The Beatles Big Releases
Rock Band: The Beatles™ and the band’s re-mastered catalog hit the shelves, with plenty of authentic Fender sounds and images …
During “Helter Skelter” in The Beatles: Rock Band™, the virtual John Lennon plays a period-correct Fender IV six-string bass.
Image courtesy Harmonix Music Systems
With the much-anticipated video game The Beatles: Rock Band™ hitting the shelves today, it’s about to become apparent to millions that the game’s makers went to great lengths to ensure that the digital depictions of the gear used by the Beatles are as authentic in every detail as possible.
The game’s period-correct authenticity came at the insistence of the Beatles themselves—Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison, all of whom have veto power over any modern Beatles ventures.
“The only stipulation we made was that we get it right and be the best,” McCartney told USA Today.
The meticulous research by Rock Band™ designers into the musical equipment used by Beatles during each phase of the band’s storied career also shows how Fender instruments and amplifiers gradually became an important part of the band’s arsenal.
Most Beatle-philes agree that the last word on the subject of all the instruments the group played and when they played them is author/musician Andy Babiuk’s excellent reference work, Beatles Gear, with which The Beatles: Rock Band™ is in great accord.
While not a particularly “Fender-y” band during the early 1960s, the Beatles used an increasing amount of Fender gear from late 1965 onward—particularly when it came to amplifiers. The results were quite visible even though the Beatles stopped touring after 1966. See the DayGlo Stratocaster® guitar George Harrison played in Magical Mystery Tour (think “I Am the Walrus” and the promo films for “All You Need is Love” and “Hello Goodbye”), the Fender IV six-string bass played by John Lennon and Harrison while Paul McCartney played piano (think “Hey Jude” from David Frost’s talk show), right- and left-handed Jazz Bass® guitars (used on the The Beatles), Harrison’s rosewood Telecaster® guitar and a variety of Fender instrument amps and PA gear.
By mid-February 1965, as the sessions for Help! got under way, Harrison and Lennon had each acquired sonic blue Stratocaster guitars (Babiuk notes that the first Beatles song to feature a Fender instrument is “Ticket to Ride,” recorded Feb. 15, 1965, during the first Help! session, when Lennon played a low, droning guitar part on his Stratocaster).
Subsequent albums—Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), Magical Mystery Tour (1968), The Beatles (the “White Album,” 1968), Yellow Submarine and Abbey Road (1969), and finally Let It Be (1970), all featured tracks recorded using a variety of Fender guitars, basses and amplifiers.
The Xbox® 360 version of The Beatles: Rock Band™. The game is also available for Sony’s PlayStation® 3 and Nintendo® Wii™.
Image courtesy Harmonix Music Systems
In particular, during the Beatles final public performance—the famous London “rooftop concert” of January 30, 1969—Harrison played a custom-made rosewood Telecaster, and the group used a backline of Fender instrument amps and a Fender solid-state PA system.
The rooftop farewell concert receives plenty of airtime in the video game, which presents a montage of animated Beatles performances from the early Cavern days in Liverpool to the enormous Shea Stadium concert to the colorful Sgt. Pepper era on through to the final show in London in 1969. Up to six players at once can test their playing and singing skills along with 45 different Beatles songs spanning the period from 1962 to 1969, using controllers modeled on the group’s drums and some of its most popular guitars.
The Beatles: Rock Band™ video game is being released simultaneously with the group’s entire re-mastered catalog, a massive and staggeringly influential body of work that has endured for more than four decades and shows no sign of diminishing in popularity. The Beatles have easily retained their standing as the world’s most popular rock band, having sold more recordings than any other act in U.S. history (170 million records according to the Recording Industry Association of America).