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The five best decisions the Beatles ever made -- want to guess?


  The Beatles. Photo copyright Apple Corps Ltd.

The Florida Chautauaqua Assembly is featuring a discussion on "The Five Best Decisions the Beatles Ever Made and Why You Should Make Them Too" by Bill Stainton, according to the Walton Sun. It's actually a business-related seminar since he points up decisions involving leadership, teamwork and managing change.

So let's take a guess: 1) signing with Epstein (leadership), 2) cleaning up their image (credit Epstein, managing change), 3) replacing Pete Best with Ringo (change/improvement), 4) emphasis on recording originals (to establish their identity, teamwork), 5) name change to Beatles (branding, managing change).

Could we be close? 

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  • MicC 5 years ago

    Wow. Interesting find! That's why I'm one of your subscribers. Worst decision Paul McCartney ever made---Tossing out my number--Oh wait, I think that was ALL a delusion. :)

  • California Roller 5 years ago


  • dy 5 years ago

    How about smoking cannabis?

  • Kevin Langan 5 years ago

    1) Signing w/Epstein: good initially to clean up their image, and get a recording contract. But after that, Brian mis-managed them until his death, getting lousy deals on fees for tours, terrible deals with EMI and Capitol on what they were payed in record royalties, and a lousy deal for Lennon/McCartney Song royalties. The Beatles got screwed fianacially every which way once they were famous and under Brian's management. They should have made five times what they earned during their years with Brian.
    2) I would say John's decision to invite Paul into the Quarrymen would rank up there as well as Paul inviting George to join the band.

  • Dave Johnson 5 years ago

    Hello Beatles Examiner Steve Marinucci,

    Just read your article on the Beatles best decisions and thought I'd have a go myself. I'm really enjoying the new Examiner articles and the regular page is as good as ever. It's a daily read.

    The 5 Best Decisions the Beatles Ever Made (and Why)

    I'll not include "Forming the Beatles" as a decision because they weren't the Beatles when they formed. My list starts off with...

    #1. Taking on the services of Mr. Brian Epstein.
    The Beatles were a hard working bunch and obviously, when given the opportunity at EMI to create, they did alright for themselves. So they probably would have 'made it' in some capacity or other without the help of Brian Epstein. Probably. That's debatable. What isn't is the fact that they DID make it with Brian's help. Much has been made of his lack of business savvy and Lennon often made it part of his version of The Story that their association with Brian Epstein effectively neutered the band. But considering most bands with drive, talent, etc don't succeed, they could have made worse decisions regarding their collective future. Conservative, refined Brian Epstein opened up new venues and opportunities for the Beatles that they surely could not have done so themselves.

    #2. Replacing Pete Best with Ringo Starr
    It could be argued that the two people who had roles to play in the Big Beatles Movie that fared the best in the long run are Pete Best and Ringo Starr. In any interview I've seen of Pete Best he comes across as a nice fellow, seemingly at peace with the himself and the world, which is incredible when you stop and think about it. It can't be easy going through life as a metaphor for coming oh so close to fame and glory. But here he is, smiling and drumming. And according to Ringo Starr himself that pretty much sums up his own desires in life: being happy and making music. Bless his little metronome heart, he's out there still doing it too.

    But it wasn't always so. There was a time when these two men's paths crossed behind a drum kit with one being turned away and one being welcomed into the biggest show on earth. I'll defer to George Harrison on this. He said in the Anthology that yes, well, maybe, ok, they could've handled the switch better but, in his mind, Ringo was always to be the drummer for the Beatles. Harrison himself put it in terms of a movie with Ringo not making his big entrance until the appointed time in August of '62. And I think George was right. Ringo fit nicely.

    #3. Going to Hamburg
    Hamburg is where the Beatles paid their dues. I'm an adherent to the '10% inspiration/90% perspiration' line of thought. Sure those guys were naturally talented but by God they slogged. Their stage hour statistics are out there in many a book and blog for all to see. You want to be Beatle good? Best get busy then.

    #4. The Decision to Stop Touring
    This is a decision that first and foremost benefited the Beatles. I tend to put more stock in George Harrison's accounts of Beatle lore so I'll quote him again in support of this. Regarding the world tours he said, "We were tired. We needed a rest." Pretty simple really. If the Beatles had continued on with touring they surely would have lost a little luster. Comparing footage of the likes of Jimi Hendrix, the Who, etc. from the late '60's to footage from the Beatles' last tours is revealing. Actually, it's embarrassing. If the Beatles had continued on as they were in that summer of '66 they would have simply lost the stage battles to the above mentioned giants. Two guitars, bass and drums. Pretty simple and devastatingly effective in a small venue (my kingdom for a complete Cavern Club performance!!) but limp and lost in a stadium. With rested heads and more time on their hands the Beatles did what they did best: made more great recordings.

    #5. Calling It Quits
    THE best decision the Beatles ever made was to break up.


    Hear me out. The question was what were best decisions the Beatles ever made. I take that to mean what decisions did the group make that best benefited themselves. So, after nearly a decade together, leaving behind a body of recorded music that will never be bettered and just one of the greatest little stories ever told (with THE best soundtrack), they packed it in. It's a little sad that it went down the way it did but you only get one crack at this life business. I think they had given enough and deserved whatever peace of mind they each found. So for the individual members it was the best call. As for us, they left us enough to go on for our lifetime. The Beatles had a beginning, a middle and an end and the quality never dropped. They exist now as great as they did then and as great as they ever will be.

  • Roberta 5 years ago

    I met Bill Stanton on the Magical History Tour (London-Liverpool) a couple of year ago. He was there to enjoy the tour just like me, not there as a speaker, but I did find out that he did professional talks about the Beatles' best business decisions, and he also has a nice book.

  • Bill Stainton 5 years ago

    How cool to be mentioned in your blog, Steve! (And nice to hear from Roberta again--how are you?) I loved your guesses, and if we add those guesses to those of the others, you hit most of the decisions I talk about (and, admittedly, the Fabs made many more than five great decisions!). But I was going for universal decisions that would apply to any organization in any industry, so here are the five that I focus on:

    #1. Spreading the Spotlight
    Here I talk specifically about John's decision to sacrifice his own ego for the good of the team by inviting Paul to join the band (well done, Kevin!). John could have kept the spotlight on himself, but he chose to spread the spotlight and share the credit. On a larger level, this decision also applies to including people like Brian, George Martin, Clapton, Alan Civil, Billy Preston, etc. Basically it's about building a great team and letting them do their stuff.

    #2. Having a Single, Shared Vision
    Long before they had any right to, the Beatles (and Brian) believed that they were going to be "bigger than Elvis." They were going to be the "toppermost of the poppermost." A big vision, sure. But all four of them (five, with Brian) shared it. They all knew what they were shooting for, and where they were going. It's kind of like Microsoft's original vision: "A computer on every desk." Or JFK's: "A man on the moon by the end of the decade." Big visions that guide everything else. Conversely, it's when the Beatles stopped sharing a single vision that they started to break up.

    3. Playing to Their Strengths
    You got this one, Steve. They were offered "How Do You Do It," which was as close to a sure thing as you could get (George Martin knew it would be a hit). The Beatles hadn't had a real hit yet, but they turned it down (although, in deference to Martin, they did record the demo that we've all heard). They realized that if they were really going to be bigger than Elvis, they couldn't be just another cookie-cutter band playing cookie-cutter songs. Instead, with nothing to back it up but their own belief in their strengths, they insisted that all their singles be Beatles originals. And that put them ahead of the competition.

    #4. Shaking It Up
    This ties in with David's thought about their decision to stop touring. The rules of the music business said you had to tour, but the Beatles challenged those rules and shook everything up. Everybody thought the Beatles were finished...and then came "Sgt. Pepper." The Beatles were never content to keep doing the same things in the same way. Each album (after the first few) was a departure from what came before, which is what made it so difficult for the competition to catch up. It's tough to hit a moving target. The Fabs were never afraid to grow, to evolve, to embrace change.

    #5. Carrying That Weight
    The Beatles made the decision, consciously or not, to do the work. Paul once said, "The reason we were twice as good as anybody else is because we worked twice as hard as anybody else." They put in the hours (as Malcolm Gladwell has talked about so prominently in his book "The Outliers"). They worked their tails off. They did the heavy lifting and carried the weight.

    So those are the five decisions I talk about. Yep, there are others--and the ones your readers suggested are great--but I truly believe that if more businesses, associations, and organizations took these five decisions to heart and really applied them, they'd see their success rate skyrocket.

    By the way, I love your blog, Steve, and read it regularly!

  • Steve Marinucci (Beatles Examiner) 5 years ago

    Bill: Great to hear from you and thanks for your answers. I think this is something we could discuss endlessly, but your input sure gave something to think about.

  • Rick G - Fans on the run 5 years ago

    Interesting that you would refer to these qualities as "universal decisions that would apply to any organization in any industry", as I was a corporate trainer for 21 years, and regularly worked The Fab's story into my training sessions...usually refering to a generic nameless entity for most of the session, then finally naming JPG&R at the end - uncovering the photos from the white album in powerpoint, with the cooperative management styles [Analytical, Driver, Amiable, Expressive] yielding powerful results, and customer satisfaction guaranteed! And even spoke of how knowing 'when to stop' as a positive, as growth for growth's sake usually causes companies to be crippled inside!

    And I agree with dy, cannabis should be HIGH on the list!

  • Steve 5 years ago

    How about NOT reuniting? Can you imagine those 4 distinctly different styles getting back together in, say, 1978? Paul used to rocking out to big fat stadium songs like Jet, John (still with Yoko in tow) now a New Yorker at heart and writing quietly but ready for a comeback, George and Ringo still discovering themselves. What a mess. No way it would have been a unified vision. I think John said it best, "If you want to reminisce, you always have the records to listen to".

  • Willie O 5 years ago

    Hi Steve
    Thanks, your dedication is appreciated all over the world.

    Regarding their timing to break up, I have to agree with Dave Johnson. Although I prefer to think of them as 'retiring' at exactly the right time. I know, I know.. we were all selfish at the time and wanted them to carry on forever. But in retrospect, let's be realistic. Their work rate for ten years was simply insane. Not only were they physically and mentally drained, but to write hit song after hit song on demand.. forever? - C'mon! Like an intelligent boxer, they bowed out before being knocked too stupid to enjoy the rewards of their hard labor. Like most things they did, even their ending was perfect. I believe their timing in becoming 'unavailable' all adds to the value of the legend known as the Beatles. It's almost like mining the last ruby on earth today.. Can you imagine what a ruby will cost tomorrow? Hah! And let's face it - they did give us more than enough to chew on.. and the taste is still exquisite

  • billyb 5 years ago

    Think again. Replacing PB with RS wasn't necessarily a move/change made to improve quality. A new book has great evidence to support idea that the change may have been the result of the 3 guitar players wanting to cut PB out of the profits as soon as they learned that G. Martin wanted a studio drummer, and that PB wouldn't be contributing on the record. Simple. No contribution = shouldnt get share of profits. Even GM said "PB was more marketable", and was surprised at the change. If the RS change was for "quality" then George Martin would have used RS at the outset. As it was, GM didn't like RS's studio drumming either. Theory: Change was made to cut the "non-contributing" member out of profits, which is why they didn't have the guts to tell him. RS was rented on a fixed rate per week, not a 1/4 share like PB would have gotten, and was on probation until becoming official member in '63. Seems the change had nothing at all to do with the music.

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    Auntie_Christine 4 years ago

    Kids nowadays (i.e.; Kevin Langan) are such maroons when it comes to believing the Monday Morning Quarterbacking on Brian Epstein ~ the truth is, pop merchandising was NOT the same then as it became later. Merchandising for pop groups did not even EXIST (there was only Disney, ...Davy Crockett, and certain cowboy celebs and such) until the American sharks discovered what they could do with the Beatles to enrich themselves, and they ambushed an unsuspecting Eppy!

    Sadly, in some ways this revolution was at Brian's expense, because the way it happened, future managers learned from what happened to him ~ and only then they wised up ~ and, only after that happened, merchandising became a normal part of band management. At the time the sharks consumed him there was nothing else Brian (and his legal advisers) knew to do, and no way he could have known these "trinkets" would be of any value, because there existed no precedent for his situation.

    To say Brian Epstein "bungled" the Beatles' merchandising contracts is a downright lie.