The Info List - British Invasion

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The BRITISH INVASION was a cultural phenomenon of the mid-1960s, when rock and pop music acts from the United Kingdom, as well as other aspects of British culture
British culture
, became popular in the United States, and significant to rising "counterculture " on both sides of the Atlantic. Pop and rock groups such as the Beatles , the Dave Clark Five , the Kinks , the Rolling Stones , Herman\'s Hermits , and the Animals were at the forefront of the invasion.


* 1 Background

* 2 The Invasion

* 2.1 Beatlemania * 2.2 Beyond the Beatles * 2.3 Outside of music

* 3 Influence * 4 See also * 5 Further reading and listening * 6 References


The rebellious tone and image of US rock and roll and blues musicians became popular with British youth in the late 1950s. While early commercial attempts to replicate American rock and roll mostly failed, the trad jazz –inspired skiffle craze, with its 'do it yourself ' attitude, was the starting point of several British Billboard singles.

Young British groups started to combine various British and American styles, in different parts of the U.K., such as a movement in Liverpool
during 1962 in what became known as Merseybeat , hence the "beat boom". That same year featured the first three acts with British roots to reach the Hot 100's summit, including the Tornados ' instrumental "Telstar ", written and produced by Joe Meek , becoming the first record by a British group to reach number one on the US Hot 100 .

Some observers have noted that US teenagers were growing tired of singles-oriented pop acts like Fabian . The Mods and Rockers , two youth "gangs" in mid-1960s Britain, also had an impact in British Invasion music. Bands with a Mod aesthetic became the most popular, but bands able to balance both (e.g. the Beatles) were also successful.



Main article: Beatlemania See also: Cultural impact of the Beatles Fans and media swarm the Beatles at Schiphol Airport in 1964.

In October 1963, the first newspaper articles about the frenzy in England surrounding the rock group the Beatles appeared nationally in the US. The Beatles' November 4 Royal Variety Performance in front of the Queen Mother sparked music industry and media interest in the group. During November a number of major American print outlets and two network television evening programs published and broadcast stories on the phenomenon that became known as " Beatlemania ".

On December 10 CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite , looking for something positive to report, re-ran a Beatlemania story that originally had aired on the 22 November 1963 edition of the CBS Morning News with Mike Wallace but shelved that night because of the assassination of US President John Kennedy . After seeing the report, 15-year-old Marsha Albert of Silver Spring, Maryland , wrote a letter the following day to disc jockey Carroll James at radio station WWDC asking, "Why can't we have music like that here in America?" On December 17 James had Miss Albert introduce "I Want to Hold Your Hand " live on the air. WWDC's phones lit up, and Washington, D.C. , area record stores were flooded with requests for a record they did not have in stock. James sent the record to other disc jockeys around the country sparking similar reaction. On December 26 Capitol Records released the record three weeks ahead of schedule. The release of the record during a time when teenagers were on vacation helped spread Beatlemania in the US. On December 29 The Baltimore Sun
The Baltimore Sun
, reflecting the dismissive view of most adults, editorialized, "America had better take thought as to how it will deal with the invasion. Indeed a restrained 'Beatles go home' might be just the thing." That comment proved prophetic. In the next year alone, the Beatles would have 30 different listings on the Hot 100. Ed Sullivan
Ed Sullivan
and the Beatles, February 1964

On January 3, 1964, The Jack Paar Program ran Beatles concert footage licensed from the BBC "as a joke," but it was watched by 30 million viewers. While this piece was largely forgotten, Beatles producer George Martin
George Martin
has said it "aroused the kids' curiosity". In the middle of January 1964, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" appeared suddenly, then vaulted to the top of nearly every top 40 music survey in the United States, launching the Fab Four's sustained, massive output. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" ascended to number one on the January 25, 1964, edition of Cash Box magazine (on sale January 18) and the February 1, 1964, edition of the Hot 100 . On February 7, 1964, the CBS Evening News ran a story about the Beatles' United States arrival that afternoon in which the correspondent said, "The British Invasion this time goes by the code name Beatlemania." Two days later (Sunday, February 9) they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show
. Nielsen Ratings estimated that 45 percent of US television viewers that night saw their appearance.

According to Michael Ross, "It is somewhat ironic that the biggest moment in the history of popular music was first experienced in the US as a television event." The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ed Sullivan Show
had for some time been a "comfortable hearth-and-slippers experience." Not many of the 73 million viewers watching in February 1964 would fully understand what impact the band they were watching would have. "In England lost her American colonies. Last week the Beatles took them back." Life magazine

The Beatles
The Beatles
soon incited contrasting reactions and, in the process, generated more novelty records than anyone – at least 200 during their 1964-1965 takeover and many more later (during Paul\'s "death" hoax , their break-up , etc.). Among the many reactions, favoring the hysteria, British girl group The Carefrees ' " We Love You Beatles " (#39 on 11 April 1964) and, on Tuff Records, the Patty Cakes' "I Understand Them", subtitled "A Love Song to the Beatles". Disapproving the pandemonium, American group the Four Preps ' "A Letter to the Beatles " (#85 on 4 April 1964) and American comedian Allan Sherman
Allan Sherman
's "Pop Hates the Beatles" (in reaction to the Beatles' "Pop Go the Beatles" ).

On April 4, the Beatles held the top five positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and to date no other act has simultaneously held even the top three. The group's massive chart success, which included at least two of their singles holding the top spot on the Hot 100 during each of the seven consecutive years starting with 1964, continued until they broke up in 1970.


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One week after the Beatles entered the Hot 100 for the first time, Dusty Springfield , having launched a solo career after her participation in the Springfields , became the next British act to reach the Hot 100, with " I Only Want to Be with You ". Released in late 1963, this successful hit peaked at number 12 on the Hot 100 right around the time The Beatles
The Beatles
began to dominate the U.S. airwaves. She soon followed up with several other hits, becoming what AllMusic described as "the finest white soul singer of her era." On the Hot 100, Dusty's solo career lasted almost as long, albeit with little more than one quarter of the hits, as the Beatles' group career before their breakup. During the next two years or so, Peter and Gordon , the Animals , Manfred Mann , Petula Clark , Freddie and the Dreamers , Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders , Herman\'s Hermits , the Rolling Stones , the Dave Clark Five , the Troggs , Donovan
, and Lulu in 1967, would have one or more number one singles in the US. Other Invasion acts included the Searchers , Billy J. Kramer , the Bachelors , Chad & Jeremy , Gerry and the Pacemakers , the Honeycombs , Them (and later its lead singer, Van Morrison
Van Morrison
), Tom Jones , the Yardbirds (whose guitarist Jimmy Page would later form Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin
), the Spencer Davis Group , the Small Faces , and numerous others. The Kinks , although considered part of the Invasion, initially failed to capitalize on their success in the US after their first three hits reached the Hot 100's top 10 (in part due to a ban by the American Federation of Musicians
American Federation of Musicians
) before resurfacing in 1970 with "Lola " and in 1983 with their biggest hit, "Come Dancing ". On May 8, 1965, the British Commonwealth came closer than it ever had or would to a clean sweep of a weekly Hot 100's Top 10 , lacking only a hit at number two instead of "Count Me In" by the US group Gary Lewis by 1966, spy series (both British and American) had emerged as a favorite format of American viewers, alongside Westerns and rural sitcoms.

Fashion and image marked the Beatles out from their earlier US rock and roll counterparts. Their distinctive, uniform style "challenged the clothing style of conventional US males," just as their music challenged the earlier conventions of the rock and roll genre. "Mod " fashions, such as the mini skirt from " Swinging London
Swinging London
" designers such as Mary Quant and worn by early supermodels Twiggy
, Jean Shrimpton and other models, were popular worldwide. John Crosby wrote, "The English girl has an enthusiasm that American men find utterly captivating. I'd like to import the whole Chelsea girl with her 'life is fabulous' philosophy to America with instructions to bore from within."

Even while longstanding styles remained popular, US teens and young adults started to dress "hipper." The evolution of the styles of the British Invasion
British Invasion
bands also showed in US culture, as some bands went from more clean cut to being more hippie.

In anticipation of the 2013 50th anniversary of the British Invasion, comics such as Nowhere Men , which are loosely based on the events of it, have gained popularity.


The British Invasion
British Invasion
had a profound impact on popular music, internationalizing the production of rock and roll, establishing the British popular music industry as a viable centre of musical creativity, and opening the door for subsequent British performers to achieve international success. In America the Invasion arguably spelled the end of the popularity of instrumental surf music , pre- Motown vocal girl groups , the folk revival (which adapted by evolving into folk rock ), and (for a time) the teen idols that had dominated the American charts in the late 1950s and 1960s. Television shows that featured uniquely American styles of music, such as Sing Along with Mitch and Hootenanny , were quickly canceled and replaced with shows such as Shindig! and Hullabaloo that were better positioned to play the new British hits, and segments of the new shows were taped in England.

It dented the careers of established R&B acts like Chubby Checker and temporarily derailed the chart success of certain surviving rock and roll acts, including Ricky Nelson , Fats Domino , and Elvis Presley . It prompted many existing garage rock bands to adopt a sound with a British Invasion
British Invasion
inflection and inspired many other groups to form, creating a scene from which many major American acts of the next decade would emerge. The British Invasion
British Invasion
also played a major part in the rise of a distinct genre of rock music and cemented the primacy of the rock group, based around guitars and drums and producing their own material as singer-songwriters.

Though many of the acts associated with the invasion did not survive its end, many others would become icons of rock music. The claim that British beat bands were not radically different from US groups like the Beach Boys and damaged the careers of African-American and female artists was made about the Invasion. However, the Motown sound , exemplified by The Supremes , The Temptations , and the Four Tops , each securing its first top 20 record during the Invasion's first year of 1964 and following up with many other top 20 records, besides the constant or even accelerating output of The Miracles
The Miracles
, Gladys Knight & the Pips , Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye
, Martha & The Vandellas , and Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
, actually increased in popularity during that time.

Other US groups also demonstrated a similar sound to the British Invasion artists and in turn highlighted how the British 'sound' was not in itself a wholly new or original one. Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, for example, acknowledged the debt that American artists owed to British musicians, such as The Searchers, but that "they were using folk music licks that I was using anyway. So it's not that big a rip-off." The US sunshine pop group the Buckinghams and the Beatles-influenced US Tex-Mex act the Sir Douglas Quintet adopted British-sounding names, and San Francisco
San Francisco
's Beau Brummels took their name from the same-named English dandy . Roger Miller had a 1965 hit record with a song titled " England Swings ". Englishman Geoff Stephens (or John Carter ) reciprocated the gesture a la Rudy Vallée a year later in the New Vaudeville Band 's "Winchester Cathedral ". Even as recently as 2003, " Shanghai Knights " made the latter two tunes memorable once again, in London scenes. Anticipating the Bay City Rollers
Bay City Rollers
by more than a decade, two British acts that reached the Hot 100's top 20 gave a tip of the hat to America: Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas and the Nashville Teens . The British Invasion
British Invasion
also drew a backlash from some American bands, e.g., Paul Revere & the Raiders and New Colony Six dressed in Revolutionary War
Revolutionary War
uniforms, and Gary Puckett even so, British bands continued to have consistent success alongside their American counterparts on the U.S. charts throughout the decade. Into the 1970s, bands such as Badfinger , The Raspberries , and Sweet were playing a heavily British Invasion-influenced style deemed power pop . In 1978 two rock magazines wrote cover stories about power pop and championed the genre as a savior to both the new wave and the direct simplicity of the way rock used to be. New wave power pop not only brought back the sounds but the fashions, be it the mod style of the Jam or the skinny ties of the burgeoning Los Angeles scene. Several of these groups were commercially successful, most notably the Knack , whose " My Sharona " was the number 1 U.S. single of 1979. A backlash against the Knack and power pop ensued, but the genre over the years has continued to have a cult following with occasional periods of modest success. Another wave of British artists, dubbed the "Second British Invasion ", became popular in the 1980s as music video showcases began to appear on American television.

At least one British act would appear somewhere on the Hot 100 every week from November 2, 1963, with the debut of The Caravelles ' "You Don\'t Have to Be a Baby to Cry ", more than two months before the start of the invasion, through the April 20, 2002 edition. British acts had declined in popularity throughout the 1990s, and in the April 27, 2002 issue of Billboard, none of the 100 top singles, and only two of the top 100 albums, were by British artists ( Craig David
Craig David
and Ozzy Osbourne ).


* 1960s portal * Rock music portal * Music portal

* Anglophile * Britpop * Cool Britannia * List of Billboard Hot 100 number-ones by British artists * List of British Invasion artists * Music of the United Kingdom (1960s) * Second British Invasion , 1980s


* Gilliland, John (1969). "The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming!: The U.S.A. is invaded by a wave of long-haired English rockers" (audio). Pop Chronicles . University of North Texas Libraries . * Harry, Bill The British Invasion: How the Beatles and Other UK Bands Conquered America Chrome Dreams 2004 ISBN 978-1-84240-247-4 * Miles, Barry The British Invasion: The Music, the Times, the Era Sterling Publishing 2009 ISBN 978-1-4027-6976-4 * "The British Invasion" 2002 – Oral History by Vanity Fair


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The Beatles
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British Invasion
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See also: Acculturation Colonialism • Cultural appropriation • Cultural assimilation

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