Now, we turn our attention to the Beatles. I have a suspicion that some of you who are taking the course may have just gone straight to this video straight away, just because the Beatles are so popular and you wanted to hear about the music of the Beatles. This is really one of the most fun, for me at least, segments to do of the course. The Beatles, lot of people know the story of the group, formed in Liverpool at the end of the 1950s. Basically, Northern England Liverpool and thought of as really kind of industrial, markedly middle-class, but the Beatle's upbringings were not poor. Sometimes it's portrayed that they sort of grew up like characters in a Charles Dickens novel, or something. It was not that way at all. They had pretty good schooling, they didn't want for meals. They grew up pretty middle class with a lot of advantages. They weren't rich certainly, but they were pretty middle class. After the group was formed, they played a lot of tough stints in Hamburg, Germany. One of the reasons for that is Hamburg was, and the main strip in Hamburg, the Reeperbahn was kind of the Las Vegas of Europe at the time. What happens in Hamburg stays in Hamburg kind of thing. And so they constantly needed music and what the Germans wanted to hear was American rock and roll. Of course it was prohibitively expensive to bring American groups over. Thus they brought groups over from London and when they ran out of groups from London they looked around England for other places where they could get groups. Hamburg is a port city, Liverpool is a port city, there was already a lot of commerce between the two cities so it was fairly easy to go to Liverpool and find groups, and they brought a lot of Liverpool groups over to Hamburg at the time. The Beatles were certainly not the first. And so they got this gig, very young guys, not a lot of experience, George Harrison was underage, only 17 years old at that time. Stu Sutcliffe was in the band. Ringo was not yet in the band, the drummer was Pete Best. And these guys played long hours in Hamburg. They would play six sets a night, sometimes they wouldn't even play these sets in a row, they would alternate with another group, so it'd be six sets over 12 hours. When you think about the songs of that time being about two or three minutes in length, how much music do you need to know? You need to know an awful lot of music. You're playing constantly six hours a night, six days a week. Since the same people are coming back you've got to continually cycle through new material. The Beatles in many ways were almost like graduate students in popular music. They learned song after song after song and they learned them in detail, their cover versions are very close cover versions. Of course then they came back to Liverpool and began playing the Cavern Club. They were billed as the Beatles from Germany and people said to them, boy your English is awfully good. John Lennon used to love to tell that story. They gained popularity in Northern England once they came back. They were signed by a guy who had never managed a band before Brian Epstein, but whose family owned a series of furniture stores,a chain of furniture stores in Northern England, and all of the furniture stores had record divisions. Brian Epstein worked in the record division in Liverpool and was interested in getting into the poppy music business. So he took over the Beatles. He got them an audition at Decca, because Decca sold a lot of records to Brian Epstein's family so they didn't want to upset the family. But the day they gave them was the first of January 1962. I mean, imagine, well I guess the studio's not being used on New Year's Day. We can have these Beatles kids from Liverpool come down. They made a demo tape. Brian Epstein shopped it around London. Nobody would take it. Dick Rowe, the guy who was the head of Decca, or who would have made that decision at the time, famously turned the Beatles down saying guitar bands are on the way out. He instead signed a group called Brian Poole and the Tremeloes because they were from Brighton and Brighton was a closer train ride than Liverpool. He eventually was able to live down the reputation he got as the guy who turned down the Beatles. The guy who picked up the Beatles was George Martin finally, after almost everybody in town turned the group down. George Martin had been working for EMI, one of the major labels there, since 1950 and was producing records for an EMI subsidiary called Parlophone. And so George Martin saw something in the group and began to work with them. Eventually Stu Sutcliffe stayed back in Hamburg. Pete Best was replaced by Ringo. And by late 1962 the Beatles had an okay hit. I think it was a number 17 hit with Love Me Do and then continued to have much more success into 1963 with Please Please Me, From Me to You, She Loves You, and then eventually by the end of that year, I Want to Hold Your Hand. 1963 really is the big year for the Beatles and the summer of 1963 things were going so well that the British Press coined the term Beatlemania. They were having such success that their success was, there was kind of a wake created in the sense that their success helped the success of other groups, and so in 1963 a number of British groups of what they called the beat music type, of course you wouldn't have called it the British invasion because you can't invade your own country. So what the beat music, mercy beat kinds of groups, really started to have success. Not only the Rolling Stones, but Jerry and the Pacemakers. People like The Dave Clark Five, all started to have hits so much so that the Beatles success and the groups that followed after them actually created the first year in British popular music where there were more British acts in the top slots of the British charts than there were American acts. So in many ways, the British success of the Beatles in its own is historically noteworthy, not even before we get to the fact that they came to America and conquered the world and all that. They changed something essential in Britain. They showed British musicians and British listeners that British music could be at least as good as American music, maybe even better. Well by the fall of 1963 everything was really coming up roses for the Beatles. They played a big Sunday night performance at the London Palladium, which was sort of like their version of The Ed Sullivan Show. Then there was a Royal Command performance where they played for members of the British royalty. John Lennon famously introducing Twist and Shout by saying, those of you in the cheaper seats, clap your hands, the rest of you, just rattle your jewelry. It's funny because the Beatles, their accents and everything about them from Liverpool marked them as coming from relatively humble beginnings and so their charm in the UK had to do with the fact that they came from humble standing in society, but we're soft of tweaking aristocracy and tweaking establishment. They were really sort of the underdogs and thought of as, perhaps, not as sophisticated as the average person from London. However, when they came to this country we can't tell the difference between English accents, a Liverpool accent and the Queen's English and all that kind of thing. And so we all thought they were James Bond, cosmopolitan and certainly because they had the British accent, much smarter and more sophisticated than us. So it turns out their success in Britain was based on a different kind of image than the kind of image they had in the US. The Beatles do come to this country in 1964. They appear on the Ed Sullivan Show February the 9th, 1964. That was the big show to be on, remembering that there were only three major networks at the time. The Ed Sullivan Show was a show that had really good ratings, it was fantastic and they played three weeks in a row. That first week February 9th, the next week in Miami. Ed always liked to take the show to Miami in the winter time. They filmed the performance that was played the week after that again. They were on the show three weeks in a row but went extremely well. That first performance is famous, is the famous one, and as reports go, crime in the city of New York was actually sort of at an all time low during the period when the Beatles were on the Ed Sullivan Show. Who knows whether that's accurate or not but that's the way the story is often told and George Harrison was fond of saying, even the criminals stopped for a minute to watch The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. Well whatever, however it went they had a number one hit with I want to Hold Your Hand. Capital Records finally released a Beatles record in this country and it was I want to Hold Your Hand, after setting up a whole publicity campaign about the Beatles are coming, the Beatles are coming, the Beatles are coming. The first four hits were released in this country on independent labels, Vee-Jay and Swine. Capitol thought, nobody wants to hear British music in America. So they finally had to be forced. They actually are the subsidiary of EMI, they're owned by the EMI company that owns Parlophone the Beatles were on. So finally they were sort of forced to bring these records out. And when they did, and put the promotional campaign behind it and the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, then all of a sudden we had something that was bigger than anybody imagined and it turned out that the next Elvis was not from America at all. It wasn't the folk revival, it wasn't teen idols, it wasn't surf music, it wasn't girl groups, it wasn't any of those things. The next Elvis was The Beatles. And they came from someplace that had never produced that kind of an act, in this, that kind of business effect, in this country, at all. When we think about the way The Beatles changed music in those years, I think it's fair to say that in 1963 the big thing that they accomplished was changing the UK music scene. Now for the first time UK artists competed on an even playing field with American artists and sometimes could even win and they changed the ideas, not only of the listeners, but also of the musicians themselves. The other thing is that when they came in 1964, they really opened up a whole new set of opportunities for UK artists. Once the Beatles came to this country, they launched something that we often call the British Invasion. And it wasn't clear that the Beatles were even going to be the best of British Invasion groups. A whole bunch of groups flooded into the country, all of them with mop top haircuts and matching suits and British accents. And the press kept wanting to tell the story that The Beatles were now not the hot new thing. Herman's Hermits was the hot new thing or something like that. It wasn't clear initially that The Beatles were going to survive and be as important as they were. In the next video, we're going to talk more about The Beatles as students of American popular music and how they helped really change the paradigm for what it is to be a rock musician, in general, during this period between 1964 and 1966.