The American music scene of the 1950’s transitioned from smooth, agreeable tunes to earth shaking, parent disapproving rock and roll that impacted all music and pop culture to follow in its wake. With musicians like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Little Richard, and countless others, the 1950’s made an unmistakable mark on the bands of the 60’s: specifically those from Great Britain.
It has been said that after World War II England appeared “sad and grey.” Having to rebuild their country, as well as endure a record breaking amount of rain and over cast days, Great Britain was prepared to move forward into happier times. American films, television shows, and music of the 1950’s became a distraction from these difficult days and created the illusion of positivity, sun shine, and a carefree lifestyle.
Fast forward to the early 1960’s in the US with Elvis joining the army, Little Richard finding God, and the deaths of Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran, there was a noticeable dip in the production of the rock and roll music that had erupted just a few years prior. The United States also suffered a devastating loss in 1963 with the assassination of beloved President John F. Kennedy. The Presidents murder impacted the moral of the country as well as the hope that he had instilled within it.
Optimism and the vivacious, electric energy of the youth culture in the United Sates was restored with the arrival of The Beatles on February 7, 1964. This appearance also officially marked the start of the historic British invasion. The invasion consisted of bands like, The Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies, The Animals, The Kinks, The Yard Birds, Dusty Springfield, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and many more all arriving within the next few years after the Beatles. These British bands not only brought a fresh and alluring sound from across the pond, but have consistently awarded credit to the American musicians of the 1950’s as their inspiration. John Lennon has been quoted saying, “without Elvis there would be no Beatles.”
Only two British singles had ever topped the Billboard Hot 100 before 1964, but in the year to follow British acts dominated the charts. Arriving at No. 1 for an astounding 56 weeks combined it became clear that there was a certain quality in their music that The United States had been craving. This shocking wave of change is what marked the British invasion as a significant moment in time and exposed its indefinite impact on rock and roll music. The music created by the bands held the traditional essence of the rock and roll of the 50’s but contributed a fresh sound that reignited the rock and roll movement.
The fascination behind the impact these times have had on one another is due to the amount of success these musicians have acquired. From Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to The Rolling Stones and The Who, these bands remain house hold names. Their music is currently played on the radio and enjoyed by people of all backgrounds, genders, and ages. The succession of rock and roll music is a reflection on the time and people who were involved in the creation of it and should be viewed and preserved as an historic moment in our history.
Kamp, David. “An Oral History of the British Invasion.” Vanity Fair. Vanity Fair, 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 05 May 2017.
Puterbaugh, Parke. “The British Invasion: From the Beatles to the Stones, The Sixties Belonged to Britain.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, 14 July 1988. Web. 05 May 2017.