Formation and early years
In March of 1957, John Lennon formed a skiffle group called The Quarrymen (fleetingly known as The Blackjacks). In July of that year, Lennon met Paul McCartney while playing at the St. Peter's Church Garden Fete. In February of 1958, the young guitarist George Harrison joined the group, which was then playing under a variety of names. A few primitive recordings of Lennon, McCartney and Harrison from that era have survived. During this period, members continually joined and left the line up. Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison were the only constant members.
The Quarrymen went through a progression of names: Johnny and The Moondogs, Long John and The Silver Beetles, The Silver Beetles, and eventually arriving at the name of The Beatles. The origin of the name "The Beatles" with its unusual spelling is usually credited to John Lennon, who said that the name was a combination word-play on the insect "beetles," a nod to Buddy Holly's band (The Crickets) and the word "beat". He also later said that it was a joke, meaning a pun on "Beat-less".
In 1960, their unofficial manager, Allan Williams, arranged for them to perform in clubs on the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, Germany. In August of 1960, McCartney invited Pete Best to become the group's drummer. Mona Best - Pete´s mother - ran The Casbah Club; a cellar club in Hayman's Green, where the Beatles had played.
While in Hamburg , The Beatles were recruited by singer Tony Sheridan to act as his backing band on a series of recordings for the German Polydor Records label, produced by famed bandleader Bert Kaempfert. Kaempfert signed the group to its own Polydor contract at the first session in June 1961. On 23 October, Polydor released the recording My Bonnie (Mein Herz ist bei dir nur), which made it into the German charts under the name "Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers".
Upon their return from Hamburg, the group was enthusiastically promoted by Sam Leach, who presented them over the next year and a half on various stages in Liverpool 49 times. Brian Epstein, manager of the record department at NEMS, his family's furniture store, took over as the group's manager in 1962 and led The Beatles' quest for a British recording contract. Epstein met with producer George Martin of EMI's Parlophone label. Martin, a well-known producer of comedy and novelty albums, expressed an interest in hearing them in the studio. On 6 June he invited the quartet to London 's Abbey Road studios, and, after some consideration, decided to grant The Beatles a recording contract.
Their record contract was probably one of the worst at the time, as they were paid one farthing for every single sold. This was not one pence, or even half a pence, but a quarter of one penny. (Their royalties were considerably improved after Allen Klein took over the management of the band.) Their publishing contract with Dick James Music (DJM) was also terrible; they only got 50% of the money received, while James took the other 50%. Epstein also took a percentage of Lennon and McCartney´s share, meaning that they were both left with very little.
But... The Beatles' line-up was still changing. In the spring of 1962, the fifth member of The Beatles, bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage. In August 1962, Pete Best was dismissed and replaced by Ringo Starr, whose real name is Richard Starkey. Starr had been the drummer for rival Liverpool band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, and had played with The Beatles several times in Hamburg . Though Best had some popularity and was considered good-looking by many female fans, the three founding members had become increasingly unhappy with his drumming and his rather moody personality, and Epstein had become exasperated with his refusal to adopt the distinctive hairstyle as part of their unified look.
The Beatles' first recording sessions, in September of 1962, produced a UK hit, Love Me Do, which charted. (Love Me Do subsequently reached the top of the US singles chart over 18 months later in May 1964.) This was swiftly followed by the recording of their second single Please Please Me. Three months later they recorded their first album (also titled Please Please Me), a mix of original songs by Lennon and McCartney, along with some covers of their favourite songs. The band's first televised performance was on a program called People and Places transmitted live from Manchester by Granada Television on 17 October 1962.
Although the band experienced huge popularity in the record charts in Britain from early 1963, Parlophone's American counterpart, Capitol Records (owned by EMI), refused to issue the singles Love Me Do, Please Please Me and From Me To You  in the United States, partly because no British act had ever yet had a sustained commercial impact on American audiences.
Vee-Jay Records, a small Chicago label, is said by some to have been pressured into issuing these singles as part of a deal for the rights to another performer's masters. Art Roberts, music director of Chicago powerhouse radio station WLS, placed Please Please Me into rotation in late February 1963, making it possibly the first time a Beatles' record was heard on American radio. Vee-Jay's rights to The Beatles were cancelled for non-payment of royalties.
In August 1963 the Philadelphia-based Swan label tried again with The Beatles' She Loves You, which also failed to receive airplay. A testing of the song on Dick Clark's TV show American Bandstand resulted only in laughter and scorn from American teenagers when they saw the group's Beatle haircuts. The famous radio DJ, Murray the K featured She Loves You on his 1010 WINS record revue in October, to an underwhelming response.