Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Beatles tour USA

                           Photograph by Jack Manning for the New York Times

When The Beatles announced their 1964 tour of the United States, adults and fathers  alike could not understand what had come over their youth.  They had never seen such an adamant and wide display of worship, especially for four British kids playing pop rock with mop tops.  What they didn't understand is that Popular Culture had taken hold and risen from a generation of predominantly Caucasian female baby boomers who found interest in their out of the ordinary suggestive tunes and appeal.

When they had arrived in the U.S. in February of 1964 at Kennedy Airport they were greeted by over three thousand screaming fans.  Published writings seemed to have written about them more as a spectacles than as musicians.  New York Times noted that the Beatles, "... have added new gimmicks: tight pants, boots, and hair that never seems to be cut."  A mentionable quote, from the same article, puts their lure into perspective and comes from a fifteen year-old girl that had been waiting for the group that afternoon.  She mentions that, " 'They're just so different.  i mean, all that hair.  American Singers are soooo clean-cut.' " [1]

Their success was, and still is, an incredible international phenomenon.  Before their tour had even begun in the U.S., they had already sold, "6 million records and [could] earn $10,000 a week in appearances."[2]  Fans were fascinated by their personalities and journalists would deliver every quote they could note for their readers.  Upon their arrival they had held a press conference where clear dialogue between reporters and the artists had been published and broadcasted.  It had been one of the first of its kind for musicians.  

The attention they drew to to audiences, and audiences to news, would become a pattern in the entertainment industry for years to follow.
On a tangent, I thought it would be interesting to note that they owe their success to African American blues and rock artists: Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, and Chuck Berry, just to name a few.  Also, their tour of 1964 ran congruently with the Civil Rights Movement and just a few months after their tour Congress would empower the Civil Rights Act.  I'm not implying that they had any influence on politics at the time at all, (Lennon's involvement with politics and relationships  with groups such as the White and Black Panther Parties would not come until 1971) but i just found the profound effect that re-packaged music, for the right target audiences, had on Pop Culture to be interesting, especially in relation to the times.

1 /// 3,000 FANS GREET BRITISH BEATLES  by Paul Gardner  New York Times (1857-Current File); Feb 8, 1964; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2005) p.25
2 /// SINGING BEATLES PREPARE FOR U.S. by James Ferson Special to The New York Times New York Times (1857-Current File); Feb 6, 1964; ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York TImes (1851-2005) p.36

1 comment:

  1. great blog about the Beatles' U.S. tour. you wrote it with the feel of an MTV or VH1 documentary. looking back at their popularity not just in the U.S. but worldwide is reminiscent of the boy bands of the 20th Century, including Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and the Jonas Brothers. speaking of the Beatles, I don't think John Lennon's death was mentioned in the list of the top news stories of the 20th century. it should have been there beause he was a revolutionary performer, not just with the Beatles but as a solo artist as well, and his death sent shockwaves throughout the world just like some of the events that have been written about on this blogspot. also great picture of some fans, that best captures just how popular these guys were during that period. plus look at that sign that says "BEATLES PLEASE STAY HERE 4EVER."