Wednesday, February 12, 2014

50 Years Since Beatlemania Hit The US

50 years ago the Beatles touched down in the newly renamed John F. Kennedy Airport, and Beatlemania hit the US. It was the beginning of a cultural phenomenon, the likes of which has never been seen before, or since. From that point onward, American music was forever changed, and the Beatles would go onto define the sound of  the decade along with an entire generation.

Beatlemania hit me in the summer of 2001. I remember exactly how it happened. I was working out at a local gym and I heard a song come on the radio on the speakers. It was "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by George Harrison. It hit me at just the right time, in just the right way, that it sparked my interest in all things Beatles and I eventually collected most of their albums.

I had heard them before; a friend of mine had been a big Beatles fan and I was of course familiar with their music, but early on they just didn't strike the right chord with me. The way I get into a band is funny. Sometimes I hear a band and I don't like them, and then I hear the right song at just the right time, in just the right circumstance and somehow I get hooked.

The Beatles are one of those unique bands that get near-universal respect from all artists and subcultures. I remember even my metal head friends in high school respecting them for allowing heavy metal to evolve. I remember growing my hair out long for the first time because I wanted to look like I was a Beatle. My newfound Beatlemania back in 2001 was part of a larger context and phenomenon going on around me. The indie rock explosion was just happening right at the same time and mop tops came back into style. The 90s shit that I had hated so much seemed to be quickly disappearing and replaced by this new culture in which everything retro was in. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Animals, The Who, along with Led Zeppelin, The Stooges and a host of other bands from the 60s and 70s seemed to be undergoing a popular resurgence. Many of the contemporary bands at that time had a sixties mod look and influence, indicating the Beatles' influential power 40 years later.

For me, it was the perfect mix, and I became enthralled at watching the Beatles almost as much as many of those screaming teenage girls were all those years ago. They were to me, more popular than Jesus. By far.

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