Before the San Francisco sound took a foothold on the music scene here in the United States, another event started over the pond in England. It took their influence from American music, refined it, and imported it back to the States. It was a huge deal. It was the 1960s British Invasion.
In October 1963, the British Invasion took off, with The Beatles starting to generate attention in the States. Just after this, on November 4th, The Beatles performed in front of the Queen Mother of England, and with this performance, the music industry as well as the media started to take notice. It is during this month of November, 1963, that American network television, as well as print outlets, started to report on The Beatles. From these reports, Beatlemania was born.
The Beatles released their first studio album in the UK on March 22, 1963,
entitled “Please Please Me.” The first single by the Beatles on the radio in the United States was played on WWDC out of Washington, DC. That first single, “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” took of with such a bang, that WWDC’s phone lines were lit up with people inquiring about the song, and record shops in the DC area were taking requests for a record that was not available yet in the States.
The event that proved to be the most important moment that can be attributed to the rise of the popularity of the Beatles in the United States,
was their appearance on the Ed Sullivan show on Sunday, February 9th, 1964. Almost half of television viewers in the United States witnessed the Beatles on the show, as the ratings were estimated at nearly 45 percent. The appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show is considered to be the biggest moment in the history 0f popular music, and the music landscape, especially in the States, would never be the same again. On April 4th, 1964, The Beatles took over the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and no other group has ever had simultaneously held even the top three since. They would consistently have at least two singles top the charts in the United States from 1964 until the band disbanded in 1970.
Dusty Springfield was the second British act to appear on the Billboard top 100 just one week after The Beatles broke through with their first single with “I Only Want To Be With You.” She would continue to generate hits on the Billboard Top 100 for almost as long as The Beatles, and was considered one of the finest white soul singers during that time.
The Beatles were the first and arguably the most important band to kick of the British Invasion in the 1960’s, and Dusty Springfield was the second to chart. There was a band that was to follow that was perhaps recognized as the leader in bringing the American blues back to the States. This band
was called The Rolling Stones, and they are relevant to this day. The Beatles were considered more of a pop oriented group, whose music was catchy, but softer than The Stones. The Rolling Stones were a band with a harder edge, with a more blues oriented approach. Actually The Stones were basically a blues cover band very early on in their careers.
The Rolling Stones first album was released on April 16th, 1964 in the United Kingdom. The name of the album was simply titled “The Rolling
Stones.” The American version of the album was released on May 30th, 1964 and was later titled “England’s Newest Hit Makers.” Most of the songs on the original Rolling Stones album, both the UK and the American versions, displayed the affection that the members had for Rhythm and Blues(R&B). On this first album, the two founding members, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, contributed only one original song, the rest being covers of R&B songs including “Route 66,” “I’m a King Bee,” and “Carol,” among others. The Jagger/Richards songwriting combination, dubbed “The Glimmer Twins,” would eventually become one of the most prolific songwriting teams in the history of Rock and Roll.
There was an extensive list of bands that contributed to the British invasion, including: The Small Faces, Spencer Davis Group, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Them(with lead singer Van Morrison), Herman’s Hermits, Eric Burdon and the The Animals, Manfred Mann, Freddie and the Dreamers, Honeycombs,
The Yardbirds(with Jimmy Page, who would become guitarist of Led Zeppelin in the late 60’s), Dave Clark Five, Troggs, Donovan, Petula Clark, Tom Jones, Peter and Gordon, Chad & Jeremy, The Kinks, and many, many others.
There was a second wave of the British invasion of the 1960’s, with the main groups being the Zombies and the Hollies, who’s music was in more of the pop style, closer to The Beatles. Then there was The Who, with a harder, more bluesy edge, similar to that of The Rolling Stones. The
British Invasion of the 1960’s left a profound influence on the music scene. While many of the bands during this time were either one hit wonders, or eventually faded away after some time on the charts and popularity, some major bands would become world renown. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and The Who, after all, are still considered among the most popular bands of all time.