Visualizing The Beatles
In the visually stunning album-by-album history Visualizing The Beatles (buy here), John Pring and Rob Thomas take readers on an imaginative tour of The Beatles’ journey to fame and beyond. Here, the authors have shared some of the book’s visuals with EW, providing exclusive commentary — beginning with the intro below.
“The Beatles have long been ingrained in modern popular culture as one of the world’s most iconic bands, and even now, nearly 50 years since they released their final studio album, they remain deeply loved by new and old generations alike. We, as information designers and huge Beatles fans, wondered what it would be like to chart the story of the Fab Four visually – approaching their legacy with our own style of design and data visualization. Visualizing The Beatles is by no means a definitive history of the band, but instead our attempt to create something vibrant, unique and memorable with the data their career and music left behind.” —John Pring & Rob Thomas
Please Please Me style
“The Beatles’ style was always something that was closely scrutinized, and often imitated, throughout their career. From the clean-cut youngsters of the early ’60s through to the flares and neckerchiefs of the ’70s, the way the band presented themselves was in many ways as iconic as their music. In the book we chart their changing styles during each of the album periods, from the debut Please Please Me through to Let It Be.” —J.P. & R.T.
HELP! album cover
“Beatles album covers are legendary pieces of artwork in their own right, but the stories behind them are often just as fascinating. HELP! was photographed by long-time Beatles collaborator Robert Freeman, but the semaphore spelling of H-E-L-P wasn’t visually to his liking. So, after some experimentation they settled on something that they felt looked good, and the poses actually spell N-U-J-V or N-V-U-J, depending on whether you’re looking at the UK or the US version of the record.” —J.P. & R.T.
Rubber Soul song keys
“The songwriting ability of The Beatles is, of course, a major part of what made them such a phenomenal success the world over. It was often inventive, beautifully crafted and always performed with the highest level of musicianship. Throughout the book we chart the song keys used by the band for every song in each album, visually charting their progression from the often formulaic pop hits of their early years through to the progressive and intriguing melodies of the latter stages of their career.” —J.P. & R.T.
Magical Mystery Tour songwriting
“Although Lennon and McCartney were the driving creative force in the early years of the band, they would often record covers of popular songs to fill out their studio albums and live sets. As they grew in both popularity and artistry however, the band began to produce more and more of their own songs. By the end of their career, all four members of the band were contributing original material, and the Lennon-McCartney writing partnership had produced some of the period’s biggest hits. In these graphics we visualize this iconic collaboration, and show the evolution of how the band wrote, and which Beatle produced or contributed to every original song on each album.” —J.P. & R.T.
“As with every element of the band’s career, their choice of instruments was closely followed, and the guitars they picked became memorable pieces of history in their own right. From Paul’s now-iconic Hofner bass guitars to Lennon’s much-loved Gibson J160E, some of the instruments regularly used by the Fab Four became an integral part of their image, their sound and their legacy.” —J.P. & R.T.
Abbey Road instruments
“As the bands’ musical prowess evolved through their career, so did their choice of instrumentation – often reflecting their changing cultural and musical influences. In the book we show you the instruments each band member played for each of their 13 core releases, not only giving you a quick-reference guide to instrumentation, but also how their musicianship and production evolved over the years.” —J.P. & R.T.
“All four members of the Beatles were seen as fashion icons, and their choices of hairstyle were as closely scrutinized as their outfits. As with their music, the Fab Four’s hairstyles evolved over their career, from the clean-cut look of the early ’60s to the free-flowing locks of the late ’60s and early ’70s. In this one-off graphic we chart this piliferous evolution, showing you how each member of the band grew from debut pop-stars to global music icons.” —J.P. & R.T.