The Beatles made history in 1964 when they performed live on U.S. TV for the first time on The Ed Sullivan Show. The appearance drew the largest audience ever recorded for an American television program at that time, bringing Beatlemania into full swing in the U.S. well over 50 years later, the Fab Four are still considered to be one of the best and most influential rock and roll bands of all time—despite the fact that they played together for less than a decade. So where are the Beatles now? And which Beatles are still alive? Here’s an in-depth look at each member of this historic music group.
Born in Liverpool, England, in 1942, Paul McCartney is one of the two Beatles band members who are still alive today. Now 79, he befriended band-member-to-be, John Lennon, when he was a young teen and says their meeting was kismet. “I think, ‘Wow, how lucky was I to meet this strange Teddy Boy off the bus who turned out to play music like I did, and we get together and, boy, we complemented each other,’” McCartney said in a 2020 interview with BBC Radio 2 (as reported by NME). “They say with marriages opposites attract and we weren’t madly opposites, but I had some stuff that he didn’t have and he had some stuff I didn’t have so when you put them together it made something extra.”
In addition to playing bass for the Beatles, McCartney was co-lead vocalist and co-songwriter alongside John Lennon. After the band broke up in 1970, McCartney went on to form another popular band, Wings, with his wife at the time, Linda McCartney. He also kicked off an enormously successful career as a solo artist and music producer, which is still going strong today. In fact, The Sunday Times named McCartney one of the wealthiest musicians in the world in 2020, with a fortune estimated to top a billion dollars. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987.
As far as we know, McCartney’s health is in great shape as he approaches his 80th birthday in 2022. The music legend credits his longevity in part to his vegetarian diet, which he’s been following since the late 1970s—well before it became a mainstream practice. “You can get loads of vegetarian options these days,” he enthused in a 2018 video interview for Wired. “So it’s not like it was like in the old days when you just got the boiled sprout.”
Ringo Starr is the other member of the Fab Four who is still alive. Born on July 7th, 1940, the Liverpool native was the Beatles’ drummer, though he did sing lead vocals on a handful of songs, including the hits “Yellow Submarine” and “With a Little Help of My Friends.”
Ringo joined the Beatles in 1962 after the band had already been playing for a couple of years with a different drummer, Pete Best (who’s sometimes referred to as the “fifth Beatle”). Starr had been performing with a band called Rory Storm and the Hurricanes but decided it was time to make a change when he met Paul, George, and John (smart move!). “I felt the Beatles were a better band,” he told Modern Drummer in 2014. “And the Beatles were making a bit more—they were coming up real fast. But I loved the band so much. And I thought I had done everything our band could do at the time. We were just repeating ourselves. So it was time to move on. And I liked the boys as well as the music.”
While he didn’t become as well-regarded for his solo efforts as Paul McCartney or John Lennon, Starr has had a very successful post-Beatles career as a musician. He’s released a total of 20 solo albums, including 2019’s What’s My Name, and continues to tour across the country with his All-Starr Band.
Starr is in good health and says eating right (like McCartney, he’s a vegetarian) and exercising regularly is what keeps him strong enough to perform at the age of 81. “I think staying active keeps you young,” he told Rolling Stone in 2018. “I do work out. I have a trainer. I’m lively onstage. I have a vegetarian diet—broccoli with every meal. So I just do what I think is good for me, and I’ve been blessed that I have the energy to keep it moving.”
John Lennon was born in Liverpool on October 9th,1940. He was the Beatles’ original founder and rhythm guitarist, as well as co-writer and co-lead vocalist alongside Paul McCartney. After the Beatles split (which many credits, in part, to his marriage to Yoko Ono in 1969), Lennon went on to gain even more notoriety as a solo artist, as well as an outspoken advocate for social justice and activism. His song “Imagine,” released in 1971, has become a worldwide anthem for love and tolerance, and his legacy as a champion for peace has endured since his tragic death when he was just 58 years old.
On December 8th,1980, Lennon was murdered outside of his Manhattan apartment building by a crazed fan named Mark David Chapman. Lennon was shot in the back and shoulder at close range and died shortly after being rushed to the hospital.
The assassination left the world in shock and tributes to the slain musician poured in from around the globe. Lennon’s former Beatles bandmates were also grief-stricken by his senseless death. “I can’t tell you how much it hurts to lose him, McCartney said in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. “His death is a bitter, cruel blow—I really loved the guy.”
More than 40 years later, McCartney says he’s still reeling from the tragic passing of his dear childhood friend. When asked in a 2020 CBS News interview if Lennon’s murder still affects him some 40 years later, McCartney responded, “It’s very difficult for me, and I occasionally will have thoughts and sort of say, ‘I don’t know, why don’t I just break down crying every day?’ Because it’s that bad… There will be times that I just have memories and just think, ‘Oh my God, it was just so senseless.’”
Born on November 25th, 1943, George Harrison was the lead guitarist for the Beatles. He also wrote and contributed lead vocals to a few songs, including the classics “Here Comes the Sun” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Harrison was the youngest member of the Fab Four and started playing with Lennon and McCartney when he was just 15 years old.
Harrison had already recorded two solo albums before the Beatles broke up. After the band split, he took a brief but intentional break from the spotlight, feeling burned out from the overexposure and international fame he experienced as a member of the Beatles. “In the Sixties, we overdosed on that, and then I consciously went out of my way at the end of the Sixties, early Seventies, to try and be a bit more obscure,” Harrison said in a 1979 interview with Rolling Stone. “What you find is that you have a hit and suddenly everybody’s knocking on your door and bugging you again. I enjoy being low profile and having a peaceful sort of life.”
Harrison went on to record a total of 12 solo albums including 1987’s Cloud Nine, which featured the number-one Billboard hit, “Got My Mind Set on You.” His album, Brainwashed, was released posthumously in 2002 after the former Beatle passed away from throat cancer in 2001. He was just 58 years old when he died.