The British Music Invasion: the Effects on Society and Culture

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"So the British invasion was more important as an event, as a mood: than as music" (Bangs, 171). This was the British invasion. I wasn't just about the music, it was more then that; this is what makes it so unique. It didn't just happen to effect America by chance, it lifted the spirits and moods of its youth. It isn't just coincidence that Kennedy was assassinated right before the Beatles famous Ed Sullivan Show performance. The whole country was in a deep depressive doldrum after the assassination, and for good reason. The British invasion was needed by Americans to snap out of this funk, and this was just the thing to do it. (One thing that Americans used to avoid the depressing times was to use illegal drugs, but that will be elaborated on later.) This is what it was all about; sure it was about the music, but it brought more, it brought a way of life across the ocean.

A lot of the invasion stayed in that generation, many bands and songs that were big then are all but totally forgotten about now. Bands such as the Searchers, the Swinging Blue Jeans, and Gerry and the Pacemakers all had one or two great hits which stayed in that time. This however, was part of the beauty of it all. Some of the music stayed with us thirty years later, and that's great, it gives us a good sampling of the time. On the other hand, you have the music that was meant for the era, and not for future generations. That is part of the uniqueness of it all, and Lester Bangs says it best when he tells how it doesn't matter that the music isn't listened to anymore, that's not what it was for. It was for the time, it was a "timepiece".

On the other hand, we have the bands that were not simply "timepieces" and were able to stick around three decades later. These bands are the Who, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. This is another aspect of why the invasion was so influential. Where would we be in rock and roll with out the Beatles, and on a slightly lesser extent the Stones. These bands transformed rock into what we know it today. Without them, the way might not have been paved for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and countless others. Both sides of the spectrum were extremely important for the invasion to have the long lasting effects it continues to have.

Culture itself was radically changed in both waves of the invasion, the first being roughly 1963-67, and the second being 1968-1974. In the early wave, the Beatles created a frenzy that was never seen before in America. "In early August 1964, Beatlemania had become a full blown epidemic. Teenage girls jammed the theaters, singing along with the songs, shrieking and crying as each of the lovable mop tops did his star turn" (Ward, 279). Teenage girls were acting way out of line according to previous etiquette established in earlier decades. This started a gradual trend of major change from this point on. We could even say that the Beatles were the most influential entity on American behavior in the last forty years. In the second wave, a sort of "drug culture" emerged; headed by such bands as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd and others. While the Beatles and the Stones (more so in the early years) had a clean-cut look, these bands were openly on acid, and it was well known that it was considered one of their main sources of creativity. "Held at Alexandra Palace…inside the cavernous structure, there were bands (often two at once, playing from full volume from opposite ends of the hall), an unending display of film and lights…about dawn, as the walls of Ally Pally began to turn pink, Pink Floyd finally came on…everyone had been waiting for them and everybody was on acid" (Ward, 355). This quote shows the elaborate performances that these "acid bands" put on, and how the audience was so high that the spectacle before them just added to the experience. This particular concert was held in Europe, but the same concept was brought over to America with these...
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