British Invasion

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The British Invasion is a term used to describe the large number of rock and roll, beat, rock and pop performers from the United Kingdom who became popular in the United States during the period from 1964 through 1966.[1]



The rebellious tone and image of American rock and roll and blues musicians became popular with British youth in the late 1950s. While early commercial attempts to replicate American rock and roll failed, the trad jazz-inspired skiffle craze,[2] with its "do it yourself" attitude, was the starting point of several British acts that would later be part of the "invasion". Young British groups started to combine various British and American styles. This coalesced in Liverpool during 1962 in what became known as Merseybeat, hence the "beat boom".[3][4][5][6] In 1962 "Telstar", an instrumental by The Tornados became the first U.S. number 1 single by a British rock act.[7] Also that year the folk trio The Springfields featuring Dusty Springfield cracked the U.S. top 20.[8]

The Invasion

On December 10, 1963 the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite ran a story about the Beatlemania phenomenon in the United Kingdom.[9] After seeing the report, 15 year old Marsha Albert of Silver Spring, Maryland wrote a letter the following day to disc jockey Carroll James at radio station WWDC asking "why can't we have music like that here in America?".[9] On December 17 James had Albert introduce "I Want to Hold Your Hand" live on the air, the first airing of a Beatles song in the United States.[9] WWDC's phones lit up and Washington, D.C. area record stores were flooded with requests for a record they did not have in stock.[9] On December 26 Capitol Records released the record three weeks ahead of schedule.[9] The release of the record during a time when teenagers were on vacation helped spread Beatlemania in America.[9] On January 18, 1964, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" reached number one on the Cash Box chart, the following week it did the same on Billboard.[9] On February 7 the CBS Evening News ran a story about The Beatles' United States arrival that afternoon in which the correspondent said "The British Invasion this time goes by the code name Beatlemania".[10] Two days later (Sunday, February 9) they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Seventy five percent of Americans watching television that night viewed their appearance.[6] On April 4 the Beatles held the top 5 positions on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, the only time to date that any act has accomplished this.[6][11] The group's massive chart success continued until they broke up in 1970.[6]

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