The Beatles – Yesterday and Today
By Kathy Unruh
It’s a well known story that the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan show back in 1964 led to the so called “British Invasion” which revolutionized popular music and culture into what it is today.
A worldwide frenzy was spawned which became known as Beatlemania after millions of viewers tuned in to watch the program that night. Many people were infected by the energetic music and personal magnetism this new band from overseas generated; including myself. With endless charm these Fab Four mop tops quickly “conquered” an America that was still mourning the assassination of it’s 35th President, and things were never the same again.
The Beatles didn’t know much, if anything, about planning a music career before manager, Brian Epstein, came along. All John and Paul really knew was that they wanted to be good songwriters and have a band that played good rock and roll music. This was their focus and they perfected their craft by playing wherever and whenever they could.
John used to ask his bandmates: “Where we goin boys?” Paul, George and Ringo replied: “To the top Johnnie, to the very top!”
How right they were…
The Beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan show became one of the biggest events in rock and roll history and everything just snow-balled after that.
“Things used to fall right for us as a band. We couldn’t stop it. … We’d conquered France, we conquered Spain and Italy; but we were worried about America… Then Ed Sullivan was getting off a plane at Heathrow at the same time that we were geting off one from Sweden, saw all the fans at the airport and booked us on the spot. He didn’t know us and we didn’t know him.” ~The Beatles Anthology pg.116.
Learn how to play the Beatles hit song:
When I was a kid my teenage brother would often say “Beatles Rule!” which was his way of saying they were the best band in the world. He liked to crank-up his record player full-blast so their music would permeate the whole house. That, and the Ed Sullivan show, is how I became a die-hard Beatle’s fan.
Many parents didn’t like the Beatles at first because they had long hair and were too loud. They worried that the band would be a bad influence on their children. But their music had a lasting and positive effect on me. Sometimes my friends and I would put a Beatle’s record on, grab a tennis racket, and then pretend we were playing guitar and singing like John and Paul. Eventually I got a real guitar and started writing and singing my own songs.
The Beatles stopped giving live perfomances after playing their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Fransisco on August 29, 1966. They decided they wanted to spend more time in the recording studio and just make music. Many people in the record industry thought they were crazy and said they would lose their fan base and popularity if they stopped giving live performances. The Beatles didn’t care. They wanted to improve themselves as musicians and songwriters and didn’t feel they could do that if they continued to tour and perform live.
What happened as a result of the Beatles momentous decision? Did they fall into obscurity? Was the band forgotten by their fans? Did their music die? Absolutely not. The Fab Four kept cranking out hit song after hit song and their popularity grew even bigger.
In fact, other popular bands and music artists were challenged and inspired by the unique sounds they heard the Beatles producing from their time spent in the recording studio.
Brian Wilson of the The Beach Boys said:
“The first time I heard Rubber Soul… I absolutely flipped. I think I listened to it four times in a row. I was so blown out, I couldn’t sleep for two nights. It was the first time in my life I remember hearing a rock album on which every song was really good.”
He goes on to say:
“Hearing Rubber Soul was really a challenge to me… I wanted to do something as good as that… I didn’t care about sales. I just cared about the artistic merit of it.”
The Beatles were the first rock and roll band……
- to absolutely dominate Billboards Hot 100 song charts. In 1964 they held…
- the top 3 spots on March 21
- the top 4 spots on March 28
- the top 5 spots on April 4
- 2 more songs made the top 100 on April 11
- to have 20 number one hits on the Hot 100 chart.
- to perform in a large outdoor sports arena – New York’s Shea Stadium. They set a record at that time for the largest gross income ever earned from a rock and roll concert, which they held it for many years.
- to take control of their music in the recording studio and experiment with producing different sound effects.
- to create or standardize such rock recording techniques as…
- artificial double tracking (ADT)
- back masking
- innovative “microphone” tricks
- multi-tracking (overdubbing)
- phase shifting
- spliced audio loops
- stereo effects
- tuned feedback
- to create a group of songs that centered around a theme and introduce them for the first time on an album, rather than as singles. It was the first (though unintentional) “concept” album and was called Sgt. Pepper.
- to print lyrics on the cover of a major pop/rock album – again, Sgt. Pepper.
- to create a short, stand-alone “theatrical” film of themselves playing a new song (or songs). Today this is called a music video.
- to create their own record label… Apple.
More Beatle Trivia…
- The Recording Industry Association of America lists the Beatles as the best-selling band in the US.
- They have had more number-one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other act.
- In 2008, the Beatles topped Billboard magazine’s list of the all time most successful “Hot 100” artists.
- Time magazine lists them as the best-selling band in history.
- Rolling Stone magagzine ranked them as the greatest band of all time.
If you weren’t there, I suggest watching their movie “A Hard Day’s Night” to get an idea of what the fuss was all about. This classic film portrays the early days of Beatlemania and has lots of great music and good laughs.
Don’t forget the popcorn. =)