Last Updated 21 Apr 2020

The Beatles Influence on Rock-and-Roll

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The Beatles are one of the most innovative rock bands of all time. They have not only changed the way rock and roll is looked at, but also the way that the music is recorded. They have influenced the artists of the 60s and the 70s, and also many generations later and to come. Originating from Liverpool, England, the Beatles, or the Fab Four, consists of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Topping the charts in ’63 with “Love Me Do,” and bringing in the highest rated viewing in history while performing on the Ed Sullivan Show, the Beatles are definitely a band that broke the sound barrier of rock and roll.

They used unique sounds in their music and weren’t afraid of experimenting in the studio, they even welcomed accidental occurrences and toyed around to get the sound they were looking for. Artificial double tracking was invented during the recording of their album Revolver and also a new technique on miking strings. They paved the way for other British Bands in America and even had full-blown imitators, like the Monkees, that copied everything from their look, to the spelling error in their name, and their campaign. They also helped create a whole new genre of music called folk rock.

Their influence is still seen in today’s musicians, such as the band Oasis, who compare their music constantly to the Beatles. The Beatles Influence on Rock-and-Roll “The impact of the Beatles – not only on rock and roll but on Western culture – is simply incalculable. As musicians, they proved that rock and roll could embrace a limitless variety of harmonies, structures and sounds; virtually every rock experiment has some precedent on Beatles records. ” Said by the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, could not be any more wrong.

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The Beatles had a huge impact on not just rock and roll, but music as a whole, as well as influencing the technology used to record their music. They weren’t afraid of experimenting and instead of producing music they produced art. Their influence is seen all over the world, but no one has come close to the fame that was Beatlemania. The Beatles originated from Liverpool, England and consists of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They first started playing shows in Hamburg, Germany as a skiffle band in 1960.

In 1962 they released their first single “Love Me Do,” which reached the number one spot on U. S. charts in May of ’63. Their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in February of ’64 brought in over 73 million viewers, the most in U. S. history. By April 1964, they held the first five places in the Billboard Hot 100. The Beatles were one of the biggest influences on music during the 60s and 70s. Their music, to this day, remains more widely known than any other music of the rock era. They have brought new sounds and ideas in their music and revolutionized the idea of rock and roll.

Their work was always invested with originality, using unique sounds in their music, which is most dramatically seen in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They used many studio effects on this album, including reverberation, echoes, and reverse tape effects. They experimented with sounds that no other bands used, and had great success with it. They created their own material, breaking the Tin Pan monopoly of song writing, setting in motion revolutionary changes in the music publishing industry. They wrote songs for fellow artists and even encouraged the Rolling Stones to write their own music. The Beatles were the first group to use the recording studio as a writing tool, building up complex song arrangements by multi-tracking and importing orchestral textures and avant-garde effects under the guidance of producer George Martin” (Glassman).

In Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, instead of using traditional breaks in between songs, one tracked merged into the next, which were linked by studio talk, laughter, electronic noises, and animal sounds. They also used audio tricks involving steam organs, orchestras, sitars, and even a pack of foxhounds in full cry at the end of “Good Morning, Good Morning. The use of animal sounds were actually first used in the Beach Boys album Pet Sounds that the Beatles admired. When asked the Beach Boys where they got their innovation for Pet Sounds, the Beatles Rubber Soul album was what inspired them. “A Day In The Life,” the last song on the album, featured “what Lennon described as ‘a sound building up from nothing to the end of the world’” (Lazarescu). The song “Strawberry Fields Forever” fused two different versions of the same song and used reverse-tape cellos for an eerie effect.

After George Harrison used sitar on the song “Norwegian Wood,” other bands like the Byrds, Yardbirds, and the Rolling Stones, soon followed incorporating Eastern-influence sounds into their work. Paul McCartney once said, “We would say, ‘Try it! Just try it for us. If it sounds crappy, OK, we’ll lose it. But it might just sound good. ’ We were always pushing ahead: Louder, further, longer, more different” (“All About Jazz”). The Beatles had complete access to Abbey Road studios free of charge, spending hours upon hours experimenting and writing music.

They used the studio as an instrument in itself. They were the first band to push musical and technological boundaries. They took advantage of accidental occurrences in the recording process. You can see this in “I Feel Fine” where there is feedback and also in “Long, Long, Long” where there is a resonating glass bottle. They also deliberately toyed with situations and techniques that would further chance effects. An example of this is in “I am the Walrus,” where they used a live mixing of a UK radio broadcast into the fade of the song, and also the chaotic assemblage of “Tomorrow Never Knows. Ken Townsend invented artificial double tracking (ADT) during the recording of Revolver because Lennon didn’t like singing a song twice. ADT is still widely used for instruments and voices; however, it is now mostly known as automatic double tracking. Other influences the Beatles had on technology were the use of close miking the strings by engineer Geoff Emerick when recording. In 1966 that was a radically new way of miking strings, and now it is common practice. The Beatles were also the firsts to use direct injection to record McCartney’s bass on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

This is done by connecting the bass to the recording console via an impedance matching DI box. The Beatles paved the way for other British bands in America. The Beatles were the first British group to break into America and since the Beatles were able to have fame in the US, they gave other British bands the possibility of making it in America. Such bands were Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and the Searchers, who were all also managed by Brian Epstein. Other British bands that followed the Beatles were the Rolling Stones, the Who, and the Yardbirds.

The Rolling Stones had a raunchier dirty bad boy look, different then the clean-cut look of the Beatles. As the 1970s began, you can see the Beatles influence in artists like Elton John and Pink Floyd. In America, the most blatant imitators of the Beatles were the Monkees, who even calculatedly misspelled the name just like the Beatles. The Monkees were four actors portraying longhaired whimsical musicians; however, their music was actually performed by studio musicians. They copied the Beatles to a tee, including their campaign.

Before the Beatles came to the US, their manager Brian Epstein had Capital Records spend $50,000 on a campaign, plastering posters all over the country stating, “The Beatles Are Coming,” and gave disc jockeys records of interviews with the Beatles to feel like they were actually making personalized interviews. For the Monkees, “The band’s label spent $100,000 on an ad campaign that involved seventy-six advance men, who distributed thousands of posters proclaiming ‘The Monkees Are Coming’ and provided preview records to 6,000 disc jockeys” (Szatmary 125).

After the assassination of President John Kennedy, the whole country was at a low point and the Beatles brought them back to happier times, especially the folk artists. A lot of folk artists felt like the protest was over after Kennedy was killed. Kennedy was making a change in the country, but after his death, they felt like there was no more fight left in them. Bob Dylan, one of the major folk musicians of the era, just gave it all away and went towards the more electrified sounds of the Beatles.

Gene Clark, who at the time was part of the folk group the New Christy Minstrels, was on tour when he first heard the Beatles song “She Loves You. ” “I must have played it 40 times in the two days the New Christy Minstrels were playing that town,’ he later enthused. ‘I knew, I knew that this was the future” (Szatmary 140). Gene Clark later quit the New Christy Minstrels and formed his own band with Roger McGuinn and a few other former folk musicians. They called themselves the Byrds, misspelling it to emulate the spelling error in the Beatles.

They combined Dylanese folk, vocal harmonies and Beatles music to create folk rock. Other folk bands that switched to folk rock were the Turtles, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and Scotland’s folk singer Donovan Leitch, which Paul McCartney was featured singing with him on his song “Mellow Yellow. ” One other band was Lovin’ Spoonful who owed their debt to Dylan and none other than the Beatles. When new wave and punk music started in the late 1970s, their sound and style could still be heard in artists like the Squeeze, the Police, and Elvis Costello. Their music has spoken not only to its own time but to every generation since” (Campbell, Brody 168). In the late 1980s a new style of music called “baggy” originated from Manchester. The musical devotees sported Bealte-esque haircuts and drew heavily on the 1960s. They fused Beatles psychedelic with electronic elements taken from the simultaneously developing acid house scene. You can see the Beatles influence in the guitar style and song arrangements of the Stone Roses, guitarist John Squire cited them as one of his main influences.

The mid 90s saw a whole new host of Beatles influenced bands. The band Cast, which was formed by guitarist John Powers in 1994, has Lennon-esque vocals and memorable songs, which are still reaping the rewards. In 1995 a Liverpool band called the Boo Radleys had both the Beatles pop and psychedelic styles. Songwriter/guitarist Martin Carr told Melody Maker in 1994 that, "There's never been a time when they haven't been a part of my life” (Glassman). The Gallagher brothers, who formed the group Oasis, lived and breathed the Beatles.

They even named dropped the Beatles whenever they could in interviews. They would write their own melodies and then arrange them in a Bealte-esque style, but with a rocky, attitude-dowsed edge. "It's beyond an obsession. It's an ideal for living. I don't even know how to justify it to myself. With every song that I write, I compare it to The Beatles,’ Noel Gallagher told Q in 1996” (Glassman). Of the eight years that were the Beatles, no band has received more attention from fans, musicians, and scholars. Their music tells us more about the sixties than any other band.

Their influence is seen in music and even the technology used to record music. From their first album Please Please Me (1963) all the way to their last album Hey Jude (1970), no band has seen such a diverse selection of songs, going from retro one minute to folk-influenced the next. With their use of experimentation, they have opened a whole new door to the way rock is heard, converting even folk musicians, like the Byrds, to their style of music. You can still hear their inspiration in music even in today’s bands such as Oasis. Yet no one has seemed to copy the sound that was the Beatles.

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