History of the Beatles: 54 Years Ago Today

First American Record Album

Meet The Beatles was the first record album I ever bought. A monochrome cover and a dozen monophonic songs opened with the clap-track augmented I Want To Hold Your Hand then followed by I Saw Her Standing There, both were already huge hits in the US. To get a glimpse of the kind of cultural impact it had in America, watch the Tom Hanks movie “That Thing You Do.”

Ed Sullivan Show

Carnegie Hall

Three nights later they would do two shows at Carnegie Hall. Ticket prices were $4.00, $4.50, and $5.00. On February 11, they played in Washington DC’s Washington Coliseum to an audience of 8,000.

Beatlemania

British Invasion

The British Invasion had begun. While The Beatles were among the first wave — and perhaps more “parent acceptable” than others — they were followed by The Kinks, Dusty Springfield, Peter and Gordon, The Animals, Petula Clark, Herman’s Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark Five, Donovan, Lulu, and Gerry and the Pacemakers. Their Merseybeat style of music, focusing around Liverpool in 1962, was a large impetus to this first wave. The second wave included The Who and The Hollies. This was all helped by British movies with Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins), Audrey Hepburn (My Fair Lady), Michael Caine (Alfie), Peter O’Toole (Laurence of Arabia) and Sean Connery (James Bond.)

Generational Impact

There was a rebellious tone to this style of rock and roll music, and the impact of The Beatles cannot be underestimated. Everyone recognizes that they influenced clothing and hairstyle, but they did more than that. Their mid-career music contained both psychedelic (Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds) and drug themes (A Day In The Life.) Eastern religion (Across The Universe) and sitar music (Within You, Without You) became part of their later music.

Postmodernism

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