British Invasion: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The arrival of The Beatles in the U.S., and subsequent appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, marked the start of the British Invasion.

The British Invasion is a term used mainly in the United States to describe the large number of rock and roll, beat and pop performers from the United Kingdom who became popular in the U.S.A. from 1964 to 1966.



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 [1], 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”.[2][3][4][5]

The Invasion

On December 10, 1963 the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite ran a story about the Beatlemania phenomenon in the United Kingdom.[6] 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?".[6] 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.[6] 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.[6] On December 26 Capitol Records released the record three weeks ahead of schedule.[6] The release of the record during a time when teenagers were on vacation helped spread Beatlemania in America.[6] 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.[6] On February 7 The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite 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".[7] 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.[5] 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.[5][8] The group's massive chart success continued until they broke up in 1970.[5]

During the next two years, Chad & Jeremy, Peter and Gordon, The Animals, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Freddie and the Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Herman’s Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Troggs, and Donovan would have one or more number one singles.[2] Other acts that were part of the invasion included The Kinks and The Dave Clark Five.[5] British Invasion acts also dominated the music charts at home in the United Kingdom.[9]

British Invasion artists played in styles now categorised either as blues based rock music, or a guitar driven rock/pop.[9] A second wave of the invasion occurred, featuring acts such as The Who and The Zombies, that were influenced by the invasion's pop side and American rock music.[9]

The Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night and fashions from Carnaby Street led American media to proclaim England as the center of the music and fashion world.[2]

The emergence of a relatively homogeneous worldwide "rock" music style about 1967 marked the end of the "invasion".[2]


The British Invasion had a profound impact on the shape of popular music. It helped internationalize the production of rock and roll, establishing the British record industry as a viable centre of musical creativity,[10] and opening the door for subsequent British (and Irish) performers to achieve international success.[9] In America the invasion arguably spelled the end of such scenes as instrumental surf music, vocal girl groups and (for a time) the teen idols that had dominated the American charts in the late 1950s and 60s.[11] It dented the careers of established R&B acts like Fats Domino and Chubby Checker and temporarily derailed the chart success of surviving rock and roll acts, including Elvis Presley.[12] It prompted many existing garage rock bands to adopt a sound with a British Invasion inflection, and inspired many other groups to form, creating a scene from which many major American acts of the next decade would emerge.[13] The British Invasion also played a major part in the rise of a distinct genre of rock music, and cemented the primacy of the rock group, based around guitars and drums and producing their own material as singer-songwriters.[14]

While a majority of the acts associated with the invasion did not survive its end many would become icons of rock music.[9]


That the sound of British beat bands was not radically different from American groups like The Beach Boys, and damaged the careers of African American and female artists,[15] have been the subject of criticism of the invasion in the United States. Willy DeVille said the invaders played a watered down version of American music and pushed aside talented American artists such as Ben E. King and Smokey Robinson, adding that Americans, by favoring "anything that fucking glittered", fell for a "big money complicated political con game".[16]

See also


  1. ^ M. Brocken, The British folk revival, 1944-2002 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), pp. 69-80.
  2. ^ a b c d Encyclopedia Britannica Article
  3. ^ Morrison, Craig. American Popular Music. British Invasion (New York: Facts on File, 2006, pp. 32-4.
  4. ^ J. Gould, Can't Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America (New York, Harmony Books, 2007), pp. 344-5.
  5. ^ a b c d e When the Beatles hit America CNN February 10, 2004.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Tweet The Beatles! How Walter Cronkite Sent The Beatles Viral... in 1963!" by Martin Lewis based on information from "THE BEATLES ARE COMING! The Birth Of Beatlemania In America" by Bruce Spitzer" July 18, 2009.
  7. ^ The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit
  8. ^ UK acts disappear from US charts BBC April 23, 2002
  9. ^ a b c d e allmusic Genre British Invasion
  10. ^ J. M. Curtis, Rock eras: interpretations of music and society, 1954-1984 (Popular Press, 1987), p. 134.
  11. ^ K. Keigthley, "Reconsidering rock" in, S. Frith, W. Straw and J. Street, eds, The Cambridge companion to pop and rock (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), p. 117.
  12. ^ F. W. Hoffmann, Encyclopedia of recorded sound, Volume 1 (CRC Press, 2nd edn., 2004), p. 132.
  13. ^ allmusic Genre Garage Rock
  14. ^ R. Shuker, Popular music: the key concepts (Routledge, 2nd edn., 2005), p. 35.
  15. ^ K. Keightley, "Reconsidering rock" S. Frith, W. Straw and J. Street, eds, The Cambridge companion to pop and rock (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 117-8.
  16. ^ Neilson, John (March 1982) "Willy DeVille Wants to Dream: There's a New Rose in Spanish Harlem." Creem; Vol. 13, No. 10; p. 24.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Alternative spellings

Proper noun

the British Invasion


the British Invasion

  1. The gain in British music bands' popularity in the United States in the 1960s.

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Simple English

The British Invasion is an event where many rock and roll, beat, and pop bands from the United Kingdom became very popular in the United States, Australia, and Canada. The term was created by the news media.


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