I debated if I should be a bit more contemporary when I chose my first pop culture topic. But, as they say, you must first know your past before you can understand your future.
There was never a band like The Beatles when they swept into America in 1964. Four young men named John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr changed the world.
And, really, there would never be one like them again. Because once Beatlemania hit, nothing really could ever be as frenzied. Their fans were so loud during concerts they said they actually got worse as a band because they couldn’t hear themselves perform. It’s the main reason they stopped touring and stopped performing live.
September marked 50 years of when The Beatles released “Abbey Road” and after all these years the album has managed to reach the Top 3 in the Billboard Chart of Top 200 in the U.S., and hit No. 1 again in the U.K.
I think that it speaks to how much love fans still have for The Beatles, and how the baby boomer generation taught their own children and grandchildren to love them, too. It’s a reminder that a good song is a good song, no matter its age.
I am not old enough to have been around when “Abbey Road” was released in September 1969. So really, I can’t say from a personal perspective what the hullabaloo was about then. I can say that I don’t remember not knowing who The Beatles were, or not knowing a Beatles’ song.
The Beatles defined a generation in so many ways. They arrived on our shores in 1964 and by 1970, they would break up. By the time they went their separate ways, they had left behind indelible mark on pop culture. Here are just a few examples:
They changed the music industry. The Beatles were the first band who wrote a majority of their own music thanks to the pairing of Lennon and McCartney, but all four contributed over the years. They gave us what we call album art with 1967’s “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” That album is what many consider the first concept album. And before The Beatles, radio didn’t normally play anything longer than 3 minutes until 1968’s “Hey, Jude,” which ran at 7:11. They were the first band to give us sampling and looping on 1966’s “Tomorrow Never Knows,” which is also considered the first psychedelic song. The Beatles were one of the first to do concept videos decades before MTV was a dream. Oh, I could go on and on.
Merchandising. Once they arrived in the U.S., their likenesses were splattered across so much merchandise. Officially-licensed items ranged from the run-of-the-mill T-shirts, dolls and lunchboxes, to weird items like moth balls and talcum powder.
Long hair became cool. Although looking at their first hairstyles now, it’s funny to think that people considered that “long hair.” They didn’t invent long hair, but more popularized it. Boys grew their hair “long” just to be like The Beatles.
They made must-see TV. When they made their appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on Feb. 9, 1964, 23 million households, or 40 percent, were watching. Considering not every person had a TV back then, it’s pretty amazing. That wasn’t broken until the 1983 series finale of “MASH” with 106 million viewers.
The British are coming! The British are coming! When The Beatles arrived in the U.S., they started what would become the British Invasion. Bands like The Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits, The Zombies, The Animals and Dave Clark Five started being played on American airwaves.
When The Beatles broke up, they eventually all had successful solo careers. But when Lennon was murdered in 1980, and Harrison died of cancer in 2011, the hopes of them reuniting were dashed.
The Beatles remain in our hearts with their unique songwriting and musicality, and I suspect will remain so for another 50 years.
In other words, we will forever love, love them do.
Follow Crystal Schelle on Twitter: @crystalschelle.