Life After February 9

From across the pond came four young men who set themselves apart from all the rest, and when they first appeared in America on February 9, 1964, a generation of young people discovered themselves, and a lot of them picked up guitars. Some of the artists we’ve spoken with described why that evening was such a tipping point…

“There was no such thing as a rock ‘n’ roll band
until February 9, when the Beatles played Ed Sullivan. February 8, there wasn’t one single band in America, but on February 10, everybody had one. Up until then, it was singers, vocal groups, instrumental groups, but no real bands that wrote their own songs, sung their own songs and played their own songs. Rock ‘n’ roll had always been a two-part craft—performance and record making—which turned into a three-part craft when song-writing was added after the Beatles changed the world.”

“What killed jazz was the same thing that killed folk music: the Beatles. They killed everything. They created the first mono-musicism, where everybody wanted to hear them. Frank Sinatra never did that. It changed the whole concept of songwriting, because now the musicians that play it are the writers of the music. Everybody was finished. The greatest songwriters in the world were finished.”


 “I remember a Beatles poster going up in the club where I was playing, and as soon as I heard that first album, I thought, ‘How cool, here’s English guys recycling rockabilly’ and some kind of visceral rock ‘n’ roll—Oh, the Beatles are coming; this is going to be exciting!


“It was viable to think that you could get together with a bunch of other guys and at least have a stab at a musical career.”


“The Beatles came along and you just went, ‘What was that?’
I’d never heard anything like that before. So the Beatles were a huge influence on me. We wore all black turtlenecks; we had Beatle haircuts, which was against school rules. I got kicked out maybe seven times senior year because my hair was just over my collar—I mean, a haircut where today you would say, ‘What a nice haircut.’”


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