Friday, February 7, 2014

The British Invasion in Pop Music: 50 Years Ago

In 1964 The Beatles were the first big English act to cross the pond for commercial and artistic success in the huge United States teen market.  Baby boomers, children born between 1946 and 1960, had allowances to burn and wanted music they could dance to.  In the era of the 45 rpm single, young teens could buy two songs at a time, one on each side.  Usually only one side was a hit, but for The Beatles, both A-side and B-side were often hits.

Though they seemed like something new, their style was rooted in American rock and rockabilly of the 1950s, especially Chuck Berry,  Little Richard, and the girl groups of the early 1960s.  They covered the songs of these American artists when they performed Live at the BBC and on their first album, With the Beatles (1963).

With a hit song filling American airwaves, the Beatles arrived to throngs of eager fans on February 7, 1964.  The rest of the country would greet the four boys from Liverpool on February 9, 1964, when they appeared on  The Ed Sullivan Show, an influential weekly variety television show.  Girls who knew the Beatles' songs screamed and swooned, a reaction they would encounter everywhere they went for the next year or two.

The Beatles were followed by other groups from England, including  The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and The Animals.  Since then the two countries have enjoyed a mutual fandom in popular music.

For more about the Beatles and the British Invasion, check out these books, CDs, and DVDs from the library:

A Hard Day's Night (1964 film)
DVD Video 493

The Beatles Anthology (documentary)
DVD Video 386

Beatlemania: Technology, Business and Teen Culture in Cold War America
ML 421 .B4 M55 2012

Beatlemania! The Real Story of the Beatles UK Tours, 1963-1965
ML 421 .B4 C74 2010

Mods Rockers, and the Music of the British Invasion
ML 3534.6.G7 P47 2009

Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain and America
ML 421 .B4 G68 2007

Meet the Beatles: A Cultural History of the Band that Rocked America
ML 421 .B4 S 68 2005

The Beatle Myth: The British Invasion of American Popular Music
ML 3534 .K44 1991

Beatles '64: A Hard Day's Night in America
ML 421 .B4 R39 1989

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