This Was The Least Popular Member Of The Beatles

The longstanding popularity of the world's greatest ever rock band — The Beatles, of course — looks like it is never set to wane. The Beatles split up more than 50 years ago, and while the memory of the heady days of Beatlemania is unforgettable for those who were alive at the time, the band continues to attract new audiences, either via re-releases and remixes of their classic albums, or in more imaginative ways. Back in 2009, for example, The Beatles' company, Apple Corps, officially sanctioned the release of The Beatles: Rock Band, according to the New York Times, a Guitar Hero-esque game in which players can jam along with their favorite tunes by the Fab Four.

Such ongoing projects continually draw new listeners to the Beatles' stellar discography, and ultimately that means the phenomenon remains a cash cow for those holding the rights to the music. According to CNBC, the TV series Mad Men paid $250,000 to license the Lennon and McCartney song "Tomorrow Never Knows" in 2012, while the two surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Star, are worth around $300 million and $800 million, respectively. Apparently, interest in The Beatles only continues to grow.

At the height of Beatlemania, it seemed every fan had their favorite Beatle, with the names of John, Paul, George, and Ringo emblazoning signs and shirts at concerts and signings around the world. But who is America's favorite — and least favorite — Beatle today?

Our favorite Beatle: Paul McCartney

The songwriting partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney was The Beatles' secret weapon, the true genius of the band and the reason why they have remained so timeless. Along with the fact that Lennon and McCartney also sang on the vast majority of their recordings meant they were the two most prominent members of the band, but also the most argued-over and, inside the group, the most competitive rivals.

In debates for fans of the group, it seems that Lennon and McCartney divide Beatles fans into two camps: those who prefer the experimental and avant-garde stylings of the former, and those who have a keen ear for the close-to-perfect pop pastiches of the latter. Debate has raged about who was the best Beatle for decades, but where does opinion fall now, 50 years after the band has ceased to be, and 40 years since John Lennon's tragic early death?

Back in 2014, CBS ran a poll of 1,000 Americans, asking whether they were Beatles fans and which Beatle was their favorite. The results mirrored the group's ongoing popularity in terms of sales, with 75 percent of those contacted saying that they were fans of the band "at least a little," with four out of 10 admitting they liked them "a lot." And it seems that, in the 21st century, McCartney has won out in the popularity stakes, with 35 percent saying he was their favorite Beatle, compared to 29 percent for Lennon.

Our least favorite: George Harrison

Though Lennon has maintained his status as a rock icon since his untimely death in December 1980, McCartney has maintained a presence as a top-level performer, filling stadiums around the world and enjoying a huge string of releases as both a solo artist and with his band, Wings. All of that seems to have given him prominence in the minds of American audiences. In terms of the Beatles discography, the poppier efforts, such as "Hey Jude," remain in the foreground of many people's memories of the group.

There is sad news, however, for fans of George Harrison, who comes in last in the Beatles' popularity contest run by CBS, with a mere 8 percent of the vote. (Ringo Starr, who wrote and sang the least material but was a memorable character in the Beatles films and interviews, got 11 percent of the vote.)

Harrison died in 2001 at the age of 58, after a successful solo career of his own. His final years in The Beatles were reportedly frustrating for the musician, whose increasingly prolific songwriting skills were not given enough attention by his fellow Beatles, he claimed in interviews, like one in 1977 with Crawdaddy magazine, posted at the Beatles Interviews Database. Harrison's lack of prominence was one of the reasons he was happy to leave the group and perhaps explains why, 50 years later, he is — somewhat unfairly — the one fans think of least.