The British Invasion: The Decade that Transformed the American Music Scene

British Invasion

In 1964, Life magazine wrote this about the British Invasion: “”In [1776] England lost her American colonies. Last week the Beatles took them back.”

“When the Beatles came to America in 1964, the nation was gripped by a phenomenon unseen before,” wrote Rolling Stone reporter Parke Puterbaugh in his article “The British Invasion: From the Beatles to the Stones, The Sixties Belonged to Britain.”

At one point in 1964, the Beatles occupied twelve spots in the Top 100, including every spot in the Top Five: “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Twist and Shout,” “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Please Please Me.” Spurred by the early success of the Beatles, we saw a sudden surge of British musical talent and British culture that forever changed the face of music in America.

In 1964, Life magazine wrote this: “”In [1776] England lost her American colonies. Last week the Beatles took them back.”

This surge of artists coming from the United Kingdom in the mid-1960s came to be known as The British Invasion. The increasing popularity of the Beatles opened the door for a number of British artists, including the Dave Clark Five, the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Who, the Kinks, Herman’s Hermits, and so many others.

  • The Dave Clark Five racked up seventeen Top Forty hits between 1964 and 1967, and sold more than 70 million records worldwide by the end of the 1960s.
  • The Rolling Stones didn’t enter the scene until 1965, but immediately made an impact in the Top Ten with hits like “Time Is on My Side,” “The Last Time,” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
  • The Yardbirds were praised for the instrumental prowess of their guitarists, including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page.
  • The Who, meanwhile, didn’t experience much U.S. success until the tail end of the British Invasion, with “I Can See for Miles” rising to Number Nine in late 1967.

While predominantly dominated by bands, solo artists also had a wide variety of success during the British Invasion. Van Morrison made a splash with “Brown Eyed Girl” in 1967, while Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, and Marianne Faithfull all experienced some degree of success.

“It sort of turned out all right,” remarked George Harrison of British Invasion of the 1960s.

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