Queen. Coldplay. Elton John. Spice Girls. Rolling Stones. The Clash. Sex Pistols.
All these groups have one thing in common: they’re English.
Although many musicians in Europe believe that gaining success in America means that they’ve finally “made it” as a performer, people tend to forget the huge impact that English musicians have made on America. The Spice Girls were the most popular all-girl group of our generation, and Queen brought a whole new level of entertainment to live performances. And of course, there was a certain foursome from Liverpool that just so happened to become the most influential and well-known group of all time.
The Beatles not only changed rock music, they brought it back to life and defined it. By the early 1960s, rock n roll was on its deathbed. Elvis was focusing on his movie career, Little Richard stopped performing to focus on religion and Buddy Holly died in a plane accident. It appeared that no one else would step-up and keep the genre popular. However, that all changed with the Beatles.
The quartet released their second single, “Please Please Me,” in 1963, which boosted them to the top of the UK charts. In December 1963, the band released “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and two months later, The Beatles were greeted at JFK airport in New York City by 3,000 fans. Beatlemania had begun.
Soon, anything that the lads from Liverpool did became the next trend. If Lennon bought a specific pair of sunglasses, everyone else did. If McCartney got a certain haircut, so did the world. But it didn’t stop at fashion. In 1967, The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and cemented their status as rock gods. It was the first concept album and redefined the standard definition of rock music. The Beatles incorporated every kind of instrumentation from strings to horns. The album pioneered psychedelic rock as well as created the idea of album covers as art. All in all, the Beatles changed nearly every aspect of rock music and formed the way people listen to music today.
The idea of music being a huge part of English culture is still true. April 16th marked Record Store Day and nearly every music store in London celebrated it. Two large record companies in Shoreditch, London, Rough Trade East and Rough Trade West, had live, in-store performances all day, and gave out wristbands for a free concert that night at 93 Feet East.