Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Impact of The Beatles

If you are under age 50 or over 60, it is highly likely that you probably either underrate the Fab Four or minimize their impact on music and men's styles. Why? The reason is because if you are under 50, you were too young to experience the insanity of Beatlemania. It really was historical. If over 60, you probably did not like their radical look nor their music and style (your style is more in line with Elvis, which is ironic because all of The Beatles idolized Elvis).

There is a narrow age group and now middle aged Americans or Britons who were dramatically impacted by the band. Their ages are between 51 to 59 or so. It was this age group that was prime in 1964, when they were between 8 to 16, that took part and were eyewitnesses to their arrival in the US. If you watch the footage of The Beatles' Shea Stadium 30 minute concert, you will see mostly 60,000 fans of this age, screaming, fainting, climbing the fence, dazed. There has never been such an entertainment event.

The 73 million Americans who watched their debut on Ed Sullivan remains embedded in history-unsurpassed. Beatlemania lasted until 1966, but their influence then and now remain.

The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Dave Clark Five, Jerry and the Pacemakers followed in the British Invasion as did many others. It was the British rock bands that showed America how it should be done.

America, then, was like the movie, "Hairspray". Very clean cut, the music-sappy and stupid-innocent. Even Elvis, who was the 50's rebel, seemed to have lost his edge and became too clean, too nice, his songs simply sucked.

Enter The Beatles. Long hair. Loud music. Radical yet cool look. Beatle boots. Tight suits. Witty personalities and great humor not mention four very distinctive and recongnizable voices. Add to this, harmony with good looks.

While they did do cover songs, they clearly were great songwriters from the start. After the Ed Sullivan broadcast, nearly all public pop stations were devoted to Beatle music. In some cases, they only played their music for days. That is yet another historical event in broadcasting.

For the age group mentioned, they were Gods. Despite naysayers, they knew this band would have a worldwide impact.

For guys, it meant style and long hair from that time onward. No more hair grease, no combing it back from the forehead like Elvis, no more haircuts with rims around the ear. That was a very major cultural event in the 60s. Teenage clothing copied the Beatle look with collarless shirts, tight jeans, Beatle boots. The Fashion originated in London on Carnaby street. Schools and many parents fought long hair for many years, some high schools had a policy of no long hair to the collar up until 1967-8.

Musically, The Beatles showed pop music how to be a rock band with their huge Marshall amplifiers or Vox equipment. Ask Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Oasis, Nirvana or any rock artist about influences, The Beatles are there.

The Beatles' impact is all over today. Listen to pop music, whether it is a guitar lick, harmonies, song structure, lyrics, if you are of the age group noted before, you know where the influence came from. You hear their songs on ads now. There have been two movies where the soundtrack consisted of only Beatle songs (done as covers).

The concept of Beatlemania is hard to comprehend if you were not alive or were too young, or simply missed it. It was one of those things that you say, "you had to be there". No amount of words can even begin to show the impact of The Beatles. The Beatles DVD set is the best we now have.

If you are still in doubt, well, look at any ad with teenagers. You will see the early Beatle look, just more unruly. The long hair the band introduced is just one of their legacies they left. Like Beethoven, The Beatles will always be with us in their music and how they touched all of us in either a small or large way.

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