Monday, April 11, 2011

British Invasion

British Invasion: Part 1
From 1964 to 1966, rock 'n' roll, beat, and pop and rock musicians from the United Kingdom took America by storm in the British Invasion. Influenced by the rebellious tone and image of American rock and roll of the late 1950's, The Beatles were the first to lead the barrage after Beatlemania first began in the UK in 1963. Since my very first blog posts featured The Beatles' arrival in America (here), as well as their historic performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 (here), I'll just get to another classic performance on The Ed Sullivan Show the following year in 1965. Reaching the #1 spot on the charts and included as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, "Help!" was written by John Lennon about his stress after The Beatles' quick rise to fame, a literal cry out for help. Performing live, notice Lennon actually forgets some of the lyrics at about 1:00 into the video, but I doubt anyone really cares; it's a great tune!

In March 1964, the second group for Liverpool, after The Beatles, to have a hit in the U.S. was The Searchers with "Needles and Pins." With their Merseybeat (British beat popularized by The Beatles) sound, this tune was written by Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono (yeah, that Sonny Bono) and was originally recorded by American singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon in 1963. Using a Rickenbacker electric guitar played by Mike Pender, The Seachers' jangly guitar sound was influential in early folk-rock genre of the 1960's.
Part of the British Invasion, the English soft/folk rock singing duo, Chad and Jeremy, made a bigger splash with the American music market than that of their native country, even making TV guest appearances on American shows like the Dick Van Dyke Show, the Patty Duke Show,and Batman. Comprised of Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde, these guys had two breakthrough hits in 1964, including "A Summer Song," a gentle tune reminiscing about a summer romance. Written by Chad with Clive Metcalf and Keith Noble, this song was an unfortunate flop in the UK but peaked at #7 on the U.S. charts that summer. There was something about this song's sweetness that appealed more to America.
During the Invasion, the first non-Beatle act to have a major U.S. hit was pop singer Dusty Springfield. With a career spanning from the late 1950's to the 1990's, Dusty was an important white soul singer and was one of the most successful British female performers, as she had 18 hit singles from 1964 to 1970. Previously recorded by Dionne Warwick and written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David (these guys wrote a ton!), "Wishin' and Hopin'" became Dusty's first American Top-10 hit, peaking at #6 on the charts in July of 1964. Her sultry voice is classic, but too bad this video is a bit out of sync.

So we've just nicked the ice berg of the British Invasion, so stay tuned for the many, many British artists to come!

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