Fifty years ago today, I was 7 1/2 years old, I didn’t give the Beatles invasion much thought. I wasn’t really into music much at all, but I remember liking the Tokens cover of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and Neal Sedaka’s Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.
This was cutting edge rock and roll at the time. Gramps had fun making fun of the Beatle’s haircuts, and the lyrical stylings of “yeah, yeah, yeah”
I didn’t pay much attention to all of the Beatle-mania surrounding us until years letter when I heard “Paperback Writer” and didn’t know who did it.
It was fifty years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile
So may I introduce to you
The act you’ve known for all these years
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Fifty years ago today, the Beatles landed in New York and launched the British Invasion.
We needed invading. A little background:
Elvis was drafted for service in the armed forces in 1958. In 1959, rock&roll died.
In 1964, rock and roll was nearly dead. The pop scene featured some doo-wop and girl-groups, but mostly a lot of “folk”, since the music industry decided that’s what the kids liked, and they pushed tunes like “Puff, the Magic Dragon” images of the Opium Wars be damned.
The Beatles held five out of the top five spots in Billboard’s Hot 100.
No. 1, “Can’t Buy Me Love”
No. 2, “Twist and Shout”
No. 3, “She Loves You”
No. 4, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
No. 5, “Please Please Me”
Over the next six years, popular music would change forever.
The Beatles would advance from basic pop-rock hits like “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” to spear-heading “psychedelic” rock, concept albums, and by 1966 were doing studio recordings only, since the technology did not exist at the time to perform their works live.
While the publishing industry constantly speculated on the Beatles versus the Rolling Stones, there was a real rivalry between the Beatles and the Beach Boys. “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was recorded on a four-track tape machine. In 1967.
The Brits that quickly followed the Beatles were more or less divided into two camps, the “mods” pop-rock bands like the Who, and the American blues types, which included the Yardbirds, the Cream, the Small Faces, early Fleetwood Mac, and the Rolling Stones. The pop-rock bands might include the BeeGees and Herman’s Hermits, along with various solo acts.
In 1969, former members of the Yardbirds and Small Faces became Led Zeppelin. In 1970 they defined “hard rock” with their number one hit “Whole Lotta Love”
Willie Dixon wrote the song at Chess Records, and Muddy Waters recorded it in 1963.
1970 was also the year that the Beatles called it a day.
The last album that the Beatles recorded was Abbey Road, “Let It Be” was recorded first, but the release was held up in order to coordinate with the movie of the same name.
The Beatles may have been lucky, in the right place at the right time, yet it’s due to their “invasion” and conquest of the US that the music world changed forever.
(I took some liberties with the Sgt Pepper lyrics, which are twenty years ago, not fifty)
Sgt Pepper with the Reprise spliced in at the end. This is not an official album cut.
At the time, this was the number one selling single in history. Yesterday finally got knocked off by Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
The Beatles also played a role in the social upheaval of the 60s. Revolution was a sort of open letter to the self-styled revolutionaries of the day.
One of the few Beatles blues efforts
One of my all-time favorites