The Beatles: 50 Milestones In 50 Years

From No. 1 hits to GRAMMY wins, read our timeline of 50 of the Beatles' most impressive achievements
  • Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images
    The Beatles
February 07, 2014 -- 10:25 am PST
By Paul Grein / GRAMMY.com

(On Feb. 9 The Recording Academy, AEG Ehrlich Ventures and CBS will present "The Beatles: The Night That Changed America — A GRAMMY Salute." The two-and-a-half hour special will celebrate the legacy of the Beatles and their groundbreaking first appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" exactly 50 years to the day, date and time of the original event.)

America has been in love with the Beatles for 50 years. The sheer numbers are staggering: 20 No. 1 singles, 19 No. 1 albums and 15 recordings in the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame (all record-setting tallies). And that doesn't even count the members' post-Beatles activities.

Here are 50 of John, Paul, George, and Ringo's most impressive achievements — together and on their own.

Feb. 1, 1964: "I Want To Hold Your Hand" reaches No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, displacing Bobby Vinton's "There! I've Said It Again." The smash later receives a GRAMMY nomination for Record Of The Year. It is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1998.

Feb. 15, 1964: Meet The Beatles! hits No. 1 on The Billboard 200. The album is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2001.

April 4, 1964: The Beatles hold down the top five positions on the Hot 100 (an unequalled achievement) with "Can't Buy Me Love," "Twist And Shout," "She Loves You," "I Want To Hold Your Hand," and "Please Please Me."

April 13, 1965: The Beatles win their first two GRAMMYs: Best New Artist Of 1964 and Best Performance By A Vocal Group for "A Hard Day's Night." That John Lennon/Paul McCartney composition is also nominated for Song Of The Year. The A Hard Day's Night soundtrack is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2000.

Sept. 11, 1965: The Help! soundtrack zooms to No. 1. It later receives a GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year. The title song is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2008.

Oct. 9, 1965: "Yesterday" reaches No. 1. The instant classic receives GRAMMY nominations for Record and Song Of The Year. It is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1997.

Aug. 8, 1966: Revolver is released, just eight months after Rubber Soul. Both albums fall into the eligibility year for the 9th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Revolver receives an Album Of The Year nomination. Both albums are later inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame.

March 2, 1967: Lennon and McCartney win a GRAMMY for Song Of The Year for "Michelle." McCartney wins a second award for Best Contemporary (R&R) Solo Vocal Performance — Male Or Female for "Eleanor Rigby." That poignant ballad is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2002.

March 18, 1967: "Penny Lane" reaches No. 1. Both "Penny Lane" and its B-side, "Strawberry Fields Forever," are later inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. This is one of only two singles with both sides separately inducted into the Hall. The other is Elvis Presley's 1956 smash "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog."

July 1, 1967: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band hits No. 1. It stays on top for 15 weeks, longer than any other Beatles album. Eight months later, it becomes the first rock album to win a GRAMMY for Album Of The Year. It also wins a second award as Best Contemporary Album. It is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1993.

Sept. 22, 1967: The Beatles make the cover of Time, a rarity for a pop or rock artist at the, er, time.

Jan. 6, 1968: The soundtrack to the Beatles' BBC special Magical Mystery Tour reaches No. 1. It later receives a GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year.

Sept. 7, 1968: Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66's sleek remake of "The Fool On The Hill" becomes the first Beatles song to reach No. 1 on the Easy Listening chart (as the Adult Contemporary chart was then called). It remains on top for six weeks. Incredibly, the Beatles themselves hadn't yet cracked that chart.

Sept. 28, 1968: "Hey Jude" hits No. 1. The epic stays on top for nine weeks, tying Percy Faith And His Orchestra's "The Theme From A Summer Place" for the longest run at No. 1 by any single in the '60s. "Hey Jude" receives GRAMMY nominations for Record and Song Of The Year. It is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2001.

Dec. 28, 1968: The Beatles, better known as the White Album, reaches No. 1. The album is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2000.

July 26, 1969: Plastic Ono Band's "Give Peace A Chance" enters the Hot 100. It's the first outside project by any of the Beatles to appear on this chart. Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, produced the single, which makes the Top 15.

Nov. 1, 1969: Abbey Road hits No. 1. The album later receives a GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year. This is the fifth consecutive year that the group are nominated in that category — an unmatched streak. The album is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1995.

Nov. 1, 1969: "Something" becomes the first Beatles single to crack the Easy Listening chart. (It's about time.) George Harrison wrote the ballad, which is covered by such legends as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. The song reaches No. 1 on the Hot 100 four weeks later when it is double-listed with Lennon/McCartney's "Come Together."

March 21, 1970: "Let It Be" enters the Hot 100 at No. 6, the highest entry (to that point) for any single since the chart was introduced in August 1958. The pop hymn reaches No. 1 three weeks later. It receives GRAMMY nominations for Record and Song Of The Year. It is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2004.

May 23, 1970: McCartney's McCartney becomes the first album by a former Beatle to reach No. 1. No singles are released from the album, but a live version of the album's most prized song, "Maybe I'm Amazed," becomes a top 10 hit in 1977.

June 20, 1970: The Beatles make their final appearance at No. 1 on the Hot 100 with "The Long And Winding Road." This brings their total number of weeks at No. 1 on this chart to 59. That remains the record for a group or duo.

Dec. 26, 1970: Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" becomes the first single by a former Beatle to reach No. 1. It receives a GRAMMY nomination for Record Of The Year. One week later, Harrison's triple-disc album All Things Must Pass reaches No. 1. It receives a nomination for Album Of The Year. The album is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame this year.

March 16, 1971: The Beatles win a GRAMMY for Best Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or A Television Special for Let It Be. McCartney, accompanied by his wife, Linda, accepts the award on what is the first live GRAMMY telecast. On April 15, the Beatles win an Oscar for Original Song Score for Let It Be.

Oct. 30, 1971: Imagine by John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band reaches No. 1 on the album chart. The title track is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 1999.

March 14, 1972: The Beatles are awarded a Trustees Award by The Recording Academy. That same night, McCartney wins a GRAMMY for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for his work on his and Linda's No. 1 hit "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey."

March 3, 1973: The all-star The Concert For Bangla Desh, which was spearheaded by Harrison, receives a GRAMMY for Album Of The Year. Among the stars on the triple-disc album: Ringo Starr, who accepts the award.

June 23, 1973: Harrison's Living In The Material World replaces Paul McCartney & Wings' Red Rose Speedway at No. 1 on the album chart. One week later, Harrison's "Give Me Love — (Give Me Peace On Earth)" replaces Paul McCartney & Wings' "My Love" at No. 1 on the Hot 100. On both charts, it's the only time that one former Beatle bumped another out of the No. 1 spot.

Jan. 26, 1974: Starr lands his second No. 1 hit in a row with his remake of Johnny Burnette's 1960 hit "You're Sixteen." "Photograph" had reached the top spot nine weeks earlier. Surprisingly, this marks the only time that a former Beatle reached No. 1 with back-to-back single releases.

February 1974: Paul and Linda McCartney receive an Oscar nomination in the Song category for "Live And Let Die." It's the first song from an official James Bond movie (those produced by Eon Productions) to receive an Oscar nod.

April 13, 1974: Paul McCartney & Wings' Band On The Run hits No. 1. It later receives a GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year. The album's staying power is made clear in 2012 when a deluxe reissue wins Best Historical Album and again in 2013 when the original is inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame.

Nov. 16, 1974: Lennon (with the Plastic Ono Nuclear Band) lands his first No. 1 single with "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night." Elton John sings a backing vocal. Seven weeks later, Elton John's cover of the Beatles' "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" reaches No. 1. Lennon plays guitar on John's smash.

Sept. 23, 1978: Earth, Wind & Fire's inventive remake of "Got To Get You Into My Life" becomes the first Beatles song to reach No. 1 on Hot Soul Singles (as the R&B chart was then called). The single is the biggest hit from the ill-fated film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Dec. 27, 1980: John Lennon/Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy hits No. 1 on the album chart, just three weeks after Lennon's murder. It stays on top for eight weeks, making it the longest-running No. 1 album by a former Beatle.

June 13, 1981: Harrison's "All Those Years Ago," a heartfelt tribute to Lennon, cracks the Top 10. Paul and Linda McCartney and Starr appear on the track.

Feb. 24, 1982: Double Fantasy wins a GRAMMY for Album Of The Year. Yoko Ono, accompanied by her son, Sean, accepts the award. The album's No. 1 hit "(Just Like) Starting Over" is nominated for Record Of The Year.

May 15, 1982: Ebony And Ivory" by McCartney with Stevie Wonder hits No. 1. The brotherhood anthem stays on top for seven weeks, making it the longest-running No. 1 single by a former Beatle. The smash goes on to receive GRAMMY nominations for Record and Song Of The Year.

June 12, 1982: McCartney's album Tug Of War logs its third and final week at No. 1. It's the most recent No. 1 album by a former Beatle. It later receives a GRAMMY nomination for Album Of The Year. (Two subsequent McCartney albums — 1997's Flaming Pie and 2005's Chaos And Creation In The Backyard — are also nominated in that category.)

Jan. 16, 1988: Harrison's "Got My Mind Set On You" reaches No. 1 on the Hot 100. It's the most recent No. 1 single by a former Beatle.

April 16, 1988: Tiffany's "I Saw Him Standing There" cracks the Top 10. It's the first remake of a Beatles song by an artist who was born after the Beatles' breakup to reach the Top 10.

April 23, 1988: The Beatles are inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Lennon, McCartney and Harrison are subsequently inducted on their own (in 1994, 1999 and 2004, respectively).

Feb. 21, 1990: McCartney accepts a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy. Meryl Streep MCs the tribute, which includes performances by Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. That same night, Harrison is awarded a GRAMMY for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for the all-star collaboration Traveling Wilburys Volume One.

Feb. 20, 1991: Lennon receives a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy. Richard Gere MCs the tribute, which includes performances by Aerosmith and Tracy Chapman. Yoko Ono accepts the honor.

Dec. 9, 1995: Anthology 1 becomes the Beatles' first No. 1 album since 1973. (Two subsequent Anthology volumes also reach No. 1.) Three weeks later, "Free As A Bird" becomes the band's first Top 10 single since 1976. All four former Beatles are credited as co-writers.

Feb. 26, 1997: The Beatles win three GRAMMYs. "Free As A Bird" takes Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Best Music Video, Short Form. The Beatles Anthology wins Best Music Video, Long Form.

Feb. 3, 2001: The Beatles make their final appearance at No. 1 on the album chart (to date, anyway) with the hit-studded collection 1. This brings their total number of weeks at No. 1 on this chart to 132. That's nearly twice as many as any other artist.

Feb. 8, 2004: Harrison wins a GRAMMY for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for "Marwa Blues," a track from his album Brainwashed. Harrison, who died of cancer in November 2001, is the second former Beatle to win a posthumous GRAMMY.

June 2, 2010: McCartney receives the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. He is, to date, the only songwriter who was born outside of the United States to receive the award. Six months later, McCartney is back in Washington, D.C., to be feted at the Kennedy Center Honors.

Feb. 13, 2011: The Beatles (The Original Studio Recordings) wins a GRAMMY for Best Historical Album.

Feb. 10, 2013: McCartney wins a GRAMMY for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Kisses On The Bottom, two years after he won Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for a live rendition of the Beatles' "Helter Skelter." McCartney is the only artist in GRAMMY history to win in both the Traditional Pop and Rock fields.

Jan. 25, 2014: The Beatles receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy. A day later, at the 56th GRAMMY Awards, McCartney wins two GRAMMYs: Best Music Film for Live Kisses and Best Rock Song for "Cut Me Some Slack," which he co-wrote with Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear for Sound City — Real To Reel.

(Paul Grein, a veteran music historian and journalist, writes for Yahoo Music.)

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