The Cultural Impact of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones

The Beatles changed British Society. These changes were brought about by a band that made it very, very big. Popular music had gone through a revolution in the Late 1950’s. People took advantage of the increased spending power of teenagers and bands like the Beatles produced lyrics in songs that people queued to buy. The music did not always change, just the same old brand new songs. The real breakthrough in music came in 1962 with an unlikely combination of individuals.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had been performing together for a number of years. There had been various other members of the band, but the group did not get very far. In 1962 the change came about under the guidance of Brian Epstein, who became their manager and then transformed them from a talented, but undistinguishable act, into the most famous pop group in history. Epstein made the Beatles wear suits with non-lapels and cut their hair into pudding basin style. In so doing this he invented the Beatle Jacket and the Beatle hairstyle.
The Beatles unlike many British performers at the time, wrote and performed their own music, this meant that they were able to create a unique style, which was a mixture of rhythm and blues, rock and roll and Tamala Motown. It was this that marked the Beatles out from so many of the performers that came before them. The last key individual was George Martin, who arranged and recorded the Beatles tracks. He produced the quality that ensured that they became instantly and overwhelming successful. More than anybody else the Beatles came to represent the Sixties.

As Aaron Copland, the American composer of classical music remarked, “If you want to know about the sixties, play the music of the Beatles”. The important point being made there was that the Beatles did write music with real lyrics that caught the imagination of teenagers around the world, both reflecting and shaping the culture of the decade. They were all just normal lads who were brought up in the streets of Liverpool. John Lennon was brought up in an upper working class family. John was born in Oxford Street Maternity on October 9th 1940.
His Auntie brought him up, as his father had disappeared. Four month’s earlier Richard Starkey was born at 9 Madryn Street, Dingle in Liverpool. Richard was brought up in a lower working class. Early on in his life his mum and dad split up. Nearly a year later Paul McCartney is born in Walton Hospital, Rice Lane in Liverpool on the 18th June and he was brought up in a solid working class family. Paul then starts at Stockton Wood Primary. The baby of the group was finally born on the 24th February 1943 at 12 Arnold Grove, Wavertree in Liverpool.
George Harrison starts at Liverpool institute. John Lennon was the smartest member of the group as a kid and could do anything he chose. All the band members were influenced as children, as each member were bought instruments; this meant homegrown talent was going to put Liverpool on the map. The influence of the Beatles went far beyond the music that they wrote and performed. Their clothes, hair, their accents, their offhand attitudes seemed to sum up the new age of the sixties. They seemed at first at least, just like the chap next door.
Suddenly it became completely respectable to have an accent that did not come from the home county. For the first time ever, it came was fashionable to sound as if you came from Liverpool, or Newcastle or even Birmingham. The revolution became even more remarkable, after the Beatles came the ‘Mersey Sound’, ‘Freddie and the Dreamers’, ‘The Mersey Beats’ and; ‘Gerry and the Pacemakers’. Brian Epstein successfully managed all of these bands. Then from Manchester there were the ‘Searchers’ and the ‘Animals’ from Newcastle. They all had number one hits with some easy going songs and some sung with real feeling.
The impact of the Beatles upon teenagers was unbelievable. They were not just performers they became heroes. Soon the press followed on to this enormous fuss over the Beatles and made the phrase that the fans were involved in Beatlemania. They represented the victory of youth over old age, of new against old. They were the sixties. A few girls went to the Beatles concert in Cheltenham and they got us screaming. I don’t remember much about the concert, just the noise Teenagers were influenced by lyrics, which started to change their way of thinking and the message changed.
Every young person in the country wanted to be the Beatles, they were idolised were ever they went. Manufacturers soon realised the potential of the teenage market. The Beatles faces were plastered all over magazines. If the Beatles encouraged drugs, kids would follow, the Beatles lyrics were very powerful. For example the song lyrics in the song ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ openly suggested the use of LSD. The mischievous four of the sixties became the dope-smoking lads of 1965, and then the four took LSD in 1966-67 then even worse they took heroin in 1969.
The Beatles themselves started to change dramatically. The clean-cut, cheerful boys of 1963 followed the weird and wonderful Maharishi, an Indian guru. They began to dress in psychedelic clothing, take drugs and adopt a more and more outlandish pose. The Beatles then really challenged family values. Innocent songs describing teenage love were replaced by peace anthems such as ‘All I Need Is Love’ or drug influenced tracks like ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’. Worse still, in the eyes of some people, were the groups that followed them.
The Rolling Stones started out as Beatles look-alikes, but soon developed a completely different style. Their lyrics were far more suggestive and the behaviour of the five grabbed a great deal of attention. Jagger and Richards were arrested for the possession of Marijuana- a response from the establishment that led even the times to describe it as ‘a butterfly being crushed under a wheel’ Wider social changes were taking place. TV and Radio began broadcasting non-stop music. These were extremely popular with teenagers. Radio Caroline and Radio London had enormous following, as other radio stations didn’t play much music.
They set the scene for the radio stations that were to come. They were designed to appeal directly to young people. Television reacted more quickly to the changing styles of music. This was largely because it was a newer form of broadcasting and so was more ready to change. ITV began to broadcast ‘Ready Steady Go’ and the BBC started ‘Top Of The Pops’. Both were overnight success stories and these accounts finally showed popular music. If some aspects of the sixties appeared to challenge society and existing ideas, the hippie movement seemed to reject it altogether.
Some people took the movement very seriously. Others tried to balance the hippie movement with other commitments, but most simply rejected it altogether. To many people the most worrying aspect of the hippie movement was the way that its followers seemed to abandon responsibility. The emphasis on ‘Love and Peace’, while harmless enough in many ways, came at the time when the west was being challenged by the Soviet Union. Not only did hippies appear to reject all forms of confrontation, but their behaviour suggested a weakening of society and the family in particular.
In conclusion the impact of music in Britain changed the way we live today. The sixties took spending to a new level. Consumer goods became increasingly popular; this was mainly influenced by bands like the Beatles, who had their snapshot all over clothes to magazines. Lyrics had changed dramatically, and also the message had changed. Bands such as the Beatles promoted world peace. The Beatles helped boom Britain and this helped Britain to become a major force in pop music. I think the Beatles ended a new paragraph in British pop music.

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