The Beatles and the Kennedy Assassination, Nov. 22, 1963
The Kennedy Assassination of Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, is an historic event. It shocked the world and put America in mourning for some time. Everyone alive at that time and at least age 10, recalls with explicit detail where they were, what they were doing, how others reacted. But the Beatles are also linked to this date, although, the Kennedy murder outweighed the importance of The Beatles overwhelmingly. It was on this date that The Beatles first LP was released in England called, "With the Beatles".
While America was in mourning over the death of its first young President of a new generation and his family, in England, thousands of fans bought and played their first LP endlessly on their record players. I know, a seemingly low priority event.
The US version, Meet The Beatles, was released in January 1964. America was still not ready to celebrate.The LP had modest play. Yet, the assassination made America more cynical of their government, after all, several theories about the murder existed. By the time The Beatles played on Ed Sullivan in February 1964, 73 million Americans tuned in to see this import from England. Some had thought it was a "circus act" no one really knew much about them but for the several thousands screaming during the broadcast.
Ed Sullivan had booked the band unknown. He knew nothing about the hysteria the band created in England. But, he knew something was unique. So he booked them for three appearances for $10,000. That was a ton of money then!
There is no question America fell head over heals in love with The Beatles. At least those under 20 yrs. The Beatles debut in America quickly became a much more powerful and longer lasting event than the Kennedy assassination. The nation was ready to move on and enough mourning had been done. The youth segment became a major consumer faction that advertising began to target because of the Beatles. Ads and promotions all tried to link their product to The Beatles. Many did. The band could earn money simply by endorsing products like Vox amps and guitars. Soon, Pepsi and Coke, all focused on the younger generation to appeal to, no longer was it cool to just target their parents.
As time went on, The Beatles, without trying, set fashion trends for men. Collarless shirts began to appear because of them. Long hair with no hair tonic became the fashion because of them. Even bands that emulated them, like The Monkees, could set fashion trends for men. In other words, once The Beatles arrived and America bought them, the youth movement and culture bloomed like a wildflower that has evolved to today.
That is the power of The Beatles as an entity. Like a superhero from a comic book, the magic was what each individual brought to the whole and without the other, the magic was clearly gone. One person who recognized this early on was their manager, Brian Epstein, a closet homosexual who loved John. He told them that if anyone of them stopped being a Beatle or left the group, the allure and power of the band would fail and they would no longer be super. Brian was spot on. After the band did break up in 1970, none of them were special and their legacy still is hinged on being a Beatle, even today.
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