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The Beatles Legacy - from 1960's to Now

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The Beatle's Legacy... From 1960's To Now

Many know The Beatles as the most popular and influential music group of the 20th century. In the early 1960's, their popularity grew rather rapidly. They continued gaining popularity well through the 1960's. Although their popularity has decreased somewhat over time, the influences they have contributed during their career have remained apparent even today.

The Beatles originated from the UK in the early 1960's. Before becoming known as the "Fab Four" the Beatles had multiple band member alterations. In August 1960, after settling on the name the Beatles the band had 5 members. Two years following the official band naming the number of members decreased to four. The front-line guitarists John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, and the bands drummer, Ringo Star, became the permanent members of the Beatles in 1962.

In England, by the end of 1963 the band had become well known and highly adored musical artists. However despite their popularity in the UK, the company who held American rights to the Beatles, Capitol, did not believe they were capable of breaking out onto the American pop charts. As stated by Capitol " We don't think the Beatles will do anything in this market". It wasn't until November of late 1963 that Capitol agreed to release the first Beatles

single, "I Want To Hold Your Hand". The song shot up to number one in America only one month after it had been played on the radio for the first time.

The Beatles had just made history. They were the first British band to ever rank so high on the American charts. What made this accomplishment even more amazing was the time frame in which they achieved it. The Beatles arrived in America for the first time on February 7, 1964 to make their American television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. Awaiting them at John F. Kennedy airport was a mob of fanatic fans that were eagerly anticipating their arrival. The night of the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show attracted the largest television audience ever recorded in history. The following day " 74 million people--40 percent of the entire U.S. population watched The Beatles of London...a CBS press release report"(Harrington, pg 3). Just two years after they first formed the Beatles were becoming international icons. What made them so successful so soon?

During the 1960's, turmoil and change gripped society, which is why people were so vulnerable and in such need of what the Beatles had to offer. Their music was catchy and had a vitality and freshness to it that this time period wanted. They delivered a laid back type of music. Almost like they were delivering the message that everything would be fine. History shows that people flock to images of hope. During this time in the 60's, the message of hope, vitality, and care freeness was not only needed but also yearned for. However not just anyone could have filled this position. The people of the 1960's needed something new, fresh, and uplifting. The Beatles fit that description perfectly.

The day they arrived in America the social phenomenon known as Beatlemania began. Many say that to describe Beatlemania with words is impossible. It was a feeling more than anything. It was a mass hysteria and deluge of emotions that had significant and extensive effects on society. These effects shaped life, as we know it today.

The Beatles were highly talented musicians who had a very unique sound. Many of their albums ran with different feelings and concepts. They offered variety, which people always enjoy. The Beatles music was rooted in American rock and roll but also included some rhythm and blues. With the introduction of this new sound, they redefined the parameters of rock and roll.

Their songs and the lyrics they consisted of were also very influential. Much like everything else they did, their songs had variety. From a slow ballad in McCartney's "Blackbird" to the bizarre and intriguing "Revolution #9" the band showed assortment in song style. In 1964, the Beatles broke yet another record. They were the first and still are the only band to hold all top five slots on the Billboard's singles chart. "Can't Buy Me Love" at number one followed by "Twist & Shout," "She Loves You," "I Want To Hold Your Hand," and "Please Please Me" were the five songs that made history. If you take notice to the titles of the songs, you will see a pattern. All the topics fall into the happy thoughts category. Love, fun, and relationships are the main topics addressed in these songs.

They all portray a very carefree message. The lyrics of "Can't buy me love" read, " I don't care much for money, money can't buy me love". What better way to spread a carefree attitude and peaceful feeling than to say that money isn't important and love is what we need? Another example of this is in the song "I Want To Hold Your Hand". This song really delivers two messages. I want to comfort you and I love you. With so many different tragedies taking place during the 1960's, comforting is definitely what the youth of this time was looking for.

The late 1960's were all about sex, drugs, and peace. The Beatles did not single handedly start this movement, but it doesn't seem as though they were discouraging it. Some of their music spoke out politically also. Nothing was an obvious outcry of activism, but there were still traces of it.

The mid to late 1960's are a well-known time period for anarchy and public protesting. The message of peace is what the Beatles wanted to spread. John Lennon was an activist and spoke out against war more openly in his later solo career. However, the band did send a message similar to that of the hippies who were known to openly protest the Vietnam War.

Other songs composed by the Beatles such as, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", "I Am A Walrus", "Happiness Is a Warm Gun", and "Yellow Submarine" and many other songs all have a very different message. These songs, which were produced further into their music careers, were said to be about drugs.

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