Friday, April 15, 2011


British Invasion: Part 3
Boy, the variety of styles that came along with the British Invasion is quite impressive, and today's post has some of the most contrasting artists so far!

First off today, it's the sweet, British singer and actress Petula Clark, who actually got her professional start well before the Invasion. Known as "Britain's Shirley Temple," Petula first began her career on the BBC radio as a child actor, even touring the country to entertain the troops in WWII. After making her singing debut in the late 1940's, it wasn't until the '60s when she became a international success. In November of 1964, Petula became the first female UK artist to have a #1 hit in the US with "Downtown." Written by Tony Hatch about his first time in New York City, this song won the Grammy Award for "Best Rock 'n' Roll Song" in 1965, and was also awarded a Gold Record for over 1 million sales.

Initially forming in 1958, the English beat group, The Tremeloes, were first signed to Decca Records in 1962, being chosen over The Beatles after the two groups had auditioned. Although they hit the charts with "Twist and Shout" in 1963 (a cover song also recorded by The Beatles), it's wasn't until some personnel changes and a record label change in 1967 that the group gained their biggest success with songs like "Here Comes My Baby" and "Silence Is Golden." The latter, first performed by the American group The Four Seasons, hit #1 on the UK charts in May of 1967, earning the gold disc status, and was one of the top 100 songs of that year. With The Tremeloes' strong vocal harmonies, this post-Invasion song still carries the essence and quality of the British Invasion era.

Although they were originally from Manchester, England, Freddie and the Dreamers were categorized as another Beatle-inspired Merseybeat group, however, their stage act was a hilarious sight, lead by the antics of 5 foot 3 frontman Freddie Garrity, who bounced around stage. Among a string of hit records during the Invasion, "You Were Made for Me" hit #3 on the UK charts in November of 1963, and clearly demonstrates Freddie's "unique" dance style that actually led to another US hit, "Do the Freddie." I grew up hearing about "doing the Freddie," but now it finally all makes sense. Pretty goofy, but interesting that these guys were the first of three consecutive Manchester groups to have a number one hit.

And to conclude today's post on the other side of the spectrum, we have the bad boys of the British Invasion: The Rolling Stones (though they sure don't look too bad in this early photo of their short-lived matching-suit look!). Coming out of London's club scene playing many rhythm and blues covers, The Stones gained international success with the #1 hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" in the summer of 1965. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, this (early) hard rock song's distinctive opening guitar riff (with fuzzbox effect) and racy lyrics established The Stones' look as rebellious, troublemakers compared to the adorable, "moptop" image of The Beatles. Initially only played on pirate radio stations, "Satisfaction" has since been considered one of the all-time greatest rock songs (#2 on that 500 list) and has become a staple at Rolling Stones concert, being performed on nearly every tour since its release. Here's great live performance from The Ed Sullivan Show!

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