The Beatles, an English musical group from Liverpool, are the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful popular music artists in history. The innovative music and style of John Lennon (1940–1980), Paul McCartney (1942—), George Harrison (1943–2001), and Ringo Starr (1940—) helped to define the 1960s, and they continue to be held in the highest esteem for their artistic achievements, their huge commercial success, their groundbreaking role in the history of popular music, and their contributions to popular culture. Although their initial musical style was rooted in the sounds of 1950s Rock & Roll, the group explored a great variety of genres, ranging from Tin Pan Alley to psychedelic rock.
The Beatles were the best-selling popular musical act of the 20th century. In the United Kingdom alone, they released more than 40 different singles, albums and EPs that reached number one. This commercial success was repeated in many other countries: EMI estimated that by 1985, the band had sold over one billion discs or tapes worldwide. The RIAA has certified The Beatles as the top selling artists of all time in America based on US sales of singles and albums.
The Beatles were a major force behind the so-called "British Invasion" of UK-based popular bands in the United States in the mid-1960s and they helped to pioneer more advanced, multi-layered arrangements in pop music. The Beatles' impact extended well beyond their music. Their clothes, hairstyles, and statements made them trend-setters from the 1960s to this day, while their growing social awareness – reflected in the development of their music – saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s.