The Beatles members identifiers

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While reviewing a few Beatles releases such as I noticed that John, Paul, George & Ringo have different identifiers after their names. For example, Paul & Ringo have no identifier following their name while George is “The Beatles” and John is “Beatle”.

Is one or more of these “identifiers” correct? If so which one? Does it even make any difference? [Probably not.} Just curious.

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Those are disambiguation comments. There is a composer named John Anthony Lennon and a Russian band named George Harrison, so someone probably decided that the Beatles members needed disambigs.


There’s no one standard for this, although some editors have discussed best practices in this thread.

As @Billy_Yank writes, these are primarily to distinguish identically or similarly named artists; some people (myself included) think it’s generally a good idea to add to any artist with a common enough name that a duplicate might be created in the future, even if there aren’t any now.


Oi - @Llama_lover - get out of my head. :rofl: I saw that on Abbey Road earlier this week and thought the exact same thing. I then told my OCD to be silent and pretended I didn’t see it.

Something like that could just be quietly cleaned up in a sensible way. It is clear what the original editors intended, but they never looked at it as a whole. I think a consistent edit there is harmless. Either make them all (including Paul) “Beatle” or “The Beatles” and then it is then neat and clear and accurate.

I’m editing a lot of Levellers tracks and there we have a bass player who shares a name with a US musician and a lead singer who has a common name shared with at least three other people.

With the Beatles it is easy and they are so famous that “Beatle” is probably enough. With the Levellers I can understand the need of the waffle as most people won’t know who they are if they are trying to credit a matching artist.

Mark Chadwick (singer/songwriter/guitarist for the Levellers)
Mark Chadwick (UK turntablist/techno producer aka Chad Jackson)
Reefa! (UK techno producer Mark Chadwick)
Markus (UK trance artist Mark Chadwick)

Jeremy Cunningham (UK bassist for the Levellers)
Jeremy Cunningham (US jazz drummer & bandleader)

Disambiguation comments are only ever really to be seen and used by us database editors. When we are trying to find a match for a new release having those little notes appear make life so much easier.

Edit: ARGH!! My OCD wants me to go clean them up now… lol! I’m going to cook dinner, but if they ain’t been sorted in next 24 hours I’ll have 'em knocked into line… :crazy_face:


Make the edits; I’ll vote yes for 'em. It bugs me too :slight_smile:


I would keep it as is.
I don’t like seeing disambiguation comments when it’s not needed.

Not quite true, I think the BBC at least uses them too :slight_smile: (but I still agree with having them often if they might be at all useful)


Solved - all four are now “The Beatles” in their disambiguation to keep it neat. This displays better for all - including the BBC and anyone else using the data.

Only need to vote on John as he is being changed. The other require no votes as this is just standard clean-up. :slight_smile:


There is only one Ringo Starr, same for Paul MC, so I think it’s really bogus.


Yeah, it is bogus adding disambiguation to Ringo and Paul. They could be removed. I just went for the Clean Sweep and set all four in case later Ringo’s appear.

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There’s only one Paul McCartney, true, but there are a number of artists with similiar-ish names. I don’t think it hurts anything to include a disamb.

The case is less so with Ringo, but if you’ve got three out of four disamb’d, why not complete the set.

In the general case, I like having disambs even if the name is unique, and especially if the name is somewhat common (like Paul’s) or if the artist is otherwise obscure (which is not at all like Paul).


There was only one George Harrison, too, until the Russian hardcore group came along. Having disambiguations in place ahead of time helps prevent needing to untangle mixed entries later.

(Also, discogs already has an entry for a second Paul McCartney as well as a “Paul P.J. McCartney”.)


Looking at their main page and relationships makes those artists really not ambiguate and not really lacking an unlocalisable disambiguation comment, IMO.

I am one of the editors who always adds a disambiguation comment to Artist entries when I create them, and often when I edit them. Why? Most of the Releases I add are for local, modern, classical music, by Artists who are not (yet?) well known.

In that context, I think this is not the correct test for whether a disambiguation string is needed:

I see these Artist entries as search results when typing a name into an Album Artist or Track Artist or Artist Relationship field. These results show only name and disambiguation string. It is really valuable to know from the visible result that the entry either is or is not the Artist which I want to use.

It is possible to click on links in search results, opening an extra tab with the main Artist page for each possible match, but it is much slower.

I encounter fairly often the case where I am entering an Artist with a fairly common name, and find out that there is already another, minimal Artist entry in the database, for a different person. And fairly often, the other entry has no bio, no link to a home page, few Relationships, only a Track Artist mention for a performance on one Release once. It can be hard to tell if a minimal entry like this is or is not for the person I seek. A good disambiguation string really helps.

Yes, the disambiguation comment is not localiseable. Yes, it is a problem. I think of this as one of many ways the MB system forces editors to use English when editing. The answer is to improve the system, not to stop using one of the system’s very useful tools.


Those artists have been there from the beginning of MB and I don’t think anyone has ever confused them with some others:

Paul McCartney

Ringo Starr

IMO the only artists who really require a disambiguation comment, also require you to open their page to really make sure there is no confusion.

“Those artists have been there from the beginning of MB and I don’t think anyone has ever confused them with some others”

There are generations other than “ours” who have never heard of “The Beatles” (believe it or not). So as they stumble across Ringo sometime in the future and see the disamb (The Beatles) they just might take a minute to learn about the Fab Four who were each one of THE BEATLES. Adding the disambiguation was well done imho.


Another future Paul McCartney that would also be a British singer?
Ringo Starr’s case was already discussed, anyway:

It’s not really a uncommon name. And this other Paul McCartney does not need to be a British singer to cause confusion, after all MB is a music database and not a database of British singers :wink:


Why future? Paul Patrick McCartney is a vocalist in a seemingly UK-based band, and Paul P.J. McCartney is a vocalist in a Northern Irish group. (Those two may be the same, but I can’t find anything to verify either which way.)


And for Ringo Starr, while there is only one of those, there are several Ringos and at least two Starrs.

I guess my question would be: if a unique artist is disamb’d, what is the harm? What is the downside of doing this?