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The Top 3 Myths About Beatlemania

Wouldn't Americans have fallen in love with the Beatles anyhow, even if Lee Harvey Oswald had missed?

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

February 5, 2014 - 4:03 pm
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On February 9, 1964, the Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show, reaching an audience of over 70 million.

Overnight, America emerged from post-Dallas national mourning, thanks to the upbeat musical ministrations of those four loveable strangers from Liverpool.

One minute, no one had even heard of the Beatles; the next, thousands of hysterical girls spontaneously descended upon New York’s newly rechristened JFK International Airport to welcome the quartet.

“Beatlemania,” we called it.

The U.S. had never seen anything like it — and neither had the English, who promptly press-ganged more guitar groups to mount a “British invasion.”

The fiftieth anniversary of this epochal night in pop culture has prompted a flurry of books, think pieces and TV specials, all repeating the above received wisdom by rote.

The truth, as always, isn’t quite so pat.

In fact, some of this potted history is just plain wrong.

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Top Rated Comments   
MYTH NUMBER FOUR -

That any of the first three myths were ever believed in, or even heard of, by anyone before they were promoted here (solely so that they could then be shot down).
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or Harrison's "Taxman":

Let me tell you how it will be
It's one for you nineteen for me
If five percent would seem to small
Be grateful I don't take it all
'cause I'm the taxman yeah I'm the taxman

1967 tea party man there..
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was 9 years old when I heard the Beatles for the first time on the radio. I was instantly hooked. I did not know how they looked, I had no fan magazines. Where I lived back then there was no television. For those who think in terms of gold records please remember that the market was quite smaller back then. By the time I was 12 I did not have a single friends who did not have all the LP's and singles. I learned to play guitar because of them. The first complete song I learned to play was "And I love her". Listening to their singing I learned to do 2nd and 3rd harmonies instantly. In time I learned more about music, it was a glorious time to learn about classical, jazz, r&b, rock, etc. The influence of the Beatles cut across all kinds of music. If you think they were musically simple you are entitled to your opinion but I know you have a wool ear and most likely you can't play a note. When I first heard "Eleanor Rigby" played by West Montgomery and "Yesterday" by Frank Sinatra... well, perhaps those two giants can be accused of being teeny whoopers who know nothing about music --or perhaps it is you who just open your trap to talk about stuff you know nothing about. I lived through that era. The Beatles were tremendously innovative. Listen to "Telstar" if you want, or to "Apache" that was a minor genre at the time and it remained so. I actually liked those songs very much but they did not send a surge of electricity through me like "I saw her standing there" which still remains one of the finest pieces of rock'n'roll ever written. Additionally The Beatles were workers. They worked their ass off touring non-stop and recording. They added expressions to the English language ("I'd like to turn you on" was a first) they worked to create sound effects with the limited means of the age inspiring engineers to create machines that could synthesize, mix, enhance sound. They had every kid learning to play guitar instead of buying knives and joining gangs they bought guitars and drums and formed bands, many of those bands keep entertaining us to this day. In fact even today every new band secretly dreams with being the next Beatles. I think they will remain originals forever, they were a miracle that appeared just at the right time to give us relief form the Cold War, Communism and other crazy things that were happening at the time. I think they did slow down the falling of Latin America into Castro-Communism for one or two generations. They accomplishments are numberless and I am not sure if I know enough to list them all. For the most part they left a legacy of love songs and some learned the good habit of introspection by listening to lyrics that showed us the way when our teachers were going into all the Marxist nonsense prevalent today.
You may not like or understand their music. You may think you are entitled to say destructive things about them but the truth is: they are still great after all these years. That doesn't happen by chance.
Advice: learn to play guitar or piano and play their first ten songs. If you can.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (66)
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I think Myth #2 is the biggest for me, and explains much of what we see in music today. Paying people to show up to an airport to scream is exactly that kind of thing I could see Katy Perry's or Justin Beiber's management doing. They are both talented musicians but the mania and resulting popularity is a type of self fulfilling prophecy.

Plus, let's be honest. The Who are way better.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Funny how, fifty years later, the mere mention of The Beatles brings out the same old idiotic arguments. Time has proven detractors as wrong as flat earthers and as outdated as spats and buggy whips. The Beatles are the modern equivalence of classical music and perhaps the best example of such. It's about the guitars you twits. Mozart, Bach and Beethoven didn't have guitars. Yeah yeah yeah baby.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
There was an interesting scene in the alternate-history novel "Fatherland" (which became a TV movie).

In that novel's alternate timeline, Nazi Germany wins World War II and becomes a superpower into the 1960s. And guess what, the Beatles play in Berlin--and young Nazis love them! ("Das Beatles!")
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
As time has gone by I find it more and more difficult to listen to the Beatles. Songs like Eleanor Rigby are too morose, and All You Need is Love is too preachy. There's a sort of self-conscious show-offy-ness, like the teacher's pet standing in front of the class and reciting something hard with word-perfect perfection that the rest of us wouldn't be able to do. For me, that's off-putting. On the other hand, as time goes by, I like the Stones more and more. I love it that Keith is still toddling around, falling out of palm trees, and that Mick has turned into such a talented capitalist.

I wonder what happened to the 2nd Mrs. Paul McCartney and when the baby girl from that union will be sprung on us in whatever brittle glory she has grown up and into.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
MYTH NUMBER FOUR -

That any of the first three myths were ever believed in, or even heard of, by anyone before they were promoted here (solely so that they could then be shot down).
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
You hit this one out of the park, Bender. The fact that "Telstar" was the first British gold record is pretty common knowledge;I read the Monk story at least 35 years ago; and having been a high school senior when the JFK murder and the meteoric success of the Beatles happened, I've never known a single person who thought that one had anything to do with the other. The Beatles were always about their music, and nothing else. That's why people loved them, and continue to love them.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, the Beatles' music was the key to their long-term success. In America there might have been this or that kind of hype about them in the beginning, but people continued to love the Beatles because of their good product. Now and then they turned out a clunker of a song, but there were few of those considering the length of their career together. And while their musical styles changed, they excelled throughout. "Please Please Me" and "I Feel Fine" from the early years, "I'll Follow the Sun" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" from the middle years, "Sexy Sadie" and "You Never Give Me Your Money" from the last years, and on and on.

And while each of them were very skillful in their own way, together they were more than the sum of their parts. What they produced was excellent popular music--it wasn't on the level of Mozart or Beethoven, but for popular music they were about as awesome as you can get.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
None of that matters. Those boys had serious talent, and if they hadn't had that the hype wouldn't have lasted. They may have had help getting started but the rest they did on their own. Look how many songs they wrote. They could all play their own instruments. They were for real which is more than I can say for the over-hyped, no-talent, nothings we have today.
And I'm saying all of this as a person who isn't really a big fan (I'm a Rolling Stones/The Doors kinda guy) but I recognize the huge contribution they made to modern music.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I still own ALL of their albums on vinyl, including the really rare first one on the "VJ" label. Didn't really like them all that much or listen to them all that often, but I bought a pile of albums. I wore out the Rolling Stones records. The Beatles albums are all in the basement getting more valuable. Thanks Beatles!
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Most teenagers weren't in extended (for them) mourning over JFK, and teenagers were the Beatlemaniacs, the ones who caused the phenomonen.

I was 16 at the time. I'd heard their music, of course, and liked it fine. But then . . . THEN I saw their picture in the paper! One where they were descending from an airplane.

I remember that moment well. It was instant love. They were everything I'd been waiting for. Everything to dream about, much like Sinatra was for an earlier generation, only times four! I called my best friend right away. We were both goners.

Multiply me by millions of other teenagers. You dont need any other explanation. It was as simple as that.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
During my high school days (80-83) I had a lovely young teacher in her 30s who was in her mid teens during Beatlemania. She told us how she and her sister argued over who's bed was closter to England!
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
What is the point of this story? The Beatles were a manipulation and proof we swim in a murky sea? Waste of mortal time.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
We don't dance the gavotte and minuet anymore.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's right, it was all manipulation. The real truth is that there never were any so-called "Beatles." They were a complete fabrication, as were those alleged crowds, TV appearances, and concerts. It was all a fictional production made up at the same warehouse that they produced the so-called "moon landing."
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Much like reading your post? You must have something better to do.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Shaidle, in her act of "myth busting" helps perpetuate another one. Mark Lewisohn, in his new book on The Beatles, All Those Years: Tune In, does a good job of putting "the Brian Epstein bought 10,000 copies of Love Me Do" lie to bed. He didn't buy them merely to boost sales. Beatle fans in Liverpool bought those 45's at NEMS. Beatlemania started at home. The book is a great read, by the way.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
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