The Beatles were a British musical quartet that changed the music industry of the 1960’s. This group raised the bar for other artists in America, because for years American music had been unoriginal. This group was comprised of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. This group began performing in 1957 and grew as a band over their shared love of American Rock and Roll. The Beatles went on to transform popular music over the next decade to become a creative, highly commercial art form.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney Met When they performed in homespun bands that played a combination of folk, rock, and jazz. A man named Brian Epstein noticed the Beatles and thought they were unique. He convinced the Beatles to clean up their look. they got matching suits as Brian took their records to different labels with no success.
In September 1962, the band’s first single, Love Me Do was released, eventually reaching 17 in the UK. It would be almost two years until the song was released and became a 1 hit in the US. People were skeptical about a British band succeeding in America. Several other songs released by the Beatles received limited airplay in the US. The teen audience on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand reacted to She Loves You by laughing at the band’s mop-top haircuts.
The Beatles second album became the second album to sell a million copies in the UK, Vee-Jay Records, predominantly an RB label, obtained the US rights to most of the songs from Please Please Me, and released them on an album titled Introducing The Beatles in January 1964.
A booking on Ed Sullivan’s popular CBS network variety show in February 1964 watched by an estimated 73 million people and the fact that the band had two 1 albums in the UK the previous year, finally convinced Capitol Records to sign The Beatles to a US record deal. By April 1964, the bands singles occupied the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. That summer, they toured New Zealand and Australia, where their arrival in Adelaide was greeted by a crowd estimated at more than 300,000. After that, they began to play in movies and make appearances in other media.
The Beatles ended up breaking up between the years 1969-1970. There were several reasons for the Beatles break-up, including both George and Ringo leaving the group at some point. Their manager Brian Epstein’s death also greatly impacted the group. Conflicts arose from differences in artistic vision. In September 1969, John Lennon privately informed his bandmates that he was leaving the band, but there was no public acknowledgment of the break-up until 10 April 1970, when Paul McCartney announced he was also leaving the group.
Before the Beatles arrived in America, the pop scene squeaked along on the charms of a handful of clean-cut, mostly from Philadelphia, whose music was as manufactured as their boy-next-door images. These boys were nice, and in some cases even had some talent, but their careers were directed by producers and industry men who turned the gears of the hit-making machine that pop music had become by the early 60s. The Beatles were a blast of cool air into a somewhat arid teen idol landscape. This caused the bar for teen music to be raised.
Although there is a long tradition of irreverent, anti-authoritative behavior in American culture, this was still a time when this type of attitude was still largely subcultural. Many rule breaking performers were dismissed by mainstream America as troublemakers. American entertainment tried to be an industry that people would respect. The Beatles were more self-aware than their previous pop sweepstakes aspirants. They recognized a certain absurdity to the pop game and tried to point it out. This resulted in The Beatles making irreverence hip in mainstream culture.
Long Hairs was a dismissive way of referring to certain classical musicians. Long hair was seen as part of an eccentric artistic temperament. when the Beatles showed up with their moptops many people found it funny or interesting. Most early press coverage of the group obsesses over hairstyles we would now consider rather neat and tidy. Like their stage uniforms, the Beatles’ haircuts were a product of an artistic community that adopted the Beatles in Hamburg. The hairstyle took on a life of its own as Beatle wigs bean to be manufactured. This resulted in long hair for men becoming acceptable.
The Beatles made songs influenced by the types of music that they were interested in hearing. The Beatles knew a lot of different music styles, but they weren’t extensively musically trained. The Beatles used a lot of original instruments and music styles. They ended up combining sounds in ways that have never been heard before. The Beatles ended up creating many original sounding songs.
The Beatles used Rock, Pop, Folk, Blues, Jazz, Classical, and Indian sounds to influence their music. One of the songs they wrote was called Within You, Without you features Indian influence. They asked some friends to play some Indian instruments for their song. The song was influenced by the culture that The Beatles experienced in India. George brought back many instruments including a Sitar, Tablas, a Swarabat, Finger cymbals, and flute. Even though he didn’t know how to play the instruments, he experimented with many of these instruments.
The reason the Beatles stayed relevant for so long was mainly because they created new and original ways to use Song form and instruments. They were very interested in making new sounds with instruments, like Coral Electric Sitar, Recorder, Kazoo, Harmonica, Banjo, and many more different instruments. One of their songs, Revolution#9, was a very experimental song because it used so many new techniques in it. The result was a song that sounded different than other people’s music. Some techniques they used were looping, playing tracks backward, and combining 7 or 8 songs into one big mash. They created this song while on their drug stage, where they were very experimental with most of their songs.
The Beatles messed around with song form and songwriting. An example of this was in the song A Day In A Life. This song was inspired by two news articles by the UK Daily Express. Another example of this is the song Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite. They got their inspiration from a poster that had all those words on it. They saw it, thought it was poetic and wanted to put music to it. This affected how other musicians saw music and what their possibilities could be.
One way that the Beatles influenced music business is in the way they formatted their albums. People believe Lonely Hearts Club Band was the first “concept” album. Because of this “conceptual” masterpiece, The Court of Crimson King (1969) and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (1973) were created. The Beatles influence had a lasting effect because we see albums like this still today.
Another way the Beatles influenced music business is in music production. In the song, Tomorrow Never Knows” is often seen as one of the original creations using a new freedom in production. Harrison introduced Indian instruments such as the sitar providing a catalyst for the binding of Western and Indian instruments. This song fundamentally reorganized the playing field of musical production, with George’s importance frequently being overshadowed.
Upon their arrival in the U.S., the Beatles wore sharply tailored suits and cast themselves as adorable, accessible teen heartthrobs. By the end of the decade, they had absorbed the fashion and consciousness of the burgeoning counterculture and were using their interviews, media events, and music to comment on issues such as the Vietnam War, drug culture, and civil rights.
One way that the Beatles shaped the media we see today is by creating some of the first music videos. America famously became the first country to have an all-music television network when MTV debuted in 1981. Back then, the network primarily existed to showcase music videos, which would eventually become almost as popular as the songs themselves when artists like Michael Jackson and Peter Gabriel began to get innovative. Music videos had much earlier roots. As you might have guessed, the Beatles were making music videos pretty early on. Visuals accompanied by music go back to the dawn of sound in film, and certain passages in musicals from the 30s and 40s could be called something similar to a music video. The music videos the Beatles made helped to influence the creativity of the future artist.
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