A third of Beatles records are being bought by people under the age of 24, although the group split up a decade or more before they were born.
Research for the group's label Apple shows that the release of a greatest hits album, 1, helped to create a new young fan base for the Fab Four.
Before the album came out in November 2000, only 18.5 per cent of buyers of Beatles records were aged under 24. Since the album, which went to number one in 34 countries and has sold more than 25 million copies, the proportion of Beatles record-buyers under 24 has increased to 32.7 per cent.
The finding coincides with Sir Paul McCartney's experiences on his 15-month world tour, which ended in June. Sir Paul was pelted with underwear by teenagers in Florida, and was surprised by the number of young fans in the US, France and London.
Geoff Baker, a press officer for Apple, said: "Paul reckons it's the songs. It cannot be nostalgia because they are not old enough to have any memories of the Sixties."
Sir Paul's world tour repertoire included 23 Beatles songs.
In an end-of-millennium poll, The Beatles were voted the "best band in the world ever" by readers of NME magazine, which has a large student readership.
Guitar music is enjoying a new heyday with bands such as the White Stripes, the Strokes, Kings of Leon and the Darkness helping to give rock'n'roll the edge over dance music. But the research showed that the Beatles' popularity fell sharply during the dance music explosion of the late Eighties, and that the band has less relevance to people aged between 25 and 39.
Next month, a "back-to-basics" version of the album Let It Be is to be released, stripping away what was widely seen as the elaborate production work of Phil Spector in favour of a cleaner sound that is closer to the band's original idea for the music.
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Thirty-three years after his death, he is almost continually in the news, repeatedly topping magazine polls as the greatest guitarist of all time.
The Rolling Stones
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