bonnie single was released in October 1961 and featured two of the 9 tracks recorded. The other tracks weren’t used immediately.

Year Song Single Writers
1961 Polydor single session — 22 to 23 June 1961
  My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean A side   cover
When The Saints Go Marching In   B side cover
Nobody’s Child   cover
Why (Can’t You Love Me Again)   cover
Cry For A Shadow   Harrison/Lennon
Polydor second session — 24 June 1961
(If You Love Me Baby) Take Out Some Insurance On Me   cover
Ain’t She Sweet   cover
1962 Polydor final session — 24 May 1962
  Sweet Georgia Brown   cover
Swanee River   cover

Decca audition recordings

These are the songs chosen by Brian Epstein and recorded at The Beatles’ unsuccessful Decca audition (1 January 1962) in the order they were played. It was this recording (rejected by Decca) that eventually led to their recording deal with EMI. On 8 February 1962 Brian took his Decca audition tape to HMV (EMI) in Oxford Street to have some 78 rpm acetates made (to demo the band in future meetings). Jim Foy, engineer at HMV, recommended the McCartney/Lennon compositions to Syd Coleman head of Ardmore and Beechwood, EMI’s music publisher at the time. Coleman’s office was upstairs at HMV. After meeting Epstein (8 May 1962) and hearing the acetate Syd Coleman recommended the band to George Martin for Parlophone. Epstein and Martin met the next day at Abbey Road and the audition was arranged for 6 June 1962.

Year Song Writers
1962 Decca audition — 1 January 1962
  Like Dreamers Do McCartney/Lennon
  Money cover
  ‘Till There Was You cover
  The Sheik Of Araby cover
  To Know Her Is To Love Her cover
  Take Good Care Of My Baby cover
  Memphis, Tennessee cover
  Sure To Fall cover
  Hello Little Girl McCartney/Lennon
  Three Cool Cats cover
  Crying, Waiting, Hoping cover
  Love Of The Loved McCartney/Lennon
  September In The Rain cover
  Besame Mucho cover
  Searchin’ cover

EMI Parlophone recordings

This is a complete list of all The Beatles’ EMI songs showing how they were originally released in the UK, and the order they were recorded. They are sub-divided broadly into album sessions and The Beatles compositions are numbered (these numbers are the same as the sections in Revolution In The Head). Note that, contrary to popular myth, the Please Please Me album wasn’t recorded in a single day. However, most of the album was recorded on 11 February 1963 in two remarkable sessions.

Song Album
- A -
- B -
1962 Please Please Me recording sessions — 6 June 1962 to 13 March 1963
1 Love Me Do Album A side McCartney/Lennon
2 P.S. I Love You Album B side McCartney/Lennon
3 Please Please Me Album A side McCartney/Lennon
4 Ask Me Why Album B side McCartney/Lennon
5 There’s A Place Album   McCartney/Lennon
6 I Saw Her Standing There Album   McCartney/Lennon
  A Taste Of Honey Album   cover
7 Do You Want To Know A Secret Album   McCartney/Lennon
8 Misery Album   McCartney/Lennon
9 Hold Me Tight • With The Beatles McCartney/Lennon
  Anna Album   cover
  Boys Album   cover
  Chains Album   cover
  Baby It’s You Album   cover
  Twist And Shout Album   cover
10 From Me To You A side McCartney/Lennon
11 Thank You Girl   B side McCartney/Lennon
1963 With The Beatles recording sessions — 1 July 1963 to 17 October 1963
12 She Loves You A side Lennon/McCartney
13 I’ll Get You   B side Lennon/McCartney
  You Really Got A Hold On Me Album   cover
  Money (That’s What I Want) Album   cover
  Devil In Her Heart Album   cover
  Till There Was You Album   cover
  Please Mr Postman Album   cover
14 It Won’t Be Long Album   Lennon/McCartney
  Roll Over Beethoven Album   cover
15 All My Loving Album   Lennon/McCartney
16 I Wanna Be Your Man Album   Lennon/McCartney
17 Little Child Album   Lennon/McCartney
18 All I’ve Got To Do Album   Lennon/McCartney
19 Not A Second Time Album   Lennon/McCartney
20 Don’t Bother Me Album   Harrison
21 I Want To Hold Your Hand A side Lennon/McCartney
22 This Boy   B side Lennon/McCartney
1964 A Hard Day’s Night recording sessions — 29 January 1964 to 2 June 1964
23 Can’t Buy Me Love Album   Lennon/McCartney
24 You Can’t Do That Album   Lennon/McCartney
25 And I Love Her Album   Lennon/McCartney
26 I Should Have Known Better Album   Lennon/McCartney
27 Tell Me Why Album   Lennon/McCartney
28 If I Fell Album   Lennon/McCartney
29 I’m Happy Just To Dance With You Album   Lennon/McCartney
  Long Tall Sally • Long Tall Sally EP cover
30 I Call Your Name • Long Tall Sally EP Lennon/McCartney
31 A Hard Day’s Night Album   Lennon/McCartney
  Matchbox • Long Tall Sally EP cover
32 I’ll Cry Instead Album   Lennon/McCartney
  Slow Down • Long Tall Sally EP cover
33 I’ll Be Back Album   Lennon/McCartney
34 Any Time At All Album   Lennon/McCartney
35 Things We Said Today Album   Lennon/McCartney
36 When I Get Home Album   Lennon/McCartney
1964 Beatles For Sale recording sessions — 11 August 1964 to 26 October 1964
37 Baby’s In Black Album   Lennon/McCartney
38 I’m A Loser Album   Lennon/McCartney
  Mr Moonlight Album   cover
39 Every Little Thing Album   Lennon/McCartney
40 I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party Album   Lennon/McCartney
41 What You’re Doing Album   Lennon/McCartney
42 No Reply Album   Lennon/McCartney
43 Eight Days A Week Album   Lennon/McCartney
44 She’s A Woman   B side Lennon/McCartney
  Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey Album   cover
45 I Feel Fine A side Lennon/McCartney
46 I’ll Follow The Sun Album   Lennon/McCartney
  Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby Album   cover
  Rock And Roll Music Album   cover
  Words Of Love Album   cover
  Honey Don’t Album   cover
1965 Help! recording sessions — 15 February 1965 to 17 June 1965
47 Ticket To Ride Album A side Lennon/McCartney
48 Another Girl Album   Lennon/McCartney
49 I Need You Album   Harrison
50 Yes It Is   B side Lennon/McCartney
51 The Night Before Album   Lennon/McCartney
52 You Like Me Too Much Album   Harrison
53 You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away Album   Lennon/McCartney
54 Tell Me What You See Album   Lennon/McCartney
55 You’re Going To Lose That Girl Album   Lennon/McCartney
56 Help! Album A side Lennon/McCartney
  Dizzy Miss Lizzy Album   cover
  Bad Boy • Oldies But Goldies cover
57 I’ve Just Seen A Face Album   Lennon/McCartney
58 I’m Down   B side Lennon/McCartney
59 Yesterday Album   Lennon/McCartney
60 It’s Only Love Album   Lennon/McCartney
  Act Naturally Album   cover
1965 Rubber Soul recording sessions — 17 June 1965 to 11 November 1965
61 Wait Album   Lennon/McCartney
62 Run For Your Life Album   Lennon/McCartney
63 Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) Album   Lennon/McCartney
64 Drive My Car Album   Lennon/McCartney
65 Day Tripper A side Lennon/McCartney
66 If I Needed Someone Album   Harrison
67 In My Life Album   Lennon/McCartney
68 We Can Work It Out A side Lennon/McCartney
69 Nowhere Man Album   Lennon/McCartney
70 I’m Looking Through You Album   Lennon/McCartney
71 Michelle Album   Lennon/McCartney
72 What Goes On Album   Lennon/McCartney/Starkey
73 Think For Yourself Album   Harrison
74 The Word Album   Lennon/McCartney
75 You Won’t See Me Album   Lennon/McCartney
76 Girl Album   Lennon/McCartney
1966 Revolver recording sessions — 6 April 1966 to 21 June 1966
77 Tomorrow Never Knows Album   Lennon/McCartney
78 Got To Get You Into My Life Album   Lennon/McCartney
79 Love You To Album   Harrison
80 Paperback Writer A side Lennon/McCartney
81 Rain   B side Lennon/McCartney
82 Doctor Robert Album   Lennon/McCartney
83 And Your Bird Can Sing Album   Lennon/McCartney
84 Taxman Album   Harrison
85 I’m Only Sleeping Album   Lennon/McCartney
86 Eleanor Rigby Album A side Lennon/McCartney
87 For No One Album   Lennon/McCartney
88 Yellow Submarine Album A side Lennon/McCartney
89 I Want To Tell You Album   Harrison
90 Good Day Sunshine Album   Lennon/McCartney
91 Here, There And Everywhere Album   Lennon/McCartney
92 She Said She Said Album   Lennon/McCartney
1966 Sgt Pepper recording sessions — 24 November 1966 to 1 April 1967
93 Strawberry Fields Forever A side Lennon/McCartney
94 When I’m Sixty Four Album   Lennon/McCartney
95 Penny Lane A side Lennon/McCartney
96 A Day In The Life Album   Lennon/McCartney
97 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Album   Lennon/McCartney
98 Good Morning Good Morning Album   Lennon/McCartney
99 Fixing A Hole Album   Lennon/McCartney
100 Only A Northern Song • Yellow Submarine Harrison
101 Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite! Album   Lennon/McCartney
102 Lovely Rita Album   Lennon/McCartney
103 Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds Album   Lennon/McCartney
104 Getting Better Album   Lennon/McCartney
105 Within You Without You Album   Harrison
106 She’s Leaving Home Album   Lennon/McCartney
107 With A Little Help From My Friends Album   Lennon/McCartney
108 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Album   Lennon/McCartney
1967 Magical Mystery Tour recording sessions — 25 April 1967 to 11 February 1968
109 Magical Mystery Tour EP Lennon/McCartney
110 Baby You’re A Rich Man   B side Lennon/McCartney
111 All Together Now • Yellow Submarine Lennon/McCartney
112 You Know My Name
(Look Up The Number)
• Let It Be single B side Lennon/McCartney
113 It’s All Too Much • Yellow Submarine Harrison
114 All You Need Is Love A side Lennon/McCartney
115 Your Mother Should Know EP Lennon/McCartney
116 I Am The Walrus EP B side Lennon/McCartney
117 Blue Jay Way EP Harrison
118 Flying EP Harrison/Lennon/McCartney/Starkey
119 The Fool On The Hill EP Lennon/McCartney
120 Hello, Goodbye A side Lennon/McCartney
121 The Inner Light B side Harrison
122 Lady Madonna A side Lennon/McCartney
123 Across The Universe • Let It Be album Lennon/McCartney
124 Hey Bulldog • Yellow Submarine Lennon/McCartney
1968 The Beatles recording sessions — 30 May 1968 to 13 October 1968
125 Revolution 1 Album   Lennon/McCartney
126 Don’t Pass Me By Album   Starkey
127 Revolution 9 Album   Lennon/McCartney
128 Blackbird Album   Lennon/McCartney
129 Everybody’s Got Something To Hide
Except For Me And My Monkey
Album   Lennon/McCartney
130 Good Night Album   Lennon/McCartney
131 Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da Album   Lennon/McCartney
132 Revolution   B side Lennon/McCartney
133 Cry Baby Cry Album   Lennon/McCartney
134 Helter Skelter Album   Lennon/McCartney
135 Sexy Sadie Album   Lennon/McCartney
136 While My Guitar Gently Weeps Album   Harrison
137 Hey Jude A side Lennon/McCartney
138 Mother Nature’s Son Album   Lennon/McCartney
139 Yer Blues Album   Lennon/McCartney
140 Rocky Raccoon Album   Lennon/McCartney
141 Wild Honey Pie Album   Lennon/McCartney
142 Back In The USSR Album   Lennon/McCartney
143 Dear Prudence Album   Lennon/McCartney
144 Glass Onion Album   Lennon/McCartney
145 I Will Album   Lennon/McCartney
146 Birthday Album   Lennon/McCartney
147 Piggies Album   Harrison
148 Happiness Is A Warm Gun Album   Lennon/McCartney
149 Honey Pie Album   Lennon/McCartney
150 Savoy Truffle Album   Harrison
151 Martha My Dear Album   Lennon/McCartney
152 Long, Long, Long Album   Harrison
153 I’m So Tired Album   Lennon/McCartney
154 The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill Album   Lennon/McCartney
155 Why Don’t We Do It In The Road Album   Lennon/McCartney
156 Julia Album   Lennon/McCartney
1969 Let It Be recording sessions — 22 to 30 January 1969
157 Dig A Pony Album   Lennon/McCartney
158 I’ve Got A Feeling Album   Lennon/McCartney
159 Don’t Let Me Down Album B side Lennon/McCartney
160 Get Back Album A side Lennon/McCartney
161 Two Of Us Album   Lennon/McCartney
  Maggie Mae Album   cover
162 Dig It Album   Harrison/Lennon/McCartney/Starkey
163 For You Blue Album   Harrison
164 Let It Be Album A side Lennon/McCartney
165 The Long And Winding Road Album   Lennon/McCartney
166 The One After 909 Album   Lennon/McCartney
1969 Abbey Road recording sessions — 22 February 1969 to 5 August 1969
167 I Want You (She’s So Heavy) Album   Lennon/McCartney
168 The Ballad Of John And Yoko A side Lennon/McCartney
169 Old Brown Shoe   B side Harrison
170 Something Album   Harrison
171 Oh! Darling Album   Harrison
172 Octopus’s Garden Album   Starkey
173 You Never Give Me Your Money Album   Lennon/McCartney
174 Her Majesty Album   Lennon/McCartney
175/6 Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight Album   Lennon/McCartney
177 Here Comes The Sun Album   Harrison
178 Maxwell’s Silver Hammer Album   Lennon/McCartney
179 Come Together Album   Lennon/McCartney
180 The End Album   Lennon/McCartney
181/2 Sun King/Mean Mr Mustard Album   Lennon/McCartney
183/4 Polythene Pam/She Came In
Through The Bathroom Window
Album   Lennon/McCartney
185 Because Album   Lennon/McCartney
1970 Final Let It Be recording session — 3 to 4 January 1970
186 I Me Mine Album Harrison

Only two of their 13 EPs (Long Tall Sally and Magical Mystery Tour) are included in this list because all the others were re-releases of earlier tracks. No post-Beatles recordings are included on this page.

In addition to these original UK releases there are:

There is a good discography in About The Beatles. These releases contain mostly the same tracks but singles from the Red, Blue and Past Masters compilations are useful for completing a CD collection, the live BBC double album is excellent and the Anthology is essential for enthusiasts.

These lists were assembled from The Beatles Diary Volume One, Revolution In The Head and The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions (recommended books).

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Related pages: Recommended books about The Beatles • The Beatles music business background

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