Every few years there is a singer or a band which taps into the public feeling perfectly and becomes an icon of the era. It’s impossible to think of the grunge movement of the early 1990s without thinking of Nirvana, of Britpop without naming Blur or Oasis, or disco without considering the BeeGees. The first band to have this sort of impact on a global scale was the Beatles, who dominated the charts through the 1960s and added to the Swinging Sixties ethos of the UK during this time.
The Beatles all came from ordinary backgrounds in Liverpool, and none of them had previous associations with showbiz or the music industry. The group formed through loose connections and friends of friends, who introduced Lennon to McCartney and then the other two Beatles joined shortly after. Success was not instantaneous, and the Beatles toured extensively in the UK and Germany while writing their songs which would later be massive international hits. This period of travelling and touring helped the band gel as a unit and gave them time to think about the direction which they wished the group to take.
The Beatles achieved huge success on the music stage, due, in no small part to the fact that their music sounded quite unlike anything which had ever been heard before. Many British groups of the time were imitating the very American sound of artists like Elvis, but the Beatles had a distinctive sound which set them apart. Experts believe that the way in which Lennon played his customized Rickenbacker guitar created the sound, and such was Lennon’s belief in the Rickenbacker models that he converted George Harrison to the brand also. Combined with the music was the Beatles look, which was all about floppy haircuts and neatly tailored suits.
The Beatles were the world’s first boy band and were followed everywhere by screaming teenage girls. Many in the older generation did not approve of their new style of dress and music, and when John Lennon stated on television that the band were more popular than Jesus, this attracted a huge amount of criticism. Later in their career. the Beatles had a great deal of disagreement and arguments between the individual members and when the band finally broke up at the end of 1969 they did not part of good terms.
Nearly every band which has risen to prominence in the years since the Beatles enjoyed superstardom have cited the Liverpool band as their inspiration. Bands such as Oasis were huge Beatles fans, and much of their music is similar in feel to that of the Beatles. After splitting up, all four members of the Beatles enjoyed successful solo careers, with Paul McCartney still being an active performer today. The premature death of John Lennon in 1980 put him straight into that elite group of performers who died at the peak of their stardom, and many of his songs, such as Imagine, are still iconic tunes many years later.