I was close to fourteen and Rob close to eight when the legendary “British Invasion” took the American music industry storm. Many, including me, did not see it coming, yet, one day we woke up and there it was.
Of course, the Beatles secured the initial beachhead which cleared the way for the legions that followed. Up until the fateful year of 1964, our Cousin Chris, Rob and I were totally engrossed on the pop rock that dominated American airwaves : the Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, The Tokens etc were the bands we loved and followed. We knew the songs and lyrics and rushed to tell each other when “Walk like a Man” or “Surfin’ Safari” or “The Lion Sleeps Tonight ” was being played on WABC or WMCA. Our Transistor Radios would be set to full volume, which by today’s standards, was no more than a static filled whisper, and we would sing along. This was our music!
Then came “the invasion”.
Oh, we had heard of the Beatles and knew that they had created a major stir in England.. but that was England and what did they know about music? More noteworthy however was the way American Girls started to take notice of these guys and if the girls were getting interested , perhaps we need to pay attention.
Whomever was the brains behind the Beatles marketing campaign was a genius because their first visit to the US was met with astounding anticipation. The Radio stations were flooding the airwaves with “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You”. TV screens were alight with images of screaming, frenzied teenage girls ( again, time to pay attention), and every record store( yes, we had record stores) featured the iconic first Album that they released in the US.. ” Introducing, The Beatles!” Interestingly , it was released on VeeJay records, the same record company that was utilized by The Four Seasons.
Be that it may, the frenzy was at Dever pitch when they hit New York and shortly after appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. The rest, as they say is history. They went on to dominate the music scene on a global basis like none before, nor since.
As for Rob, Chris and I, we all reacted a bit differently. Chris never seemed to get “into” the Beatles and his musical tastes took a turn more toward folk and alternative. Rob and I remained loyal to our Pleasin’ Seasons ( actually a slogan used on the back of one of their early album covers), but it was hard not to see something special in this odd foursome from England . They actually seemed likable and the media did a good job of getting you feel as though you knew them personally . Paul was my favorite while Rob gravitated toward John, or was it George?.. I can’t remember now. Their hairstyle was like nothing seen before in American music and before long, American boys were sporting Beatle haircuts , leaving behind the slick back look of Elvis, Rickey Nelson and others of early 60’s fame.
Early on Rob actually became more of a fan than I was, but the Bands that followed on the heels of the Beatles totally hooked us, especially The Rolling Stones. We became life long Stones fans and actually saw them in concert together a few times. Priceless. ( I can’t believe someone told me they are touring again?? In 2017?? ) that may be pushing it just a bit , but in the day , no one controlled a crowd or stage like Mick Jagger.Our Stones infatuation was almost a
Mirror image of our Four Seasons love affair of another day and time.
But, the invasion was huge : The Dave Clark Five, the Animals, Hermans Hermits, The Searchers, The Kinks, Gerry and the Pacemakers….. and on and on. Without question, this era belonged to Britain and we rode the wave and enjoyed every minute of it. The face of music changed in this era and I’m glad my brother and I were smack in the middle of it to experience the revolution.
… and all those frenzied girls…..
“Yeah , yeah , Yeah….” (to coin a few words from a “little known” Beatles song….)