50 things we wouldn't have without the Beatles

Let your brain be boggled by the Beatles legacy with our guide to the 50 things that we wouldn't have without the Fab Four

Let's get one thing straight from the get-go: We simply wouldn't have modern life as we know it without the Beatles. Mom wouldn't have met dad, you wouldn't have been born, we'd all be eating space pills by now. We all know that. But we'd like to share with you some tangible—and sometimes surprising—facts about the Fab Four's influence, from the sublime (their popularization of Eastern philosophy in the West) to the ridiculous (vegetarian sausages) and various shades of Phil Collins in between. Ladies and gentlemen: 50 things we wouldn't have without the Beatles.

1. Mass singalongs to “Hey Jude”

“Hey Jude” has become the alternative national anthem—the song that Paul McCartney is wheeled out to play at all events of patriotic significance, including the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Without it, we wouldn't have discovered the joy of collectively belting out nonsense words. All together now, “Na, na, na, na-na-na na!”

2. Gridlock on Abbey Road

Thanks to a continuous stream of tourists recreating the famous album cover on the London street. Photograph: © Caleigh-Rose

3. Thomas the Train

Would the little blue train have been so successful without Ringo's monotone narration underpinning his adventures in the UK series Thomas the Tank Engine?

4. Apple

Steve Jobs named his company Apple out of admiration for the Beatles’ record label of the same name. Sadly for Jobs, this wasn’t taken as a compliment and resulted in a legal battle between the two firms that lasted for decades.

5. The image overhaul

You wouldn’t think that Lady Gaga would have a lot to learn about pop from Paul McCartney. Her reinventions have sustained her over a few years, but she should look to the Beatles for tips on how to refresh a look over a few decades. They might not have been the first band to change their image, but they managed more impressive costume changes than most other groups, setting a standard for the periodic rock makeover. If only Status Quo had taken note—think where they could be now.

6. John Peel

The legendary British DJ got one of his first breaks on US radio thanks, in part, to the fact that he hailed from the same part of the world as the Fab Four. Peel came from Heswall on the Wirral Peninsula, which was near enough to Beatles territory for Dallas station KLIF. He was hired as a “Beatles Correspondent” after he rang the station to correct a presenter on a fact about Liverpool. Photograph: © Peter Sanders/Rex Features

7. Music videos

The Beatles and Richard Lester, director of A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, were honored by MTV in 1984 for “essentially inventing the music video.”

8. Stadium concerts

The band’s show at Shea Stadium, New York, in 1965 was the first of its kind. The Beatles were so popular, all 55,600 tickets sold out in 17 minutes. Photograph: © Andrew Hasson/Rex Features

9. Rooftop gigs

Their final gig, played on the roof of Apple Records’ Savile Row HQ, has been aped many times by everyone from Homer’s barbershop quartet in The Simpsons to U2, who took to a Los Angeles rooftop in the video for “Where The Streets Have No Name” and played a surprise gig on top of the BBC headquarters in 2009.

10. Beatles cover bands

You might know the Bootleg Beatles, but many more are also playing the circuit: The Counterfeit Beatles, Them Beatles, The Fab Faux, Sisters of Mersey, Sgt Pepper’s Only Dart Board Band, Rebeats, Revolution Four, The Fab Fourever, Hey Dudes... the list goes on.

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