Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the “British invasion.” That’s when the four mop-haired lads from across the pond appeared on the most popular variety TV show in America at that time, “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Music and youth culture worldwide would never be the same.
It was the iconic ‘60s — a time of change, protest and promise. America was still reeling from the recent assassination of President John F. Kennedy. News reports were occupied with civil rights marches and the violence surrounding them. The hit songs of the time were “End Of The World” and “Can’t Get Used To Losing You.” Those were grim times.
And then came The Beatles who were a “blast of fresh energy from overseas,” said TV critic David Bianculli, “and America was eager to embrace them.”
And did we ever. Over 73 million people viewed the show that night, the largest number ever recorded for a U.S. television program. Their song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was a Number One single on the pop charts.
The Beatles had long hair so young men grew their hair long. As popular music was starting to wane, it was the Beatles who brought serious consideration back.
It was this generation that was ripe for The Beatles’ fresh look on life. It was a period when the rebellious youth of the ‘60s and ‘70s felt they could change the world. They championed women’s liberation, civil rights, the sexual revolution and protested the Vietnam War.
And some would argue that these four uplifting, optimistic, charismatic four lads helped spark that feeling of invincibility. They embodied the challenge to “the Establishment.” They certainly had an effect on culture.
The moppish hairstyle became the fad as did their trim cut suits in England. Later, in the psychedelic era, they popularized paisleys and then popularized Indian-influenced fashion and music.