The Beatles was a British music band that started in 1960 and broke up in 1970 (Cooper 551). John Lennon had been a member of the Quarrymen Band, a group he had formed with his schoolmates before he transformed it to the Beatles (Holt 359). He recruited each of the other three members one after the other starting with the rhythm guitarist, Paul McCartney, in 1960. He replaced his departed Quarrymen friends (Cooper, 553).
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The other three later followed between 1960 and 1962. Ringo Starr joined last when he left the Hurricanes in 1962. They specialized in playing hard rock, pop, Indian music, and a fusion of these genres with classical music (Weiss 282). Most of these genres had roots in America. By the time the Beatles stabilized as a band, American musicians were already making their names in these genres (The Beatles n.pag). Therefore, the genres were considered by many people as American genres.
In fact, many people believed that only American artists could excel in these genres. By the end of 1962, the Beatles was a complete quartet of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr (Holt 359). They first performed in Liverpool but later moved to Hamburg and stayed there for several years before returning to Liverpool to embark on a series of trips abroad (Weiss 282). This paper explores how they become famous with a genre of music that was known to be American.
Their fame grew after the release of the single “Love me do.” Their manager Brian Epstein noticed their ability and decided to model them into professional musicians (Weiss 282). Their producer, George Martin, also decided to improve their music quality in order to help them grow as musicians (Holt 359). Previously, they were playing in pubs, which did not provide enough exposure to make them well-known. Therefore, the efforts of both Epstein and Martin were very instrumental in their careers.
They were very famous in Britain by 1963 and were already infiltrating into the American rock and pop markets by 1964 (Weiss 283). However, they were aware that penetrating the American pop market was not easy because Americans were considered the best in pop and its genres. In Britain, their fans nicknamed them “the Fab Four” (Holt 359).
The fans fell in love with them at a very fast rate. Their popularity in America grew very quickly that people referred to their popularity in America as “The British Invasion” of the American industry. All the American radio stations frequently played their songs.
Understanding the popularity of the Beatles in the American pop market with an American genre of music requires an understanding of the history of rock music and other related genres. Rock originated in the United States of America in the 1950s (Holt 359). It has several genres that are closely related to “rock and roll.” Many people categorize it as a genre of popular music. It borrows lots of elements from genres such as blues, folk, country music, classical music, and jazz.
The 1960s are always referred to as the “golden age” in the growth of rock. Many famous bands emerged during this period, and The Beatles were one of them, though many of the bands developed in the United States of America. Several sub-genres of rock also appeared during this period. They included jazz-rock fusion, country rock, blues rock, and folk-rock.
Rock has been instrumental in the spread of rock-related cultures such as the punk culture, rockers, hippie, mods, political protests, and the transformation of attitudes towards women, races and the use of drugs. Many critics regarded rock as the rebellion of youths against conformity to the expectations of their adult counterparts. Most of these cultures were very common in the United States of America. This history shows that the Beatles took over a genre that was purely American and perfected it.
People believe The Beatles conquered the American pop market because RIAA still rates them as the best-selling artists in the US. They reached 178 million certified units (Weiss, 283). No other musical group has ever reached this mark. More so, they produced the number one item on the charts in the United Kingdom compared to any other group in the history of music. For example, they were number one on the Billboard Magazine’s best artists of all-time (Weiss 283).
Their songs are still the most played hits on the Hot 100 chart. They have also won several awards over the years. Among the awards include one Grammy Award, a number of Ivor Novello Awards and one Academy Award (Weiss 283). In addition to the awards, no other band has ever sold as many records as they have done in the history of music. They have sold 600 million copies to all parts of the globe.
The popularity of the Beatles in the United States of America did not come quickly. Many impediments stood in their way. For example, Capitol Records prevented their releases in the US for close to a year (Weiss 282). Negotiations helped allow the release of several songs by Capitol Records. Their manager, Epstein, had to organize a marketing campaign using $ 40, 000 million before the Beatles became known to the American citizens (Weiss 283).
He was also lucky enough to get the support of a famous Dj, Carrol James, who often played their songs (Lydon 291). The campaigns included issuing shirts with pictures and words about the Beatles. They were later introduced to a radio station, WGH-AM, which began playing their songs (Cooper 552). By 1964, their music was all over the radio stations in the United States of America. The campaign intensified, leading to the first airplay of the Beatle’s songs in New York.
Their popularity forced Capitol Records to release the other songs they had refused to release (Lydon 289). For example, their album “I want to hold you” sold one million copies and went on to become the best hit in the United States in a period of one month (Cooper 553).
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Their influence on a genre associated with American artists was evident when they organized a trip to the United States in February 1964. Approximately 4500 fans gathered at the airport to see them off (Cooper 553). They waved and screamed at the top of their voices even as the plane left the airport. Approximately the same number of fans waited for them at the J.F. Kennedy Airport in the United States of America (Weiss 282).
When they later performed live on The Ed Sullivan Show, analysts approximated 73 million as the number of fans that watched their performance (Lydon 287). This figure was about 34% of the entire population in the United States of America. No other American television show had ever attracted such a number of viewers. Their second appearance on the same TV show recorded approximately 70 million viewers (Lydon 290).
In summary, the Beatles took up American genres of music and performed them better than the Americans themselves. They emerged in the 1960s as a British band playing pop, hard rock, and a mixture of other genres and sub-genres. They perfected these styles, forcing those who did not like them to change their attitudes and love them. They began in Liverpool, their hometown, and later moved to Hamburg in Germany. Their fans appreciated them in both places. Their producer and manager were very instrumental in their growth.
They helped them grow move from playing music for the sake of entertaining people in pubs to professional musicians. They began making tours to different countries, the most notable one being a trip to the United States of America.
The trip to the US was part of their invasion of the United States of America. They attracted the largest number of US viewers that had ever watched a TV show. These achievements in the United States of America demonstrated how they had taken an American genre of music and conquered the US with it: the US citizens appreciated them more than they appreciated their artist.
Cooper, B. Lee. “Love Me Do: 50 Songs That Shaped The Beatles/Beatles Beginnings, Vol. 3: Silver Beatles/The Hamburg List: Original Versions Of The Beatles’ Star Club Set/Beatles Beginnings, Vol. 2: Quarrymen Two: Rock ‘N’ Roll/Beatles Beginnings, Vol. 1: Quarrymen One: Skiffle-Country-Western.” Popular Music and Society 36.4 (2013): 550-554. Print.
Holt, Greg. “The Beatles: A Musical Evolution.” Popular Music 4 (1984): 359. Print.
Lydon, Michael. “How the Beatles Got to Me and How I Got to The Beatles.” Rock Music Studies 1.3 (2013): 287-294. Print.
Weiss, Steve. “The Beatles: The Biography (Review).” Notes 63.2 (2006): 382-383. Print.
The Beatles. “The Beatles-Words of Love.” Online Videoclip. Youtube. Youtube, 2013. Web.