The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. Their best-known lineup, consisting of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, became considered by many as the greatest and most influential act of the rock era. Rooted in skiffle and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later utilized several genres, ranging from pop ballads to psychedelic rock, often incorporating classical elements in innovative ways. In the early 1960s, their enormous popularity first emerged as "Beatlemania", but as their songwriting grew in sophistication, they came to be perceived by fans and cultural observers as an embodiment of the ideals shared by the era's sociocultural revolutions.
Starting in 1960, the Beatles built their reputation playing clubs in Liverpool and Hamburg over a three-year period. Manager Brian Epstein moulded them into a professional act and producer George Martin enhanced their musical potential. They gained popularity in the United Kingdom after their first modest hit, "Love Me Do", in late 1962. They acquired the nickname the "Fab Four" as Beatlemania grew in Britain over the following year, and by early 1964 they had become international stars, leading the "British Invasion" of the United States pop market. From 1965 on, the Beatles produced what many critics consider their finest material, including the innovative and widely influential albums Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), The Beatles (1968), and Abbey Road (1969). After their break-up in 1970, they each enjoyed successful musical careers. Lennon was shot and killed in December 1980, and Harrison died of lung cancer in November 2001. McCartney and Starr remain musically active.
According to the RIAA, the Beatles are the best-selling band in the United States, with 177 million certified units. They have had more number-one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other act. In 2008, the group topped Billboard magazine's list of the all-time most successful "Hot 100" artists. As of 2013, they hold the record for most number-one hits on the Hot 100 chart with 20. They have received 7 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score and 15 Ivor Novello Awards. Collectively included in Time magazine's compilation of the 20th century's 100 most influential people, the Beatles are the best-selling band in history, with EMI Records estimating sales of over one billion units. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the Beatles as the best artist of all-time.