The Beatles Led the “British Invasion” to the USA
Written by: Frank Iacono
The Beatles were a legendary rock group, formed in Liverpool, England, in 1960. The Beatles (a.k.a. the “Fab Four”) consisted of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. Together these four lads went on to transform popular music as a creative, highly commercial art form over the next decade—producing classic songs like “Yesterday,” “Penny Lane,” “Lady Madonna,” “With A Little Help From My Friends,” “Day Tripper,” “Back in the USSR” and “Come Together.”
In 1963, The Beatles recorded their debut studio album entitled Please Please Me, a roaring success in the UK, peaking at number 1 in the charts. Extensive European tours followed, with thousands of fans filling the streets outside venues on a nightly occurrence. The reaction to the band was dubbed “Beatlemania”.
1964 saw the ‘British Invasion’, with The Beatles hitting USA for the first time. The Ed Sullivan Show played host to their first US television performance, which was a landmark for the band and was watched by approximately 73 million viewers in the States.
The Beatles are the best-selling music act of all-time, with certified sales of over 183 million units in the US and estimated sales of 600 million units worldwide. They hold the record for most number-one albums on the UK Albums Chart, most number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and most singles sold in the UK.
The group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and all four main members were also inducted individually between 1994 and 2015.
In 2008, the group topped Billboard’s list of the all-time most successful artists on the Billboard Hot 100. The band have received seven Grammy Awards, four Brit Awards, an Academy Award for the Best Original Song Score for the 1970 film Let It Be and fifteen Ivor Novello Awards. Time named The Beatles among the 20th century’s 100 most important people.
In honor of The Beatles incredible musical career, we selected five of their legendary songs and ranked them accordingly.
5. “The Long and Winding Road”
McCartney said he came up with the title “The Long and Winding Road” during one of his first visits to his property High Park Farm, near Campbeltown in Scotland. The phrase was inspired by the sight of a road “stretching up into the hills” in the remote Highlands surrounded by lochs and distant mountains. He wrote the song at his farm in 1968, inspired by the growing tension among the Beatles. By early 1969, creative and financial issues were fracturing the band. Lennon had already told the others that he was quitting, Starr had gone on a hiatus, and Harrison and McCartney disappeared for weeks.
When the Beatles issued “The Long and Winding Road” as a single in May 1970, a month after they broke-up, it became the group’s 20th and last number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. In fact, it was the final single released by the quartet.
4. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
Despite the rumors that the classic hit “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” written by John and credited to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership, was about a hallucinogenic drug known as LSD, Lennon insisted that it was not about drugs, but instead, inspiration that came from his then four-year-old son, Julian, who painted a picture of Lucy O’Donnell, his classmate whom he sat next to. His nursery school drawing depicted “Lucy – in the sky with diamonds”.
Lennon attributed the song’s fantastical imagery to his reading of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland adventures, with ‘kaleidoscope eyes’ and ‘newspaper taxis’, creating a psychedelic nursery rhyme. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” has been recognized as a key work in the psychedelic genre.
3. “Strawberry Fields Forever”
The song “Strawberry Fields Forever” was based on a Salvation Army children’s home in Liverpool, known as Strawberry Field. The hit was written completely by Lennon when he was in Spain away from his fellow bandmates. For this track, he reached into his childhood memories and remembered the orphanage – he used to climb over the wall and play within the wild gardens. As Lennon had been abandoned by both his parents, living with his Aunt Mimi, he found solace in the gardens of the orphanage.
When he returned to England, Lennon played the song for the rest of the band and was met by stunned silence. McCartney complimented him in a respectful tone, claiming “that is absolutely brilliant”. “Strawberry Fields Forever” was the first track The Beatles recorded after completing Revolver and was intended for inclusion on their forthcoming Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Under intense pressure from EMI Records, their record company and management, to release a new product, they were forced to issue the track as a double A-side single with “Penny Lane” versus appearing on Sgt. Pepper.
2. “Let It Be”
Written by McCartney during the 1968 sessions for The Beatles, also known as the White Album, “Let It Be” was inspired by a dream the singer had of his deceased mother, Mary. In the dream, Mary was assuring him, amongst the turmoil of the Beatles’ slow breakup, that everything would be all right. McCartney eventually transformed the song into a gospel-style number for the Get Back sessions that would eventually be released as the album “Let It Be”.
At the time, the single “Let It Be” had the highest debut on the Billboard Hot 100, beginning its chart run at number 6. The song gave The Beatles their seventh consecutive year charting a number 1 hit, sharing the all-time record, at the time, with Elvis Presley. Unfortunately, it was their final single before McCartney announced his departure from the band on April 10.
1. “Hey Jude”
“Hey Jude” was one of the few Beatles compositions to be written directly about, and for, a personal associate. It was composed by McCartney for Lennon’s son, Julian, on the occasion of John’s impending divorce from his first wife, and Julian’s mother, Cynthia. Paul and Julian had always been very close, and he knew that his dad’s new relationship with Yoko Ono, along with his desire to distance himself from his old life, had to be hitting Julian, then age 6, pretty hard. Paul composed the melody and basic lyrics for the song while driving to Cynthia’s home in Weybridge, a town by the River Wey in the Elmbridge district of Surrey, where he often visited during June of 1968. When he returned home that day, he recorded a demo version on his piano. It was originally titled “Hey Jules,” but Paul thought “Jude” would be easier to sing.
“Hey Jude” spent an unprecedented nine weeks at Number One in the US, making it the biggest Beatles single ever in America. In 2013, Billboard magazine named it the 10th “biggest” song of all-time in terms of chart success. It has sold over eight million copies, three million in just the first two months.
About the Author: Frank Iacono
Since 2012, Frank Iacono has served as the President and CEO of The Creative Spotlight, the ultimate destination for unearthing a wealth of undiscovered musical talent, reading exciting interviews, releasing new music and sharing exclusive videos.
Every good story needs a good storyteller. And, The Creative Spotlight has truly provided a quality forum for revealing those great stories. Through the years, the online publication has featured national and local musicians such as Screaming for Silence, Ages Apart, Roxy Petrucci, Peter Beckett, We The Kings, Everything Falls, Rod Black, Derek Crider, Daniel Mason Band, Michelle Leigh, Jessie G., Karen Mansfield and Hillbilly Vegas.
Additionally, they’ve also focused on historic Pennsylvania-based paranormal venues, well-known actors and actresses, published authors, professional artists, local businesses, consultants, trainers, speakers and more…