My earliest clear memory is my sister(s? was it both?) being taken with friends to see A Hard Day's Night - and having to travel some distance to see it. We then got various albums for christmas presents. And when we came to Australia one family friend gave us Help as a farewell present. I probably saw them on TV shows, but definitely saw the recording of All You Needs Is Love for the worldwide telecast. A Beatles single (Love Me Do backed by PS i love you, i think) was the first I bought for myself (I bought A Walk In The Black Forest for my mum).
We had a copy of Rubber Soul. I had a cassette taped copy of the double album (with Revolution No. 9 omitted). And at some stage got Abbey Road (through a record club I think). I also had the double single for Magical Mystery Tour which I sold to a second hand record shop years ago (I wonder what it would be worth now? Hmm not much according to eBay, so I don't feel as bad). But we/I never had a copy of Sgt Peppers, Revolver, Let It Be. Though I did get the horridly ugly Rock and Roll double best of and single compilation.
Following the breakup I was more a Lennon man - collected either directly or via cassette (Sometime in NY City for example) most of his stuff. Had a bit of Ringo - the albums including and following that self titled one: it has the sort of cover that makes you long for 12" releases - full size Voorman diagrams to match each song. Wings was not much to me - I did get the live Wings Over America as it was cheap and gave a sort of best of. George passed me by as a collector - I had 'copies' of All Things Must Pass and Concert for Bangladesh but that was all - though Shankar Family and Friends was (and is) a great album that I still play.
And yet: I bought the Anthology book. Collected the anthology albums (I especially like the 2nd and 3rd) and now have copies of all the albums.
And Beatles music is an underpinning to everything. While I didn't own all the albums, most of the songs were familiar. They were part of my growing up and my development. (I have digital Lennon but not Ringo - says something)
I think what happened is they were at the wrong time for my collecting seeking absorbing specifically side. They were part of the atmosphere - I didn't have to seek them out. But as we turned into the seventies, I turned into mid-teens and started earning money, I moved from listening to my sisters' albums and buying my own. Some things were developments from their taste (Tull, Bowie), some were from friend's (King Crimson, ELP, Curved Air, Neil Young, Elton John) and some I eventually found myself. I was looking forward, not back (though I did follow some of my finds into their earlier past).
But it was as if the Beatles were just there. In some ways I felt that I knew all the music.
I am glad now that I have got it all and familiarising myself with it yet again - because they are amazing.
One thing that surprises me is the groups or artisist who started at the same time: how was it to be around at the that time? Was it a burden to be compared to the success and artistry of them or was it liberating that they had so much critical limelight that you could develop in peace? Or after, when the search for the next big thing was on?