50 YEARS OF THE BRITISH INVASION
Posted by Tim Bryce on February 7, 2014
BRYCE ON SOCIETY
– Beatlemania started it all on this date in 1964.
Following the assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963, the country went into a state of shock. The mood was sour and people were generally depressed. True, the transition of presidential power went smoothly, but a gray cloud hung over the country. Then, in the early months of 1964, a musical phenomenon occurred when The Beatles arrived from England. Although the group had begun in 1960, it wasn’t until 1964 when they crossed the Atlantic and brought their brand of upbeat music to America. It was just the tonic we needed to snap us out of the blues. Their timing couldn’t have been better.
After the release of “Meet the Beatles!” in January, the Fab Four arrived at JFK Airport in New York on February 7th. The album had already reached #1 and included such songs as “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “All My Loving.” Not surprising, hordes of fans met them at the airport and followed them to their hotel suites. It was pandemonium. Two days later, they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, and were seen by an estimated 73 million viewers, including yours truly. Among my friends and neighbors, everyone seemed to know the Beatles were coming and were glued to their television sets that Sunday night, including our parents who thought they were cute but just another fad.
It was more than just a fad though as Ed Sullivan was only the start of the Beatles conquest of America. Later in the year, they would churn out a series of hits, including “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” and “Please Please Me.” When their first movie came out, “A Hard Day’s Night,” there was no stopping their juggernaut. The movie and accompanying album included several more hits, such as “I Should Have Known Better,” “If I Fell,” “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You,” “And I Love Her,” “Tell Me Why,” “Any Time at All,” “When I Get Home,” and “You Can’t Do That.” By April, The Beatles held the top five positions in the Billboard Top 40 singles in America, an unprecedented achievement.
The success of The Beatles opened the floodgates for other English groups, such as The Dave Clark Five, Gerry & the Pacemakers, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and The Who, in what was dubbed “The British Invasion.” Although Rock and Roll was already firmly established, the style of the English bands represented a new twist, a change from the status quo, which was warmly welcomed following the events of 1963.
1964 was an election year in the United States, pitting Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater, a deeply divided race. In October, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was deposed with Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin assuming power. The Space Race was still in high gear and, in November, NASA launched the Mariner 4 space probe towards Mars. In motion pictures, “Goldfinger” became a sensation, and Disney released “Mary Poppins.” And IBM released its much anticipated 360 mainframe computer.
In the end though, it was the British Invasion, led by The Beatles, which had the greatest social impact. The bands not only looked different than their American counterparts, they sounded different, and sung new types of songs, not just of love but of social change, which greatly influenced American youth.
Since The Beatles arrival in 1964, America has had nine presidents, four wars and several skirmishes, we traveled to the moon several times, and watched our country change in many ways, from analog to digital.
It’s been 50 years since The Beatles touched down at JFK, and America has never been quite the same.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at email@example.com
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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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