The Roots and History of the Beatles (55+)

Do you remember where you were the first time you heard the Beatles? It’s something every rock musician of the last 50 years remembers. The band’s music teemed with a freshness and energy the world had never heard before. It was young and alive—the perfect sound for the times. The Beatles themselves were creative, talented and funny. Add George Martin to give them a little help with the music, and Brian Epstein to show them to the world, and you have Beatlemania!

We’ll look at how the phenomenon of the Beatles came to be, exploring the story behind the four lads from Liverpool, the music, the business, the people and the times that gave us this Magical Mystery Tour.

Note: Back by popular demand, from summer 2018.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

Week 1: Liverpool and Merseyside

Liverpool is one of the great seaports of the world. It has its own culture, language and sense of humour and, like any working seaport, has a rough side. John, Paul, George and Ringo grew up in this atmosphere. It developed their irreverent sense of humour, their quick wit and their unique characters. They were all born during or shortly after World War 2, at a time when England was dull and grey. We'll look at how the character of Liverpool and Merseyside shaped these four lads.

Week 2: A Hard Day's Night

The story goes that first John met Paul, then those two met George and much later they all met Ringo, but it's not as simple as that. To be successful, first you need talent, secondly you need lots of talent, then you need perseverance because, as the blues song goes, "You gotta pay your dues, if you wanna sing the blues." This is true of any art form, so we'll look at how the Beatles paid their dues and became a strong musical unit, ready and able for fame and success.

Week 3: With a Little Help from My Friends

John, Paul, George and Ringo were diamonds in the rough. They had put in their time, playing eight hours a night in the clubs of Germany and Liverpool to learn their trade, but something more was needed. Enter Brian Epstein, the savvy music store owner who saw "something special" in the four lads. His commitment and business skills helped find the last piece of the puzzle, George Martin, an elegant producer with the right experience and musical education. We'll look at how their songs and their "fifth" and "sixth" members moved the Beatles to the next level in their careers.

Week 4: All You Need is Love

Was it their music, was it their sound, was it the hype, was it the time of the season, was it the individual characters, was it their humour, or was it all of these that created Beatlemania? John, Paul George and Ringo each brought a unique character and music style to the Beatles, which, combined with the production of George Martin, made them the best-selling band in history, selling over 800 million records. Paul, the song-writing genius, John the sarcasticc and angry artist, George, the introspective musician, and Ringo… well, he played the drums.

Week 5: Baby You're a Rich Man

We'll look at the phenomena that we know as Beatlemania and follow the Beatles as they conquer the world, becoming the most recognised and loved musicians on earth. They toured relentlessly, producing 13 albums and writing 237 original songs in only 10 short years. Their music crossed cultures, language barriers and generational divides, and took them a long, long way from the docks of Liverpool.

Week 6: And in the End…

No one expected it to last, least of all the Beatles themselves, but also no one really wanted it to end. What the Beatles accomplished in 10 years will probably never be repeated, and their legacy is the millions of musicians, singers, bands, song-writers and producers who have been inspired by them to continue creating original music.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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