Why did groups like the Rolling Stones and the Beatles have such a great impact in the 1960’s?

The Beatles were a pop and rock music group from Liverpool, which formed in the late 1950’s, but burst out onto the international rock music scene in 1961. They charted more than fifty top 40 hit singles, and scored 27 #1hits in the USA and UK alone. The Rolling Stones are a British rock band that formed in 1962, with the original members being Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Bill Wyman, Brian Jones and Charlie Watts. By the end of the 1960’s, the Rolling Stones had amassed a great number of hit singles, with each record displaying a large rate of musical growth.

These were the two most popular music groups of the 1960’s, outselling and gaining more of a following at every turn. The Beatles had a specific look that became popular at the time, out of it being a completely new style. These were suits without lapels and bowl-cut hair styles. Their Liverpool accents were also a great hit, giving the band a very English and boy-next-door feel which made the girls go crazy for this ‘average guy’ image. By 1962 they had their first number 1 hit with ‘love me do’. This was the first footstep in the many more successes to come.

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Songs like ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’ attracted a lot of attention due to its drug taking connections. But while this caused a stir with the adults of the time, it caused a huge amount of popularity with teens, who thought it was free-spirited and breaking from traditional standards. One of the more blatantly drug related lyrics of this song was ‘where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies’. Another song which was disapproved of was ‘Lady Madonna’, which was about real life struggles, not the glam songs that were being sung at the time.

The lyrics in this song told the story of a woman struggling to make ends meet, e. g. ‘wonder how you make ends meet’. This band represented freedom of speech and of music, with these very controversial lyrics fronting this. Their style was a model of the 1960’s, and no matter how it changed it always became the must have. Their friendly, outgoing appearance and offhand attitude made them very popular and easy to go with and understand. Their performances were also very ordinary and simple, but were made fantastic by the hysterical, deafening audiences of crazed fans.

This started to change though as the years passed, and they became very psychedelic, following the hippie fad with no responsibility and colourful performances. They picked up on different instruments as well, using the Indian sitar for a chilled-out sound. At the beginning though, the Beatles fitted in very well with the mods, and their fashion-following attitude. The Rolling Stones had an exact opposite look to the Beatles, with their unkempt look and looking like a gang of rude yobs in photos.

This made girls all over England go crazy for their ‘bad boy’ image, which in turn lead to them becoming a teen idol group. They had an average British accent and started off just like the Beatles, with the same style of music, but soon became much rougher and tougher as the Beatles became more chilled out. This dirty image horrified parents no end, and the lyrics to some songs had a very sexual content, which a lot of people found offensive and rude. ‘(I can’t get no) satisfaction’ is one such song, with a lyric from it being ‘can’t get no satisfaction.

Cause I try and I try and I try and I try’. This song was seen as popularizing the rolling stones, and its themes included anti-commercialism (and sex), causing it to be seen as an attack on the ‘status quo’. Another song that had a very sexual content was ‘brown sugar’, which also delved into black slavery and prejudice. This band had very wild performances, with the band members often stripping off during the performances, and dancing erotically. This all added up to promote themselves, and ultimately made them a very popular band.

Where the Beatles were seen as the ‘boy next door’, the rolling stones were the exact opposite of that, and this made them perfect for the aggressive, heavy drinking rockers off the time. This band represented the rebel image of the 1960’s, breaking away from the rules and acting how you wanted with a newly gained freedom. The big impact that these pop bands had was not solely because of their talent and style, but also different developments in Britain at the time made it possible for them to achieve their high status as great bands.

The development of different youth groups in Britain for the first time allowed pop bands to gain fans – people that loved their music, but also had the freedom to follow them, with no job to tie them down. These ‘teenagers’ were young enough to enjoy this music that was too ‘immature’ for adults, and had freedom and money now to support the groups. The teens split into different groups as well, the mods, rockers and beatniks. These groups each had their style, which meant that they liked certain music, giving pop bands a whole group of fans already.

Freedom of expression through fashion also contributed, as the pop bands could fit in with a certain style of the time, gaining the credit through looking good alone. They could also create new styles, which people would follow. Growing affluence amongst teens was a major factor as well. This meant that teens had the money to buy a bands music. They had the money to buy their concert tickets. They had the money to buy their merchandise. This rise in ‘pocket money’ was due too a few things. First off, as the age of austerity ended, wages went up, and taxes went down by 9%, meaning that people now had a higher income.

This meant that teens who had handed over paychecks before to their parents could now keep it (or most of it). Moreover, the ‘never, never’ was a loan that many people now took out so that items that were once seen as luxuries, could now be found in most homes, such as TV’s and washing machines. Lastly, there were more jobs than there were people, which meant that people were getting paid extra so they wouldn’t change jobs! The entertainment industry exploited advertising, using the teenagers as their targeted audience.

Teen magazines published must-have fashions and likes and dislikes that you had to have/know to keep up to date in the fast-paced 1960’s. These magazines also promoted certain bands and their merchandise. The radio was also used to persuade young teens to follow certain trends, and do certain things. The television was also used, and was a breakthrough for the advertising committee as so many people watched it! This in a way can be linked to the growing affluence amongst teens, and the freedom of expression through fashion. This set the way for bands to make a big impact in the 1960’s society, and grow huge through persuasion .

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