How the Beatles Were Inspired By Disney Classics

The Beatles are often cited as the greatest band of all time. As such, the members of the group took lots of inspiration from other artists ranging from Victorian novelist Lewis Carroll to Nigerian congo player Jimmy Scott. Among the band’s many influences were the films of Walt Disney. Here’s how Disney classics inspired the Beatles.

Ringo Starr, George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney | Unknown/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Walt Disney inspired a Beatles hit

Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs gave the world many iconic songs including “Heigh-Ho” and “Sunday My Prince Will Come.” It was one of the lesser-known songs on the soundtrack, however, that inspired a Beatles hit. The Beatles’ debut studio album Please Please Me includes a smooth ballad called “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” that was inspired by the first song in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: “I’m Wishing.”

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs lobby card | LMPC via Getty Images

When John Lennon was a child, his mother introduced the song to him. The opening lyrics of “I’m Wishing” (“Wanna know a secret?/Promise not to tell?/We are standing by a wishing well”) would inspire Lennon to write “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” The two songs feature a similar dreamy vibe.

‘Bambi’ and ‘Dumbo’ inspired Paul McCartney

The influence that Disney had on the Fab Four was not simply aesthetic. From the very beginning, adorable anthropomorphic animals have been a major part of the Disney brand. Because of this, many children who grow up watching Disney films learn to empathize with animals and their plight. According to BBC News, Paul specifically cites Disney’s critically-acclaimed 1942 film Bambi as a major influence on his attitudes toward animals. The film has several scenes where the title character and his family try to survive being pursued by hunters.

Bambi lobby card | LMPC via Getty Images

The most famous scene in the film shows poor Bambi’s mother getting shot by a hunter as her son runs for his life. Discussing Bambi‘s influence on him, Paul said “I think that made me grow up thinking hunting isn’t cool. You look through a lot of these great stories – Dumbo, his mum is quite badly treated. A lot of these classic stories, through their efforts, kids – as I once was – have grown up feeling it’s a bad idea to be cruel to animals.” Paul says that the film sparked him to become an activist for animal rights; the former Beatle has since worked extensively with PETA.

The Beatles almost appeared in a Disney film

Walt Disney was still making films during the first leg of the Beatles’ career, and he almost crossed paths with the Fab Four. The original version of The Jungle Book includes a trio of singing vultures with mop-tops and British accents who are obviously based on the Beatles. Walt Disney initially wanted the Beatles to play these vultures in the film, but this never happened.

Radio Times reports that might have been unable to play the vultures due to scheduling issues. Despite these scheduling conflicts, the band would continue to pay homage to Disney in their work; in 1967, the same year that The Jungle Book was released, the band included a small statue of Snow White on the cover of their classic album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.