The Emergence of British Icons: How the Beatles & Rolling Stones Captivated the US

Subject: Art
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 908
Topics: Music, Art History, Popular Culture

Table of Contents


The influence of America blues, soul and nineteen-fifties rock added a flavor to British music. This gave the British music a fresh touch in the nineteen-sixties. Notably, the British invasion took place in years between 1964 and 1966 thereby introducing America to the British sound that continued to play a crucial role in the music scene of 1960s. During this period, Britain produced a significant number of artists and bands who were successful globally. Music genres such as reggae, punk, guitar-based rock and ska influenced British popular music. 

The British invasion started with the Beatles first tour to America. The tour was a return to home for most of the British bands since they had been inspired by or influenced by the American soul, R&B, blues or rock and roll (Perone, 2009). In a short period, the British bands recorded large numbers of original songs that became famous not just in Britain but also in America and the rest of the world (Parke, 1988). Some of the influential bands were the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks and Animals. Notably, the early sixty’s British bands were devoted to American blues. People like Eric Clapton and John Mayall and bands like Yardbirds and Fleetwood Mac contributed to strong British based blues. However, they started to create their individual brands of R&B or tempo-blues. 

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The influence of African American artists through the British R&B developed into a major musical movement in the 1960s. Initially, London was the heart of this music but later, other urban centers got carried by the wave. The influence was visible through the Rolling Stones band (Perone, 2009). Similarly, Muddy Waters used song extension to change a 1940s Chicago Blues. This artist revitalized a range of songs that he had learnt by increasing amplification. 

British bands and artists still contributed largely to the psychedelic rock type, more so the Animals, Donovan and the Beetles. The psychedelic music utilized exotic sounds of the guitar combined with Indian sitar and poetic themes. Notably, progressive rock was one style of jazz that developed in the late 1960s extending to early 1970s. This type mixed classical choreographed, sound and folk experimentations with normal rock music. Instruments such as bass, electronic keyboard, and drums were commonly used ( Parke, 1988). Moreover, wind instruments were frequently used. Bands in this type of music differed from one another. The most recognized bands in this genre were Genesis, Jethro Tull, Moody Blues and Emerson. Some British bands such as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple played a role in developing the heavy metal genre. In this genre, screaming voices, fast tempos and heavy guitars defined the earlier versions of heavy metal. 

Another promising offshoot was the trad-jazz movement which was a simplified jug-band of skiffle. Britain’s pioneer of skiffle was Lonnie Donegan. During this period, Liverpool teamed with more than 250 bands and performers. All of them were under Beetle manager Brian Epstein who assisted in making a field day (Parke, 1988). Both the performers and bands played different rock music thereby making Liverpool the heart of rock and jazz. During the field day, Gerry and Pacemakers did not have a convincing rock band but had a solid way with ballads. Nonetheless, Gerry’s star shone slightly after 1965 and his hits have pleasant memories. Moreover, he is known to second the Beetles act out of Liverpool. Billy Kramer and his band made their mark with their unreleased tunes from the Lennon-McCartney song. The song numbered nine in the 1964 hits. Other than the three, the other group that saw a significant American act was the Swinging Blue Jeans and Serachers. Notably, this group was Liverpool’s second most talented export to America. 

Punk music came after blues and R&Bs. It appeared in 1970s but its fashion and anti-establishment attitude resulted in both excitement and controversy. During its starting period, it consisted of harsh vocals, simple arrangements as well as fast beats. Further, it represented a hatred for authority and reaction against heavy metal and progressive rock. Unlike in Britain, punk was popular in new York (David, 2002). The attitude and fashion made the genre not attract many people in Britain. However, there were some influential punk bands in Britain. Some of them are Buzzcocks, the Damned and the Clash. Punk music scenes began to fade in Britain by 1980s although its drive and force had huge influence on bands in every decade since 1970.  

The emergence of British artists’ pacesetters such as Beatles together with their successors the Rolling Stones was acceptable in the American population. Reasonably, the culture that these bands displayed was presented in an interesting way by immigrants who were connected to the Americans. Therefore, the Rolling Stones, Beatles and other British highly performing artists captured the US markets due to various reasons. First, they were youth icons and hence made many youthful songs. Next, their copied Americans hairstyles made them fit in the society (Perone, 2009). Moreover, many of their new music bands were imitations of American accent by adopting their way of singing thereby bringing back home what was lost during the 1950s. Hence, imitating the Americans ensured the popularity of British bands and artists. 

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  1. David. K. (2002). The British Invasion. Vanity Fair
  2. Parke. P. (1988).the British Invasion: From The Beatles To The Stones, The Sixties Belonged To Britain.  RollingStone. 14 Jul. 1988. 
  3. Perone, J. E. (2009). Mods, rockers, and the music of the British invasion. ABC-CLIO.
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