The Early 1960’s
There’s no question that rock & roll was created in the fifties. The sixties was known as the decade of the British bands and the changes they brought to the genre.
The early part of the sixties, much like the previous decade was a continuation of the doo-wop sounds and soulful ballads that had led the charts. The British invasion lent itself to a new sophistication in popular music sort of a rock with an international flavor. As the period progressed the music took on the undertones of the social unrest and defiance that drove the youth of the time. From hard rock to folk anthems music was all about discontent, with war in Vietnam, with the establishment, of the status quo in general.
Lets start with the first 3 or 4 years prior to the British invasion which was a continuation of the later half of the 1950’s rock and doo wop era. The baby boomers were now teenagers and they loved to dance. Television shows like American Bandstand helped to promote new dance styles like the Twist, the Swim, the Locomotion, the Mashed Potato and others. These dance crazes were usually loosely veiled marketing attempts to promote a song about the particular dance. Enough probably can’t be said about American Bandstand’s influence on the popularity of these dance songs, the show needed ways to keep viewers tuned in with fresh material and the record companies wanted the exposure, it was a marriage made in heaven.
“The Twist” was a song written by Hank Ballard in 1959 but popularized by
While the dance craze contributed a significant number of chart toppers, ballads were still ruling the day. Connie Francis was perpetually on top with songs like “My Heart Has A Mind of It’s Own” and “Where the Boys Are”, the Everly Brothers held top spots with “Cathy’s Clown” and “Wake Up Little Susie”.
The British Invasion
The British invasion was actually started by a bootlegged version of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” being played on a Washington DC radio station. The ground swell of demand to hear this new kind of song forced Capital Records to release the single three weeks ahead of schedule. Dusty Springfield was a British musician who was already making inroads into the American market before the Beatles arrival but it was Beatlemania that started in the U.K. and spread across the U.S. that is acknowledged as the catalyst for the invasion.
Once the flood gates were opened by the Beatles Americans couldn’t get enough of British bands. Groups like The Animals, Herman’s Hermits, Manfred Mann, Donovan, Petula Clark, Freddie and the Dreamers, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders and The Rolling Stones dominated the charts with their fair share of #1 hits. The music of the British groups that had gone to America also dominated the airwaves in the UK.
Music wasn’t the only thing that came across the pond, America craved all things British especially fashion. London took over as the epicenter of the fashion world with designs flooding out of Carnaby Street and Kings Road shops.
None of the other British bands could ever come close to what the Beatles achieved in the 6 short years that they performed as a group, with the highest number of albums at #1, the longest amount of times at #1, staying #1 the longest, having the most singles in the top 10 at one time and countless other milestones. The influences that the British bands had on American music were permanent. Acts that were holdovers from the 1950’s slowly faded away, even Elvis’s chart success was sidelined by this new breed of musician. Typically American genres like surf and hotrod music did manage to flourish but embodied elements of R&B and mersey beat both found in the new British rock & roll.
The War, Civil Rights and Protests
The later half of the sixties saw rock & roll transform itself into a tool for social change. Anything that was status quo was a target for protests and the music reflected those sentiments. Not just rock screamed out change, so did folk music and even pop took up the banner. Groups like the Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and the Who dominated a new genre called psychedelic rock which was influenced by the heavy drug usage of the day.
For more in depth info, history and song charts visit each year from the below chart.
|1960 Hits||1965 Hits|