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How Did The Beatles Get Their Name?

Stuart Sutcliffe & John Lennon
Stu Sutcliffe - John Lennon
There are at least a couple of different theories as to which Beatle, John Lennon or Stuart Sutcliffe, first thought of the name "the Beetles". The band members were big fans of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, so either John or Stuart came up with the name "Beetles" because it was similar in vein to "the Crickets", as they both are bugs. John, who often played with puns, decided to change it from "Beetles" to "Beatles" so as to suggest the "beat" or "beat music". As John said in a 1964 interview, "It was beat and beetles, and when you said it people thought of crawly things, and when you read it, it was beat music."

In interviews that the Beatles gave in their early days of fame, the credit seems to go all to John. Take for instance this excerpt from a CBS News interview held on February 10, 1964 (the day after their historic first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show)...
Q: "Who came up with the name Beatles, and what does it really mean?"
RINGO: "John thought of the name Beatles, and he'll tell you about it NOW."
JOHN: "It means Beatles, doesn't it. But that's just a name, you know, like shoe."
PAUL: The Shoes, you see? We could have been called The Shoes for all you know."

Maybe it was just easier for them to say that it was all John's idea, instead of having to explain something like "Another guy named Stuart, who used to be in the band, but quit the band and has since passed on, came up with Beetles, and then John changed the spelling..., etc." Judging by what I've heard and read over the years, I tend to believe that the real story is that Stuart actually came up with the name "Beetles" and John turned it into "Beatles" with an "a".

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, Pete Best
The five original Beatles (circa early sixties)

To confuse things a bit more, John had a jokey answer to the question about the name, as printed in the July 1961 issue of Bill Harry's paper, "Mersey Beat." He said "Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles? Ugh, Beatles, how did the name arrive? So we will tell you. It came in a vision--a man appeared in a flaming pie and said unto them "From this day on you are Beatles with an A." "Thank you, Mister Man," they said, thanking him." Oddly enough, Yoko insists that John actually had that vision of the man on the flaming pie and that's how he, alone, came up with the name!

Five Beatles - Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, Pete Best
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