3. The British Invasion

The British Invasion

By the early 1960s, rock n' roll had made an impact all around the world. Around this time, British teenagers were becoming inspired by the music of Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, James Brown and blues artists such as Muddy Waters. They began to blend that American sound with some of their own British music traditions, and a new sound was born. Before long, rock n' roll groups started to pop up all over Britain with a new, upbeat style.

The Beatles Begin

The Beatles came from Liverpool, a city in northern England. John Lennon and Paul McCartney met when they were 15 and 16 years old, and after a few years of playing in bands together, decided to start their own group. By 1963, the Beatles were known all over Britain, and the band had begun to tour around Europe. Although they wanted to bring their music to America, their record company was hesitant. Before the Beatles, no band had come into America from another country and become successful. Also, to Americans, the Beatles looked strange with their "mop top" haircuts.


By 1964, the Beatles had thousands of fans lining up for every concert around Europe. When Americans first heard that the Beatles were coming to America, they began to purchase Beatles records to hear what everyone was talking about. As the Beatles were about to come to America for the first time, a "Beatlemania" hysteria swept across the nation. Millions of new fans became obsessed with the four British boys. Here's a news report from around the time the Beatles came to America:

The "Fab Four"

  • John Lennon - Guitar and lead vocals
  • Paul McCartney - Bass and lead vocals
  • George Harrison - Guitar and backup vocals
  • Ringo Starr - Drums and backup vocals
The Beatles Arrive In New York for their First US Visit, 7th February 1964.mp4
I Want To Hold Your Hand at Ed Sullivan Show.mp4

The Ed Sullivan Show

The Beatles made their American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, the most popular entertainments show at the time. They quickly became overnight sensations, with their hit I Want to Hold Your Hand reaching #1 on the Billboard Charts.

Ferris Buellers Day Off- Twist Shout.mp4

Other hit Beatles songs:

  • Twist and Shout (1963) - featured in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
  • Help! (1965)
  • Yesterday (1965)
  • Penny Lane (1967)
  • Hey Jude (1968)
The Beatles -Help- Live 1965 (Reelin' In The Years Archives).mp4

Other British Invasion Bands

After the Beatles' incredible success in America, many of the other British rock bands decided to come to America and try their luck. Some of the more popular bands are listed below:

The Rolling Stones

Out of all these bands, none of them came close to the success of the Beatles - - except The Rolling Stones. To most Americans, the Beatles seemed like nice young men with talented voices, whereas the Rolling Stones embraced their rebellious "bad boy" status. With a "harsher sound" and big attitudes, the Rolling Stones paved the way for the crazier rock bands of the 70s and 80s.

Rolling Stones - Paint It Black.mp4