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No Beatles, No Glam


Today back in 1964, the Beatles made their American television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. Clearly, this pre-dates me by about two decades, but I appreciate the impact on pop culture. Make that impact on global culture.

Anyway, I must admit if the Beatles had never existed, the chances of Glam being a form of popular music are about zero. If you think about, the Beatles are probably the most significant thing ever to happen to popular music. I mean, we went from ragtime, to country, to swing and something called rock - but it didn't roll until the Beatles swept in from Liverpool.

The Beatles were a bit dangerous, weren't they? They had "long" hair and wore mostly black. Their songs were - gasp! - uptempo. They also had an air of entitlement around them as they performed. Even before hitting it really big, each member of the Fab Four seemed to walk with a special confidence and display a smirk that said "Yeah, I know your daughter loves me and so does your wife. Buy a record."

I guess it was that confidence - coupled with the incredible song writing talent duo of John Lennon and Paul McCartney - that made the Beatles so famous.

So, as the Beatles continue to change the face of popular culture, they inspire thousands of kids to pick up guitar and pound the drums.

With each generation, there is an influence. In nearly every case, that influence can be mapped back to the Beatles.

If you watch the clip at the bottom of this article, you'll see young ladies swoon for these larger than life personas. You'll get the exact same reaction at a RATT concert about 20 years later.

Consider this: Aerosmith list The Yardbirds and The Who as having a major impact on their sound and style. They also credit the Beatles as a major influence.

You already know Aerosmith influenced about every successful Glam band ever to come from the 80s scene, most notably Motley Crue, L.A. Guns and Faster Pussycat. If you listen carefully, paying attenion to the many layers that make up the more complex Glam songs, you can definitely hear The Beatles.

Don't believe me? Think about all those cover tunes. Most bands have played at least one Beatles song in their respective careers. It's about knowing where you came from - and where you're going - that often breeds success and sustainability.

Reader Comments (8)

Great article Allyson!!..I love The Beatles..My uncle till this day says seeing The Beatles at Shea stadium is one of the greatest moments of his life. The Beatles started it all like you said..the long hair, cool clothes, the sound. I listen to them all the time =)
February 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe
One thing I will say...NO Beatles-NO ROCK as a whole. Sure there was Elvis before them, Little Richard, Jerry Lee, hell even Sinatra, BUT the Beatles WERE rock and evolved right before our eyes (well if you're as old as me hahaha). they were literally THE first band I ever saw in person. Albeit, not in concert...I was at the Airport with my teeny bop cousins and witnessed the Beatles coming to take over Pittsburgh. I have actual 8mm footage of them walking down the outside ramp onto the tarmac. My parents felt I was too young to attend their Civic Arena show, but being with tens of thousands rapid fans at the Airport somehow was OK. That was the day I found what being a rockstar was all about. Chicks, chicks, chicks and really high octane fun, cool clothes, cool haircut, and the cash was secondary.
Although I will say it seems if you're going back in the forefathers of glam...give all the respect and props to Little Richard. It was he who influenced the Beatles and Richard was the first to put on the eyeliner, make-up, and wild clothes that would one day become the norm on the Sunset Strip many years later. But it was the Beatles who revolutionized rock...from teeny boppers to a bastardized version of metal (Revolution anyone?) to Sgt. Pepper to my favorite...The White Album. Just an amazing evolution of rock, right before our ears. It's a shame that the music they were making couldn't or at worse wasn't affordable to recreate on the road. Truly, the Beatles last tour was well before they were no longer relevant and actually before they become even MORE relevant.
I seem to always flip flop between wanting to give the Beatles their props because it seems them becoming just a record making band instead of both touring and recording somehow leaves me feeling cheated or leads me to believe it somehow tarnishes their legacy in my eyes. Then someone like you writes something that has me go back and reflect on what they REALLY DID accomplish and I just can't argue their greatness.
Excellent blog!
Sweet Lou.
February 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSweet Lou.
One can't deny the Beatles their spot as a forerunner of any and all music. They created a mega empire that supported many other things: Apple Records and Abbey Road Studios come to mind.

A Glam link, of sorts, to the Beatles: One of the tape engineers at Abbey Road was a young man named Alan Parsons. He went on to help co-produce Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' (that's another group that seems to influence a lot of glam bands), then founded his own popular group, the Alan Parsons Project with Eric Woolfson. Even though the original partnership has broken up, Alan goes out and performs APP music. When his regular lead singer, P J Olson, can't do shows, Alan turns to his apparent pinch hitter Kip Winger. :)

February 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChessie
The Beatles definitely started it all. Up until them, Rock was more blues and soul based. American rock n roll was Motown or Rockabilly. Rockabilly good, Motown bad- in my opinion. The Beatles broke it down to guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. Add in great songwriting and you have all the ingredients you need for rock n roll.

KISS who are without question the forefathers of the 80's glam rock (or cock rock as I prefer to call it) movement, were heavily influenced by The Beatles and also by The Who (who I prefer over Zeppelin).
February 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRandy

Thanks for giving props to The Beatles! Ya might not expect that on BBG. It's funny though, anytime someone asks me who my favorite band is I say, "I have 2, that might seem very different, but really aren't: Guns n Roses and The Beatles."
February 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEddieLongHair
i like the beatles before any other band with four diffenrt personlity just like motley poison
February 15, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertommydahl
DO read my current review of Spiders N Snakes over at Sleazegrinder. The Beatles preceded and Ringo produced the "Born To Boogie" film about T.REX, who, along with Bowie, Cooper, The Dolls, and Iggy pioneered what became the hair-bands, via Kiss & Aerosmith kinda commercializing the glam originators, making them safe for rural American tastes.

February 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPEPSI SHEEN
They played for the first time in concert on February 11, 1964 at 8:01 pm. Their first song was "I Wanna Hold Your Hand".
Just saying.
Otherwise, the article was great!
December 17, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

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