Many artists come and go; while others go on to live in infamy. Many artists spend years to create just one hit; while others create hit after hit. One of the undisputable greats in music has to be The Beatles. “The fab four “, as they are known, was the first band that was marketed as a collective group, and clever individuals used that to forever change the landscape of music—for life. This led to the “British Invasion”, which –in my opinion—was the crowning achievement in music.
People have been entertained by music, in one form or another, for hundreds of years, and before The Beatles the emphasis was placed more on the artist than the actual music. The Beatles have been accused of stealing their act from artists like Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, but these artists were all sold as individuals with a certain sex appeal that could be sold to teenagers. Often times, the music took a back seat. That was the case with Elvis Presley. He had the hair, the suits, the image and his songs were great, but the band was just the dressing.
One of the all-time greatest rockers, just before The Beatles, would be Chuck Berry. But once again he was marketed as an individual. He was also black, which didn’t translate into a cross-over white audience. People have also accused The Beatles of ripping off Chuck Berry, but they actually ripped off Motown artists.
In the late ‘50’s Berry Gordy created Motown Records, and he created this out of frustration. He had success discovering music groups, but he couldn’t get any air-time for them—because they were black. Some of the groups on his label were The Miracles, The Marvelettes, Four Tops, and The Supremes. These groups were an early inspiration for The Beatles. So, somewhere between the individual sound of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and the loudness of Chuck Berry and Little Richard, along with the harmonious group concept of Motown artists—The Beatles were born. Four teens from Liverpool, with mop-top hair, and sex appeal. They were different; they were bold, and they had a concept that many ignored. It was the group concept, but with a twist. Not only did people fall in love with them; they fell in love with their instruments, the music and the harmony.
On February 9, 1964, history was forever changed with the performance of The Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. The enormous success of this appearance led to other great rock bands from Britain. Bands such as, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Animals and my personal favorite The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Even though The Beatles were white; they succeeded in doing something that no other group ever did. They helped black artists sell records to white’s. Jimi Hendrix is a perfect example. Moreover, whenever The Beatles came out with a new sound—other’s followed.
So, whether you’re a rabid Beatles fan—or not, it is worth taking the time to listen to a few of their songs. Believe it or not, they really did change the face of music, and if you don’t believe me…oh well.