Friday, June 14, 2013

The British Invasion: Early Days of The Beatles

The British Invasion: Early Days of the Beatles
John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, George Harrison :-)
The Beatles led the way on the British Invasion. They were the first of numerous classic rock bands that would eventually "invade" the US in 1960s. The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin are few of the latter acts that followed the footsteps of the Fab Four. In doing so, they have influenced countless American rock n' roll bands and artists, like Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, KISS, and Bruce Springsteen.

It's quite intriguing to explore the early days of the Beatles. Their roots to the rise lies in the ashes of the post World War II England. Unlike for the US at the time, WWII didn't end for England immediately following the last last shot fired. Their struggle continued in the following years to rebuild the nation. Though help was available in the recovery process, the "do-it-yourself" culture was very prominent during this time period. In fact, this has extended to music as well. The artist walked though all aspects of producing music: writing, adding music, producing, etc.

As for the genres of music English kids listened during this time, it was all American based - because that's where the help came from. There was a massive appeal for American blues, rock n' roll and Jazz-based skiffle music. Commodities like sugar and music were the exchange for returning of goods, as the English lacked money in hand. As a matter of fact, American-based music was very popular among kids living in port cities, like Liverpool.

In Liverpool, a gentlemen by the name of John Lennon founded the rock band, The Quarrymen. John invited Paul McCartney to join the band as a rhythm guitarist. Their primary focus was rock n' roll. The band hired George Harrison to play the lead guitar, while bass was performed by Stuart Sutcliffe, and drumming by Pete Best. The Quarrymen went to Hamburg, Germany to perform for US personnel in West Germany. Cold War was underway in late 1950s, and the US put "boots on the ground" in West Germany so that they can strike first in the event of an attack. The Quarrymen, given this is their first time away from home, were faced with a lot obstacles. You can read a detail account on the events took place on Wikipedia. If you are a big Beatles fan, I'd highly recommend you do it!

Upon their return back to Liverpool in 1961, the band met Brian Epstein when they did a performance at The Cavern Club. Epstein would go on to become The Beatles manager later on. In 1962, The Beatles, as their newly chosen name, recorded about 20 songs.Paul McCartney played the bass as Stuart Stucliffe left the group; he was painter after all. The same year, the band auditioned for Decca Record, but was refused stating they weren't good enough! THAT'S RIGHT! That's how Decca turned down a deal with the band that would go on the become the biggest rock band in the history. Decca, however, attempted to avenge their loss by singing a band called The Rolling Stones. Interestingly enough, The Stones are today referred to as the "Greatest Rock N' Roll Band," and I agree with that. Surely, they aren't big as The Beatles, but at least they have been together for 50 years! That deserves serious merit.

Following their failed audition, The Beatles successfully reached out to Parlophone, which is a subdivision of EMI. At the recording studio, they met George Martin, a record producer. In September 1962, The Beatles recorded their first "Beatle Song," "Love Me Do." Later on that year, Pete Best was fired from the group due his sloppy drumming, and Ringo Starr was hired. This was the final lineup change of The Beatles in their history. The band stayed together for only seven years, but their impact will last until eternity!

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