Santiago Cornejo Valdez
The Band that Started Everything
At the beginning of the Sixties, people didn’t imagine that a cultural force existed that could influence the entire world and never die. There was no reason to believe that a musician or musicians were capable of accomplishing such a thing. Elvis had left his mark in the USA, but that was only the beginning. Thereal change came with the arrival of four boys from Liverpool: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. I’m talking, of course, about The Beatles.
Armed only with guitars, drums, seductive personalities, and talent like no other in the world, The Beatles conquered the world in a way no artist had dreamed was possible. In just twenty years The Beatles wrote more than 240songs and sold more than a billion records around the world. They had 27 number one hits in the USA and the UK, most of them consecutive. Eleven of the twelve studio albums released in England reached the top of the charts. The single “She Loves You” was the fastest best-selling record in England until a single by Paul McCartney and his solo band beat that record.
The song “I Want to Hold YourHand” became their first number one hit in the USA. Because of that, Americans started buying more Beatles singles, and it happened that for the first and only time in history, one band alone had their songs on the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. They also held seven other positions on the chart. Nobody has broken these records yet, and it might be too optimistic to believe somebodywill come one day who can do that. What The Beatles accomplished cannot be repeated.
Unlike many bands in the present, The Beatles never became too satisfied or too lazy to not try new things. They always cared about writing and performing only the best that they were able to make. They experimented with new instruments, new styles, new equipment, and new concepts precisely because they caredabout being the best musicians possible. If they had been interested only in the money, they could have continued the same kind of music as before and be done with it. But they cared too much about their art and their fans to do something so ordinary.
In the album Help!, The Beatles had shown a certain degree of influence by classical music when they used flutes and strings. For the next album,Rubber Soul, they used a sitar, for one song, marking the first time an Indian instrument was used in a Western record. The lyrics had also become more complex and thought-provoking. They weren’t all that simple anymore. The culmination of this path was the masterpiece Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, an album that the Rolling Stone magazine and many others called the best album in thehistory of rock. The musical complexity was astonishing at the time, and the different styles in each song were enough to convince everybody that The Beatles really were creative geniuses.
Besides being extremely talented, The Beatles had energetic personalities. They didn’t like to conform, they didn’t like to be predictable and do the thing that was expected of a pop band at the time. In thisattitude we find another reason for admiration. They had minds of their own, they were never afraid to experiment, they had support from their producers, and they also had the belief that each record should be fresh, new, and original.
Because of their immense popularity, anything that The Beatles did in their everyday lives became a cultural statement. Their unusually long hair was suddenly wereadopted by young people all over the United States and England. The style of clothing was also imitated. A much stronger interest for British music began in the US, and they had a great influence in the hippie style and what was going to become the Summer of Love.
As the band became more famous, they started noticing what things were important and which were unnecessary. Obviously thousands of...
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