The British Invasion: 1963-1969

In 1963 rock ‘n’ roll was, well…rolling right along. But very soon, almost overnight it seemed, a wave of change was about to take place. From across the Atlantic in merry-old England, rock ‘n’ roll had gained a foot-hold and the epidemic had infected British youth all throughout the United Kingdom. The sound was very similar in many ways, but there was something different, something more grown-up about it. Whatever it was, American kids, (especially girls), jumped all over it. At first, just a unique sound, this music, along with the bands that created it, would grow, evolve, alter, and forever effect pop music. This musical movement would create new genres of music and influence thousands.

Four lads from Liverpool, England, “The Beatles”, led the way and would be at the fore-front of it all. Not only of other British bands but of the entire musical arena through the ’60’s and into the ’70’s. Songs like ‘Please, please Me’, ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’, and ‘Hard Days Night’, had teenage girls swooning, crying and fainting. Not since Elvis Presley, with his great-looks, unmistakable voice, and gyrating hips, was there such a spectacle. The older folks were properly disgusted but could do nothing. The Beatles, along with bands with names like “The Zombies”, “The Animals”, “The Kingsman”, “The Hollies”, “The Kinks”, and the “Rolling Stones”, had taken the U.S. by storm. Then there were the songs, tunes like the Hollies melodic, ‘Bus Stop’ and the fast-paced, hard rocking, ‘You Really Got Me’, by the Kinks were giving fans more of a variety in the their choice of style, which led to the growing appeal. In 1965, lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards, hit 15 unforgettable guitar cords at the start of ‘Can’t Get No,(Satisfaction), and a No. 1 classic was born. The song was also an example of how more sexually explicit lyrics were becoming.

The Rolling Stones were a prime example of bands that were starting to follow this pattern. Not just the Brits though. American band, the “Doors” with lead singer, Jim Morrison at the helm were considered very racy. And Morrison’s onstage antics were becoming something of legend, getting him arrested at a few shows.

Besides a moral curve, America was changing fast, ‘growing up’ so to speak. Of course, growing pains came with this in the form of the sudden death of a young and popular president, an often violent civil rights movement, an unpopular war, and a growing distrust in the government. Bands like the Beatles and the Hollies, who had started out as youthful and kind of giggly, were now grown-up and singing about the issues of the day. The Who’s smash, ‘My Generation’, spoke to the ever-growing gap between the younger hip generation and the old fogies, who refused to let go of their old ways. The Beatles ‘Revolution’, was a glaring anti-government and anti war anthem. The British invaders were beginning to branch out into different directions. The Beatles on a more self-aware, love yourself and others theme, while the Rolling Stones went their way toward a harder sound. Right at the close of the ’60’s, a late arrival to the invasion would appear with a hard rock and psychedelic sound that would appeal to present and future lovers of this hard driving sound. The group was Led Zeppelin. With high-noted and charismatic lead singer Robert Plant, and guitarist Jimmy Page at the helm, Led would entice and delight with sexy and off the wall lyrics and yes….that unmistakable sound that got your attention and would not let go.

So alas, the music that came to us from across the pond and the artist that brought them, delighted us, made the girls scream, changed the music, and influenced present, future, musicians and artist. Oh, and yeah, maybe corrupted us a little along the way. It came, conquered, and never left. Probably never will.