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Beatles, First Rock Band

Rock and roll may have had its origins in American blues music, but many of the most important artists in classic rock history have hailed from the far side of the Atlantic. The Beatles, probably the most successful rock band of all time began by playing covers of their favorite American rock and roll songs by artists such as Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins. They performed extensively in the rock clubs of Germany, where crowds ate up their renditions of ‘Roll over Beethoven’ and ‘Twist and Shout’. Gradually, the Beatles began to write their own songs, and these combined the raw power of early rock and roll with a melodic sophistication that was entirely new in the genre. Their innovation, and the timing of the release of their music played well into the hands of anxious teens who were looking for the next big thing.

It was thus in this fashion that the Beatles, first rock band to simultaneously have number one hits in both the US and Britain, were able to conquer America. The music, in combination with their uniquely styled hair and quick wit made them a household name amongst young people all over the world. Most parents had a hard time seeing beyond the unusual mop-tops and screaming female fans, and ‘Beatlemania’ as it was called was decreed a fad that would pass in due time. Fortunately for the ‘Fab Four’ this prediction never came to pass. The popularity of the Beatles continued to grow, and the four young men from Liverpool began to shift their songwriting from party-oriented floorstompers to examinations of society and the political process. For every song like ‘Norwegian Wood’, which lamented a relationship, there would be another like ‘I am the Walrus’ which explored the psychedelic landscape that surrounded so many teenagers in the late 60’s. This dichotomy was further evidenced by the individual focus of the band’s two chief songwriters, Paul McCartney and John Lennon. While most Beatles songs were attributed to the pair, it was clear that in some cases a song was actually only written by one or the other. McCartney primarily composed beautifully melodic love songs, while Lennon aimed his razor-sharp lyrics squarely at the political arena. Sometimes, these songs would combine on the same single, such as ‘Hey Jude’, which was backed by ‘Revolution’. The Beatles, first rock band to broadcast themselves live via satellite (performing ‘All you need is love’), are a group who redefined what it meant to be rock musicians.





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